As Mina began to read, the children listened with rapt attention. Their interest in reading began! Meanwhile, the high school students were excited to access books and sample previous years’ question papers to practice for their school board exams. These books cost between 500 and 800 Bangladeshi taka (US $5.80-9.30) each. With the poverty line at $1.90 per day, such books are luxuries for parents who struggle to put food on the table. That afternoon, dozens of children and teenagers returned home with crisp, new books under their arms. Seeing their children engrossed in reading was a special experience for their parents.
As they listen to their children reading out loud, parents who have never had the opportunity to sit in a classroom are learning, too. Until they saw the library for themselves, Biren and Kamini didn’t know so many books could be found in one place.
“My teenager brings home books for reading every other week,” said Biren. “It makes me proud to see my girl able to read and write, which I have never been able to do. I have been a farmer since I was a teenager.”
Eighteen-year-old Ripa says the library is helping her with her studies. “With access to all the books in the library, I have been able to read storybooks, magazines, and practice from the model test papers in my very own village. As we face the board exams, all of us senior students are very glad that the center has thought up this innovative idea to prepare us,” she said.
Her friend Iti agrees. “Since I was able to get access to the books near my home, my grade 10 board exams were a great success! Now I’m looking forward to doing even better in my upcoming exams.”
As for the little ones, their ears listen keenly for when a tutor is about to read a story at the center. When they sit at the tutor’s feet, their friends outside crowd the windows to listen in. The village’s first library is a success, and the children and parents hope it won’t be the last.