A mobile library giving children access to books for a limited time makes more diligent readers than a permanent one, says founder Pavan.

If they wont come to the library LibReady takes the books to kids in Bengaluru
news Human Interest Monday, January 23, 2017 - 15:38

“Set up a library, and the kids may forget about its existence in a day or two. Sit with them and cultivate reading habits in them, they will never forget it,” says Pavan Talpallikar, a software engineer from Bengaluru.

Pavan isn’t content, unlike many others, to merely sit back and complain that children don’t come to libraries anymore. Instead, together with nearly 20 volunteers of the city-based organisation Volunteer for a Cause, Pavan takes libraries to where they’re needed most, at children’s homes (both government and private) in Bengaluru.

The group, armed with over 150 books, has been visiting children’s homes every month for the past two years, to provide children there with a mini library.

Now, when the group visits a home, the children have no troubles figuring out what to do. They automatically line up, and when it’s their turn before the neatly stacked books, spend little time picking their book for the day.

However, things did not begin as smoothly, Pavan tells The News Minute.

“Initially, we had thought we would set up proper libraries at these children’s homes. But after setting it up in one government school in Kanakapura, we found that the children would only make use of the library in our presence. After we left, they were not self-motivated enough to start reading on their own.”

Permanently setting up a library, surprisingly seemed to discourage students from reading, he says. “What we wanted was to cultivate the habit of learning in them. That’s when we decided that setting up a library (for a limited amount of time) in the children’s presence motivated them to pick a book and read,” Pavan said.

The group visits four children’s homes a month with their mobile library. After their tour to the different homes, the books come back to Pavan’s residence, where they lie in wait until the next visit to a children’s home.

The books in English and Kannada are meant for the children below the age of 14 and range from graphic novels and children’s literature to biographies and novels. They have all been donated by volunteers, and range from fresh off the shelf to old and well-thumbed. 

Once the children began to get used to the habit of reading, the volunteers began improvising. After children finished with a book, they were asked to speak for a few minutes about the moral of the story or even enact a particular scene from the story.

These small shifts not only helped children pick up other social skills, Pavan explains, but also boosted their reading habits. “This also encouraged them to form reasons in their own minds, as to why certain events happen in the stories they read. This also makes them better readers. While many were shy to deliver a speech, they were successful in overcoming the fear and inhibition after a few weeks. Now, they don’t even wait for us to fully set up the library…they pick their own books without anyone cajoling them into doing so,” Pavan says.