A three-member team from Story Time Club set forth to Park English School (Park Street, Kolkata), for a 2-day digital storytelling program and book fair. The event schedule and itinerary had already been finalized, after discussions with the school authorities.
Right from Day 1, there was considerable buzz and an air of anticipation among the junior students, regarding the story sessions we were planning to organize there. During a prior visit, we had outlined the type of kids’ activities we generally conduct in Australia (the Story Time For Kids app is extremely popular Down Under). Right from the children and their parents, to the teachers at Park English – everyone was eager to have a glimpse of the international standard children’s event we have become experts at conducting.
The session began sharp at 9:00 am, with storytelling being the first activity. Kids from Classes 1-3 were in attendance, and the story of ‘The Jungle Book’ was narrated to them – by our senior content developer and chief program organizer. The children listened (and watched) spellbound to the story, as the other two Story Time Club members got busy setting up the stalls for the book fair. We had taken as many as 12 different titles on the first days (50 of each). A special mention of the staff at Park English here – they joined us in moving desks, shifting benches, and setting up the display section of the fair.
A brief Q&A session followed the digital storytelling hour (all questions were related to the narrated story, of course!). Token prizes were handed out to those with correct answers. At the end of the interaction, the children were given a demo of our Android/iPhone app for kids. There was unanimous appreciation for the free application – and we told the children to let their parents know about it. In the instruction manual handed out, the download options were explained. By the following week, there had been over a hundred downloads of our app – but that’s another story.
Once the storytelling was over, the kids were led by their respective class teachers, to the book fair section. Most of the little ones were not carrying the money for the books. We handed out our book catalogs to them – and they promised to come back with their parents (and the money!) on the next day. It was evident that our colorful and informative books had captured the imagination of the little ones. That, at the end of the day, was our biggest reward.
Fast forward to the second day then. The chain of events was much the same as the previous day. This time, the pupils of Classes 4 and 5 were treated to the tale of ‘Naughty Ninja’ (an original short developed by the Story Time Club). Judging by the sheer cheers and shouts of excitement among the kids, ‘Ninja’ had edged ahead of ‘Mowgli’ in terms of popularity. Smaller children were peeking in, and we welcomed a few of them for a second dose of story-watching. We could not possibly keep those eager faces out of the class, could we?
Incidentally, Day 2 of the Story Time program schedule was also the parent-teacher meeting day at Park English School. After being captivated by the antics of ‘Ninja’, kids from Classes 1-5 started filing in with their parents/guardians – each of them more eager than the previous child to browse our book collection. Parents were impressed by the quality of our hardcover and paperback books – and their competitive price tags (the special offer price was Rs. 99 only). The teachers at Story Time (who had checked out the Story Time books earlier) also put in a good word. By the end of the book fair, at around 5 pm, seven of our books had been SOLD OUT! ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Aladdin’ were the biggest draws – while we received plenty of requests for ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Alice In Wonderland’ too.
Although there was a rush, our representatives made it a point to explain how parents could buy books online from the Story Time website. In particular, we noted down the names and contact numbers of the children who had not got the books they were looking for. A fresh lot of reprinted books were scheduled to arrive after a week – and we called up parents to inform them that new books had been listed at our online bookstore.
The response of kids and adults alike at Park English School confirmed one thing – Indian parents were as eager as those from Australia and United States, in buying good books for their children and downloading nice reading apps for kids. Unlike the West, there is still a dearth of quality storybooks in most cities in our country. We at Story Time are confident of bridging this gap over time!