Spreading the love of reading in Spiti Valley.
Let’s Open a Book is a registered not-for-profit organization. We focus on working with remote, underserved geographies where there is an immediate need for an intervention which enriches the existing school education. We are currently focusing on Spiti Valley (Himachal Pradesh), a cold desert mountain region considered inaccessible by many due to the difficult terrain.
Spiti Valley is a cold desert mountain valley, located at an altitude of 3,800 mts above sea level. The roads leading to Spiti are considered to be among the most dangerous in the world. In 2018, Spiti was named as one of the world’s top ten tourist destinations by Lonely Planet.
Prior to the COVID situation, the number of tourists visiting Spiti Valley was increasing by the day. This boom of the tourism industry brought with it a plethora of social challenges. Earlier, indigenous knowledge about how to preserve the ecosystem would be passed on from generation to generation, but that has been increasingly getting diluted due to the setting up of formal schooling systems. While school education is helpful in equipping children with basic education, it is inadequate in preparing children in overcoming the challenges that are now cropping up in their immediate environment. This, together with the scarcity of publicly available materials on these topics, is leading to a critical information gap.
On the other hand, several Spitians aspire to think beyond their immediate environment and explore different opportunities that might be available to them. Hence there is a need to empower individuals so that they can make informed decisions. We think that an empowered citizen is someone who has the ability to think critically and make informed decisions. And reading can greatly contribute to both of these.
The library, being the most important place to facilitate reading, is the perfect place to bring these two worlds together. On one hand it can be the place where people can come together to exchange traditional stories and indigenous knowledge so that children can maintain their connection with the land. On the other hand it can help people in learning more about the world around them and help them in generating the option of a different way of life than the one that they’re used to living. Given this context, our key focus area is to ensure that all children have access to a diverse collection of books, including those developed locally. We also want to engage with the local community to help create and maintain a thriving reading culture.