Thank you for taking the time for the interview. Excited about your Community Library Project. First, tell me, who are Ridhi and Sara? Describe yourselves.
Ridhi: Hello I am Ridhi Paramaguru. I am studying in 8th grade. I am a curious girl with artistic views and expressions. I value the knowledge and wisdom I get from books. My favourite book genres are mystery and fantasy. I love trying new things; my favourite hobbies are drawing and reading.
Sara: Hello, I am Sara Paramaguru, a 4th grader. I am very conversational with friends. Sometimes, I am shy and need to be more open with new people. I love to try different food and read comics and fantasy books. I am enthusiastic and confident in what I do.
Paramaguru Sisters Ridhi & Sara On Their Journey
From Home To Community Library
1. It Looks like both of you are book enthusiasts. Who introduced you to reading?
Ridhi: Our parents introduced us to books, especially many popular children’s authors. We always went to the library as children, which is how our love for books began.
Sara: Yes, our parents. They are the people behind our interests. Going to the library as a kid impacted me a lot.
2. The next question will not surprise you. Who are your favourite authors?
Ridhi: Roald Dahl
Sara: Geronimo Stilton
3. Who is your favourite character from a book, and why?
Ridhi: My favourite character is Luna from the book “The Girl who drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill. I love Luna’s viewpoints and how she formulates matters and looks at nature. It is inspiring to me. Another book I have just begun reading is “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. It is about the perspective of a 13-year-old girl, and it explains the world of racism. She is in a world of racists as a white girl and her viewpoints about how it is not fair to segregate people are pretty reasonable. She also learned about motherhood.
Sara: Since my favourite book is Geronimo Stilton, my favourite character is Geronimo Stilton, a cute mouse.
4. What inspired you to start a community library, and how did you get started?
Ridhi : When we shifted to India five years ago from the USA, our dad got us a lot of books to read. We had a home library in the first house we shifted to. We both finished reading all the books and wanted to begin a library. But it did not happen. Then, a few years later, my school recently asked us to do a community project on something we liked to do or share with our community. I realized the place (where we live) needed a library for kids who enjoy reading, and I also love reading books. Another thing that I have noticed is a lot of children read books on the screen or on the internet. One thing we cannot vouch for is that the internet is not the right place to look for books since it may only provide age-appropriate books sometimes. A library is always the best 'go-to place' for readers since books are appropriately catalogued and segregated by age. Children must read books meant for their age.
5. How can we encourage kids to read books?
Ridhi: By bringing in the current favourite authors whom children love reading and letting them read books of their choice.
Sara: We also thought of rewarding them with prizes so that they would get motivated to read more books.
Ridhi: Oh Yeah, to begin with, for instance, if they read five books, they would get a gift or a prize. After that, the number could increase to 10 or more. Another point we thought of was weekly quizzes. Quiz topics or themes would be based on books in the library, and questions would be based on those topics. Till now, we have had History, Geography, Politics, Sports, Food, and culture, and the next coming up is Space. Teams have been created with unique names, motivating children to ace the quizzes for their teams and motivating them to work harder each week. Points are given and marked on the whiteboard.
6. What are the current popular teen titles?
Ridhi:Harry Potter and Geronimo Stilton are the most popular and sought-after titles being read. I am not aware of the others. These days, many teens are watching series and hence not reading. It was also one of the reasons to begin the library; to bring them back to print.
7. What difference do you find in the behaviour of children coming to read books in the community library now vis a vis to when you began it?
Ridhi: All kids have become inquisitive and are learning to ask questions. There is more participation in the weekly quizzes we conduct in the library.
8. Do you think this project must be taken up by other communities, too, and why?
Ridhi : We lived in the USA, where there were libraries everywhere. Reading habit in children is inculcated quite early on. So, when we came to India, we struggled to find a library here. Libraries are incredibly resourceful, especially if you have to do a lot of research. It becomes easy if you have one near you. The distance in our city makes it challenging for parents to drive children to a library regularly. So, we thought, why not begin one in our area?
Sara: Our teacher had once told us how she often struggled to get books and had to travel a lot to procure books. This was because there were no libraries in her vicinity.
Ridhi: There must be libraries in other communities. I believe it helps develop children’s minds and helps them grow into more responsible and knowledgeable citizens in the future.
9. What is your dream? Any message that you have for parents and children?
Ridhi: I want to become like my dad, a software engineer working in an IT company. A message for all parents is that a good book is enough to change the children. Do give age-appropriate stories to children to read and maturity levels.
Sara: Either a scientist or a software engineer. Like my dad.
10. Thankyou for this fantastic chat. I hope the Community Library will continue to bring all kids in your area together.
Ridhi: Thank you for having us.
Sara: Thank you.
Pictures clicked by Paramaguru Thangavelu
Priya is a quirky writer/photographer/closet poet, and singer who has traversed a non-conventional path. As a former entertainment journalist who has worked in print and online media for a decade, Priya loves talking to people and writing their unspoken stories. She is the single parent of an 8.5-year-old son settled in Tamil Nadu and a freelance Content Consultant. Priya is also an informal mentor to parents in her local parenting network. She dreams of being an author of a book and maybe the scriptwriter of a film someday!
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