In December 2021, my family visited one of the schools in Narsingi, Hyderabad, where we piloted the Joy of Reading Hour 3 years ago. It was magical to see the excitement in the girl’s eyes when they saw “Harini Mam”. Two girls came running to her and said, “We are still reading books mam”. What we saw was the Joy of Reading in their eyes.

It was so awesome to see the library environment with the girls sitting on bean bags, relaxing and reading.  There were colorful chairs and tables, much like we see in libraries in the US. Most of the girls at this school come from neighboring villages.  Staying in a residential school where they can dream to become whatever they want to is powerful. Your support of Joy of Reading is creating a world where they can explore, imagine, and grow through stories they read. 

Something that I will never forget is when I was talking to one of the girls. She was confident to read an English book by herself. When Harini asked for another volunteer, a girl in the back hesitated, but she rose slowly and picked up a book. The vocabulary was a little hard for her and she kept pausing trying to construct the sentences. I stood behind her and prompted the words. She picked them up quickly and she could read them with ease when she saw them again on another page.

What was beautiful is when she completed reading, everyone cheered. Her precious smile reflected how proud she felt reading her first English story book in front of her classmates. Later her English teacher told me, “This child came from a Telugu medium school. She is always quiet and hesitant to answer questions in class. Today was the first time I saw her volunteer and read so beautifully.”

These are the experiences that keep us going. “Every Child who wants to read will have access to books” is our goal. With your support in book sorting, transporting, and volunteering, we will be able to achieve it.