Small book cafes, libraries make attempt to encourage reading

July 7, 2019, Amritsar



Making a kid read books is one of the toughest tasks for a mother, who lives in times of social media and digital world. E-books, digital content has overshadowed the good old book reading and turned it into a mechanised activity. Of course, there are many who may differ in opinion, but since most of the public libraries are either on the verge of closing down or losing readers, especially the younger lot, the fact remains that reading needs endorsement.

While the National Reading Programme 2022 announced by PM Narendra Modi last year aims at bringing back the reading culture and developing libraries as places of community engagement, small private endeavors in form of tuck in book café as and niche reading spaces created by individuals in city are luring kids into picking up books and make friends with them.

“Reading as a habit needs to be developed at an early age for the child to form a connection with books. With overdependence on mobile phones and internet, sadly, books too are being abandoned for their digital avatars. Books can be read over a cup of coffee or enjoying your favourite dish and even with friends. So, book cafés capitalise on dedicating a space to books, making reading a social activity,” says Suruchi Pradhan, an avid reader, who has opened her home for readers of all age groups. She has dedicated a small space in her garage to books and quite often hosts book reading sessions with her friends and other readers to promote reading. “The collection of books I have is small and mostly private though sometimes, we also get books from donors and volunteers,” she says.

Another such small attempt to provide access to books to citizens is the small library being run by writer and publisher of Wagah magazine Charanjit Singh Sohal at the army veteran hospital. “The library recently received books from District Library, Rani Ka Bagh, as contribution and we have literature in Punjabi, Hindi and English. Our small library is being taken care of by volunteer readers and we get youngsters, who are interested in reading Punjabi literature, which is a positive move,” says Sohal.

Majha House’s Café Kikli too promises a space dedicated to books. “Reading a book should be a family affair, I believe that parents should read and encourage their kids to read. Only then will they understand the importance of it all. The trend of digital books is not effective as far learning is concerned as it makes reading mechanised and not something that one can connect with,” says Nazi Puri, Amritsar’s Book Fairy and member of Café Kikli.

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