The curiosity to learn, to read and to know more is there. However, it is an inner quality that we need to nourish. Being able to read and have access to book is an important part in cultivating a curious mind. Not all in our society has access to books. A young group of university graduates have started this project, ‘Grow your reader’ that lends books to under-privileged students. One of the founders of this project, Sadia Jafrin writes about this project.
Reading encourages creative ability, colourful imagination of a child. Everybody has a reader in herself. The only variable how well have it grown and what better way to nourish it than reading books. So we came up with the name of our project ‘Grow your Reader.’ Because we strongly believe that today’s reader will be tomorrow’s leader where their knowledge will define their social values.
Some of us — Sadia Jafrin and Amina Azad started this project with hope that one day every child of Bangladesh will have access to read different kinds of books aside from their regular curriculum books. On August 17, 2016, we started the project with Gawair Nabin Government Primary School, Dokkinkhan, Uttara as our first station. We had only 216 books in both English and Bengali. Under this project, we are offering books to student to borrow for a certain period of time. However, right now our main focus is primary school teacher who teach under privileged kids and can maximise the utilisation of our books by inspiring his/her students to read different kinds of books.
Within two months we received lots of appreciation from students and many school teachers. In order to create more impact, we decided to broaden our project across Dhaka city and established two more stations. One is located at Amtoli Staff Welfare Government Primary School in Mohakhali, and the other station is located at Walkup Government Primary School in Mirpur. Since then we have around 600 readers most of them are under privileged kids. Currently, we are providing access to e-books to those schools that have ICT facilities. In the coming month, we are going to announce our fourth station in Dhamondi area. However, we are unable to provide large quantity of books due to lack of funds.
In the next two years, we are planning to branch out our project with a minimum of 40 government schools all over Dhaka. We hope to spread out our project across the country in future.
Shuma a grade 4 student from Gawair Nabin Primary school said ‘I never knew that there are different kinds of people living all around the world. I thought everyone is just like us. Thanks to the books, I now know about various kinds of people and their lifestyle. During my free time, I come here at the library and read books about people all around the world.’
Nayeem, another grade 4 student said ‘I knew that technology is developed but I didn’t know exactly how far it has been developed. It was through reading these books and encyclopaedia, I now know the new inventions in technology. I like finding out about the new inventions that make our lives easier. When I grow up and become an engineer I too want to invent something for the world.’
Shawon studying at grade 5 said, ‘I used to play video games and waste a lot of time on it. Now, I have become fond of reading. I fell in love with science fiction books. Most of my free time, I spent on reading books.’ Shawon even decided to become a scientist after reading scientific books.
Jannat like Shawon also become fond of reading. She said, ‘I get a lot of inspiration from reading different kinds of books. Every book has a different message. Since I like writing stories, I use the information I read in the books and use it in my writing. I have improved a lot since then.’
Mehnaz Aziz Tuli a teacher at a GPS school said, ‘Reading nourishes imagination of the minds. I have witnessed the radical change in their level of creativity and innovating new ideas. Not just that their writing styles have also improved. They are more confident now and English is no longer a hard subject for them.’
According to us learning to read is also to listen. Through hearing stories, children are exposed to a wide range of words. This helps them build their own vocabulary and improve their understanding when they listen, which is vital as they start to read. It’s important for them to understand how stories work too. Even if your child doesn’t understand every word, they’ll hear new sounds, words and phrases which they can then try out, copying what they have heard.
Sadia Jafrin is a post graduate from Jahangirnagar University