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Ten-Year-old Girl's Library in Bhopal Educates Kids of All-age Groups

Muskan lives with her family in a slum in Durganagar's Shaymla hills where, in 2015, she had kept a bundle of books for the local kids to read.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:September 16, 2017, 9:20 PM IST
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Ten-Year-old Girl's Library in Bhopal Educates Kids of All-age Groups
Ten-year-old Muskan narrates a story to kids from her neighbourhood.
Bhopal: A ten-year-old girl has set up a library in Bhopal for slum kids, who are prone to committing petty crimes and drug addiction. Muskan Ahirwar, the young librarian, thinks that her initiative will help kids develop reading habits.

Muskan lives with her family in a slum in Durganagar's Shaymla hills where, in 2015, she had kept a bundle of books for the local kids to read.

The number of readers swelled to such a degree that it started impeding the movement of people. Muskan, then, shifted her "Baal Pustakalya" to a nearby shed, used to exhibit idols during festivals.

Her efforts have earned her many accolades, including an award from NITI Aayog last year, and the prestigious ‘Diana Award Roll of Honour, recently.

A class 5 student at Glorious High Secondary School, Muskan, reaches the shed at 4 PM sharp, arranges all books as the kids of the all-age groups start pouring in and taking their spots.

Yusra Qureshi, who has been coming to this library since day 1, tells News18 that "she loves listening to stories and reading books here".

The kids, then, surround her for the daily dose of stories, followed a question-answer round, conducted by Muskan to check if kids were attentive.

"Kids can borrow any book they like after I enter their name in my register," she said, adding that these kids also finish their homework at 'Baal Pustakalya".

Muskan, second among four children in her family, says she loves reading and wishes to become a collector one day.

The kids are also developing a flair for reading with the help of a bunch of civil services aspirants who visit the library regularly. The Baal Pustakalya receives books from the United States, South Africa, and other countries, besides cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai etc.

In 2015, the Madya Pradesh State Education Department had conducted a quiz competition in which Muskan emerged as the winner. The department gifted her 25 books, followed by another 121 on the Republic Day in 2016.

"Instead of roaming around aimlessly," Akash Ahirwar, another regular at Baal Pustakalaya, said, "I love spending my time here".

Amitabh Anuragi, the Media Consultant at Rajya Shiksha Kendra, and one among the officers who had helped Muskan get books in December 2015 said that it was heartening to see slum kids enjoy reading every evening. “Encouraged by the initiative, we have started libraries in nine slum localities, engaging local kids,” he said.
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