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Bringing children back to books, the One Up way

New Delhi, Aug 4 : With walls painted pearl white and bright mats covering the floor, it looks like a fancy showroom in an upmarket neighbourhood. But don't get mistaken -- it's a library. And that too for children.

The One Up library in Vasant Vihar is like an oasis in the digital desert with 1-14 years old as members. It's a rarity to find a neighbourhood library as today's children are mostly engaged in online passions, having little time for reading books.

Dalbir Kaur, founder of One Up, believes in the old school way of making children aware. Started in Amritsar in 2011 as the Golden City's first modern library, One Up travelled to Delhi in 2017.

Dalbir believes the 21st century children need spaces beyond schools that specifically focus on critical reading and thinking; promoting curiosity, collaboration iamp; conversations, and community-building.

"The conventional libraries could not stand the effect of time, especially when everything is available online. But it's important that children visit libraries to explore literature, develop their own reading tastes," she told IANS.

Dalbir said to draw teenagers towards books and promote less usage of technology, a revolutionary change was required in the way libraries looked and felt. She brought the concept of active reading, where children are guided by trained helpers who themselves read a lot.

"It's important to have attractive interiors with an active librarian. The librarian or the attendants must be active and know about the books and should be avid readers themselves," Dalbir said.

Since the readers are children, Dalbir herself goes through every book that is to be added to the library to remove all the chances of inappropriate content. Her team also organises weekly activities, like 'read-out-loud', 'draw what you read', interaction with authors and quizzes after a reader finishes his/her book. All of this is conducted at the first floor of the building, which is now full of drawings and charts created by readers as part of their activity.

The initiative has gained popularity as the library now has over 200 children as members and the number is rising everyday. Some members even come from Noida and Gurugram to read books -- just for an hour or two.

The positive changes have also begun to flow as Dalbir has been approached by several educational institutions to curate their libraries and train their teachers. By now she has helped over 20 schools to curate their libraries and train librarians.

Dalbir does not charge anything from a school for curating a library. She holds workshops for teachers and librarians, advises on steps to innovate and initiating non-readers.

She has now launched a award, which will attract nationwide entries, for excellence in best practices in nurturing learning environment. Entries could be sent till September 5.

(Rohan Agarwal can be contacted at Rohan.a@ians.in)

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Bringing children back to books, the One Up way


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