• Education

  • In Education, Bakul has focused on promoting the reading habit and developing imagination and creativity among children.

Bakul children's library

  • Bakul Foundation started with a Library Movement in Orissa and the Bakul Children’s Library in Bhubaneswar is the first outcome of that movement.The library set up after a successful online campaign Donate Books: Build a Library at www.pledgebank.com/bakul-library, stands testimony to the power and potency of volunteerism.It has been set up and is running without any institutional funding but with book donations and small contributions of many individuals.It is, nevertheless, widely regarded by experts as one of the best children’s libraries in the country. Listen to a Podcast at Idealist.org, the popular website on the development sector Here

    The Library contains more than 10,000 books and multimedia including most of the children’s books available in the local language Oriya at present and some of the most engaging learning resources for children available in the world. 3000 books were mobilized by UDAI, a group of Indian students at the University of Waterloo, and there have been book collection drives and book donations from all over the world and across India.

    Bakul has one of the richest collections in the country already of Picture Books and Folktales from around the world with their local illustrative styles. The Bakul Children’s Library has already developed into a Resource Centre with many of the best children’s books from all over the world, which includes one of the best collections of French children’s books in the country.

    The Library is FREE for all, and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 2PM to 9PM. Many artists also contributed in developing the space of the library.
    You can see images of the Library at Here

    You can read reports in the Media at Here

    Read a story on the Library at India Together, the popular website on the development sector in India Here

Storytelling and other activities at the library

  • We have been having various activities at the library such as Storytelling, Creative Writing Workshops, film screening, theatre and art and craft. Every Saturday at 5PM there is Storytelling in English (Storytelling from around the world) followed by Art and Craft, and every Sunday there is Storytelling in Oriya followed by a Film Screening. In addition to that, there are special activities like we had a theatre workshop for kids, a clay modeling and clay animation workshop or a papier mache workshop as and when experts are available and volunteer for these specialized workshops.

    Celebrity Storytelling: To promote reading, we have had celebrities like Nandita Das and Dr. Kabi Mishra do storytelling at the library. Watch a video of Nandita Das doing story telling Here

    See images Here

    Read Media Reports Here

    Storytelling From Around the World: Seeing the presence of foreigners from different nationalities in Orissa, we also started the popular Storytelling From Around the World in which every Sunday, someone from a different country comes and tells stories from her country and about her country. This is an attempt to give multicultural exposure to children and many storytellers have used the opportunity to expose the children to the culture of their countries through music, dance, costumes, films etc. There have been storytellers from countries as varied as Canada, Korea, Japan, South Africa, France, Ireland, England, United States, Denmark, Portugal and Germany.

    See images Here

    Read Media Reports Here

    Learning from Exposure and Interaction: Many eminent personalities are invited to the library to tell stories from their personal experience to children. It is also an occasion for children to be exposed to the different worlds that these experts represent. The late Gandhian Sarbeswar Das, politicians Jay Panda and Chaitanya Majhi, and former Member of the Indian Cricket Team, Sibasundar Das apart from Nandita Das have interacted with children and youth at the Library.

    See images Here

    Read Media Reports Here

The library movement

  • Bakul started with a manifesto for a library movement in Orissa, and that is what has enthused many. The story of the Bakul Library has been inspirational and many individuals have set up or are trying to set up libraries following our model.

    Libraries inspired by Bakul: Attempts are underway to set up libraries in Berhampur, Ooty, Delhi, Lucknow etc following our model, and libraries have already been set up in Sonepur in Orissa and Jamshedpur in XLRI. In fact, in Jamshedpur, they acknowledged that they copied the idea from Bakul and got the library set up by Sujit Mahapatra of Bakul when he was invited to speak on the Bakul Model of Social Entrepreneurship at XLRI.

    See images Here

    Read Media Reports Here

    Other Libraries already set up or being set up by Bakul: Bakul has already set up a Library with the support of local youth in the village of Mangalajodi on the Chilika in Khurdha district. Plans are underway to set up libraries across Bhubaneswar in Slums and in nearby villages in 2010-2011. The plans are to have a library movement across the state of Orissa and to inspire similar efforts across the country.

    See images Here

    Read Media Reports Here

    Temporary Libraries at Camps: Bakul has set up Temporary Libraries at Jamborees for children like the Sishu Prativa Utsav organized by the School and Mass Education Department of Odisha and UNICEF, and at the Anjali National Children’s Festival organized by Swabhimaan.

    However, the experience that the volunteers are most proud of is the Library at the YMCA Refugee Camp after the large scale Kandhamal violence in 2008. There were about 500 refugees packed like sardines in the Camp with about 80 children. They had already been there for a month with few engagements and a recent traumatic experience to boot. We decided to offer books as therapy. Every day for 2 hours, our volunteers ran a library for both the children and adults. We also did different activities like storytelling, art and craft and dance. After a month of our intervention, at the request from the Parents, a camp school started and it continued for a month and a half before the camp was disbanded.

    See images of the YMCA Refugee Camp Here

    See Media Reports on the activities at the YMCA Camp Here


  • The Bakul Learning Initiative for School Students started with the unexpected but tremendous support of 200,000 books from Pearson Education. This donation was used as an excuse and an opportunity to launch an ambitious attempt to take our movement of volunteerism for promotion of reading further. The Objectives of BLISS are:

    To demonstrate the power of volunteerism and to promote public participation in educational development

    To create an interest and joy in learning leading to independent learning

    To develop reading skills in children and to create interest in reading leading to a reading habit

    To develop confidence in children and to develop their imagination and creativity Already more than 100 volunteers are giving 2 hours a week and going to schools (8 at present) in Bhubaneswar and educating the children through Fun Activities. We are on the lookout for more volunteers to scale up the intervention

    There are two ways in which the volunteers are intervening pedagogically:

    Fun to be able to Read” (FAR) or Reading Enabling

    Reading to be able to have Fun” (RAF) or Reading Encouragement

    These two components broadly map strategies more conventionally used such as Learning to Read and Reading to Learn. However, the use of the new nomenclature for BLISS is to underscore the primacy we are giving to children having fun. We also believe that if the volunteers or Learning Facilitators also have fun they will be more motivated to intervene in a better and more sincere way. Books have been distributed to school students across the State but the Volunteer Intervention is happening in about 10 schools in Bhubaneswar.

    See images Here

    See Reports in the Media Here

Bakul books

  • Bakul has been creating picture books for children in the local language Oriya with children and children’s writers. When the Bakul Children’s Library was set up, we realized the paucity of good illustrated children’s books in Oriya particularly for beginning readers. Also there is an absence of graded readers. Although we tried to collect all that was available, it was quite embarrassing compared to what existed in English at the library (thanks to book collection drives across the world). On the other hand, the Bakul Children’s Library has already developed into a Resource Centre with many of the best children’s books from all over the world, which includes one of the best collections of French children’s books in the country. These books are giving us ideas on how to create children’s books in Oriya. The publishing of children’s books by Bakul is being supported by the Rupali Hota Memorial Trust. The Dambroo initiative of IIT Bombay is also partnering us in cultivating illustrators in Orissa.

    With the publishing program in mind and the interest in picture books, Bakul also organized a Public Lecture by Professor Ellen Spitz, a worldwide authority on Picture Books. Hearing the story of Bakul, she came down to Bhubaneswar at her own cost and gave a Public Lecture titled "On the Impact of Imagery in Picture Books for Young Children." It drew on her acclaimed book Inside Picture Books (Yale University Press). In her lecture, she discussed the illustrations in a number of books and analyzed the way these illustrations help children to grow in many different ways, aesthetically, ethically and intellectually etc. The lecture was followed by a discussion between children's writers, illustrators, artists and Prof. Spitz on what kind of picture books to create in the native Oriya to develop the aesthetic and ethical sensibilities of children. Drawing on these ideas, Bakul has created many picture books in Oriya through workshops with children.

    See images Here

    See Reports in the Media Here

Reading and creative camps

  • Bakul has been conducting camps or participating in camps to promote reading and creativity in children. For example,

    Sishu Prativa Utsav: Bakul has been regularly invited since the inception to participate in the Annual Sishu Prativa Utsav organized by UNICEF and the School and Mass Education Department, Orissa. Sishu Prativa Utsav is an annual jamboree in which about 500 students congregate and Bakul has been asked to be a Model for how Reading Can Be Fun. At the first Sishu Prativa Utsav 2007, we had a temporary Children’s Library at the venue where children came and read books. We had several activities to create interest in reading such as Origami and Storytelling in which a storyteller helped children make animal characters out of paper and then did storytelling with those characters. Another activity was Art Charade in which children in groups read stories. One of them then started to illustrate the story she had read and the others tried to guess the story the illustrator had read. Another activity was Staging of a Story in which children developed plays out of stories they had read. The biggest attraction, however, was the Community Storybook in which one child began a story and left it, which was then developed by another and then another till one decided to end it. At the Sishu Prativa Utsav 2008, which had the theme of the Environment, we conducted Writer/Illustrator Workshops in which children created storybooks on the Environment. Groups of children were given dummy storybooks with covers printed, but they were books in search of authors and illustrators. The children created a story, illustrated it and it ended up looking like a real picture book.

    Summer Creativity Camp: We conducted a Summer Creativity Camp in 2009 for the holiday disadvantaged, i.e. children such as orphans who did not look forward to holidays because they did not even have school to go to. We conducted the camp for about 50 children of convicts and 30 special children who were also orphans. The camp spanning 3 weeks engaged about 25 volunteers. The children and the volunteers were divided into different groups such as the Art Group, Theatre Group, Reading/Writing Group and the Music Group (so called because the special children in this group responded well to music). The more able of the special children were put in the other groups. Within each group, the children were further divided into two groups on the basis of their ages and abilities. There was an emphasis on collaboration. So, the art group illustrated the stories the creative writing group made, and the creative writing group wrote the texts for the pop ups created by the art group. Similarly, the Writing group wrote the script of a play, the Theatre group enacted it and the Art group made the props for the play.

    See images Here

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