Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Writing with Children in Delhi
I'm visiting Delhi after nearly 20 years. It's changed beyond recognition but it's still bursting with stories, from the tombs of emperors to the remains of the Raj, to more personal family stories of houses lived in, schools attended, events and mishaps and memories.
Speaking to young readers at the India Habitat Centre and at Vasant Valley School, I found that while of course everyone knows Harry Potter (my son and I even found a Hindi edition in a book shop in Connaught Place) they were also eager to write and share their own stories.
We wrote together, and the students (mostly 2nd to 5th standards/grades) read their drafts. Many of the India Habitat Centre stories focused on the room, which was round and colorful and quirkily decorated with posters and polka-dots on one section of wall.
At VVS, we wrote about what might be hidden in this picture taken in the heart of Lutyens' Delhi. Who's behind the hedge? Where's the man going? Who's waiting for him? What if a squirrel were to shin up the lamp-post? How could you write this so your reader would care?
The only expectations worth holding about writing are those that relate to such story questions. The answers get more complex as you get older and more conscious of markets and audiences, but living with the questions is the whole point of the exercise.