Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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This paper recounts the field experience of a Read-Aloud session conducted at Children’s Observation Home, Umerkhadi, Mumbai. Importance of reading for pleasure, with regards to runaway children, is enumerated. The status of runaway children in India and various initiatives to help them are discussed, with special reference to Children’s Aid Society, an organization aided by Government of Maharashtra, and Committed Communities Development Trust, the organizers of the session. Objectives were to explain the benefits of reading to the children; to provide them a hands-on experience of specially selected story-books; to engage their attention with read-aloud; and to encourage them to participate in read-aloud. The process included selecting suitable books for the session; getting acquainted with the background of the children residing at the Shelter Home; designing a session that could hold their interest; and usage of various read-aloud techniques. The feedback to this session, by participants and organizers both, showed that such initiatives were greatly appreciated. Children displayed a marked interest in listening to stories; and many were motivated to try the read-aloud themselves. The main challenges perceived were behavioral changes in the children due to a difficult past, diminished effect of helpful initiatives due to short and uncertain stay of the children, and language barrier. However, the incessant and dedicated efforts to inculcate the reading habit can bring life-altering changes in children. It is suggested that librarians, as the experts of books and reading, should conduct such initiatives for the underprivileged to inspire and enhance reading habit.