April 2018

A community of readers

Choosing not to wait for readers to come to libraries, the libraries were taken to the communities, to stimulate interest in reading

Children love stories. When children hear stories at home or in school, they begin to enjoy language. If children are read to and see adults around them reading, their interest in books is stimulated. It is important that young children are supported by adults in their early attempts at reading and writing.

When it was noticed that schoolchildren in Phaltan in Maharashtra were falling behind in the development of reading and writing skills, Pragat Shikshan Sanstha (PSS), an organisation working in the field of education in Phaltan, initiated the multi-pronged Nurturing Early Literacy Project in the Zilla Parishad schools in the region. Currently, PSS is working in 150 government schools in the region, in association with Tata Trusts, the Centre for Micro Finance and United States Agency for International Development, to address young children's failure to read and write. Setting up libraries and encouraging adults and children to read is an important component of the project.

Rather than wait for readers to come to libraries, PSS decided to take libraries to communities. Public places such as playgrounds, temples, local markets and the meeting place under the village banyan tree became places to put up exhibitions and attract children and adults to books. Story-telling sessions and read-aloud activities are organised with enthusiastic participation from children, who read out to their parents and grandparents. A trained volunteer also goes to the government school every day with a portable library in a box and loans out books to children and adults.

View our efforts to bring libraries to communities through the photo essay below