Published: 16th August 2020
Here's how Bakul Foundation's Storytime @ 9 is regaling kids with stories from different cultures
All the storytelling sessions are streamed live on their YouTube channel and they live stream it across their social media platforms (except Instagram) via StreamYard, a live streaming studio
Every Saturday night, when the clock strikes 9, there are a few kids who can be found in front of laptops or smart devices, waiting for their weekly dose of stories soaked in culture and folklore. That's the new routine Bakul Foundation has set for eager children who crave new stories and Storytime @ 9 is drawing kids in successfully. The saga started on August 1 and will go on for 50 weeks and each week, a storyteller from a different country will fascinate children with folktales from where they hail.
They have children from Hyderabad, Chennai, the US, the UK and other countries joining them
The words Bakul Foundation don't just conjure up the image of the library they have in Bhubaneswar, they are also known for actively working in the realm of education, art and volunteerism. Also famously known for curating and co-organising the Bhubaneswar Festival of Storytelling (BhuFeSto) with the Bhubaneswar Development Authority and Odisha Tourism during the 2018 Hockey World Cup, those are the contacts Sujit Mahapatra, one of the founders of the Bakul Foundation, leveraged to gather storytellers — or even effective and engaging communicators — for their latest initiative. "There are at least 15 to 20 people from different nationalities who have come to Bakul for reading sessions, so we are engaging them," says Mahapatra who pursued English from Delhi University. It also helped that in 2010, he was selected for the US Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and had the chance to make many international contacts as well.
During a storytelling session | (Pic: Bakul Foundation)
Enough about the storytellers, now let's get to the story. "The uniqueness of our offering lies in the fact that we focus on multicultural exposure. Children get to hear stories that they have never heard before and from a person who is from the place that story originated from," says Mahapatra.
Either Mahapatra personally knows the storytellers or they come through solid references. All of them are instructed to speak slowly so that kids are able to understand the story despite their accent
So during the one-hour session, the first 15 minutes is all about interaction where the storyteller informs eager listeners about the country they are from, points it out on the map and so on. For the next 15 to 20 minutes, they narrate the story. The last 20 minutes of the session are reserved for questions and answers which is facilitated by an anchor from Bakul’s side who collates all the questions they have received on their social media platforms and presents them to the storyteller. "This ensures that children feel acknowledged and validated," he says. The challenge is that children of varied age groups are showing interest, but what started as a 350-member session is still growing from strength to strength. We are told that the number has touched the 1k mark now.
"It all started with a simple thought really, that if people can't come to the library, the library must go to the people," says Mahapatra as he concludes.
For more on them, check out youtube.com/user/BakulFoundation