If you take a look at the inboxes of people working at Pratham Books, you will see it bursting at the seams ....with stories, art work and more. And hidden within those mails are many lovely little stories that people choose to share with us. One such one was when Jaya Bhattacharji Rose slipped in a line about an 11 year old she knew. A girl who had started a lending library for her school and colony friends. This got us curious because we are always eager to hear about kids who read and how they read. So, Jaya introduced us to little Nikita's mum and here's what we found out about the little librarian.
Nikita's mum tells us a little more about her children's reading journey :
I have 2 kids. A 13 year old boy and an 11 year old girl. I read to them daily before they could read themselves. Once they started reading, they were avid readers and as they grew older were often very picky or would not finish books. They could not relate to Enid Blyton, Alfred Hitchcock,etc.
Several years ago they totally lost interest except for Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, Graphic novels or one series about a Mouse which had several pictures (Stilton? I can’t remember) and hardly any text. They must have read Calvin and Hobbes 50 times!
I tried every trick in the book and every book they chose or were gifted collected dust.
And then came along Jaya Bhattacharji Rose who loaned my kids a few books that matched their personality. She also asked them to give an opinion on the cover and if the title was suitable so she could inform the author. Ah!, the kids religiously read the books and gave their opinions.
Once done, they started asking for more books and were introduced to Anthony Horowitz, Neil Gaimon, Tolkien, Shel Silverstein and the list goes on.
There’s no stopping them now.
When a book is not available in book stores and I suggest downloading it to my Kindle instead; My son says, ‘No way, I love the smell of a book’.
And when I tell them’ lights out ‘at night, they complain and say ‘ You’ve been asking us to read and now we are reading and you are telling us to STOP!’.
This happens every night. And even during their exams. Its delightful but a bit catch 22.
Now that we know what started this reading bud, lets hear from Nikita herself.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am in 7th class and like to play sports, paint and read. I used to love gymnastics and represent school but now I like to ski or play squash. I love to watch cooking shows like Barefoot Contessa and My Kitchen Rules as I like to cook with my Papa.
2. Do you have an earliest memory of when you started reading? Or a memory that someone may have told you about?
No, but my mother says that I had stopped reading books and was only reading comics. I have started reading books again for about a year or two now.
3. Do you have a favourite book? And why is it your favourite?
I used to like Wimpy Kid in 5th class. In 6th I was totally into Dork Diaries at first but now I like My Sister the Vampire books. I am a fan of vampires and find these books interesting, very fun to read and they seem realistic. I can imagine that I am a vampire. This year, I have enjoyed reading the Percy Jackson series .
4. We heard that you've started a library. Tell us more about why you decided to start a library?
Actually I didn’t plan on starting a library. It just happened because I would take a story book to school and read it during break time or substitution periods. I would laugh a lot or fan my face when I would get scared reading a book and my classmates kept wanting to know what the deal was and why I was having such a fun time just reading a book.
I would read parts of the book to them and they wanted to hear more. So I told my friends that they can borrow my books if they give them back without dog ears. My classmates started to borrow my books and they loved the books I was reading. As we were reading the same books we have fun discussing them. I read the books before I lend them.
5. What books does your library collection have and how do you manage them?
- My Sister the Vampire series (Sienna Mercer)
- Molly Moon Series (Georgia Byng)
- Blackberry blue (Jamila Gavin)
- Artemis Fowl series (Eion Colfer)
- Big Nate series (Lincoln pierce)
- Coraline, The Graveyard book, Fortunately the Milk (Neil Gaiman)
- Dork Diaries series
- Harry Potter, The Philosophers stone, The chamber of secrets (JK Rowling)
- Where the Sidewalk ends, Falling Up, A light in the attic (Shel Silverstein)
- The Fairy Doll (Rumer Godden)
- Happy Holidays (Jacqueline Wilson)
- Note book of a middle school princess (Meg Cabot)
- Dragons at Crumbling Castle (Terry Pratchett)
- Dear Olly (Michael Morpugo)
- Many books of Ruskin Bond, Roald Dahl but everyone has these.
- I have many cooking books but do not lend them.
I remember who borrows which book. I only lend them another once the previous one is given back to me. I only lend one book at a time to each friend.
6. How did others find out about your library?
It started with one friend who also started to read one of my books during free periods and we would talk about the book.
I think my other classmates thought they were missing out on fun, so they also started borrowing.
7. What did your friends and family think about the idea when you told them you were going to start one?It just happened and seemed like a fun thing to do with my friends.
My mum only found out when she started getting sms’s or calls from other mothers. She thinks it is a cool thing to do.
8. What is the most borrowed book in your library?
Coraline - as I told my friends the book is way better than the movie but only if they had a good imagination.
My Sister the vampire books are in big demand. There are 16 of them. Not all my classmates (girls) have read all as yet.
9. Is there a book that your library doesn't have and would love to have soon?
Yes, I would love a Poison Apple book. I have gone to 4 bookstores and they have not heard of it even though it is by Scholastic books.
10. What have others been saying about your library. Can you share a few anecdotes with us.Some of the mums of my friends have spoken to my mum to thank me for getting my friend interested in reading.
My friends find my library interesting as half of the books I have they have never even heard of.
Reading a series is fun - With the Vampire series, we had a reading race and we also have fun imitating being a vampire.
My friends and I spend ages discussing the books we have read and repeating cute lines from them and it is like having a secret club.
When a friend finishes a book, they call my mum’s phone or their mother does and ask me to bring a certain book to school the next day.
When my friends and I were reading the My Sister the Vampire books, even though I was a several books ahead at first, they started to read faster than me and I was worried that they would overtake me and know about what happened to the twins before I did. I now read very fast and can finish a book in 2 days.
11. Which book are you reading currently?
I am reading 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' -by Newt Scamander and next on my list are Wonder and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
Thank you Nikita for sharing your love for books with your friends and us. We hope that many children across India are encouraged to share their books and become little librarians themselves