October 2022; Mumbai, India: Social Impact Organisation United Way Mumbai’s nationwide initiative – Let’s READ, aims to nurture a love for books and reading among children who cannot afford or have access to books of their own. With a goal of promoting reading beyond curriculum and academics, generate curiosity, instil a sense of book ownership and promote growth and self-development, United Way Mumbai held its Let’s READ Carnival in Mumbai on October 6, 2022 at St. Stanislaus School, Bandra. The carnival seen participation from over 1200 children belonging to 25 shelter homes, NGOs, and low-income schools along with a total of 7000 new books being distributed.
As a part Let’s READ Carnival, children were provided a guided experience that gave them a choice to select 5 story books each, as per their liking and level (Yet to Begin Readers, Beginner Readers, Confident Readers, Proficient Readers, Very Fluent Readers). They were also kept engaged through storytelling and reading sessions with professional storytellers. Additionally, United Way Mumbai has also set up a mini library in each participating institute with 130 story books of different reading levels and languages thus ensuring continuity in reading and giving children an opportunity to read more books after they finishing the sets they now own.
Speaking on bringing back Let’s READ Carnival for the first time since the pandemic, George Aikara, CEO, United Way Mumbai said, “A large majority of children from lower income schools have very minimal exposure to reading matter other than their textbooks; literacy levels of their parents are also quite low. Let’s READ curates books as per age, language proficiency and reading levels and introduces children to the world of books. The initiative empowers children to make their own choices, naturally making them more curious, and committed to reading, thus promoting growth and self-development. Given the significance of the campaign in empowering children from lower income communities, we hope to scale it up and give it a national platform with support from partners who share our vision.”
Teachers from participating institutes also received professional training that will help them mentor and encourage kids in their reading journey. In addition to support from corporates including Fiserve, United Way Mumbai received support from over 200 volunteers. Till date, United Way Mumbai’s Let’s READ initiative has distributed over 31,000 books and has set up 125+ libraries across India.