Stories hold immense power, and storytelling has been around for thousands of years, in every culture, and in every language. Stories create us, define us and shape us. For children, they provide a happy, stimulating environment where abstract concepts can be taught easily. This was the crux of the panel discussion held at the storybooks launch ceremony on Saturday – June 3, 2023, at Punjab Institute of Language, Arts and Culture, Lahore. This panel discussion was organized by “The Tiny Learners”, a Lahore-based organization that aims to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes, develop social skills and moral values in children as well as explain complex Math and Science concepts through the art of storytelling.
The Tiny Learners is the brainchild of Rabia Aslam, who has rich experience of working in the education sector, including projects on early childhood education. At the storybook launch ceremony, while giving the opening remarks, Rabia Aslam, the author of storybooks and the CEO of The Tiny Learners, shared her vision to transform the way Maths, Science and languages are taught using stories in a child-centred universe. She introduced a few storybooks developed by The Tiny Learners for children that explain the concepts of counting, shapes, micro-organisms and gravity in an exciting and fun way. She shared that the books produced are of high quality and international standards at a very reasonable price to ensure greater access and utilization.
The panellists included Sadia Omer, who is currently working at Beaconhouse Newlands as a Library Facilitator and has worked at Radio Pakistan as an analyst and DJ, Syeda Itrat Batool Naqvi who has been writing stories regularly since 2009 for Jang Newspaper, Phool Magazine and children edition of several newspapers, Dr. Nosheen Khalid, who is associated with Punjab University’s Mass Communication department and also working as column and feature writer in Jang Group, Zahida Batool who is working as Deputy Director Planning and Coordination at Quaid-e-Azam Academy for Educational Development (QAED) and leading QAED’s Early Childhood Care and Education Programme, and Nazir Ambalvi who has 40 years of experience writing stories during which he has written over 5000 stories and almost 50 books, along with being an editor for Taleem-o-Tarbiat and Iqra.
Sadia Omer elaborated on how stories play an important role in the holistic development of children and how libraries empower children and develop a love of learning in them.
Syeda Itrat Batool Naqvi suggested and gave examples of how we can develop positive attitudes in children through different characters of their favourite stories as children relate to them. She also emphasized the importance of teaching lessons or moral values through stories.
Dr. Nosheen stressed that mainstream media, newspapers, magazines and social platforms should do more to produce quality content for children and also organize events and competitions to give a platform to kids to showcase their skills.
Zahida Batool explained how the government of Punjab, through its ECE initiative, is ensuring that there is a reading corner in every ECE room and children get to read storybooks.
Nazir Ambalvi emphasized on the quality content that is being produced in Urdu and the need for parents to provide it for their children and develop a culture of storytelling.
After the panel discussion, there were art & craft activities planned for children, followed by a storytelling session in which Rabia Aslam captivated children by telling a story. Parents and children showed great interest in the storybooks and bought their own copies from the stall.
The event concluded with a vote of thanks for all panelists, organizers and participants. The storybooks can be bought online by placing an order on the website. (www.thetinylearners.com)