The concept of dedicated libraries for kids is catching on in the city. Ten years ago, there were probably none that catered primarily to kids. But today, the chances are high of finding a walk-in library for children’s books and toys in your local neighbourhood.
Radhika Kundalia for instance, runs Akshara Library in one of Colaba’s old houses. “Our library is the old-world type with old-fashioned panels with Charlie Brown posters on the walls. It’s about 2,000 square feet in size and we also have a small garden outside where children can play,” she says.
Akshara offers books, toys and puzzles and holds classes on art, craft, maths and English. A lifetime membership costs Rs 1,000 in addition to borrowing charges of Rs 10-35 for a period of two weeks. “When we started out six years ago, we had parents and their children coming in from Dombivali and Thane as there weren’t many such libraries around back then,” Radhika says. The most popular books at Akshara include those by Doctor Seuss and Richard Scarry.
EduPark at Malad (W), owned by a columnist at an evening daily, 32-year-old Hemali Gada, is spread out over 5,000 square feet, which Gada claims makes it the biggest library in Maharashtra. One of the unique services here is that of a library on wheels, where a van goes from one place to another. “We even offer courses and seminars on parenting,” Gada says, adding, “Our classes focus more on skill development, especially problem-solving and observation and how to improve one’s memory. Palash, the youngest child we trained could read at two years and three months.”
The Nehru Centre at Worli has another proposition altogether. Its expansive air-conditioned reference library is free of cost. Librarian cum documentation officer Arati Desai mentions that, “We provide all the help we can to students working on their summer projects. Be it books, articles, newspaper cuttings or any other sort of documentation. We also have a large reference collection consisting of books on the sciences, environment and all kinds of encyclopaedias. We don’t charge money for coming in and reading.”
Another haunt for bookworms is the Unnati Library at Matunga East, which has a collection of 30,000 books and toys. “Ours is the oldest toy library in Mumbai, and we started 12 years ago,” says owner Vrunda Sanghvi, adding, “We encourage kids to write reviews on the books they read.” Ask her what the new-age readers are flipping through and she smiles, “Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books are still the most popular writers.”
Other Book nooks
Where: Malad W
Timings: 10 am – 7 pm
Call:2880 1344-46, firstname.lastname@example.org ,
Where: Matunga E
Timings: 9 am – 8 pm
Call:93225 97951 ,
Nehru Centre Library
Timings: 10.30 am to 5 pm
Call: 2496 4676-80