IBBY-Yamada 2013: India

Promoting book culture through establishing libraries

Although they have schools and schoolbooks, children in many parts of India have no access to books to read for pleasure. IBBY India/Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) established libraries and provided training in two remote areas: Alwar in Rajasthan and Kolhapur in Maharashtra.

Three members of IBBY travelled with over 1500 storybooks and educational tools for children with special needs to the remote village of Jhalata in Alwar. They were met by over 50 volunteers and school principals, teachers and several village headmen. The group travelled then to the village of Dabla in Alwar to visit a residential school for special-needs children from nearby villages.

A second library was established in Abdul Laat, a village in Kolahapur with a total of 1700 books, many in Marathi, the local language. The library was established in the local residential school. The presentations were attended by over 200 people including school children, teachers, village elders and education officers of the district.

The discussions during both workshops emphasized the importance of books to fulfill not just educational but also emotional needs in children, how fostering a reading habit is part of developing the total personality of children. Furthermore, reading books are a useful complement to schoolbooks as they can keep children attentive and interested in class. At all the meetings there were storytelling sessions - an exciting novelty for these children.