Dear Neev Community,
Reading is a pillar of development at Neev for many reasons. Readers are better prepared for a world that changes every day. Readers are more able to find and learn about something they need to know. Reading is a form of travel that expands the surface area of your mind. But the most important reason is that small differences become big differences over time; the lasting impact of the distance between a reader and a non-reader is evident in our classrooms (particularly our older ones). Learn to read-read to learn builds life-long learning skills like nothing else does.
Neev tries to develop this in three ways. First is reading@school, which is a quiet celebration and getting deeper as we grow older. Second is reading@home, which is nudged by book lists, library visits, and homework based on books. The third is Litfest@Neev with its explosion of author events, discussions, book prize, and book market place.
Our in-school reading – so far most successful in PYP – comes from the enhanced efforts of our library and teaching teams. In-class reading has stepped up; novel studies have grown 2.5x, adding new genres/titles and some Indian authors; class libraries, student reading conferences, daily read-alouds and USSR (uninterrupted silent sustained reading) time are building stronger readers. The library is developing as a hub of learning; an ever-increasing collection of literature – bridge titles, new titles/genres – is taken further with making the library more engaging, focus on authors and themes, and events like the recent world-read aloud day where 30 parents – moms and dads!! – joined hands with teachers. The MYP reading is also growing, but more quietly; avid readers are accessing the enhanced collections more, but we need to do more with the reluctant readers.
NLF has learned that a children’s litfest is an intellectual buffet for parents, children, and teachers. NLF also recognizes that the world of reading is changing in many ways:
– The stories of today have different plots, language, themes, formats, and genres
– The information age means the pace of writing has changed; stories are shorter, messages often quicker and arguably more
– The pace of reading has changed; stories travel around the world and move faster
– There is no paradox between stories being more globally owned and the increasing importance of Identity i.e. ‘missing stories’ are
– The digital revolution understands the bi-literate brain as different from the text reading one, in structure, function and affective development
– Images in books are no longer supporting text, but a different medium of communication in itself, creating another kind of bi-literate ‘reader’
NLF 3.0 aims to synthesize this with Indian writers experimenting with the changing world of stories and International writers that up the standard. Three large themes for deep conversations are – The Futurist (Consciousness awakening – AI, Conflicts, Dystopia as a
commentary on where we are headed, Taming the modern beast), Learn / Unlearn from History (How missing stories impact perspective, Revisionist history, etc. ), and Reading (Digital brain Vs Text brain, Visual communication vs Text, Changing language complexity and its impact, etc.). We will also continue the short interactive sessions, building on last years feedback from kids, parents, authors, illustrators, and librarians, on our ‘Circus tent’ sessions.
With an aim of extending NLF 3.0 beyond the two days, we are imagining weekend author curated walks on nature, history, adventure, mobile reading in shared community spaces, etc…..still thinking…we have aspirations towards this, but we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Neev Children’s Book Award 2019 has kicked off; starting early, we will also build children’s voices into the Book prizes.
We must take cognition of what is not working too. Gender focus in publishing is not changing – boys reading lesser than girls, which research shows impacts reading and writing scores. While repercussions are still emerging, workplaces are changing finally. 50
percent of new lawyers are women, and increasingly so for doctors and engineers. History has long shadows, but the arc of history bends towards justice even if it takes longer than we would like to think. Change should always be measured at the margins; look at
flow, rather than at stock – the gender ratios in intellectual careers is a definite trend. How are we preparing our children? How can we flip them all to being avid readers…to being life-long learners?
Someone at Neev said to me ‘I can confidently say that the Neev parent cohort is on average aligned with the focus on reading. And even if they aren’t, you are nudging us to think about it’. Our hope lies in the aspirations of our kids and the dedication of our parent
Basically, our one goal is – get everybody reading more! So pick up that book. Read to kids. Read with kids. Reading is a modeled habit. Reading is the only deceptively solitary habit that is completely social. Focus on what kids are reading; the what, why and how matter as much as how much they are reading. One of my favorite quotes is an author who imagines heaven as some kind of library; Now I’m off to read!
Kavita Gupta Sabharwal
Founder & Managing Trustee
Acting Head of School