Being a teacher myself, Nidhi Agarwal, the storyteller and I have one thing in common – making learning fun!
A woman of steel with a passion for reading…. that’s Nidhi Agarwal.
An IIM Kolkata graduate, Nidhi started Steel Innovations Pvt Ltd in the year 2004, expanding the already existing family business of manufacturing heavy metal equipment. However, her love for literature and her desire to contribute in nation building gave birth to ‘Stories and Beyond’, an enterprise in Bhopal, which is run by three women with the same passion-creating an environment where our young children come and fall in love with books.
I got an opportunity to interview her recently and was able to learn more about her and her enterprise Stories and Beyond, an after-school reading programme which is doing much more than just reading books to the children.
Their enterprise is unique because their curriculum is structured in a way wherein all books that they choose are age appropriate. They research and pick out books which fascinate the children-the listeners, who find themselves engrossed in them. Many a times a child picks up a book to read but loses interest after reading a couple of pages. If the same book is narrated to him/her with action, drama and some interesting anecdotes he she is bound to look forward to read it again. Their curriculum comprises of puzzles, new vocabulary character sketch and creative writing and is structured in such a way that children imbibe language and communication skills through the beautiful art of storytelling.
According to her, the one ‘mantra’ that has helped her in life is, gaining knowledge. She believes that people respect you for your knowledge. Knowledge is true wealth and that’s what she strives to gain every day and share with all her students so that she can empower them.
From 16 kids in 2013 to 300 kids in 2019, I was keen to know Nidhi’s plans for the future. It was heartening to hear that her enterprise is neither looking at any monetary gains, nor are they planning to expand in the big cities. They are interested in reaching out to the children residing in two and three tier cities. She believes that the children in small towns should not be deprived of any opportunities. Territories should not be limitations for children to gain knowledge. How true! Nidhi aspires to grow with them and help them in their journey towards becoming better communicators and more confident individuals. I was so intrigued by the thought that inspired her-
“A CHILD who READS will be an ADULT who THINKS” –that I promptly picked up my laptop, and started writing my own stories for children!
Interviewed by: Jyotika R Singh