We all have memories of listening to stories from our grandparents, hooked in awe. Holidays are just round the corner, and here’s how to bring back the storytelling era with a new-age twist — read-aloud books. The Little Readers’ Nook offers such books for kids aged up to six. It was set up recently by Mumbai-based Devaki Bhujang Gajare, an engineer from New York when she realised the dearth of good books for very young kids in the Indian market. She sourced books from abroad for her son and his friends who were hooked. Little Reader’s Nook sells theme-based book kits delivered across the country. Each all-inclusive kit has three age-appropriate books on a theme, in addition to reading tips, vocabulary builders, activity ideas, a worksheet and a video guide.
“We work as a partner with parents in engaging their child with our books with our reading enrichment tools” says Devaki. The books are open-ended with subtle messages that provide scope for imagination and encourage children to think for themselves. The books aim to nurture the joy of reading and not come across as preachy.
“When it comes to developing a love for books, an early start makes all the difference. Brains develop at an astonishing pace in the first six years of life and habits form early. So it’s best to start early,” says Devaki. Research shows reading aloud to young children helps them develop their imagination, vocabulary and language skills, sharpen listening skills and empathy. It also provides them social and educational advantages, setting the foundation for independent reading.
As books for very young children are still considered somewhat of a novelty in India, the project initially faced resistance. Now, the readers are growing in number with overwhelming responses from parents. The project’s team of storytellers conducts weekly interactive story sessions for three- to six-year-olds in Mumbai with role-plays and conversations.
To make reading accessible to the less privileged, the initiative has begun ‘Joy of Reading for All’ to raise funds and set up a library. They aim to reach many communities and incorporate book donation drives to give children from all sections of society the joy of reading.
To enhance the reading experience, Devaki suggests parents to, “Try and read the book beforehand to prepare your read aloud strategy — plan where you’ll use voice modulation, different gestures, actions and sounds to build excitement and reflect the mood of the story. Encourage your child to explore the pictures as you read. Plan simple post-reading activities — discuss the book, talk about alternative scenarios, explore real-life situations related to the book, enact the story, try a related art or craft activity.” She asks parents not to treat reading as a chore “Make reading with your child a habit — at least 10 minutes every day. Treat it as a bonding experience and choose books that excite you; your child’s excitement will catch on eventually.”
For details, visit >Little Readers' Nook .