About 46 primary school teachers and Early Child Care and Development (ECCD) facilitators of Zhemgang attended a workshop in Gelephu to write children’s book.

The participants drafted 23 children books in local context.

Most participants of the weeklong workshop on ‘children’s book development’ said they are writing for the first time.

A participant, Karma Choden, who teaches English in classes II and III in Sonamthang Central School in Panbang, drafted a 20-page book on ‘The Weird Pair’ with an illustrator.

The book is a 420-word story about how a pigeon and an eagle become friends.  The book is filled with big illustrations.

“Illustrations or pictures are more important than words in children books,” Karma Choden said.

She said that it is difficult to find a book in the library for children of preprimary to class III written by local writers.

Having taught students of primary schools, she said that she best understands what kind of books can grab the attention of children.

“It is easy for us to write children’s book after attending this workshop and understanding the expectations of the children,” she said.

The participants said writing children’s book is something they never did before.

While most of the 23 drafts are English, few teachers have also written in Dzongkha.

A participant, Sangay Namgyel and an illustrator have drafted a 22-page Dzongkha storybook on fatherhood.

“I was interested in writing for a long time and this is where I learnt to start,” he said.

All books after publishing would be distributed to the libraries of primary schools in Zhemgang and would be made available to others through book fairs.

Save The Children’s programme development coordinator, Bishal Rai, said that between 2014-2016, Save The Children conducted a Bhutan children’s book initiative, which was successful.

He said that following the initiative in 2017 and early 2018, two such children’s book development workshops were held for teachers.

From the two workshops, he said at least 50 books were drafted. “Of that, about 30 have been already published and another 20 are in the process of being published.”

One of the full-time children’s book writers, Chador Wangmo, who was one of the resource persons at the workshop, said that the trend is that children love to read books that are set in local context.

She said that while there are less local children books in the market, the local writers struggle to find a market. “With more number of writers and more books, we hope to break through the mentality of parents that Bhutanese writers can also write good children’s books,” she said.

Save The Children in collaboration with Zhemgang dzongkhag administration organised the workshop.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Gelephu