Transport your child to the world of stories and inculcate the reading habit by signing up for a British Council library membership. Located in the heart of town it’s a convenient way to expand your access to old-school, turn-the-page children’s books.
As an avid reader I would love for my child to experience the same love for books that I have and learn to use his imagination to escape into the pretend worlds of the stories he reads. It’s been thrilling to watch my two and a half year old go from looking at flash card type picture books to enjoying stories told over multiple pages one line at a time. He’s even learnt to associate the sentence on each page to the illustration, so as he turns the pages he can tell you the correct line. To someone who doesn’t know better, he can appear to be independently reading!
It’s been a matter of personal ritual to get a library membership in whatever city I happen to call home at the time to feed my reading appetite. When I moved to Bangalore, I decided that a British Council Membership was in order. As this was my first library membership as a mom, I was happy to discover that the library has a good collection of children’s books tagged according to appropriate reading age from 0-3 to tweens and teens. There are many membership levels to suit your needs which set how many books/DVDs you can borrow at a time and how many times you can renew them. To enroll you can fill out their membership form online and then visit the library to have your photo taken and card issued.
For the younger tots there are hardback and board books. Older kids can spend time in the children’s reading corner of the library and read by themselves and also learn how to use a library and borrow & return books. Books can be held for 3 weeks at a time and renewed for a further 3 or 6 weeks. Borrowed books/items can either be returned in person during the library working hours or dropped-off at the convenient book box outside the library building. They also have a DVD collection of popular cartoons such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Angelina Ballerina from the HIT Entertainment series.
British Council also organizes events like book readings, art competitions and workshops for budding authors throughout the year.In the summer of 2014, the library hosted three children-centric programs that engaged kids in the world of stories. Here’s a peek at what they involved:
Summer Reading Challenge
In this event, children are given a short term membership of 2 months in their names. There are 2 categories for registrations – age group of 5-8 years and an age group of 9-13 years. They will be asked to borrow books from a special collection designed with the theme “Creepy House”. The Challenge posed for the participants will be to read 6 or more books in a period of 6 weeks – those who achieve this will be given a certificate and a medal. Books will be issued only one at a time for a maximum period of two weeks with no renewals permitted. You can borrow as many books as you can read over the summer.
This is a popular program conducted in libraries across the UK to encourage children to develop the reading habit. It’s a program that the British Council conducts here every year. Two English language workshops will also be conducted during the challenge and children will be asked to submit a book review at the end talking about what they liked about the books.
Shakespeare for young learners
This series of workshops are conducted for two age groups – Juniors: 8-12 and Teens: 13-18 to introduce Shakespeare not as literature to be read, but as the theatrical pieces that they are with their visual language and rhythm. The plays studied include the Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream
For the Teens the workshop would include:
- A dramatized summary of the play called a ‘Whoosh’ involving all participants that develops a visual memory of the narrative when studied.
- Placing the content of play in a present day context allowing students to develop connections with the play
- Introducing students to blank verse and iambic pentameter
- Developing a visual approach to Shakespeare to make the language and its use relevant to students
For the Juniors, the workshop would include:
- Introducing children to the play through a dramatized narrative involving all participants
- Teaching children to visualize narrative and / or characters through depiction of any scene
- Making objects associated with the narrative, using junk material e.g. a fairy or a forest
For more details see http://www.britishcouncil.in/events/shakespeare-young-learners
To make sure you get to British Council regularly and make it a habit let me leave you with this tip: Sunday brunches at UB City are best followed up by a quick hop over to swap out books at the library. Then head home for chai on the balcony with a fresh new book to delve into!
Tips for parents
- There are limited paid parking spots reserved for the library which you can pay for inside the library. There is space for about another 2-3 cars on the road in front of the library but no other parking on that street and surrounding streets.
- The library is a quiet zone, so do teach your children to use their whisper voices if they have to say anything to you inside the library. Toddlers and younger tots may disturb the readers, so it may be best to visit the library without them, but bring back a bagful of books and DVDs they will spend pouring over for hours.
- Fines can add up to quite a bit if you aren’t prompt in returning or renewing your borrowings, so do program a reminder on your smartphone for when the books are due!
- Sign up for their newsletter to get updates on future events and workshops
Do have a look at some of the other children’s book libraries in Bangalore