Read and heal


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
Read and heal

children's books needn't be just about gollywogs and fairytale figures or good versus bad men.

They can be poignant stories of children finding ingenious ways to survive in a world torn by natural and manmade disasters, of fighting abusive alcoholic fathers, of picking up the pieces after a world shattered by terrorism, of finding solace and experiencing catharsis by riding along with the author on a journey of hope, page after page.

These were real-life stories an august gathering of award-winning and acclaimed children's writers shared with an audience brought together by the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) and the Indian Section of the International Board on Books for Young People (Ind.BBY) for a conference on Book Therapy: Reading Is Healing in the Capital, February 9-11.

"Stories give children a healthy perspective on dealing with crisis. They ride with the protagonist, realising they are not alone. Fiction gives solace, solutions and inspiration and readers get over the 'poor-me-why-me' syndrome," says writer Ramendra Kumar.

"It's important to end each story with hope," says writer Paro Anand. Give back to children, especially ones who have suffered, stories built around real-life issues, she says. "This fills them with empathy and they find new paths and hope to deal with life's incidents - words can sometimes set you free," she adds.

Australian novelist Ken Spillman, whose Jake and Daydreamer Dev books are popular in India, agrees with Anand. "Books are more than a nice pastime; they are tools to build psychological resilience," he says. A child is drawn into a book as a participant-observer and problem-solves through imagination, he says. Books add layers to the inner world of a reader, and the child learns how to act even under duress. Such an experience is priceless. He cites how Ruskin Bond turned to books to escape the loneliness and emptiness that engulfed him after he lost his father as a young boy.

"Part-time, accidental writer," is how fulltime Ramakrishna Mission monk Swami Samarpanananda describes himself. His book, Tia, A Parrot's Story, makes even the negative sound positive. "That's important, for portrayal of pain and life's negativities as dark and brooding like Kafka and Camus pull down readers." But if you describe evil with humour, you get your point across, and it actually ends up contributing to your feel-good factor, he adds. He advises writers to experience silence, for words that come out of silence have insight. He says psychotherapy helps a child, but nothing is more helpful than introducing him to spirituality. Once a child realises this inner strength, he heals faster.

Japanese author Etsuko Nozaka demonstrated the Kamishibai which is now moving out to the world. It uses giant pictures that slide in and out of a large frame which the storyteller shows the audience while reading the text at the back, thereby engaging the audience, specially the very young reader who is attracted by this engaging and dramatic technique.


Commander's of Penmai
May 28, 2011
its a nice article vijima....

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