Srinagar: Do you feel that the poems and short stories in the kindergarten textbooks of the schools in Kashmir valley do not gel with the local culture? Do you feel that the school textbooks should also introduce our kids to ‘Shaal Kaak’ and ‘Sheene-Pippen’ alongside Humpty Dumpty.
If the answer is yes, then do check out the ‘Sheene-Pippen Series’ by educator Grace Paljor. Published recently, a couple of private schools have already included the ‘Sheene-Pippen Series’ in its curriculum.
Paljor, who is also the Principal of St. Paul’s International Academy, Sonwar, is hopeful that other schools too will include these textbooks in its curriculum having rhymes titled ‘Shikara’, ‘Chinar’, Tulips, ‘Rouff’, ‘My Pretty Pheran’ besides stories like The Crow Girl (Kawah-Koor) and ‘Shaal Kaak’, the King of the Forest.
“Since I am a teacher, I had noticed this gap…..our text books are for pan India. For example, our children read about ‘Peepal ka Ped’ and the banana tree but there is nothing about the local flora and fauna. And rhymes have no connection with the local culture either. Therefore, I thought of coming up with the ‘Sheene-Pippen Series’ that can be taught up to Class I. There are many other textbooks available here but the regional essence has been neglected in children’s literature in Kashmir,” Paljor told The Kashmir Monitor.
She said most of the poems had been written by her and she had started writing and compiling the series during the Coronavirus pandemic last year.
“When the pandemic happened, I started writing about different aspects. The Sheene-Pippen Series comprises three parts: ‘Samavar and other Rhymes & Stories’, ‘Chinar Trees and other Rhymes & Stories’ and ‘Shikara and other Rhymes & Stories’. It has recently been published and few private schools including Welkin Sopore and ours will be introducing it from this session. Most of the poems are mine and I have given due acknowledgement elsewhere,” she said.
Paljor, who is from Ladakh region but has lived in Srinagar city for a long time, said the textbooks were in compliance with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which mandates the promotion of the mother tongue and bilingual learning at a foundational stage.
“Each book in the series contains familiar rhymes and stories as well as unique ones inspired by the Valley of Kashmir. The delightful illustrations alongside the rhymes and stories contextualize Kashmir, acquainting children with long-forgotten folk tales of the region,” she added.
However, alongside rhymes related to the Kashmiri culture, the series also includes others like ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ among others so that the children also are introduced to the usual poems read in schools.
Interestingly, the books also introduce children to locally found birds and plants like ‘Hazaar Dastaan’ (blue whistling thrush), ‘hundh’ (dandelion) and ‘Katij’ (swallow) among others.