‘LOOK OUT, LOOK WITHIN’: A STORYBOOK THAT STANDS FOR CHANGE!
I sat down to review an illustrated children’s book titled, Look Out, Look Within. I read the story of two friends, Mia and Anya, with a smile on my face. The illustrations helped me to imagine the beautiful friendship of the two girls even though Mia was visually impaired. Mia didn’t feel nervous on being a little different from Anya.
All of a sudden, I wanted to share the book with children of different age groups. I wanted to know how they would feel about the story. I put on my shoes and ran down the stairs to the little garden in my colony. I gathered all the children and distributed the copies of Look Out, Look Within. I was in for surprises. Within a matter of few minutes just everyone wanted to share something.
‘Look Out, Look Within is the first storybook I have read for children that is about a visually impaired girl and her friend. Both of them have a world of their own,’ points out Navya, a budding writer.
‘Mia and Anya are friends. Mia is blind but both friends have a lot of fun and they enjoy each other’s company,’ observes Jaseeta.
‘Friendship is all about being together to enjoy, share and care,’ adds Kuhoo.
‘I learnt from the story of Mia and Anya that we should include everybody in our group. We should not leave someone out just because he or she is a little different from the rest. How would I feel if someone did not include me in the circle of friendship?’ points out Debujeet.
‘When I came across a picture in which Anya watches television and Mia is happy listening as she cannot see, I realised that we wrongly feel that the visually impaired cannot enjoy and instead pity them,’ feels Khilee.
Parth was in deep thought because he realized that we should not stare at people who are different. ‘What happened to you?’ shouldn’t be the first question to them. We can talk about so many other things.’
Bhavya, the eldest of them all, went home after reading Look Out, Look Within and the next day she surprised me with a text message. It read, ‘the visually impaired don’t see but they feel. Blindness doesn’t make someone inferior or less productive to the economy. All that they need is equal opportunity, respect and recognition as citizens. Bhavya also read out the story to little Swach.’
Rishit, the youngest was listening to the discussion. He had learnt an important lesson that it is nice to read a book, think and then share learnings. He smiles, ponders and goes home to narrate the story to his mother and infant sister.
I realized that well thought out books can definitely bring in positive changes around us.
The value of inclusion helps us to accept people with disability in a way that they feel comfortable about themselves.
The young readers looked within to understand that everybody looks for a friend and an atmosphere of belongingness. Yes! They learnt about the right to belong for a happy and healthy living. The right to belong needs to be guaranteed by one friend to another who focuses on ability and not disability of friends. These children promised me that they would talk about the story and take up the topic of inclusion in their classrooms.
‘Look Out, Look Within,’ has been published in Braille as well as text. It is a beautiful book for children and is the outcome of a meaningful discussion between three friends: Upasana Makati, the founder of White Print, the first lifestyle magazine in Braille. She is joined by the author Neha Talesara and Vandana Naidu, the illustrator.
Look Out, Look Within is set to change young mindsets and create an atmosphere of inclusion in the world of children.
About White Print
Launched in May, 2013, White Print, India’s first lifestyle magazine for the visually impaired in Braille English aims to build a readership of enthusiastic individuals who would look beyond the realms of mere news as reading material. At a time where the visually impaired were relying heavily on talk-back softwares and their Braille literacy was confined only to the spaces of their mind, White Print ushered in a new light. Upasana Makati is the founder, editor, publisher and owner of White Print. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author:
Geeta Yadav is a writer by choice. She has been in this field for about 20 years. She now engages in writing for inclusion- White Print, India’s first Lifestyle Magazine for the Visually Impaired, thus gave her the opportunity to take forward the message into the world of children, where she belongs. She now conducts sessions on inclusion with children, and also writes curriculum books on Value Education.