Creating Lifelong readers, one book at a time

As part of the READ Alliance team, we get many opportunities to visit the field and witness firsthand the amazing groundbreaking work our partners are doing across remote districts of the country. During a couple of such recent visits, we visited libraries and met with librarians, students, and community members to discuss the special circumstances around library requirements of children, especially, tribal children.

Libraries are precious treasures, a magical place where kids learn on their own, harness their natural curiosity, creativity and imagination. Most government run schools and other low income schools lack a library and hence many children miss out on what necessarily is an essential part of education. However, there are a few organizations that are doing their bit to ensure libraries truly transform learning outcomes for children across diverse and multicultural settings.

Agragamee, one of READ Alliance’s sub-recipient, is an organization working with marginalized and underprivileged communities in the tribal districts of Odisha, in India, and provides tribal children access to a variety of reading material at each of their intervention schools. The library room has maps and globes, which help students understand about different places that are hear and read about in their text books and newspapers.

Children reading books in the Agragamee library

There are weekly sessions which encourage the students to read upon various interesting topics related to science, mathematics, nature, literature and social sciences. The students have gradually bettered their reading skills and immensely enjoy these sessions. Apart from improving reading skills, children are also sensitized on issues of caste, class, and communal divide, apart from addressing developmental issues within their own community.

Library facilitator enacting out a story with the children in Agragamee school

These children are also encouraged to engage in writing stories, which are pinned up on their wall magazine in the school. This wall consists of a variety of stories created and written by children and are based on their imagination, home settings, nature, tribal folklore etc.

Wall magazine with stories written by children of Agragamee school

QUEST, another READ Alliance sub-recipient, is trying to improve the literacy levels of tribal children in Maharastra through Lipi, a comprehensive literacy program for children in grades 1 to 3, and Saksham, a literacy remediation program for children in grades 4 to 7 who are not able to read and write at their grade-appropriate level. Basis the preliminary findings of their intervention, they have introduced ‘Pustakgadi — a mobile library’ that reaches out to more than 10 schools and provides access to 5000 plus graded books.

Pustakgaadi, a mobile library that reaches out to about 3500 students in 10 Ashram schools across Maharashtra

Pustakgadi is a van with books, computer and LCD projector which goes from school to school and provides contextual stories for children, scaffolding support for mother tongue and state language acquisition, and encourages teachers to engage children in reading aloud.

Read aloud session with children

This van is loaded with more than 1000 graded children’s books titles with 5 copies of each book. These books are sourced from different publications such as Jyotsana Prakashan, Mehta publishing house, Pratham books, National book Trust, Children’s Book Trust etc. The library facilitators have pre-planned lesson plans that include engaging activities such as Read Aloud, Shared Reading, which encourage students to learn about the relationship between print and oral language, construct meaning from text read, and improve reading comprehension among other things.

Children participate in a story enacting session

Children who have never held story books in their hands or understood their importance now have access to joyful reading material that’s related to their education and literacy levels, and helps them expand their creativity and imagination.

Library facilitator measuring a child’s performance after Read aloud session

Know of other interventions that are improving access to books for remote, underserved population across India, don’t forget to drop in a line to us at puneet.dhillon@cks.in.

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