Little Kulture was happy to meet with Divya.B.A of My Little Bookshop, an independent bookseller of Indian picture books for children in India. Divya is a Waldorf practitioner and mum to four-month-old Sinchana. What on earth, I thought prompted a young mother to take on the task of selling books? Were her hands not already full?
Meeting Divya and discussing her plans for My Little Bookshop makes me feel very hopeful. Everything about her is fresh and new, but dig a little deeper and you realize it is rooted in a keen understanding and love for children.
Divya realized pretty early on that she wanted to work with children. She wanted to help them in their journey to learn but not in the conventional sense. So she chose to learn the Waldorf method.
According to whywaldorfworks.org, the Waldorf method was: “developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, Waldorf Education is based on an understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head.”
The Waldorf method discourages books in very early learning. It suggests that children should be encouraged to look at the space around them and imagine. A Waldorf curriculum in Australia is very different from that in India, Divya informed me. A child growing in Bangalore cannot fathom ‘sea’ or ‘snow’ unless they see it and experience it. On the other hand, the child can relate to a lake or pond, as they can be seen locally.
She has worked at the Promise Centre and then took a year to help set up a Waldorf based school in Puducherry.
” I used to give a lot of advice as a teacher to my student’s parents about routine, structure and so on. However, the birth of my daughter has made me realise that things cannot be so cut and dry. One can help reinforce patterns but not force them on the child.”
What made you start My Little Bookshop, Little Kulture asked Divya. “My baby has been the inspiration to start My Little Bookshop. I watch her with fascination and how she grows and learns from the environment around her. At the same time, I saw small children were picking up books about Barbie princesses and princes but little about their own country. India has so many wonderful and different voices in the children’s book space’. Most of the books that My Little bookshop currently are from Tulika publications. Why Tulika I ask her? “Tulika books have illustrations that are not jarring or disturbing. Colour washed pages carry little text. The books help young readers scan the page scape and move to the words. If there are too many words, or too many graphics it can be unnerving and deconcentrating for the new reader.”
Divya leans on her teaching experience to curate books suited for very young readers.
What are her future plans for ‘My Little Bookshop’? She would like to meet more publishers, work on the website and become more professional.
One encounters many young mothers asking for advice on how to inculcate the habit of reading in children. I asked Divya for suggestions.
“ It’s important to have a clear reading time. Just as one sets time aside on a daily basis for activities we must set time aside for reading as well. It must be done casually, with no pressure on the child. A conscious effort must be made to have a reading time in the daily routine.
If the child is bi-lingual it is alright to explain the words in the child’s mother tongue. Books can be repeated. Children prefer to read and reread books. It gives them a sense of structure and security. Changes when introduced, can be done incrementally. Just as one expects to see the sun every day, a child does not prefer sudden surprises.
But just as the summer springs upon us the occasional summer rain, similarly a child can be introduced to small changes. As the child gets more comfortable with one level of reading, books that step up the game can be introduced. Rhythm and repetition are a young reader’s friend.”
New flavours and new reading food can be introduced as the reader gets more confident.
As I took leave of Divya and Sinchana I felt very optimistic and hopeful that the culture of reading and story-telling was going to be alive and well in the digital age as well.
You can contact Divya at: My Little Bookshop
To order go to My Little Bookshop’s facebook page. Select the book/s of your choice and inbox them. The books will parcelled (shipping charges extra) to your destination in India. Payment is through account transfer.