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Join hands with us to create Reading Corners in schools

India lays emphasis on primary education up to the age of 14 years. More than 73% of children are in village schools, which are run in extremely challenging situations as compared to the city schools. For example a UNESCO study points out that, only 27% of the village schools have electricity compared to 76% of the schools in towns or cities. And only about half of these rural schools have proper toilets for girls, and less that 4% have a telephone. One of the crucial need is also qualified teachers willing to work in villages.

Most of the schools and the villages don't have libraries. Since the vast majority of students in villages come from economically and educationally disadvantaged homes, the only books they ever see are their textbooks. This sadly limits their reading and learning abilities, and they tend to dropout from the schools unable to enjoy learning/ reading.

We, the A&A Book Trust team is trying to persuade various state governments to act on the central government's recommendation to establish Reading Corners in schools.

What is a Reading Corner?

A Reading Corner is the first basic library in the village primary school which has no access to a library or a bookshop. In many village families, the children are the first generation learners, affording education only because it's free. The Reading Corner has a selection of age-appropriate, attractive books, carefully selected to initiate the children into enjoying books. Promising a lot of shared fun, the Reading Corner is the rural child's window to the world, widening the mental horizon.

Our Reading Corner kit comprises:
  • One hundred select books covering a range of topics, both fiction and non-fiction. The books are selected by a committee of expert consultants keeping the interests and needs of the children in mind

  • Four posters for encouraging children to read
  • A colourful nylon rope to hang the books on

In 2009-10, we helped set up Reading Corners in 112 primary schools, mainly in Uttarakhand. The break up of the these is as under: 3 primary schools respectively in Shitala, Odakhan and Nathua Khan, 62 schools served by Chirag, an NGO working for decades for development of the region, 21 Sandhya Kendras set up by USNPSS, an NGO in Almorah to engage children in fruitful activities after school, and 26 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas set up by the state government to offer hostel facilities to girls coming from interiors of the state to persue studies from grade 6-12. We made a selection of girl child centric books for these preteens/teens girls. Complete Lists of these schools, and Sandhya Kendras is available for those interested.

Itís not enough just to donate the books, our team holds orientation sessions on how to use these for the teachers/librarians in charge. Having excelled the target, and seeing the boundless enthusiasm of children availing the library facilities, our responsibility is to ensure that they get new books to read every year. We are working on the next set of books to go to these, and extend the benefit to the 5 new Sandhya Kendras USNPSS established last year. We plan organising book related events, hands on skill building activities and story-telling/author's visits to these schools.

We'll also interact with the village community so that the parents and grandparents understand the importance of the Reading Corner. We have a step-by-step plan to add new books to the Reading Corners for the years to come, and before we know, the village might also have a small library of its own, for the children as well as the adults!

What can you do to join us in our effort?

  • Friends, this is all about doing our own bit! The children in villages are hungry for books. You can see this in the pictures on our website. You can also see it for yourself if you plan a visit / travel with us to the schools.

  • Imagine, as little as €65 or US $100 is enough to set up a Reading Corner in a village school, which will gives a chance to children to read and enter the enriching world of books, and change their lives. One reading corner touches lives of at least 250-300 families.

  • If you believe in the power of books like we do, please help us set up a Reading Corner in a school of your choice, in India. In case you have no particular school in mind, we will identify one for you. We will make sure that you get some pictures of the Reading Corner, and the children enjoying reading and also share the feedback from the school.

  • Give us a month in your life, staying at Shitala! There's so much to do. If you are a specialist, you can employ the skills for empowering the teachers, broadening their vision and professional skills. Be on our expert's and volunteers panel, and help us hold workshops for teachers/students sharing your skills. If you have the inclination we will create a role for you.

We shall wait for your response. Just let us know how we can work together, and yes, we welcome questions!

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