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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Friends for Life



I always thought schools and teachers are in shortage and books are in abundance. As a kid I always had more books than what I could read. Though all of it were text books, but surely, books were always more in supply. Sadly, this is not the case in reality. Watch the following video and you will find that we don't have enough books in India. Twenty kids have to share a single book as per statistics. Now, how can we expect children to read without books? And more importantly, how can we progress without education?

And when I heard about Pratham Books' mission - A book in every child's hand, I felt it was a far fetched dream. When the government's way of luring the kids into schools with food and other laws are failing, how can they possibly achieve that mission? Also, as far as I remember, reading has never been that much fun. Then I dug deeper with sheer curiosity of how Pratham functions and how a book reaches a child. I must say, I was amused and I had fun.
To start with, a Pratham book is no ordinary book. It is a joy ride to learn the basic lessons of life. I happened to read three Pratham books which were a part of 'You Read, They Learn' drive with Hindustan Times and believe me, I had a great time turning the pages of those books. Colors were taught in simplest way in 'Colors on the Streets' and concept of Height was taught amazingly in 'Tall, Taller and Tallest'. Frankly, I don't remember learning shapes in my childhood. I guess, I stared and read the name again and again till it rested in my memory but when I read the book, 'Goloo, the circle', I figured that shapes were all around us and I wish, somebody taught shapes like that to me. I wish, I read, 'Goloo, the circle' back then.
Pratham, Books, Children, Shapes
Goloo, the circle

Then I wondered how the books are distributed. Is there a direct relationship between schools, government agencies and NGOs? And do the kids actually read it? What about those kids who can't read? Rohini Nilekani said that initially they give books for distribution to salesman promoting Fair and Lovely sachets or selling Solar Lanterns in villages. As a starter it would have worked but for a mission as big as Pratham's, they must have a better and a more interactive model. I landed on the Engage Page of Pratham's website and I found all my answers there. From various models of pledging a book to setting library in your village; from volunteering your time/talent to money; they left no stone unturned in experimenting in ways to reach millions of children out there.
What excited me the most is their 'Pratham Books' Champions' program. It is the most engaging and interactive way of reaching out to children. I read the experience of Author Kailash Srinivasan where he organized a story telling session with kids in Pune. Not only the content of books are engaging and enjoyable, all possible efforts are made to imbibe the habit of reading in young minds. I read many such stories on Pratham's blog spanning across India. Believe me, after reading it, you would also want to be a part of this drive. Spreading wisdom, and getting love and respect in return. Who wouldn't want that?

Pratham Books' Champions, books, Kailash Srivnivasan, Pune
Children enjoying story-telling session in Pune

In their continuous strive to grow, they have adopted some exciting and affordable ways. A two rupees story card and 'You Read, They Learn' initiative with Hindustan Times (where stories were published in newspaper, you can read the stories to a group and pass on your copy to those who haven't read it) are perfect examples of their sheer dedication to bring their mission closer to reality. Breaking the language barriers by publishing in 11 different languages and producing books in simple graphics, I bet the face of reading will change in our country. Not only we will see more children having books, we will also see kids spending more time with books.

Pratham, Books, Wallbook, Earth, Reading
Click on the image to explore...

I always say we Indians are qualified but not well read. For most of us, reading means completing text-books and scoring high, which could fetch a decent job. I have a fairly interactive friend group on Facebook but whenever I share anything remotely related to books, it dies somewhere in my timeline. We stay away from books. It's either boring or for intellectual class. And once we finish our studies, we don't have the urge to read a book. We forget that learning is a continuous process. I feel not only we need to give every child a book to read. We need to imbibe reading habits in them. So that when they grow up, they read, learn and prosper. We also need to change the way we perceive books and that can only be done when books are fun and learning is interactive. And then, books will become our lifelong friends. 

Leaving you with one of my favorite quotes from Ernest Hemingway'There is no friend as loyal as a book' and the Coolest ghost story ever - 'Muchkhund and His Sweet Tooth,' a ghost who turns into Honey Bees savior.
Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.
*Image Source - prathambooks.org
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90 comments:

  1. Wow that ghost story is awesome!!!

    Great initiative..and a very nice post too Saru... :)

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    1. Yeah, it's a fun read with a lot to learn. Glad you liked the post and the initiative.


      And, welcome back Rahul.

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  2. Indeed ... most of us are like that reading just means reading a test book.. somewhere parenting too responsible .. you see a 10 yr child reading a book other than test book they straight away .. scold them ..in a fear of having a spoiled child.. i guess because of our culture of viewing doctor, engg and mba as only career !

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    1. Right, we don't encourage our children to read beyond text books. I guess, both our education system and parenting have to change to imbibe reading.

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  3. Wish we read more during those formative years. Let us give the little ones what we couldn't have. Great post, Saru :)

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  4. I like what you said.. we indians are qulaified but not well read... I hope more and more people realize this and this cause really pick up pace :).. all the best dear for the contest...

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  5. Oh! How I agree with you Saru! We Indians are qualified but not well read. We dont like to read, we like to study. Probably that was why most of the complaints my parents received were related to my spending too much time in the local library! Good Samaritan neighbours couldn't stand me reading instead of studying!!

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    1. LOL, I was a geek who used to borrow magazines and books from everyone. We need to change this mentality. Thanks for reading and sharing your views.

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  6. Reading has become such a misnomer, na? I don't how the trend started where reading is the same as studying. Reading should be something everyone ought to do to get in touch with those simpler pleasures of life and also, to learn more about life.

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    1. It has...Now the trend is changing a bit, thanks to the new-age writers and bloggers. :)

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  7. That is wonderfully intiative.

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  8. A wonderful initiative very well explained.
    Reading is a pleasure of which only avid readers can write and care about.Will read their blog soon enough, thanks for passing the information :)

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    1. Thank you, Sumit. And do read their blogs, it's very inspiring.

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  9. A very meaningful initiative you have focused here. I liked the write up. I agree with you on all the levels.. Quoting you - 'qualified but not well read' yes I agree, we need more well read Indians.
    All the best for the contest :)

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    1. Yes, we need more people who feel that reading is a part and parcel of learning in life. Thanks for reading and for your wishes.

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  10. Hey..never knew of this..thanks for writing the post and sharing the info, Saru. A great effort.

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    1. Where have you been? Welcome back, it's always good to hear from you and yes, it's a remarkable initiative.

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  11. In fact school going children in India sometimes hate school. To them its a place where things that arouse no interest in them are dumped into their brains. On the contrary learning can be made a joyful experience indeed.

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    1. Indeed and we must strive for it. Thanks for reading Jayashree.

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  12. There is no greater truth than books are the best friends and for a lifetime!One never stops learning and the way to dispel darkness is best done the great Chinese thinker and first president, Sun Yat Sen's way 'Each One Teach One'!!Best of luck for the contest Saru:)

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    1. We must follow that. Thanks for reading and for your wishes, Sir.

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  13. As usual wonderfully written, Nice initiative.

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  14. nicely written! I agree with this quote too :)

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  15. Very informative article Saru best of luck for the contest

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  16. Absolutely, reading opens out a stupendous world for each one of us. It is even more important for children to read.

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  17. No place like reading - and you put this so well... loved just reading it up

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  18. Saru, a very well-thought post. It's a fact that Indian children are not as much into reading as they should have been. I believe it's the responsibility of the parents as well to encourage the kids to read apart from what their school curriculum demands. Reading helps them open up their mind.

    What we can help underprivileged children is by donating whatever books we have already used. It's a wonderful drive by a few NGOs. I see people selling books to scrap sellers. It feels so sad that what is scrap for them is unavailable to a major population somewhere else in the country.

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    1. We need to inculcate reading habits in children. We feel reading beyond text books is a waste of time. Though as you rightly said, it opens their minds. And yes, books being sold as scrap is really painful. Better would be to donate to public or school libraries. Do check the free e-books which I mentioned in the posts, your daughters would love reading it.

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  19. You require extremen genius to make complexe things simple. And the best teacher is the one who explains in the simplest terms. That is how lucid books should be. And it is great inititave by Pratham!


    All the best for the contest!

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    1. You said the basic truth so beautifully, Stuti.

      And, thanks for your wishes.

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  20. Books open opportunities beyond imagination .. provided they are interactive .. explains why as a child I loved archies and tintin :)
    Pratham books I got introduced to through the video and I feel its a great initiative .. well represented by you,Saru.Wish I had such motivator books during my childhood..reading would not have been a burden for me.

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    1. Yeah, I agree, wish had such books in our times. Thanks for reading, dear.

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  21. Indeed, there are many children who don't have access to books, & thus they are deprived of something which they deserve the most. Good luck! :)

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  22. nicely written post,books are indeed one's best friend and remains with you always.

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  23. an interesting initiative and a great post.

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  24. I remember how my uncle use to buy some real interesting and exotic books from fairs n exhibitions. As a gown up, I still want them more :)

    Good post saru!

    www.numerounity.com

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  25. Inspiring post about an inspiring initiative Saru!

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  26. The effort is indeed laudable. I like reading; I think it has stemmed from my desire to know for myself. But then I have so many around me who just in jest say that they are done with reading after graduation and now want to enjoy life. So, you are quite right that children must imbibe reading habits from a young age. But then, we need authors who can make reading fun.

    Regards,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. You're right and the books from Pratham authors are fun. I think they are taking reading to the next level.

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  27. Books are indeed loyal friends.

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  28. Books are indeed best friends! Loved the video! All the best :)

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  29. Books are the best way to develop a strong character in a kid. Very informative article Saru :)

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  30. This post is different and I am glad I came across it. Way to go, gal!

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  31. Very interesting & thoughtful initiative! Lovely article! Thanks for sharing:)

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  32. I feel happy to respond warmly to the noble endeavour of introducing children to books and thank you profusely with the warmth of a compassionate heart for sharing these great details. Let's have more of such things coming our way all the time!!

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    1. Amen to that thought and thanks for reading.

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  33. i went through Pratham Books initiatives after reading this note. Commendable effort indeed!

    Good luck Saru :)

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    1. Yeah, they have great reads and you enjoy it irrespective of age. Thanks for your wishes.

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  34. This is my second read of a similar article. This woman truly is like an angel in disguise. I had heard of pratham books before but then her story I am getting to know through you guys. Its such an initiative which attracts you towards itself..

    Richa

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    1. It surely does. Thanks for reading Richa.

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  35. This initiative is surely one of the noblest ... education is always needed for development, and books facilitate the process.

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  36. Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back...

    Best gift one can ever give to anyone is a Book
    this is a very noble initiative.

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    1. That is so true and of course, it's a best gift.

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  37. wonderful& thoughtful initiative very well explained.

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  38. Most of us were too busy scoring marks and competing in a rat race to emerge a winner..Obviously what we all missed out on was to read books just for the love of it...

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  39. Very interesting & thoughtful initiative! Lovely article!

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  40. A great initiative and thanks for the share Saru.

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  41. Too good :-) All the very best for contest :-)

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  42. Nice initiative to spread awareness Saru :) Highly appreciated..

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  43. You're particularly right in putting out that we are only qualified. And qualifications in this nation are sold like cherries. Perhaps every body except a few is mired in clutches of uprising dreams and punishing day-to-day lives. If only parents could understand the importance of real learning! Nice post Saru.

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    1. Yeah, much lies in the hands of parents. There are some parents who take care of it but the number is really less.

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