Celebrating Books and Reading
I was introduced to the wonderful idea of having a day set aside for books when we were in the UK all of 9 years ago.
A went to a montesssori there, and one day, we received an envelope addressed to us in her school bag. It contained a book token for one pound, and a list of age appropriate books that we could choose from to buy through the school. We could choose one book from the list to buy with our book token. Not only that, we could choose more books from the list at a discount, as the school had a tie-up with the local indie bookstore. We would then receive our treasure package on World Book Day.
Which brings me to India. Our country. We are far far away from a utopia where we have such an extensive network of free libraries, let alone book tokens for an affordable amount. There are some people doing some good in this field, though. Pratham Books, with their Read India Movement, aim to put a book in every child’s hand.
This vision has had them creating books like these, wonderful books for throwaway prices.Pratham books also are available in most Indian languages, and there are books that feature the everyday life of ordinary people. They are also more rooted in reality than those of other publishers whose book are for a similar demographic. As a result, any and every child can identify with these stories, and can be encouraged to pick up these books. The low cost, local language, and quality reading values make these books ideal for ‘putting a book in each child’s hands’.
Let me tell you of an experience – I volunteer at a school for special children. Among other things, I also read stories aloud. (On an aside, yesterday, 6th March 2013, was World Read Aloud Day. Another way to spread the joy of books tothose who can read, as well as those who cannot.) Many of these children have difficulty in imagining much beyond reality, and fantasy, mythology, fairy tales, etc., are a big no-no. I often find myself pulling out a Pratham books publication to read to them, which they enjoy thoroughly as they can easily visualize things that commonly happen at home, in schools, or in any other ‘real’ setting. I find myself struggling to hold their attention with the books of many other publishers, unless that book matches these criteria. This makes these books so much more inclusive.
Read the entire article on Sandhya’s blog.