A scene from a reading camp in Baglung

Thursday 8 September 2016

Every Saturday, children gather in a village in Baglung district to read stories, draw pictures, and learn new songs and words. Their facilitator Laxmi, who just finished her grade 10 exam, is volunteering to help out at the reading camps, part of Save the Children’s Literacy Boost Program which helps children develop an interest for reading, improving their literacy skills.

Three from a family

Fourth grader Purna has been a regular at the reading camp since it started. She brings her younger brother Uttam, who goes to the early childhood development center along with her to the camp. Even though he cannot read, he enjoys listening to the stories and drawing. Purna, however, likes the story books she gets to take home and read. A week back her middle brother Udiman came back home from visiting their uncle’s home and he also came with Purna to the reading camp. He was very excited to take his first book home from the camp. Udiman’s friend Yubaraj who had heard of the reading camp but had never been to it before came with him to the camp .

 

Primary School teacher Ambika, who dropped in to check on children at the reading camp said that she was very happy to see Yubaraj reading as he has shown very little interest in reading at school. He used to ask his parents to buy him a buffalo so that he can herd cattles all day. Now he spends his Saturday at the reading camp. Camp facilitator Laxmi says that she always finds more children in the reading camp than the ones enrolled in her register.

It’s time away from work

 

For sisters Sita and Tej, who are in grades two and three respectively, reading camp is a time for them, a time they dedicate to reading. Like most children in villages, they have to collect firewood everyday and find fodder for goat. Despite their responsibilities at home, the two sisters make time for the Saturday reading camp where they both like reading stories. Tek Kumari showed off her vocabulary skills by writing over 20 words starting from same alphabet at the reading camp. Sita says that she is busy during the day at school and she has to help with chores at home but she reads the story book at night.

Chote ra Mote

 

Reading camps have a trunk full of books. Budhathok reading camp has over 170 storybooks, which the children take turn taking home. They make sure that they bring back the storybook the next Saturday so that they can exchange it with another book.

Right now the children have a favourite : Chote ra Mote. It's a story about two mice; one lives in the village and another in the city. Most of the children say that they love reading this book because  they can read about city and village life. Few children who have not read it want to read it and most of them who have read it want to read it again. There are only few copies of the book available at the reading camp so there are still few children who are waiting to read it.