Nani Chali Tahalne is a chain tale. It can also be called a repetitive tale. There is a chain of places which Nani visits with her grandson “Vanky”. Each time she visits a place she describes it with a new name based on her memory of that place. I used the book with children of Grades 1 to 4 and observed that children were able to experience and understand the story. Some predicted the actions of the characters, others their dialogue. They were actively involved in listening to the story, predicting pictures, talking and writing about their favourite part or character in the story.
Even the struggling readers were able to predict the text. A child who is having difficulty in decoding words and reading sentences smoothly would benefit from this format of storytelling. It helps in strengthening visual thinking skills of children and helps them connect with what they observe, how they reason. It enables them to link concepts with words and words with pictures. The children were able to establish links between the text and illustrations. They were able to relate it with their own life. For example, one child said “Ma’am yahan hamare piche vaali gali ki tarah rangeen gudadiyaan bana rahen hain par inhone bechne ke liye koe dookaan nahi kholi”.
Such books can act as stepping stones in the reading developmental process because they are engaging and interesting to young children. The listener can participate in the reading even if he/she is a first time reader. I find that repetitive stories in big format illustrations are children’s favourite books and this book successfully attracted and held their attention. I did activities such as predicting the story by using title and pictures, picture reading, storytelling, drawing and writing favourite parts of the story. Children easily established a link between their lives and the story.
The theme, text and illustrations of Nani Chali Tahalne are familiar to the context of an Indian urban child and this can help in building relationships with the characters, travel situations, and anecdotes. Above all this can help in bridging the gap between text, situations and the child. This kind of contextual text can potentially elevate a child’s emotions and make them invested in the story. Children were able to relate with “Nani & Vanky” and they enjoyed knowing about their journey. Many children remembered their bonding with their grandmothers, and started sharing memories of time spent in the village and the market place with grandparents. “Ma’am, aisa hi same park Janak Puri main hai, kya ye book jinhone likhi hai vo Janak Puri hi rahti hain kunki Janakpuri ke park main aise hi khelne ke liye mitti dali hai”, one child commented.
Illustrations of this book also break set norms of society as we can see Nani playing stappu, a differently abled girl playing with other students at a school, and people of all ages reading books. Illustrations display relationships, society, neighbourhood, nature and the eco-system. Illustrations also reflect gender equality and roles are divided equally without bias. Illustrations also gave scope for discussion and questions. One child said, “Nani itni budhi hoke bhi sttappu khelti hain, kitna ajeeb hai, meri nani to nahi khelti. The text is written in dialogue form highlighting a conversation between Nani and her grandson “Vanky” creating a feeling of familiarity among children. Every day speech is used. Children were taking more interest when successive additions were made to a repetitive plot line of the story. I found no particular challenge in using the book with first generation learners. Children were eager to look at the pictures and listen to the story, and given an opportunity they would like to read the book on their own.
Book: Nani Chali Tahalne
Publisher: Pratham Books
Author & Illustrator: Deepa Balsavar
Parag won the award in the ‘educational initiatives’ category. The Parag initiative was launched by the Tata Trusts in 2005-06 to support the development of, access to and use of children’s literature in Indian languages, to promote reading among children.