Friday, October 25, 2013

Handmade Alphabet Book in Malayalam

This was a craft experiment to see if I can make interesting yet sturdy books for Dan. Board books are available in English, but not in Malayalam. I wanted a simple 4 page book with thick paper so that he can easily flip it. The finished book is approximately about 7 cms long and 5 cms broad. It is perfect for Dan's tiny hands. It has no stitching involved, just simple folding and gluing. I used a single chart paper to make this book. The chart paper was first folded in half, then a cut was made in the middle to create a sense of different pages, then I used fevicol to keep the pages together. Once the basic book shape was done, I used water colour to cover the white space and put the letters and simple sketches down using Indian Ink. Now that this came out successful, I am going to make more Malayalam Board Books for Dan, probably write some stories and illustrate them too. I will take step by step pictures of making the book next time, I promise so that any one interested can try too. 

Take a look, take a look. 

Cover page for the mother and the son :) I am possessive and I show off a lot, whatever.

The "u" sound is for Umma, the word for a kiss in Malayalam. This is for my boy who learned to kiss even before he could walk or talk. I remember meeting fellow baby holding moms showing off their babies who could do all sorts of tricks including "smile and wave" and "namaste" the minute they turned eight months or so. My baby didn't do any of that when he was eight months. But if I kissed him, he would immediately kiss me back. This "Umma" is for my dear little boy. One good life skill you have mastered, my dear.

Since I am raising my child in Delhi, he is going through a lot of language confusion right now. We talk to him and talk to each other in Malayalam all the time at home. When we step out of the home, people talk to him and us either in English or in Hindi. Initially Dan had this blank expression to both English and Hindi. Now he responds to both these languages. He is more comfortable in Malayalam still, but I know things will change the minute he steps into a playschool. Hindi is bound to be the language he is going to grow comfortable with. But I wanted to do whatever little I can to help him be grounded in his mother tongue.

We subscribe to a Malayalam Newspaper, we have plenty of books around. But there should be more stuff to catch the interest of a child, especially when he is not surrounded by that language. This is what prompted me to try and work this out.

I have promised myself to tell him stories and now that this became successful, I will make storybooks too for him, I really hope. I will definitely teach him to read and write Malayalam. No, too many languages will not overburden kids. Kids are really smart, one should not underestimate their potential. It is easier for any kid to learn multiple languages as early as in utero.

Malayalam is the language his parents use, his grandparents use, all his relatives use. It is only through this language that he will relate with and connect to them all. I want him to have that connection. I want him to eventually be able to read and write in Malayalam, enjoy and understand the literature, the poetry, the movies, the abuses, the puns, the minute shades. I do not worry about Hindi or English for Hindi will happen when he starts playing with his friends in the neighbourhood. English will happen when he starts going to a school. This humble effort is for the Mother Tongue.

And my little reader approves, I think.


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