By: Tahira Mir
Opening my eyes to a day like this when everything around has been Locked Down, a feeling of uncertainty and Anxiety struck me! A Time when all the schools are closed, work places have been shut down, the lively and enchanting cities are quiet and we on a global level are confined in our spaces wondering and waiting for this jinx to get over soon.
People are dying everyday with an exponential rate and all we get to see is the heart wrenching news broadcasts! It would not be wrong to say that this pandemic has shaken our senses and has rekindled far forgotten values of humanity. We can relate to the people out there around the globe irrespective of the differences of cast, race, religion, borders, cultural boundaries and what not! All We have realized is this simple message of Humanity and Empathy! Hope and Healing! Peace and Prosperity!
It’s a time for all of us to give to society in all the possible ways we can!
ITA-CLF initiated a campaign Defeating Corona Through Books: Time to Revisit Our Bookshelves-A virtual Book Club to hold the dying hopes of our children when their schools got closed, when this pandemic confined these young stars to stay in their homes paralyzing their ways to learn. The idea behind this virtual book club is to provide a space for our children in such a time of uncertainty and chaos where they can read, think, and share together, A place which can help them to connect to other people just like themselves to heal each other through wisdom and knowledge, A place which can contribute to their lives, to help them become more thoughtful, creative, imaginative and empathetic.
Kudos to All the Young & Amazing Readers who participated in the discussion so passionately making the first meeting hereby on Thursday 26th, exceptionally successful. Sharing excitement of being at such a platform Mahnum one of the Book Club members said: “It was nice to be around people who had actually read the book instead of giving my family a short summary of the book.”
Roald Dahl’s “Charlie & The Chocolate factory”: The First Read of the Club, won the hearts of our readers through Dahl’s creative and imaginative plot. The discussion began with a brief introduction about the author.
Ali Hassan a 9 years old Dahl’s fan quickly came up with a response saying:
“Hello everyone. I am Ali Hasan. I’m 9 years old and love Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl was a fighter pilot. He got a severe head injury in a plane crash. He says that to understand kids you have to join them against grownups. His books are amazing. He is the number 1 author on my list. I like his work because he has a huge imagination and creativity. My favorite book is Matilda and I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the first time. I started reading it on 24th at night and finished it yesterday.”
To our surprise, parents along with their children participated in the Book Club activity too which was really appreciated as it bought the role of the parents into play. It was amazing to hear a mother saying:
“Me and my daughter read this story…first there was a little bit difficult to read on mobile but when you send the link of YouTube it was easy for us. My daughter loved this story she is 7 years old…thanks for sharing this story”
Becoming a source of some Hope and Healing through this immensely positive platform gave me a chance to reach out to as many children as possible. Getting to read the books I missed while I was growing up, I took this opportunity to connect with children out there who at the moment are flooded with the questions of uncertainty and confusion. I was surprised to see the wonderful responses as the discussion proceeded and I would certainly take the liberty to share the answers with you!
Let’s have a look at the way children came up with surprising answers!
Q- We all get to meet a character while reading who we either feel connected to or fall in love with. So which character you liked most and why?
-“My favorite character is Grandpa Joe. I imagine him as a very tall and scronny as well as an over-excited happy Grandpa.”
– “Charlie was my favorite character because he was not naughtyor bad like the other children”
I liked Mr. Willy Wonka because he makes chocolates and he is so creative in the ways of making chocolate. He is also fair with all kids and funny.”
Q- So Yes Charlie is the sweetest and kind! He influences the reader to be just like him as some of you mentioned. Time to move to the next question. What was the best part of the novel, the one you loved most?
-“I liked the way every greedy character was being punished in the novel. I loved when Veruca for her bratty behavior was sent down the garbage chute.”
-“I like the way he convinces us to read more and more.”
Q-So now let’s move to some more amazing questions. What are the underlying themes you found in the novel?
-“It has multiple themes ..like the part where it says no good comes from spoiling kids ..tells that we can not get everything by screaming n pushing our parents”
-“Behaviours and how they should be dealt with.”
-“The theme is struggled not to hesitate in the face of strife”
-“Greed Leeds to defeat and Patience is the virtue.”
-“We see in the novel that everything small is associated to goodness. E.g Charlie is frail and undernourished. He was been mocked and pitied for his small size and frailty. Similarly, Mr.Wonka’s initial description of small stature. Also the chocolate bars are small too. But these small chocolate bars contain Charlie’s hopes and dreams.Charlie realizes how powerful something small be.”
“And he is skinny and only gets one chocolate bar every birthday, u know the part when one of his grandparents says that the first person getting that golden ticket is gonna be a fat kid who gets plenty of chocolates, and he was right, but i really like how charlie clung to the thread of hope.”
“Charlie and his family seem weak, fragile and brittle. They always tend to equally divide all they have and this sense of equality is strongly present in little Charlie himself”
“My candle burns at both ends/It will not last the night/But ah my foes and oh my friends/It fires a lovely light”–That is his moto, it is present in the end of most of his books”
“Then there’s this theme of Poverty Vs Wealth. i.e a distinction between people who have money and power and those who do not have money. In this way we get to understand the moral values as well. e.g money is dangerous as Veruca’s father secures a golden ticket for Veruca using all his financial resources but she didn’t get to win in the end. Veruca’s father has all the negative aspects of wealth which is why Veruca get’s punished. On the other hand, Charlie is poor but is rewarded with goodness.”
“We also see that Roald Dahl has shown a clear distinction between good and bad characters. And every character is rewarded and punished according to their personality. This also helps us to understand the moral values that good is rewarded in the end and bad is punished. e.g Augustus, who overeats as a hobby, gets himself stuck in a chocolate pump that eventually flattens him out. And We already know OUR FAVORITE CHARLIE!!!!! is rewarded for his goodness”
Q-So here goes the last question! If we ask you to save one character from being punished and change that character change into a good one, which character it would be?
“ I just wanted Veruca to learn some good things and change her bratty behavior.”
“Yeah seems like violet could be spared because she takes gum chewing as a hobby which could get a bit irritating at times”
Q- Getting finished with a book is one of the best feelings, but we know there are so many things that remain with us. So what did you get to learn from the story?
-“That the good will be rewarded no matter what and the bad will be punished no matter what”
-“Hope, family, and manners are things that aren’t even supposed to be abandoned”
-“We should never give up”
Children sent their responses in all three forms written, audio and video formats!
Our Young readers left us overwhelmed and happy with their brilliant participation. Upon asking the feedback from our young pioneer book club members, we were immensely overjoyed to know that they ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!
Some of the Feedbacks I loved most:
-“I think it was amazing.”
-“It was a great way of getting to know the similarities and differences between our mentality”
-“GREAT WAY TO PRACTICE LANGUAGE SKILLS TOO”
-“Amazing experience and good interaction”
-“It was nice to be around people who had actually read the book instead of giving my family a short summary of the book”
-“Thanks for this interactive program. A nice way to exercise the minds.”
-“A very productive and positive activity”
-“I can’t wait for the next meeting. This should happen on a regular basis”
The discussion filled me as a moderator with so much JOY & HOPE for being a source and part of such a place where I got to interact with beautiful and brilliant young minds who are fighting this quarantine through some great books!
I can’t wait for the next book Club Meeting and let me take this moment to share the SECOND BOOK FOR OUR SECOND WEEK! “Bachon K shayir Ismail Merathi: Nazmain aur tashree” compiled by Nazer Shamsi.
When we talk about Children’s poetry, one cannot miss the new age’s leading poets, the notable children’s Ismail Merathi. Born in Meerut in 1844, Ismail Merathi kept on contributing to Urdu Literature throughout his life through writing simple and beautiful poems for children.
We believe, this is a time to pass some Great Books to our Children and inculcate love for Literature in them.
I would like to leave a question for all out there: How you can join hands to serve to humanity at this hour of uncertainty, chaos, anxiety and fear?
Let’s Be A Source of Hope & Healing in Such A Time!