Read India read

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This International Literacy Day, Pratham Books has taken a 1,000 steps towards a ‘Reading India.’ What started as a small step by Pratham Books to spread the joy of reading has become a movement. Last year, Pratham Books initiated the ‘One Day One Story’ initiative on the occasion of International Literacy Day and conducted over 250 storytelling sessions. This year, over 1,000 sessions happened across the length and breadth of the country.

This initiative is part of the Pratham Books’ Champions programme where they encourage their community of volunteers to conduct reading sessions. These sessions are conducted free of cost and mostly with children from under-served communities. The Pratham Books’ Champions Programme is a one-of-its-kind volunteer programme that has scaled to a national level.

The book chosen for this year was Paplu, The Giant, written by Ramendra Kumar and illustrated by Zainab Tambawalla. A delightful story about a little giant who did not like to fight with anyone! The book is available in English, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Kannada. Pratham champions read out Paplu, The Giant across 27 Indian states.

Another highlight of this nation-wide initiative was that sessions were conducted in 20 of the 22 official languages of India. Some champions even conducted sessions in dialects like Nagamese, Mizo and also in International languages like Portuguese, Tibetan and Chinese.

Interesting incidents occurred across the country – nine sessions were conducted in Arunachal Pradesh and sessions took place in nine districts of Manipur. A small NGO working in tribal areas conducted three sessions in one village under Mamit district which is one of the most backward districts of Mizoram. An NGO working with mentally and physically challenged kids had such success with the storytelling sessions that similar centres from across the city asked that the kind-hearted giant ‘Paplu’ visit them too! Teach for Nepal Fellows were so excited to hear about this initiative that they read stories in their classrooms in Nepal. Indian Development Foundation showed huge support by coordinating 110 storytelling sessions with the different organizations they work with – from Jaipur to Secunderabad, from Patna to Manali, from Leh to Bellary. In Bengaluru, theatre artist Vikram Sridhar enthralled the children with his act and interactive storytelling method.

Paplu, The Giant does seem to have made a place in children’s hearts and we hope that they continue falling in love with stories and books. On the occasion, Suzanne Singh, managing trustee said, “At Pratham Books we have a mission to see “A Book in Every Child’s Hand”. To make this mission a reality, we all have to join hands in the journey. Our idea of doing over a thousand book reading sessions on one day across all states in India is a step in this direction. What has left us speechless is the commitment of so many people to come forward to conduct these sessions and work their magic with children. If we can all make reading to children a part of our regular routine, we are not far away from the dream of a Reading India.”

Pratham Books is a not-for-profit organisation that publishes affordable children’s books in multiple Indian languages.

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