Celebrities Get Children Fall in Love with Book Reading

Prof Savithri reads for school children at one of the sessions. Many teachers like her worked hard to create this opportunity for school students.
Rajan, a class eight boy in Madurai attended his city’s first of its kind  book reading session by celebrity authors and eminent citizens at the Book Fair. He says he discovered the joy of reading. “I’ve always read text books under pressure. For the first time I got a chance to read for pleasure and to listen to reading for the joy of it. I will make this a habit now” he said. 
With “Madurai Reads” as its theme, what made the event special was well known authors and prominent citizens including doctors and entrepreneurs taking time to read for children in English and Tamil.
Beatrice Anne D’Couto, a retired English Professor was thrilled to read and interact with school children. “I had come prepared to read from a work by Ruskin Bond, but soon changed track to more action oriented reading to make it interesting for children” said the former faculty from Lady Doak College in the temple city. Reading, she says “enhances thinking process and tickles children’s imagination”. 

Also reading for children Dr (Capt) Augustus Samuel Dodd a well known surgeon, the CEO of Grace Kennett Foundation Hospital. “I loved reading for them an engaging popular story “Down Down the Mountain”, he shared with joy. Citing smartphones and social media curtailing their imagination Dr Dodd added “Loud reading triggers imagination within children. Each one imagines differently, responds differently and it’s lovely. This reading platform is a great idea to kindle it”.

A range of workshops including origami, puppetry and story telling developed children's creativity.
Besides the reading session, organisers had also lined up a series of engaging workshops for children including origami, puppetry, cartoon, storytelling, films and creative writing to develop in them creative skills. “I loved this and learnt a new skill. I want to come again next year” said a young boy. “This kind of activity should be there throughout the year for students” a school girl suggested. 

A group of teachers and heads of institutions worked hard planning and coordinating with schools to send children at appointed slots. Dr Savithri Perumal, a member of the organising committee said “We are absolutely happy seeing many children turn creative. Our team really worked hard”.

Supported by the Madurai district administration, the book reading venue at the fair was tastefully  designed in an eye catching  forest cave like ambience. Children loved it. Around four thousand children, including many from less privileged backgrounds studying in  government schools attended these sessions. 
Organisers see this as a great start and they want to  build on this success. 
Nicholas Francis, Founder, Book Guild of  Madurai said “The long term plan is to make book reading a community initiative in Madurai. We want to take book reading  as closer to children and as enriching to children.” 
Please watch the video on this story. 

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