In my recent Personal View, A Whole World of ABCs and 123s, for our current literacy focus, I included a wonderful new book called The Merasi Counting Book. This is what I wrote about it:
A beautifully produced bilingual (Hindi and English) counting book featuring traditional Rajasthani folk art. Young children will love the bright colors and enjoy counting the triangles, which seem to dance across the page for each number. Produced by the Merasi, a musician community with a long heritage, the book also provides some cultural background and a good table at the back with numbers and words up to twenty in both languages and the Hindi pronunciation.
… and I felt it was worth highlighting in Books at Bedtime since its background is just as colorful as the book itself. The book was published by Folk Arts Rajasthan “joyfully… as a learning tool to promote dignity and respect with Heart and Hope for all.” – Heart and Hope being the name of a recent, two-month tour in the US of Merasi musicians “to celebrate the Merasi’s 37 generations ancient yet intact musical legacy”, as Karen Lukas, the Director of Folk Arts Rajasthan told me. There are some photos from the tour here – and if you scroll down, you’ll find one of the opening pages of The Merasi Counting Book. You can also see a photo of the book’s illustrator, Indra Banu, here – alongside other women artists.
And it’s not just the adults who are talented artists: one of Folk Art Rajasthan’s projects is a school for Merasi children. Read the school’s homepage to get an idea of just how special it is – and take a look here and here to see how talented pupils transformed their school building.
The Merasi Counting Book, therefore, not only provides a colorful introduction to numbers, but it helps small people to look beyond their own experience – and maybe then use that perspective in their own creativity. Indeed, it is already being used “to introduce Merasi children and community to the concept of counting in their own language, as well as in English”. At the moment, though, I have to say I’m not quite sure where it can be obtained beyond the Merasi community but I will do my best to find out and let you know…