February 4, 2016

“Read More, India” promotes reading across the country


The "Read More, India" Van (image via Reddit)

The “Read More India” Van (image via Reddit)

According to the NOP World Culture Score Index, India is a nation of readers, with citizens reading more, by the hour, than any other nation: an average of ten hours and forty-two minutes per week. (The same study states that Americans read for an average of 5.7 hours per week with the the Brits coming at about 5.3 hours.)

Still, according to The New Indian Express, it’s not enough. Yes, Indians read, but a very important demographic, it seems, is being left behind: children. According to the 2010 National Youth Readership Survey, though 74 percent of children are literate, only 25 percent claim to read on a regular basis.

Enter Akshay Kumar Rautray and Satabdi Mishra, two activists on a mission to change these statistics. As Krupa Joseph at Homegrown reports:

On December 15, 2015, they loaded a truck with over four thousand books, and set out to travel across 20 states in 90 days as a part of their campaign ‘Read More, India’.

Their journey began in Odisha and they travelled over 10,000 km before reaching Indore in a van that had been customised to double up as a mini library. During the trip, the duo conducted small book fairs at various schools, colleges, universities and other public places and parked their vehicle at various spots around the city so that people could browse through their collection. People could read the books and even buy them at discounted rates.

While it’s common knowledge that bookmobiles are super cool—check out this one from 1923, and this cutie, and this bright orange one (R.I.P.)—it’s rare that one travels such distances for the cause.

The project, as Mishra tells Homegrown, is intended “to encourage reading amongst people.” A large part of that is done by simply providing people with the means to do so. As Mishra notes, “A lot of people in small cities and villages don’t have access to books and any other reading material.”

The books have been provided by HarperCollins India, Pan Macmillan India and Parragon Publishers and include everything from bestsellers to children’s fairy tales.



Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.