But does it? And to whom?
I remember myself from a few years back- saddened, a little angry and terribly judgmental about what kids in this generation do to spend time. Clicking every moment, uploading it on social media, rooting for more likes- constantly putting themselves out there – the need for validation and the bid to catch attention. “So much self-harm. Such a pity!” We never had such exposure growing up.
When I had my elder daughter, the world of schools opened. I realized so much of educative content out there for kids to consume. So much learning, about everything under the sun, packaged neatly for a child to absorb. Some wonderfully made, some not. But brilliant that they can learn from it all. Wow, we never had such exposure growing up.
I realize that the world has changed, in this one generation. The demand for our kids to be screen- free is unreasonable. The demand for them to constantly educate, just because they can, is also unreasonable. Is there an option between the extremes of social media (‘cauldron of narcissism’ as the legendary Moira Rose puts it) and the bottomless pit of more input for a young person? Many take to social media to feel alive and acknowledged. To a generation of young people, who are either being ‘helped’ to learn or being told how to be, where is the room for output? Where are the moments elders take a pause and say, “We are listening? Only listening. Because your voice matters?”
Now, running Bookosmia, India’s biggest ‘for kids, by kids’ platform, having published over 2000 stories from children from 125 locations worldwide- we realize young voices matter. EVERY young voice matters-from Birmingham to Bellary, Kiccha to Canada. They always have something to say, only if we make room to listen. From stories to book reviews, travel blogs to artwork, in writing or on our podcasts, every child has something to share. If we celebrate their ideas, their speaking up now, they will feel like voicing themselves lifelong.
Stories are extremely important and many of us pass by without understanding their importance. The finest historian and thinker of our times, Yuval Harari, is extremely vocal on the importance of stories in helping human beings achieve the advancement they have had, over other species. Our identity, religion, jobs, brands- they are all stories well told- “imagined reality” as he says. And as is obvious, stories can be very powerful. The wars we fought, the cereal we buy – they all hinge on a story being told well which convinces the listener. Good stories provide power. A good storyteller gains the narrative, holds the listeners attention.
And while the power of good storytelling has been exploited by marketers and politicians long enough, one demographic which misses out being heard, is the kids- the young persons- which is ironic because they have an unfiltered opinions and unconditioned outlook. If their stories are heard, not just them, we all would benefit from it.
That is what we are hoping to do at Bookosmia- where we enable young voices to tell their stories- their experiences- still away from the society’s conditioning, away from an agenda or a bias and at a time when being heard will make them feel empowered to bring a change.
Give power to these young voices. They not only help them, but also us. Bookosmia’s recent ebook on discrimination was endorsed by renowned changemaker and Hillary Clinton Foundation Fellow, Gaurang Raval.
“I am extremely inspired and amazed with your work. Each and every piece has so much of depth and they leave multiple questions. Kindly convey my deepest appreciation and acknowledgment for the courage these little friends have expressed. Many congratulations to you and your team.”
An equally beautiful collection is our eBook on Gandhi – not an essay from googling when he was born or listing down the dates of his public rallies but by 8-16 year olds writing about one value important to Gandhi, that they practice in real life. Of course, they were thrilled to know that a life long Gandhian with an M.Phill in Gandhian Thought, well known environmentalist and social activist, Mudita Vidrohi wrote the foreword for their book-
“Gandhi loved children. He must be in great joy seeing you all trying to learn from his teachings. He will lead you to right path, to the right destination.”
Not every idea has to be of great social import. We have survived and thrived through COVID, on fart jokes on the Big Friendly Giant by 8-year-olds and enjoyed nature from lockdown confines via the drawings of birds by 6-year-olds, as part of our Gratitude During Covid series, widely covered by the media outlets like The Hindu and The New India Express.
Such is the power of this young creativity that Bookosmia recently launched India’s first ‘for kids, by kids’ podcast from our audio room on Backstage by Flyx. From budding journalists talking about mental health to sharing love for Harry Potter, interviewing authors like Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan to celebrating Father’s Day, the speakers and panellists on these podcasts are 5-16 year olds. It is time for them to speak up and the world to sit back and listen. Young people have started telling their stories.
As we strive to be a platform for EVERY kid, we our proud to see our young audience lead our latest initiative‘ Not That Different’- a children led movement to embrace neurodiversity and launch of India’s first comic book for kids to understand autism better. At the very helm of this initiative is the premise that it is time to learn from children on how to be curious, but not judgemental.
The world may celebrate ‘Youth Day’, on August 12th, but at Bookosmia, everyday is youth day!
For more do visit www.bookosmia.com or follow on Insta / FB @bookosmia