Jamlo Walks: Sensitising Young Readers About Life During Lockdown

The COVID-19 induced pandemic caused a major shift in all of our lives. While this meant switching to virtual workspaces or watching children struggle with online classes for most of us, many were helpless as their lives were turned upside down in a matter of days. The lockdown was hard for all of us, but it’s well known that it was the people existing on the margins of society who were hit the hardest. 

As parents or teachers, acclimatising children to the sudden change might not have been an easy feat, and educating and sensitising children amidst everything that was going on could have posed a challenge too. This is why Jamlo Walks by Samina Mishra is the perfect companion to help your little one make sense of  the aftermath of the lockdown. The book narrates the plight of migrant workers through the poignant story of a twelve-year-old girl, Jamlo Makdam. 

In more than one way, Jamlo’s story teaches us that our lives are closely connected to the world we inhabit, all the more so for underserved communities. Jamlo Walks nurtures the empathy that is crucial to help our children become mindful, sensitive, responsible adults. Below are three reasons that make Jamlo Walks a necessary read. 

 

01 A Lesson in Empathy

Empathy is a way of life, a trait we acquire as we see it in practice. Jamlo Walks weaves together the stories of four children navigating the initial days of the nation-wide lockdown in 2020. Many of these stories would be familiar to our children. But not all children in India lead the same life. Jamlo is filled with the curiosity and innocence that exists within every child.She is proud of the chillies she had earned for her hard work. But she is not attending online classes, she is not staring at the faces of her friends on a screen. Jamlo is walking back home in peak summer. By portraying a variety of lives, Jamlo Walks gently nudges children to take notice and empathise with the people that are not as fortunate as them. 

02 Awareness About the Issues That Plague Our Society

We often protect our kids from the harsh realities of the world, but in doing so, we impact the ways in which they perceive society and its issues. In India, all of us exist within the intersections of gender, age, caste, and religion. Jamlo Walks creates awareness about the different categories that all people, including children, live in. Reading the book with your children and having an open discussion with them will nurture awareness and sensitivity.

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03 Leveraging Our Privilege

We live in a world characterised by systemic inequalities. The access to necessary resources is determined by the position of the community we are born into. When we teach children the importance of food, water, or education, we also have to help them understand that we have privileges many don’t. Jamlo is without food or water, but she is grateful for the shade a tree provides while she rests her legs. She teaches us time and again that we need to count our blessings. At the same time, her story reminds us that we need to share it too.

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This book is a great read for readers above the age of 7. They will learn about gratitude, empathy, kindness, loss, and gloom as they progress through the story. The book ends with an account detailing the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on migrant workers.

About Neev Book Award

The Neev Book Award for distinguished children’s literature was started in 2018 with an aim to recognize outstanding writing that leads to a fuller understanding of India, Indian lives, and Indian stories. This award aims to promote and encourage high-quality children’s literature from India. Each winner is honoured at the Neev Literature Festivalfor their contributions with a certificate, trophy, and cash award of ₹1,00,000. The shortlist for the 2022 Neev Book Award 2022 reflects the diversity of children’s literature, and spotlights how books may foster human qualities of empathy, grief, compassion, and perseverance in young readers.

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