Most parents would give an arm and a leg to get their child reading at an early age. But instead of reading Jungle Book, most children just watch the cartoon, which is as close as they will get to the Rudyard Kipling classic. But now, law student Sania Adil Dalal has come up with a potential solution. It is called Literary Junction and about 23 people have already signed up even though the project is expected to launch in April.
“In this technological age, nobody develops the love for reading,” Dalal told The Express Tribune. She wanted to share the books she was introduced to as a student at the Lahore American School. These books are part of the North American school curriculum and generally less available in Pakistan, but Dalal was able to get her old school teachers to help provide a list.
Literary Junction will be located in her basement where two colourful and well-lit classrooms have been created replete with multimedia, books and couches. Books on the list include Sadako, a Puffin modern classic about a Japanese girl who suffers from radiation poisoning, The Phantom Tollbooth which is the children’s version of Sophie’s World, Hatchet, the tale of a 13 year old stranded in the Canadian wilderness with just a hatchet for survival and The Indian in the Cupboard, a story of a young boy who discovers that when he locks a toy Indian in an old bathroom cupboard, the figure comes to life.
Each month children will be given a copy of an award-winning book and will take part in creative workshops designed around the text twice a week.
Literary Junction has planned activities to make children learn about different cultures and subjects introduced in each book, explains Dalal. “I plan to make them write the end of the book after reading half of it, introduce new words to them, hold a spellathon, make them write letters and do other multicultural activities.”
There are collaborative lectures in store too. “I might call a chef to teach the kids how to make a Japanese dish after reading Sadako and teach them numbers from one to 10 or basic sentences in Japanese,” she said. Dalal aspires for her classroom to be a place where children learn to blend in at an early level.
Parents in Karachi are generally open to new ideas for afterschool fun for their children. “There are good options like music and dance schools cropping up for children of working mothers,” said Salina, a mother of two. “But if I were given a choice, a reading-based learning activity would be my preference. There is a dire need to promote reading among children as other things such as play station, sports, movies and dance are being organised for them.”
While Literary Junction is currently catering to third to sixth graders (8 to 11 years), Dalal has plans for first and second graders in the summers, as well as programmes especially designed for Ramazan. Literary Junction can be contacted at [email protected] Only 25 children will be allowed per class.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2011.