Chennai

The gift of reading from a mother

A resident of Anna Nagar runs a home library that has books meant for children in the 4 to 13 age group

What do you do with the books that your children have read and are likely to not pick up again?

For Archana Manikandan, a resident of Anna Nagar, the answer is simple: Pass it on to others who will need them.

Archana has started a home library and thrown it open for others to borrow the books found on its shelves. She says she runs it on a modest subscription model.

Archana has been building a collection based on the books she had bought for children. And, this home library — which she calls ‘Libros Kids Library’ — has travelled quite a bit. It was in Gurugram before coming to Chennai. Archana explains, “My husband is in a transferable job, and books have always been the first company of my children, and so the library travels with us wherever we go,” says Archana, mother of two. Archana says she was a non-reader all her childhood days.

Inspired by her daughter, Shreshta, now 12 years old, she started the home library at her housing society in Gurugram five years ago.

“My daughter has been an avid reader since her childhood days and I enjoyed browsing various titles for her,” she says. Some of her choicest collection are imported books and from e-commerce websites. “She loved the glossy, touch-and-feel imported books,” Archana says, adding “but they were costly.”

With 200 books, she first started the home library, inviting friends and neighbours to borrow them.

“It did well; I had more than a dozen members who patronised it,” says Archana, a former banker. In Chennai, she has not found the same patronage but wants to keep it open for those who want to indulge in the exclusive collection of books from two children. Four cupboards are stacked with books, numbering over 2000, and this collection includes books from Indian publishers such as Pratham, Tulika and Karadi Tales and imported titles. Among the rare books are pop-up books of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz and the hard covers of Harry Potter series - first three books.

“There are some books that my children have read and re-read many a time and many others have been chosen and bought. Children are sure to like them,” she says.

Archana has not worked on the logistics of delivering a book at home, which is a challenge she faces.

“Delivering books is a problem now,” she says.

She says she charges a modest subscription fee, running four plans, with the base price pegged at ₹350.

“Anybody can come home and collect a book, but it has to be a mutually convenient time,” she says.

The home library is located at W-222/6, Shyam Regency, 2nd Avenue, Anna Nagar West. For details, call 8588809111.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 11:23:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/the-gift-of-reading-from-a-mother/article28731844.ece

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