Tuesday, 6 March 2018

It’s #femmeMarch! Have you read a book by a woman today?

March isn't only about the madness of the March hare, or exam fever. It's #femmemarch month and a time to celebrate women writers. And so, I spent this afternoon reading two very interesting books on Storyweaver. Not only are they written by women, they are about women too.

StoryWeaver is this amazing platform where at last count, 7313 stories have been published online in 109 languages! It is an offshoot of Pratham Books and seeks to ensure that every child in India can read a story in the language of her choice. The stories are not controlled by copyright, and children, teachers, parents and librarians anywhere in the world can read them online, download them, print them, make copies and circulate them. StoryWeaver allows you to contribute in terms of creating new stories, contributing artwork, translating or re-levelling existing stories. I cannot think of a more noble, wonderful, or applause-worthy venture.

The two books I read were Anna’s Extraordinary Experiments with Weather by Nandita Jayaraj and illustrated by the extraordinary Priya Kurian, and The Cottonwool Doctor by Michelle Mathews and illustrated by Jean de Wet. The first is a Level 3 book and the second is a Level 2 book. Level 2 books deal with simple concepts and have upto 600 words, while Level 3 books make use of longer sentences and can be upto 1500 words long. Both books are biographies, based on real people and describe women’s accomplishments in the field of science and technology.

Anna’s Extraordinary Experiments is about Dr. Anna Mani, an Indian physicist and meteorologist who built almost a hundred weather gadgets. As a child, Anna loved books and spent all her free time reading. She cried when she was gifted diamonds on her birthday as she would have preferred to receive books. 

The Cottonwool Doctor traces the life of Margaret Bulkly who lived in the nineteenth century. Her parents spent all their money on their son’s education (sounds familiar?) and had nothing left for their daughter. With help from her uncle and a family friend, she dressed like a boy, changed her name and enrolled in medical school. 

Henceforth, she was known as Dr. James Barry and travelled all over the world with no one realizing that she was a woman until AFTER she DIED. What an amazing life this brave and determined woman must have led!

Do check out StoryWeaver.org.in for some interesting children’s books.

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