KARNATAKA

They are on a mission to spread wide the joy of reading

Children at Twinkle Library, which was inaugurated this month, at Cheshire Home on Old Airport Road.V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Children at Twinkle Library, which was inaugurated this month, at Cheshire Home on Old Airport Road.V. Sreenivasa Murthy  

Children living in the neighbourhood of a primary school and crèche run by city-based trust Sewac-B in Guddadahalli, Hebbal, were pleasantly surprised a year ago when stacks of books were delivered to their premises.

It heralded the birth of a library— a gift by four friends.

Under the banner Nirupa Reading Foundation, city-based Rajni Singh and her friends — Vikram Sridhar, Sindhu Naik, and Kapil Vardhan — started setting up libraries in children’s homes, schools, and old age homes across the city. The initiative began last year, and to date, they have set up three libraries—two in Bengaluru and one in Gurugram (Haryana).

Their plan is to spread the habit of reading in cities across India.

Apart from the crèche, the second library in Bengaluru — christened Twinkle Library — was inaugurated this month at Cheshire Home on Old Airport Road.

Nirupa Reading Foundation, which was registered as a trust in March this year, was started in memory of their friend Nirupa, who died after battling cancer at the age of 36. Nirupa, Ms. Singh, and Ms. Naik met when they were part of Runner Girls India, an all-women runners group in Bengaluru, in 2007.

“I introduced Nirupa to Vikram and Kapil and we used to travel together extensively. We were almost like a family,” Ms. Singh says. “Nirupa was very fond of reading. We wanted to keep her memory alive in a constructive way, and that is how the foundation came about. We want to give the gift of reading to underprivileged children and adults through the trust,” Ms. Singh, a 41-year-old software engineer, adds.

The Hebbal library is operated by the crèche staff five days a week for two hours in the evening. The children were asked to come up with a name for the library and it was christened “Happy library”. The library has 500 books, of which 120 are in Kannada and the remaining in English.

“Nirupa Reading Foundation contacted us and set up a well-structured library. Now, at least 20 children visit the library every day from the neighbourhood. We also have a librarian to assist the children,” Shalini Joshi, secretary, Sewac-B, says.

At Cheshire Home, which provides care, treatment, and education support to about 45 physically challenged and visually impaired children, 300 children’s books have already been stacked in a cupboard. Most of the books are pre-owned and donated. “The new books are funded by our friends and relatives. We have not gone for corporate funding as of now,” Ms. Singh adds.

The librarians at the two facilities have been trained and all books are colour coded to match with the children’s reading levels. “We have followed the Hippocampus Reading Foundation’s Grow by Reading Model so that children read books appropriate for their age and reading capacity,” she concludes.

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