Pooja Hemdev Lalwani is a Biodiversity Conservationist and Founder of Roots Nature Club – a community that fosters knowledge and appreciation for nature and wildlife amongst children. In her constant effort to contribute to environmental conservation and awareness, Pooja launched her debut book ‘Common Birds of Mumbai – Not Just a Field Guide’ at her delightfully unique “not just a book launch” this week, in Mumbai.
As the title suggests, Common Birds of Mumbai is a pictorial field guide to 174 species of birds found in Mumbai (resident and migratory). It piques the readers’ interest with fun trivia and other educational and awareness-building topics like Wild Bird SOS, Tips for Bird Identification, etc. The book is divided into colour codes for ease of use, and each species is depicted with different male and female silhouettes, its common name, scientific name, size and habitat indication. This book is for anyone and everyone, and keeps the reader engaged and excited to learn more about nature and the wonders it has to offer. The book launch matched the uniqueness of the book – involving engaging activities at an on-brand outdoor venue. It started with the author, Pooja, sharing the ethos behind Roots and her book, followed by a bird-themed bingo consisting of some interesting trivia and delightful giveaways, and ended with a live musical performance by the young and talented, Mahi and Neel Menon, aged 13 and 15 respectively. The launch was attended by accredited conservationists, ground-level environmentalists, wildlife photographers, nature enthusiasts, prominent names from the field of education, and other nature preservation enthusiasts.
The approach towards education of young children has evolved over the years – gone are the days of mere memorization and reiteration. Today, educators are inclined to engage children with reading material that not only helps them understand the subject matter, but also develop a more personal relationship with it. This is precisely the approach that Pooja has taken with her book. Pooja says, “A lifelong interest in nature and science can only be inculcated when children develop a keen interest in the world around them, and are curious about the environment and its inner workings. ‘Common Birds of Mumbai’ aims to achieve exactly this by being an interactive, fun, and engaging book that invites kids and even adults to not only learn about birds and take up birding as a hobby, but also to encourage children to be passionate about nature and discover their relationship with it.”
Dr. Vandana Lulla, Director, Podar International School, Mumbai said, “The beautiful pictures and interactive exercises make the book very comprehensive for kids. It is simple, easy to understand, and clearly laid out – which makes it easy to grasp the information.” The book nudges the reader to understand nature’s patterns, seasons, changes in the environment and in the longer term – answer some of the most pressing questions of today regarding climate change, endangered wildlife and more.
Radhika Rajgarhia, Primary School Principal, Ascend International School, Mumbai said, “Getting kids acquainted with nature is extremely important which is why our students also get a monthly copy of the Roots WildScribe Newsletter. This book is a great way for kids to learn about the wildlife that exists in their very own city!”
Children are not only the biggest stakeholders of our planet, but they are also the ones who can introduce the most fundamental change in preserving nature, as they are undoubtedly our future. Education that inculcates a love for nature at a young age is perhaps one of the best ways to ensure that the next generation is environmentally conscious and works to make our world more sustainable. This philosophy led the author to not only write the book, but is also her driving force behind her not for profit organization, Roots Nature Club. Roots strives to reconnect urban kids with the wild through fun and engaging workshops and seminars. This passion for spreading knowledge and facilitating a connection between individuals and nature reflects through the book – which is not only informative, but also exciting enough to engross kids and adults alike. After reading Common Birds of Mumbai, Parveen Hashmi, nature enthusiast and wife of Bollywood actor Emraan Hashmi said, “I identified a grassland bird the other day – I’m happy to be able to identify more than just crows, kites and parakeets. I’m glad to be able to sit with my child, look out the window and learn about the birds that we see. It is a great bonding experience.”