Self-definition is something that 28-year-old Meenakshi Kishore was seeking in a top-floor corporate job two years ago. That is when she decided to trade in her jet-setting business suit for something where she could apply her creative mind. Kishore started Blue Fun Umbrella, an organisation that would create story-telling sessions for children.
“I, along with a friend, started Blue Fun Umbrella with a passion to get children back to reading. We wanted to share some of the special stories and illustrious authors that we had been hooked to when we were children, like Wizard of Oz,” says Kishore.
Blue Fun Umbrella conducts frequent interactive storytelling sessions lasting about an hour and a half for kids with ages ranging from two to 12 years, in schools, activity centers, NGOs and corporate venues. “The idea is to be as creative as possible. We don’t read from a book, rather we enact a story to the kids and involve them in the process, so that they take the story home with them,” says Kishore.
Called Story Tailors, their storytelling workshop is interactive and fun. “We use innovative props, books, music, puppets, visual art, clay, art and craft to create a multi-sensory experience for the child. We are building their imagination,” says Kishore.
“We try to build concepts for children. We don’t do morals but build basics for them. When we have a concept, we work around that and create theme based activities for the kids around the storytelling hour,” explains Kishore, illustrating how she inculcated money management when her team build a game called Valley of Savings for the kids to play. There were props like a bank, a mayor and a shopkeeper.
“When they ran around spending their time creating assets for themselves, they realised how important money management is. We stitched the activity with this story of two brothers who again had different spending habits. The children immediately connected with it, once they had played the game,” Kishore reiterates how storytelling is not just reading books, but more about creating ideas.
Kishore has an entourage of freelance storytellers who, like her, enact stories. Most of these storytellers are from theatre. There is also a musician on board, who creates a song for the moment for the kids to sing along like a nursery rhyme. “We have all sorts of kids from varied social and economic backgrounds and all of them are eager to learn and hear,” says Kishore, who is currently holding a training session for storytellers.