Writing for little ones
Growing up as a first generation Pakistani-American, my family has always made sure I’ve stayed close to my roots. Visiting Pakistan was always a great deal of fun, but it was also shocking to see the extreme poverty and gender inequality.
It wasn’t until two years ago that I finally understood the underlying cause for the social issues in Pakistan. I discovered that a lack of quality education throughout the country hinders Pakistan’s ability to grow socially. Determined to help, I became involved with Bookgroup, an organization that develops much-needed children’s books and implements them in the curriculum of government schools.
I thus began the process of writing Bookgroup’s first bilingual Urdu-English children’s book. The task seemed simple enough, but through discussing, writing and re-writing, I quickly realized that weaving a moral into simple words was nearly impossible.
Eventually, after about seven months, I, along with the help of friends and mentors, finished the story of Biloongra.
The story attempts to break stereotypical domestic spheres, showing that Noori, a 9-year-old girl, derives joy from tree-climbing, while her younger brother, Saad, is content to stay inside and paint. The storyline details Noori’s discovery of a kitten and the events leading up to Saad naming the kitten “Biloongra.” By incorporating subtle details that hint at breaking stereotypes, my goal was to plant new ideas into the kids’ minds without them even realizing it, while simultaneously aiding their study of the English language.
The book was published by Bookgroup and is now included in the curriculum of 80 government schools around Pakistan.
My work didn’t stop there. Seeing my book in print motivated me to find new ways to help educate children in Pakistan and pushed me to spread awareness of the social issues in Pakistan. There are currently five kids, including myself, who are each developing a new storyline to send to Bookgroup.
Editor’s note: Learn more at biloongra.com.
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