Kottavi Raja And His Sleepy Kingdom is the story of a king with a sleepless-nights-sleepy-days syndrome. During the day, when his ministers discuss important issues, the spaced out king nods off, but in the nights he’s wide awake. He asked a round for remedies but nothing worked. Then something happens!
To find out what happened, you’ll either have to read the book written by Yasaswini Sampathkumar, or ask thousands of children who heard the story of the Kottavi Raja across India today.
Every year around International Literacy Day, Pratham Books conducts its ‘One Day, One Story’ campaign. Held this year on September 9, the initiative, which is part of the Pratham Books’ Champions program, conducted about 6,300 interactive storytelling sessions, free of cost for children from from underserved communities.
The campaign, with the help of its volunteers, aims to spread the joy of reading through storytelling, which they feel is a powerful tool to spread the love of books and reading among children.
This year’s chosen story of the Kottavi Raja was read out to kids in India and internationally in 26 languages. These included Indian languages like Surjapuri, Sanskrit, Konkani, Kumaoni and Urdu, and international ones like Bahasa Indonesia and French.
More than 5700 volunteers, who reached out to Pratham Books, were free to choose the place and time of the session, or any other activity which they thought would fit with the theme of the book, which they received for free.
The campaign wants to reach out to children who have less or no access to books or storytelling. But interestingly, this year it went beyond that.
While usually the sessions happen in NGOs with underprivileged children, some sessions also took place in private apartments.
Aparna Athreya, one of the storytellers, told The Better India about her session. “It was an amazing session. Since the story is about a sleepy king, towards the end we made all the kids yawn to celebrate him! The children were very involved and I took them on a journey. The hope is that every child is inspired to go back and pick up a book and develop the habit of reading,” she said.
For the few people who couldn’t conduct classes today, the initiative encourages that they hold the session any time at a later date so that no kid goes without experiencing the joy of reading.
You can read more about the campaign here.