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‘The First House’ – An Audio Visual Story by BookBox

In early November, I conducted a reading session with students of grade 4 at
the Intaya Public School in Arunachal Pradesh in the north-eastern part of
India. An audio-visual version of my book called the ‘First House’ was shown to
the children. The story is a folktale of the Singpho tribe that describes how the
first house was built in a faraway land with the cooperation of forest creatures.
The folktale was first narrated and then by showing the BookBox animation
film, five strategies were used to improve comprehension and literacy and
here are they!

  • The audio was muted so that students could retell the story in their own words by watching the ‘silent’ film.
  • The running text was hidden and students were asked to write down parts of the story just by listening to the narration.
  • The film was stopped mid-way and students had to imagine and then narrate the rest of the story in English or in their mother tongue.
  • The film was frozen at particular points and students noted down names of things they saw in the picture.
  • The cursor was fixed on a particular word of the text to help students notice spellings and pronunciation of unfamiliar words.

Needless to say, the students enjoyed reading the story and wanted to see
more of the film! Encouraging, isn’t it?






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Story viewing Session with Children

Based in the heart of the town, Ramakrishna School is funded and supported by the Ramakrishna Trust. Starting from Primary to higher secondary, they have an average of 600 students.

Had a wonderful story viewing session with children where we shared our latest stories and overall got an amazing response. The stories where primarily on Environmental issues and hygiene which were well received by the children and as well the teachers. We conducted activities around the stories like Q&A, read long with the stories and storytelling by children in their own words. We were happy to see the children enthusiastically participate and looking forward for more of our stories.

On the other hand, had quite an informative discussion with the teachers and headmistress on how our stories are helping children improve their vocabulary. Teachers even use some of our stories in their English classes. The headmistress was indeed very happy while talking to us about the event and prompted us for regular visits.

Over all, it was a good exchange of knowledge for all of us.

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Celebrating Independence Day at Ramakrishna Primary School

Based in the heart of the town, Ramakrishna School is funded and supported by the Ramakrishna Trust. Starting from Primary to higher secondary, they have an average of 600 students.

Interaction with Children

On the occasion of Independence Day, we conducted a small event at the school for the class 3rd and 4th children where we played our Dr. Kalam & Dr. Kiran Bedi childhood stories. Children were enthusiastic in telling us the moral of the stories and some were even good at narrating it to us in their own words. We had an interactive session with the children wherein we discussed their dreams and aspirations.

We also conducted a story telling session and explained to the children how to create compost with vegetable waste at home and how it’s beneficial for the plants. They were very enthusiastic and many wanted to plant and make compost.

A coloring session with the children, where each one were exploring with colors.

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Research Content

Same Language Subtitling (SLS) is the idea of subtitling (or captioning) audio-visual content in the ‘same’ language as the audio. Word for word, what you hear is what you read, in perfect timing.

Does SLS cause automatic reading engagement among good and struggling readers?

d’Ydewalle et al.’s (1991) eye-tracking research found that American subjects watching an English movie with SLS and Dutch subjects watching a Dutch movie with SLS, spent considerable time in the subtitle area. Reading SLS was inevitable and comparable for both groups, even though the Dutch subjects had much more experience with subtitles on TV. Reading SLS did not depend much on habit formation.

d’Ydewalle and Rensbergen (1989) recorded the eye-movements of young children while watching SLS on cartoons. The viewing patterns of 4th and 6th Grade children did not differ much from adult readers. However, 2nd Grade children’s reading of SLS depended on the content watched – they read on ‘Garfield’ (verbally heavy) but much less on ‘Popeye’ (action-oriented).

Several other studies have confirmed that reading along with SLS is inescapable, but the subjects have almost always been good readers. Hence, the critical question is, would struggling readers, especially those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, also try and engage automatically with SLS?

PlanetRead (2018) completed an eye-tracking study of government school children in Grades 2-5 in rural Rajasthan, India, by showing them animated stories with and without SLS. It is an understatement that the subjects were struggling readers from low-income families. Most children (94%) engaged with SLS, exhibiting an increasing number of eye-fixations on the subtitles, with grade. The story at a ‘low’ level of reading difficulty (81 simple words/min) invited the most reading engagement, followed by the ‘medium’ one (82 words/min), but SLS was mostly ignored in the ‘high’ difficulty story (111 words/min).

The primary conclusion is that almost all viewers who are beginning, struggling or good readers, will automatically engage with SLS. SLS just cannot be ignored.

Does SLS exposure lead to improved reading skills?

The idea of leveraging Closed-Captioning (CC) on TV to enhance the reading skills of struggling readers, is as old as CC itself (Koskinen et al., 1986) but longitudinal studies are few. Linebarger et al. (2010) commented on one such by Koskinen et al. (1997): “In a longitudinal study of continuous caption use in the home, children who viewed with captions scored significantly higher on normative tests of word identification and passage comprehension when compared with non-caption viewers.”

In Linebarger et al.’s (2010) study with struggling readers in Grades 2-3 from economically disadvantaged urban locations in the US, SLS exposure was limited to just six 30-minute episodes from children’s TV. Still, “The majority of outcomes… indicated that children who viewed with captions outperformed their counterparts who viewed without captions,” and the improvement was most pronounced among children at risk for poor reading outcomes.

Similarly, in New Zealand, Parkhill & Johnson (2009) found that in their six-week ‘AVAILLL’ programme for children aged 5-13 years, which uses popular, subtitled movies and accompanying novels to engage students in reading literacy, the greatest gains occurred for ‘low-progress’ readers. A positive impact was also observed for average and higher-level readers.

A number of longitudinal studies have come out of the SLS project in India. Kothari and Bandyopadhyay (2014) evaluated the impact of SLS after sustaining it for 5 years on a weekly hour-long programme of Hindi film songs telecast nationally in prime time. Among school children who could not read a single letter in Hindi at the baseline (2002), 70% in the high-SLS viewing group became functional readers by the endline (2007) as compared to 34% in the low-SLS group. In the 15+ age group, 14% in the high-SLS and 5% in the low-SLS group went from non-decoding to functional-reading. Adults gained too but children benefited substantially more in what can be described as a schooling + SLS effect.

Given the SLS project’s goal of persuading broadcast policy in India to require SLS on all the film songs shown on TV in India, in every language, a maximum SLS exposure of an hour a week, albeit for 5 years, was still too little. That was addressed in Maharashtra state where, for 2 years, SLS had a strong broadcast presence on around 20 Marathi films per week (only the songs were subtitled) on two of the most popular Marathi channels (Kothari and Bandyopadhyay, 2015). The Gujarat (control) and Maharashtra samples were comparable at the baseline (2013). By the endline (2015), in Maharashtra, 68% in Grade 3 could read at Grade 1 level or better as compared to 43% in Gujarat.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) independently found that over the same 2-year period, Maharashtra outperformed all states – 9% more children in Grade 5 were able to read a Grade 2 level text, as compared to no gain nationally. Among those who got regular SLS exposure, 30% more children in the early grades achieved basic reading ability. The impact of SLS on reading skills was considerably stronger for children in Grades 2-3. A separate study of SLS on TV in Gujarat state confirms its value on film songs for reading literacy (Kothari et al., 2004). What about SLS on children’s TV?

Universally, children love to watch cartoons. PlanetRead (2018a) found that struggling readers cannot but attend to SLS on animated stories. Does that contribute to reading skills? Linebarger et al. (2010) and Linebarger (2001) provide evidence that it does, while underscoring the importance of captions, “especially for children who might not have access to print.”

PlanetRead (2018b) conducted a year-long study in 10 primary schools in rural Delhi serving children in Grades 1-5 from low-income families. In 5 treatment schools, the teachers showed all the children in Grades 1-4, 30 minutes of animated stories in Hindi with SLS, three times a week. From a comparable starting point, the average reading score in the treatment schools was 70% higher than the control schools. The impact of the intervention on reading was most apparent in Grades 2-3, pointing again to the strong complementarity of SLS, during the early stages of reading acquisition.

The benefits of SLS or CC are not limited to reading literacy. For an overview of the range of benefits attributable to SLS – including reading, media access and language acquisition – see Gernsbacher (2015).

References

d’Ydewalle, G., Praet, C., Verfaillie, K., & Rensbergen, J. V. (1991). Watching Subtitled Television: Automatic Reading Behavior. Communication Research, 18(5), 650–666.

d’Ydewalle, G., & Van Rensbergen, J. (1989). Developmental studies of text-picture interactions in the perception of animated cartoons with text. In H. Mandl & J. R. Levin (Eds.), Advances in psychology, 58. Knowledge acquisition from text and pictures (pp. 233-248). Oxford, England: North-Holland.

Gernsbacher, Morton Ann. “Video Captions Benefit Everyone” Policy insights from the behavioral and brain sciences vol. 2,1 (2015): 195-202. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290395991_Video_Captions_Benefit_Everyone.

Koskinen, P.S., Bowen, C.T., Gambrell, L.B., Jensema, C.J. & Kane, K.W. (1997). Captioned television and literacy development: Effects of home viewing on learning disabled students. Paper presented at the Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.

Koskinen, P. S., Wilson, R. M., Gambrell, L. B., & Jensema, C. J. (1986). Using closed captioned television to enhance reading skills of learning disabled students. National Reading Conference Yearbook, 35, 61-65.

Kothari, B., & Bandyopadhyay, T. (2014). Same language subtitling of Bollywood songs on TV: Effects on literacy. Information Technologies & International Development, 10(4), 31–47.

Kothari, B. & Bandyopadhyay, T. (2015). An innovation to raise a nation’s reading skills: Scale up of Same Language Subtitling (SLS) on Zee in Maharashtra, https://www.planetread.org/images/pdf/research/Impact%20of%20SLS%20scale%20up%20in%20Maharashtra%20on%20Zee%20Talkies%202015.pdf. See also https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-caused-maharashtras-leap-in-reading_us_589d1277e4b0e172783a9a8f..

Kothari, B., Pandey, A., & Chudgar, A. (2004). Reading out of the “idiot box”: Same-language subtitling on television in India. Information Technologies & International Development, 2(1), 23–44.

Linebarger, D., Piotrowski, J. T., & Greenwood, C. R. (2010). On-screen print: The role of captions as a supplemental literacy tool. Journal of Research in Reading, 33(2), 148-167.

Parkhill, F., & Johnson, J. (2009). An unexpected breakthrough for rapid reading improvement: AVAILLL uses movies so students read it, see it and get it. set: Research Information for Teachers, 1, 28−34.

PlanetRead (2018a). AniBooks: Scalable and likeable, but readable? https://www.planetread.org/pdf/Eye%20Tracking%20Study%20of%20AniBooks%20Draft%20Report%20(June%202018).pdf.

PlanetRead (2018b). AniBooks for early-grade reading. https://www.planetread.org/pdf/AniBooks%20for%20EGR%20PlanetRead.pdf.

References

d’Ydewalle, G., Praet, C., Verfaillie, K., & Rensbergen, J. V. (1991). Watching Subtitled Television: Automatic Reading Behavior. Communication Research, 18(5), 650–666.

d’Ydewalle, G., & Van Rensbergen, J. (1989). Developmental studies of text-picture interactions in the perception of animated cartoons with text. In H. Mandl & J. R. Levin (Eds.), Advances in psychology, 58. Knowledge acquisition from text and pictures (pp. 233-248). Oxford, England: North-Holland.

Gernsbacher, Morton Ann. “Video Captions Benefit Everyone” Policy insights from the behavioral and brain sciences vol. 2,1 (2015): 195-202. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290395991_Video_Captions_Benefit_Everyone.

Koskinen, P.S., Bowen, C.T., Gambrell, L.B., Jensema, C.J. & Kane, K.W. (1997). Captioned television and literacy development: Effects of home viewing on learning disabled students. Paper presented at the Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.

Koskinen, P. S., Wilson, R. M., Gambrell, L. B., & Jensema, C. J. (1986). Using closed captioned television to enhance reading skills of learning disabled students. National Reading Conference Yearbook, 35, 61-65.

Kothari, B., & Bandyopadhyay, T. (2014). Same language subtitling of Bollywood songs on TV: Effects on literacy. Information Technologies & International Development, 10(4), 31–47.

Kothari, B. & Bandyopadhyay, T. (2015). An innovation to raise a nation’s reading skills: Scale up of Same Language Subtitling (SLS) on Zee in Maharashtra, https://www.planetread.org/images/pdf/research/Impact%20of%20SLS%20scale%20up%20in%20Maharashtra%20on%20Zee%20Talkies%202015.pdf. See also https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-caused-maharashtras-leap-in-reading_us_589d1277e4b0e172783a9a8f..

Kothari, B., Pandey, A., & Chudgar, A. (2004). Reading out of the “idiot box”: Same-language subtitling on television in India. Information Technologies & International Development, 2(1), 23–44.

Linebarger, D., Piotrowski, J. T., & Greenwood, C. R. (2010). On-screen print: The role of captions as a supplemental literacy tool. Journal of Research in Reading, 33(2), 148-167.

Parkhill, F., & Johnson, J. (2009). An unexpected breakthrough for rapid reading improvement: AVAILLL uses movies so students read it, see it and get it. set: Research Information for Teachers, 1, 28−34.

PlanetRead (2018a). AniBooks: Scalable and likeable, but readable? https://www.planetread.org/pdf/Eye%20Tracking%20Study%20of%20AniBooks%20Draft%20Report%20(June%202018).pdf.

PlanetRead (2018b). AniBooks for early-grade reading. https://www.planetread.org/pdf/AniBooks%20for%20EGR%20PlanetRead.pdf.

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Meet the BookBoxers!

Yes, here we are, a family of fun loving people. We play cricket and board games,
we drink filter coffee while watching the sun set on the beautiful beach right next to our office
and we love to eat good food.

Oh yes, almost forgot, we also make all these beautiful AniBooks for you!

Brij Kothari
CEO

[google=example.com, facebook=example.com, twitter=example.com]

Nirav Shah
COO

Parthibhan Amudhan
General Manager

[google=example.com, facebook=example.com, twitter= https://twitter.com/PlanetRead ]

Sweta
Senior Project Manager

[google=example.com, facebook=example.com, twitter=example.com]

Victor Lourdaraj
Accounts Officer

Arvind Kumar
R & D

Vijay Shinalkar
Operations Manager, Mumbai

Hema Jadwani
Research Consultant

Regis
Senior Graphic Designer

Rajeshwar
Graphic Designer

Sylvia
Project Manager

Arun Bala
Project Manager

Vijay Shinalkar
Operations Manager, Mumbai

Vigneshwar
Trainee, Quality Control

Francis
Office Assistant

Santholya
Cook

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A Day at Deepsthal Learning Centre

Deepsthal Learning Centre is an educational initiative of Pyar Trust based in Pondicherry for the less privileged children to promote education and learning.

With the help of Darshana, a volunteer at Deepsthal, we got an opportunity to showcase our AniBooks to the children. After a general introduction with the children of 6-13 years old, we played the childhood anecdotes of Dr. Kalam & Kiran Bedi and an animal story ‘The Four Friends’ in English & Tamil.

Children loved the AniBooks and enjoyed reading out the subtitles while watching the stories. Some even narrated the stories in their own words. We had an interactive session with the children and they were prompt with their responses to our queries.

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Friends Section

Friends


PlanetRead is a not for profit organization with the simple mission of creating a reading planet – a planet where everyone can read and has access to interesting and affordable reading opportunities in native and other language(s). https://www.planetread.org/


Chie Media is an e-learning company based out of Bangalore, India. They bring the smart-channel experience to digital devices and also deliver end-to-end smart channel services– which includes content sourcing, content repurposing, application development and smart-channel operations. http://www.chiemedia.com/


Auroville international translators is a multilingual team of translators, all native speakers, in the Auroville International Township, India. Avitra’s services comprise. http://www.avitra.net/index.html