One of the greatest gifts adults can give—to their offspring and to their society—is to read to children.
Sunshine through the shelled glass window, beautiful art depicting heavenly struggle against evil on heavy glossy paper, and warm gentle voice of my grandfather… these components make the very first memory I have of books and the awe I felt as stories unfolded. My grandfather introduced me to stories at an early age and my mother surrounded me with beautiful books.
While I took this opportunity to learn and love books as a child for granted, as an adult, I realize that I was one of the fortunate few. With less than 50% literacy rate throughout the country at the time, I was extraordinarily lucky to have had family who could read to me and introduced me to books. The stories my grandfather read to me as a child, introduced me to the stories of the world and its possibilities. The books my mother surrounded me with introduced me to the vastness of the world and social issues and possibilities.
However, due to various socioeconomic factors like mass illiteracy, poverty, gender inequality and often the political unrest; many young girls in Nepal and similarly in other under developed countries do not have the opportunity to read and learn. Without literacy as a way of life, the joy of a new book and world of stories, histories and wonders found in books is lost to the society.
With this in consideration, Rukmini Foundation is spearheaded the first Rukmini Book Club 2020 to establish a culture of reading, not just as a matter of literacy but also for the sheer joy of discovering a good book.
While organizing the book club has had it’s set of challenges for our Rukmini Team in Nepal due to different accessibility to books and literacy levels; the book club members are passionate about their shared love of written words. The members enthusiastically discussed the possibilities of various contemporary book topics from poetry to women’s rights the topics of relevant social issues; and this shared enthusiasm and passion for learning and reading made the first book club meeting a success.
The modern world may be passing by in a blur of technological advancements but our society changes slowly with time. Although women have started to take more prominent roles of educators, professionals and or students; most still juggle their career with responsibilities of their home and family- these extra chores and work that men and boys in our society do not concern themselves with. Despite the challenges faced on social front, Rukmini team is hoping that our Book Club will not only cultivate a habit of reading for our scholars, but also provide a platform to share ideas, inspirations and opinions among each other.
As Rukmini scholars study and learn diligently as students of the foundation, an opportunity to be a part of the book club will provide the interested scholars with a chance to discover and read for joy, for understanding and to know our world a bit better. We hope the book club will introduce to its members the stories of strong women and inspiring actions, poetry about great heroes and greater wars, tales of victory and suffering and of rebuilding and human compassion. They will have an opportunity to explore literature and theories and opinions of great minds put into words, but also a chance to share their own insights and understanding about the world they face in the books they read.
A far call from days of Bhanubhakta’s chautari when perhaps he sat under a tree reading his stories to eager listeners, Rukmini Book Club will provide our scholars with a modern platform to share ideas, thoughts, insights and understandings as they read and discover great books together. The Rukmini Book Club hopes to introduce the pleasure of reading for fun, and to encourage our scholars to leave their technology and social media for beautiful world of thoughts and ideas found in books. Aside from the joy of learning, the book club will encourage our scholars to think critically, analyze with empathy and develop an understanding for what is different, as they read about the lives, societies and events written about in the books they read.
The Rukmini Book Clubs can become a social hub for the women and girls reading and exchanging ideas on so many topics that can directly impact them. This new idea for the Rukmini Book Club can lead to greater enthusiasm for reading and sharing ideas for the club members and that passion for learning can excite others to participate in this process. Even with many historical challenges still relevant, any attempt to incorporate more of society to participate in the process of learning and exchanging ideas will lead to enriching lives for these club members.
My grandfather read to me stories of fights between good and evil, between light and darkness. More importantly he gave me passion for stories and understanding the reasons behind them. With the Rukmini Book Club, we hope to inspire our girls to similar positive changes, to encourage the light of enlightenment and understanding so that they may write for themselves a brighter future.
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
- #ChooseToChallange: Rukmini Foundation Challenging Patriarchy Through Women’s Education - April 4, 2021
- Advocate Didi Rukma: on education, women’s rights and child marriages - March 30, 2021
- Programming Our Future - August 25, 2020
- To Establish a Culture of Reading Foundation Leaders Start a Book Club - January 15, 2020
- Conversation with Didi Wong: education,communication and development - August 31, 2019