Libraries are as the shrine where all the relics of the ancient saints, full of true virtue, and that without delusion or imposture, are preserved and reposed. That is a famous quote by Francis Bacon.
Most of us who love reading cherish the time we spent as children in libraries scanning through books of various shapes and sizes with vivid covers and enticing titles. Libraries are the repositories of knowledge. But a large number of children are deprived of this wonderful experience; they don’t get to read which in effect does not inculcate in them the habit of studying.
AWIC, Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children, is a voluntary organisation working towards the promotion and development of literature for children in India. It represents writers, illustrators, librarians, editors and publishers. Founded by late K.Shankar Pillai in 1981, AWIC endorses the ethics and functions of the global organisation IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People), a non-profit which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together.
The various projects of AWIC include the following:
Children’s Library Project
Winner of the IBBY-ASAHI Reading Promotion Award, this project was started in 1983. Today 114 libraries in Delhi and across India have been setup under this voluntary scheme to promote reading. Each library is provided with free books. The project aims at making good books available to children who have no access to books .
Most of the libraries are managed by AWIC members on a voluntary basis. While most libraries function from the homes of AWIC members, some libraries have also been set up in parks, hospitals, railway platforms and slum areas for underprivileged children. Each year AWIC gives out one Best Librarian award and two Reader of the Year awards!
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AWIC initiated IBBY library project – creating children’s libraries at Madi Village in Delhi (NCR), at Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh, at Jaipur, Rajasthan and Daman in Goa.
In 1995 AWIC launched its Literacy Project and has published two Hindi alphabet books under its schemes, ‘Buy, Teach and Gift’ and ‘Teach and Gift’. Under the second scheme, AWIC distributes these books free in all Indian states, including remote areas where children have no access to good books.
Book Promotion Cell promotes the cause of children’s books written by Indian authors by conducting book talks. Besides this, the organization participates in national and international children’s books fairs.
AWIC Book Therapy project
The Book Therapy Project is a particularly interesting one and was started after the 26/11 terrorist violence in Mumbai. It was started in order to promote the use of books to help children during those difficult times. Reading can be therapeutic; helping children come to grips with situations that create turmoil in their minds. Book Therapy helps children cope with such stressful situations, and even prepares them for further eventualities. Through workshops AWIC aims to train facilitators to administer book therapy and also develop books, including picture books and anthologies, which provide a healing effect to children.
If you have some free space in your home or office, you too can start a library for the underprivileged! For becoming a member of AWIC, all you need to do is download this application form http://www.awic.in/about-awic/AWIC-Membership-Form.pdf and fill it up and mail to the address provided in the form.