Encouraging reading and improving literacy and language skills through libraries in classrooms
Global research suggests that merely providing a library-like atmosphere can encourage children to spend more time learning to read, reading and loving to read. With more than 50% of children in Grade 5 in India unable to read at Grade 2 level - cultivating an atmosphere where children feel like reading can be critical to improving literacy. Children who read more also learn better and are more likely to succeed at school as well as in life. As most children from low-income families do not have access to books outside school, a school library remains the single source of reading material for them.
Pratham’s mission is to get a book in every child’s hand. The Library-in-a-Classroom (LIC) is a simple collection of books that hang on a classroom wall and can be locked at the end of the school day for safe keeping. Children have access to simply written and colourfully illustrated books that encourage them to discover the joy of reading.
Story books are published in a range of regional languages and formats to get children to read in their mother tongue. Instead of by age, books are categorized according to Reading Levels, ranging from Emergent to Fluent. These are designed to help parents, educators, and librarians select the right books and help children gauge their own level of fluency in a non-judgmental manner. The unique format of the LIC invites children to freely interact with storybooks that are displayed on the wall instead of locked up in a cupboard. This further induces shared reading and learning.
The LIC comes with a library training manual, which upgrades the skills of a teacher administering the reading module and gives her much-need resources to encourage reading. Stocked with a selected mix of Indian language, English and bilingual books, the LIC helps teachers and students navigate learning new languages while also building reading skills in their mother tongue. Since books are categorised according to reading levels, it helps teachers in multi-grade classrooms work with different reading abilities in the same class.
The LIC was developed keeping in mind the limitations of schools that do not have the infrastructure or resources for large libraries. A complete Library-in-a-Classroom Kit costs Rs. 5,000 with about 100-110 books worth Rs. 4,500 are included. The remaining Rs. 500 is for the kit and logistic charges. Different classes in the same school are provided with different selections, giving children a wide range of books to read as they progress from class to class.