The Jarul Book Award is a one-of-a-kind award in Asia that honors the Indian authors of children’s picture books. As a true children’s choice award, the award empowers children: the picture books are reviewed, selected, nominated, and voted only by young students from 5-11 years of age.
The American School of Bombay (ASB), in partnership with Ascend International School and Don Bosco International School, initiated Jarul Book Awards in 2016. Three committed individuals – Heeru Bhojwani from ASB, Julie Patterson from Ascend International School, and Swarna Odhrani from Don Bosco International School had the vision to salute the finest of India’s picture books by getting the children themselves to select, nominate, and vote for their favorite choice. It would be a completely democratic process that empowered children to have a complete say in the decision of which book they liked the most and wanted to win.
What started as a small but determined initiative with just three schools participating, has now spread to 23 schools; this year, the Jarul Book Award also established itself in the United States, with the participation of the University Child Development School, Seattle. Almost 6000 votes were cast by national and global children to review, nominate, vote, and award their own choice of the best Indian picture book.
In the 3rd edition of the Jarul Book Awards, held at ASB on the 18th of January, Nalini Sorenson won the award the second time in a row, this time for her book, ‘Papa’s Marathon.’ The event began with Mr. Craig Johnson, head of the American School of Bombay, engaging the participating schools’ students and teachers with a very interesting narrative on the origin of the award. A lively session followed, where the students wrote down how they connected with the nominated picture books on leaves and flowers made from colored paper and these were stuck on the cutout of a “reading tree.” After the students’ interaction, the principals and librarians of the American School of Bombay, Ascend International School, and Don Bosco International School were recognized for their contribution in bringing this award into fruition. After that, all the participating schools that were present took the stage to get felicitated. The students of ASB created an Augmented Reality (AR) Cube to view the picture books through an app called CoSpaces on a phone or tablet. The AR cube brought the stories alive with visuals that could be navigated in real time by turning the cube in hand.
Heeru Bhojwani from ASB said, “Talking to the children at the Jarul Award ceremony convinced me that honoring contemporary Indian picture books has provided an opportunity for them to appreciate the value of Indian literature, be proud, and know that there is an Indian children’s picture Book award exclusively for them.” Visiting international author of children’s books, Julia Cook, spoke to the students about how books teach children to solve problems themselves and are indeed magical in the ways in which they change children’s lives.
Report: Heeru Bhojwani, Information Curator & Coach, ASB