I had a vibrant and involved book reading session at the ICC center in Milpitas last week. Walking in, I was filled with gratitude that such a space exists for the diaspora of south asian community in the Bay Area. I got the opportunity to see the wonderful Preschool and After Care program that the center runs.
I did a morning session with excited preschoolers. They were so involved. Everyone was excited to see foods that they recognized in the book. They giggled at Idu and Adus antics gobbling the sweets and mimicked their full mouths. We talked about the importance of nutritious food and when we can eat desserts. We also did some counting rhymes to sharpen our minds with some more math. They actually asked me to read the book again. Filled me with absolute joy.
Later in the evening, I read to an enthusiastic bunch of after-schoolers. They were extremely active and eager. They listened carefully and some of them declared “I like the story”. I felt very validated. (Not so easy to please first or second graders!) After the book reading, the children did a counting exercise with some printables I recently made. They went through it much quicker than I thought. So I moved into an impromptu creative writing session. I gave them a prompt of “If I had 10 Gulab Jamuns” and asked them to write a story with pictures and if they wanted, words. Boy, were they creative! There was a hilarious “If I had 10 Gulab Jamuns, I would eat them all”, a beautiful drawing of a family and a little girl sharing the Gulab Jamuns. There was a Gulab Jamun superman, a bowl of 38 Gulab Jamuns (very precise), a drawing of a “Boy who ate too many Gulab Jamuns”. The energy and imagination of the children were clearly reflected. I had a blast doing this particular activity. After that, we all gathered on the carpet and opened it to questions. I thought I would get a couple. But was I wrong! The class had so many questions from how I got the idea to how to print a book. They were curious and unabashed in asking me all the gritty details. I am sure there will be some young writers and publishers coming from the group in the future!
It was a wonderful day. I am thankful to Manasi, Raj, the teachers in each class and all the ICC members who made me feel so welcome.