Emerging Readership

Anuradha Nagaraj writes about how rural libraries have been taking the extra effort to reach out to children who had no access to them.

Via Open
“It’s the best thing that could have happened to these children,” says HP Siddharaju, headmaster of a government higher primary school in nearby Arralikatai village. “Now in the evenings, instead of running wild and staying out till late at night, the village children, including those who don’t study in this school, come to the library. The access to good reading material gives them access to the world of reading and it has impacted their performance in school also.”
The Akshara Foundation first started its reading programme in 2006 in government schools in Bangalore urban district. It began by redefining what a library meant. “The library is not just about borrowing books; we wanted it to be a multi-functional space linked to classroom learning,” explains Ashok Kamath, chairman of the foundation.
Akshara started by creating simple laminated reading cards that a child could also take home. Like Hippocampus, it developed library-related activities, got storytellers to spin yarns for the children and at the end of five years achieved “significant results”.
“Between the first phase of the programme and a follow through the mop-up phase, nearly 86 per cent of the children were converted to ‘reader’ category, [having] acquired the ability to read unknown sentences or paragraphs,” says Kamath, adding that most of the libraries have now been handed back to the government to run.
Read the entire article here
Read more about Akshara’s library programme here

Take a sneak peek at Akshara’s Library Programme 

Citizen Engagement : Tanya Bali

September 8 is celebrated as the International Literacy Day. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. This year, on the occasion of the International Literacy Day, one of our volunteers, Ms. Tanya Bali and her two sons conducted a Story Reading session in the GKMPS Akkithimmanahalli. Ms. Bali’s sons study in Inventure Academy, who is a great supporter of Akshara Foundation‘s initiatives and their students regularly volunteer with our Library Program. In the below article, Ms. Bali summarizes her experiences of conducting the reading session.  
 

Inspired by a visit to the Akshara Foundation, having met Arvind Venkatadri, Head of the Library Program, and armed with a hundred Kannada story books from Pratham Books, we landed at the Kannada section of the Government School, Akkithimanahalli, near Nanjappa Circle, Shanthi Nagar. It was 10am on the Saturday morning of 8th September 2012.
It was a day when the teachers had gone for a training program and the head master and a helper were manning the whole school of a hundred odd kids of grade 1-7. As they were expecting us, the headmaster welcomed us and accepted the books. I told him that I wanted Sahil and Varun to read a story to the kids of grade 1-3. He entered the classroom where the kids of grade 1-3 were all seated together.
The boys read out the Story of a Bubble to the children, in English. I helped translate some parts in my broken Kannada. The children were very happy to have us around. And it was probably a new experience for them and a welcome break from their monotony.
We took some group photographs. They were mesmerised by the digital camera I carried. By this time their mid day meal (sponsored by ISKCON) arrived and they ran to queue up. Before they left they asked us to come back “tomorrow”………! 
Minimal facilities, from their homes and in their school….these kids mostly from slum homes around the area were somehow being taught something. Our children, so privileged with limited value for everything they have. What a contrast! Varun, Sahil and I had a sizzling discussion on the way back home.
The time has come for a sensitivity to be aroused in children who have so much, of what they can contribute, at their level, to those who have not!!