UBC Day 29 : A Book in Every Child’s Hand

I love reading books. One of the reasons why I love reading books is because I started early, and the credit goes to my mother for initiating this habit. I think, the reason we all love reading is because reading a book is a magical experience. The books have the amazing ability to transport us in a different land, time, culture, evoking different feelings of sadness, joy, anger, anticipation – it just all depends on what we are reading. To me, reading books is truly a rewarding and a unique experience. And that is why, my favourite gift for any child is always a book.

While we and our kids enjoy the fascinating world of books and learn a lot from it, but what about the millions of other kids?? Research reveals that 1 in 3 school-going children cannot read fluently. Children who are unable to read are unable to learn, as they can’t understand what is being taught to them. And that contributes to the high dropout rates in schools.

The statistics I read are startling.  In UK, every child has access to more than 6 books.

While in India, there are more than 300 million children in India. Every year, roughly 25,000 books are made available for children. The books are published majorly in the English and Hindi languages, so that means there is about 1 book for 20 children.                                                                                   UK                                     Indiaimage

When I heard Rohini Nilekani, Founder Chairperson of Pratham Books, the first thought that struck me, ‘Aha! I can be a part of this movement.’

Pratham Books strives to give the children of our country a chance to explore the world of story books.

  • While children are being taught the basic skill of reading. They have very little to practice what was taught to them. Pratham Books believe that every child has the right to enjoy good books.
  • And they also believe that the children should have stories set in surroundings familiar to them and in a language close to their culture.
  • Making books accessible to every child at a very low price is the vision of this not-for-profit publisher.

The dedicated team at Pratham Books have partnered and collaborated with innovative measures to make the books available to children in rural areas. They have explored the options of selling books through the Unilever sales team, the solar lanterns sales guys, railways stations and post offices. The Govt of Bihar helped made these books available in some 72000 schools.

Till date, Pratham Books has published over 215 titles in English and 10 other Indian languages. That’s over 1500 books, most of which are priced below Rs 25. We have printed over 8.5 million books, over 10 million story cards and have a readership of nearly 25 million.

Their vision is to reach 200 million children in India, and a hope to someday put ‘a book in every child’s hand‘.

Pratham Books licenses its content under Creative Commons licenses. These are licenses that allow you and everyone else to use their content under the terms of each respective license. This license lets you distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon their work, even commercially, as long as you credit Pratham Books, the donor/funder of the book, and the original author, illustrator and translator, where applicable, for the original creation.

Somerset Maugham said that “to acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life”. Such can be the gift of reading and it simply starts with a book in every child’s hand.

‘A book in every child’s hand’

Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.

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47 thoughts on “UBC Day 29 : A Book in Every Child’s Hand

  1. The post resonates with me. My mom, a voracious reader was the inspiration and my dad used to take me to all those book exhibitions, IBH, navkarnataka and there was a Russian publication. Their exposure was the reason i took to reading story books.
    saw this video and so much wanted to write about this but wrote on gaurav kaneriwal’s vedic maths. So true, books especially picture and story books from pratham and NBT are lowly priced and affordable. Good initiative by Rohini and pratham. Nothing heartwarming than to see a child with a book. All the best for the contest

    • Thanks Asha, glad you relate to this subject. They say, a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. Such is the power of books. I really liked Rohini’s and her initiative of Pratham Books. They have story cards which cost just Rs 2!! Isnt that amazing!!? 🙂

  2. Well Shilpa this a very educative and thought provoking post. Reading books is a wonderful hobby. When we were small and when our children were growing up book reading was encouraged. Now neither the young parents nor their children are interested in reading as we used to.At the most they read Harry Potter. They now like video games . Pratham Books are doing a great service by making efforts to publish books and make them accessible for every child at low rates. I saw the video and heard Rohini Nilekani’s inspiring talk. It is a great movement. We must support it!

    • Well said, Ma’am. With the advent of technology, it is the gadgets that rule the free times of our kids unlike books in our times. The onus to make them read and enjoy the fascinating world of books lies on us. Also, with the same technology, we can help more children read books!

    • My sentiments exactly! Books have the power to change and shape us… I am so glad that we were blessed to enjoy the magical world of books. With this initiative, more kids would feel the same too! 🙂

    • I read this, “A book is like a key that fits into the tumbler of the soul. The two parts have to match in order for each to unlock. Then—click—a world opens” and this is so true for us. May this click happens for the kids too! 🙂

  3. Such a lovely thought “A book in every child’s hand”, we are very lucky to have got access to books and we should do our best to share this joy 🙂 Thank you for sharing this inspiring talk Shilpa 🙂
    Reshma recently posted…Timeless worldMy Profile

    • Well said, Reshma, when we share the joy of reading with kids, we are giving wings to their imagination to take off in newer lands, to meet newer people, their lives and worlds…. it is the bestest gift we can share with them! 🙂

    • They say, books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. And we all need these friends, wise counselors and teachers in our lives. Yes, more power to Rohini and her team.

  4. luckily my son shares my love for reading and we have to often compete with each other for space on the bookshelf!! the initiative by Rohini Nilekani is wonderful… “power of collaboration”

    what i want to know is how exactly can I help? i saw the site, it allows u to buy the books as in regular online shopping, and allows contribution in terms of writing stories etc. So do we have to buy books and distribute it to kids ourselves or donate xyz no of books for needy children on the site to be later distributed by the house? how does it work?
    the little princess recently posted…UBC day 29- Mission accomplished!My Profile

  5. Oh wow. Being a book lover myself, my joy knows no bounds that someone is actually taking efforts to ensure that more kids get to read 🙂 🙂 More power to people like Rohini Nilekani!!
    Bhavya recently posted…Norwegian WoodMy Profile

  6. The dying art or call it avocation of reading. Visual medias crap has usurped books.
    The statistics in the UK need not be worrying as much as the literacy level of children in India.

    I guess people of my generation may have missed the computer revolution by a few years but that was a blessing . We may not be computer savvy and would prefer the feel and the smell of a book to the E-book ostentatiously carried around by many now.

    The present generation is poorer to a great extent for lack of reading.

    • Well said, reading is on the decline among kids of today. I remember, it was compulsory for us to read story books and we enjoyed it too. But now-a-days, very few kids actually enjoy reading. Only the digital world holds their interest, sadly!

  7. This is such a unique idea. A book in every child’s hand can surely make future better .. I hope PRatham books succeed in their venture and we can do our bit when ever needed
    Innovative thinking can sure bring better days 🙂
    good post

    • It sure is! And am glad that Rohini and her team thought of this. Wishing them all the success in this mission of A book in every child’s hand! 🙂

  8. Oh my childhood started with comics and then newspapers and then books. I remember I was the only one in the family and my class who was such a voracious newspaper reader!
    Today, I see two kinds of kids. One, the privileged ones, have moved on to gadgets. And second, the kids selling books on the traffic signals. Breaks my heart.
    A good friend volunteered at Pratham last year and I may just chip in this year with her. Somewhere I think I can do my bit.
    Intelligent post Shilpa.
    Naina Madan recently posted…Because the weather is such…My Profile

    • Wow! It has been exactly the same for me too!! But I am so glad that we started early! True, very few kids now-a-days have the love for books.
      Glad that you can be a part of this initiative, Naina. All the very best 🙂

  9. Pingback: Sharing the Joy of Reading » A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose!

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