ERODE: For the new-generation children from nuclear families, Vanithamani, just 39, is a grandmother-like figure from the yesteryears. The reason: She tells them stories, and that too, from Tamil books.
Fondly known as 'Kadhai Solli', the homemaker started 'Kadhai Kalam' (roughly translates as story scene/ field), a platform to inculcate reading habit in children, a couple of years ago.
Ask her about this initiative and she would say, "In this busy world, everyone, from children to elders are addicted to gadgets. Also, many have lost interest in reading books in their mother tongue (Tamil). This is why I started the storytelling session as it is an engaging way to inculcate reading habit in children. When someone narrates a story, children listen to it keenly and this helps them improve imagination and creativity."
Earlier, Vanithamani had been organising story-telling sessions at Erode digital library. Recently, she established a library for children - 'Butterfly Library for Kids' - with nearly 2,500 books at her residence in Thindal.
Every Sunday, children from neighbouring houses come to her house, pick up books to read and narrate stories. This apart, Vanithamani visits schools to tell stories to children. She also trains teachers to teach subjects in story-telling format.
As many as 25 to 30 children (5 years of age and above) take part in the story-telling sessions at her house on Sunday. One of the parents said that since her daughter has started reading, her vocabulary has increased.
This Sunday, the event had an added colour. Four parents of the children had come to the forum to tell stories. Selvakannan from Karur, who won Dr Radhakrishnan Award, also participated. A friend of hers from Dubai had sponsored medals and certificate for children.
"Some of the parents have also started reading books to tell stories to their children. I see it as an achievement," Vanithamani added.