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Tuesday, 1 July 2014



MATT RIDLEY, a British journalist and the author of various science books including THE RED QUEEN, GENOME and THE RATIONAL OPTIMIST: HOW PROSPERITY EVOLVES; Writes in his book “GENOME”

Well, yes, behavior does depend on genes, but the environment to which a child is exposed plays an equally important role in affecting the thinking and by default the behavior too. And here comes the role of adults as parents, teacher, the next door neighbor, the shopkeeper, the policemen and so on. Knowingly and unknowingly, we all are making an impact on children’s minds, thoughts and actions. So, conscious efforts on our part can increase the “knowingly” impact and somewhat help decrease the effect of uncertain “unknowingly” part.
            As a part of this conscious effort, I started a library for children in my locality for a period of 2 months (16 April 2014 to 14 June 2014). The initiative turned out to be quite a successful journey despite the little speed breakers. With limited resources, I started this venture at a small scale level, and indeed it has helped me learn many lessons. You know these “conscious efforts” play a dual role of benefiting children as well as adults.
In a period of two months, I got 35 members of age group 5 to 15 years enrolled, including two enthusiastic aajis!!! Got a collection of 265 books (150 English, 80 Marathi, 25 Hindi) donated by 10 members of the library and 7 enthusiastic donors. The key to my library is that children themselves are the resources for books in this library. My library is indeed “for the children, of the children” and by the children part couldn’t be achieved this time. I will involve the older children in managing the library next year. Books are of different varieties ranging from science to fiction, short stories to G.K, anecdotes to horror stories, biographies to poetry.
It was an enriching experience, starting with communicating with the kids, suggesting them books, helping them find a good book of their choice. Then, slowly, they too opened up and started showing their interests and demands about books.
 There is diversity in the members, some are ‘fast readers’, some are slow, some are ‘size oriented’ i.e. they want books of smaller size only!! A five year old was such an enthusiast that she once came the same afternoon to return her book because she finished reading it and wanted another one to read!!! Some girls liked short stories; some boys liked “science related books”. Some were really good at choosing a book, while others needed little help. Few of them joined the library just because their friends had joined!!! It is so true, “it’s easy to get followers, once you take the difficult first step”. The members increased and so did my collection.
In spite of these good experiences, positive feedbacks and minute lovable observations, there were some bitter moments and some harsh realities dawned upon me. (I will work on those next time.)
1.      Children are not reading Marathi books. They are just not interested in going through the list even once! And it is very difficult to coax them to take up a Marathi book.
2.       Instead, some children tried Hindi books. Well, the answer to this was that they have subject Hindi in their school (these are CBSE schools) but not Marathi. So, the question comes up, children from Marathi speaking families studying in CBSE schools can read Hindi, somewhat, but not Marathi (they say “Marathi nahi vachta yet!”). Where are we heading?
3.      Encouragement on the part of parents was lacking. Some parents opined saying “he/she doesn’t read them, then why to bring the books home.”  Then, the child stopped coming.
4.      Now-a-days, parents think that simply taking their child to different classes (drawing, swimming etc) is enough a duty as parents. But, the truth is, you need to have communication with the child, even though you are not with the child everywhere. By having a conversation you know the kind of atmosphere your child is exposed to and the impact it has on him/her. Similarly, sending the child to a library doesn’t complete the responsibility. One needs to help the child read a book, develop that habit by reading a book with the child, watch over the contents of books that a child is reading.
5.      A personal problem I faced. Out of the 260 books, I roughly knew about 100 books. But, when a member asked me “what is this book about?” I didn’t have an answer always. Then a thought propped up in my mind “The onus is on us to ensure right book is going in right hands at a right age.”
6.       I also came to know about the latest interest and trends about books amongst these children. Most of the 5th to 8th grade students were interested in ghost stories series called “Goosebumps”. One needs to be updated with such kind of interests of each age group whether they are 6-7 year olds or the teens. Accordingly, their interest should be channelized into reading the right kind of books.
7.       As a librarian, it is my responsibility to make available books of different subjects, varied styles, etc. To know their interests, I also got a feedback form filled up from them for further references.
Good thing about this whole activity was, I got a great response and help at every step, whether it was for more books, or a cabinet for keeping the books, or for spreading the word about the library. Help came from everywhere. It made me realize that people want to get associated with “good projects”. Hence, if one has ideas and the willingness to execute them, all one needs to do is MAKE AN EFFORT.

Source: Pallavi Bapat, trendsetters.palloo@gmail.com  

1 comment:

  1. Sensitive and interesting observations. Keep up the good (library) work.