One nation, reading together in India

A thousand schools. Five thousand students. One nation, reading together.

At Scholastic India's annual "One Nation Reading Together" event last week, students gathered to celebrate books and reading. In Chennai alone, more than 4,000 students from 54 different schools came together for the largest book gathering Scholastic India has ever seen! For every school that participated in this year's event, Scholastic India donated 100 books to the library of a needy school. And while totals for this year's event are still being calculated, in 2012 Scholastic India donated more than 1.6 million books to children associated with NGOs in different parts of the country.

The Hindu offers a great summary of the events. They say:

"Hamza Murtuza Vakharia, a class VIII student said, “Reading books is part of our life. Without books, we will be alone.” He wants to read about technological innovations and contribute to mechanical engineering in the future...Sai Kishore, another student said he was developing the habit of reading to achieve his goal of becoming a cricketer. “I can learn various aspects about cricket by reading books. I want to know about Don Bradman and Kapil Dev,” he said."

As part of the event, students recited a 95-word Scholastic Reading Pledge that warmed our hearts. Translated by Sampurna Chattarji, it said:

One day while merrily reading a book
We both fell into a river or was it a brook?
My book knew the strokes so it swam away
I’d never learnt swimming so I rued the day
I sank, I went under, my arms and legs got sore
Hanging on to my book I finally reached the shore
Keep learning from books, they have so much to give
Never stop asking questions as long as you live
I have many questions, I need some answers soon
Give me a book, and I’ll be over the moon!

As The Hindu notes, "Students also carried placards stressing the need and significance of reading for the technological, cultural and social development of the nation."

Scholastic India managing director Neeraj Jain told the newspaper, "Books make our lives richer, brighter and better. With ‘One Nation Reading Together’, Scholastic reaffirms its commitment to bringing the joy of reading to children all over the country."