Some months ago, we introduced you Arundhati Chattopadhyaya in Books and Theatre – The key to your child’s imagination, today, we’ll take you on a magical journey where you and your child can bond over books!
If you thought that getting your child to read is a difficult task, Little Readers’ Nook is here to prove it otherwise!
What does an Electronics Engineer cum Software Analyst has to do with children’s books? Sounds very brave and dramatically different doesn’t it; that’s why we at The Lifestyle Portal simply love it. 😀
We’re here to share the story of how 31-year-old Mumbai-based Devaki Bhujang Gajare has given a shape to her dreams by helping children turn into readers in a technology driven world.
After having worked with Infosys and Epicor Retail Systems in Pune and New York from 2004 to 2011, Devaki is a mother to 3-year-old Mihir whom she calls the inspiration behind Little Readers’ Nook.
An avid reader herself, Devaki was introduced to the magic of storytelling and an incredible variety of children’s books at the public library during her 5 years in New York.
Back home in Mumbai, she started with introducing Mihir and his friends to fabulous children’s books from India and abroad. The children, and more importantly, Devaki herself, were hooked, and thus began Little Reader’ Nook – a Read Aloud Program designed to nurture a love for good books in young children between the impressionable ages of 2 and 6.
Devaki quit her job in 2011 after her return to hometown Mumbai to stay home with Mihir, a decision she considers the best she ever made!
“Our initial investment was small, focusing on just buying the most fabulous books ever! Everything else – website design, online publicity, packaging etc. was handled in-house,” smiles Devaki.
She continues, “We started with offering trials to parents in our immediate circle. As they appreciated our concept, the word spread, more mums joined our team and we are now a 3500+ community of involved parents on Facebook.”
The biggest challenge is creating awareness about the benefits of Reading Aloud to young children. Books for very young children are still considered somewhat of a novelty in India. The variety of good books available for this age group in mainstream outlets is also limited and several parents are just not aware of what they are missing!
“The importance of Reading Aloud good books to young children in their formative years cannot be stressed enough, and that is the message we are trying to spread through our program,” asserts Devaki.
What makes Little Readers’ Nook so unique?
“Fabulous Fabulous Books and ‘All You Need to Read Aloud with Your Child’! That is our mantra and our USP,” beams Devaki with pride.
She further adds, “Our Read Aloud Kits are designed to provide parents with not just a handpicked selection of good books, but all other tools they may need to engage their child with those books.”
Little Readers’ Nook will select the best titles from award-winning Indian and international publications for both their reading kits and sessions which include Little Known Gems from Children’s Book Trust and National Book Trust in Delhi, gorgeous picture books from Barefoot Books in the UK to give just a few examples.
“Our Read Aloud Kits contain three fabulous children’s books carefully selected to be age-appropriate and provide a balanced view of our chosen theme of the month. Plus there are reading tips and video guides for the parents, vocabulary boosters, activity ideas, worksheets and suggestions for further reading in each kit,” adds Devaki.
These are conducted through Interactive Reading and Storytelling Sessions in different parts of Mumbai – Kemp’s Corner, Prabhadevi, Bandra and Nerul – as part of the Little Readers’ Club initiative.
These sessions are interactive and a lot of fun. Children meet once a week to explore celebrated books from India and abroad, and indulge in imaginative play, fun art-craft and stimulating conversations to bring the stories alive.
Sourcing of Books
Devaki tells us that the books sourced from a dozen different places right from importers, wholesalers and publishers from India and abroad. The hunt for themes and books starts several months in advance.
She explains, “We scour bookstores, warehouses and online sources for interesting books to fit our themes. Attractive pictures are the first thing we look for, since that’s what captures our Little Readers’ imagination. Strong storylines and subtle messages come next, subtle being the operative word!”
These themes are conceptualised to be fun for the kids and an opportunity to reinforce positive values and skills for the parents. We cater to three broad age groups –
Budding Readers (3 – 4.5-year-olds) – Attractive picture books with strong storylines for kids who are beginning to connect the story and pictures.
Beginning Readers (4.5 – 6-year-olds) – More of the above, plus at least one book that the child can attempt reading independently.
About the course
Their Read Aloud Kits are designed for parent-child home-based interaction. They are available on an annual or quarterly subscription basis.
The subscription fee is Rs. 2,700 for a quarterly subscription (works out as Rs. 900 a kit) or Rs. 9,900 for an annual subscription (works out as Rs. 825 a kit). The kits are delivered to your doorstep, anywhere in India, month after month. Shipping is free!
Their second offering, the Little Readers’ Club meets once a week for an hour each week for a 6-week schedule at a time. This is where they pick a theme for each 6-week schedule, and different books and related activities on the theme each week.
The groups are age-appropriate and comprise no more than 12 Little Readers per session. The fee for a 6-week schedule is Rs. 2,100 per child inclusive of all material.
“Our promotions are mainly online since our target segment is the new net-savvy generation of young parents. We love Facebook advertising! Plus our happy Little Reader parents are our best ambassadors and referrals are a major source of new leads and we have seen the best conversion rates with them,” adds Devaki.
Benefits of joining Little Readers’ Nook
“The best reward we’ve ever received came from a parent who recently posted about us on Facebook – “Your books are turning my non-reader into a reader!” That’s exactly what we’ve set out to do,” beams Devaki with pride.
The tribe of Little Readers across India who have delighted in the Read Aloud Kits has crossed 100 already and is fast growing. In addition, over 40 Little Readers in Mumbai have enjoyed our Little Readers’ Club sessions at their flagship centre in Shivaji Park.
Devaki is also receiving an overwhelming response to their newly announced centres at Kemp’s Corner, Prabhadevi, Bandra and Navi Mumbai where enrollments are ongoing.
Here’s a glimpse of what some of our Little Reader parents have to say about Little Readers’ Nook:
Feedback for the Read Aloud Kits:
Shruti Kalyani from Kolkata: I’ve received the sets for my 2-year-old and my 5-year-old and I must say your books are excellent. I’m glad I made the choice of joining Little Readers’ Nook. I have many books in my own collection, however, your theme and choice of books according to age, the pictures and language in the books are really worth the wait. Thanks for your time and effort to make this program for kids. Looking forward to many more months and themes to come!
Feedback for the Little Readers’ Club:
Mitali Patwardhan from Shivaji Park: Tanaya was very happy and is looking forward to next Wednesday already! Loved the personal touches with each kid’s welcome card… Your pleasant smile and sweet nature made the kids very comfortable. Thank you once again!
Anupama Muthukrishnan from Prabhadevi: Thank you Devaki! Shreya and I had a great time!