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Child's play

Updated on: 03 January,2021 06:55 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Sukanya Datta |

An arts-based non-profit is inviting children from South Asia and Switzerland to pen their own stories in response to prompts

Child's play

Illustrated by Priyanka Kumar

Children are always expected to end up being adults of a certain kind who are able to appreciate art and have a sense of aesthetics. But if they are not exposed to the world of arts from a young age, where can this come from?" points out Parvathi Ramanathan, manager, collaborations, at the Kolkata-based non-profit ThinkArts, while explaining why they have been creating immersive and engaging experiences to expose kids to art, culture and history since 2013. As children tend to have their own way of looking at the world, she adds, it's not just important to create art for a young audience, but also make space for them to participate in it. And a result of this willingness to help kids be stakeholders in the world of arts has led to their latest project - Let Me Tell You A Story - inviting six to nine-year-olds from South Asia and Switzerland to pen their tales.

Prompts from Rabindranath Tagore`s Taal Gaachh and Kati, die Mowe by Anita Hansemann and Verena Pavoni
Prompts from Rabindranath Tagore's Taal Gaachh and Kati, die Mowe by Anita Hansemann and Verena Pavoni

Most of us grow up listening to or reading stories written by adults for young minds, leaving little space for children to imagine their own narratives. "We want to recognise children as imaginative beings. We want them to realise that their stories are worth telling to the world and side-step any doubt they might have about not being 'good enough'," she shares. Ramanathan elaborates that as part of the project - supported by the Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council and The International Literature Festival BuchBasel - they will post prompts from children's literary works till January 17. She informs us that one can write in response to a single prompt or multiple prompts, and that the stories can be penned in English, Hindi, Urdu or Bengali, and be accompanied by art works.

Parvathi Ramanathan. Pics/Thinkarts
Parvathi Ramanathan. Pics/Thinkarts

Some of the prompts - a couple of lines each - shared by them include lines from Rabindranath Tagore's poem Taal Gaachh, Our Friends, The Ogres by KG Subramanyan, and Amelia Ellicott's Garden by Liliana Stafford and Stephen Michael King. "We hope to secure at least 100 stories. We'll also be posting an open call to professional storytellers who will record some of the stories as audio narratives. Some of them will also be illustrated. This will all go up on the website," she tells us.

If your little one wants to take up their pen, Ramanathan has a tip: "The tagline for the project is 'imagined by the young, for the curious'. So, explore any universe and free-flow. We want to read your stories, and want others to see your imagination come alive."

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