Children’s books should serve two purposes: to act as (1) a mirror reflecting a child’s own life and culture; and (2) a window allowing children to see into the lives of others and recognize the diversity of their world. For that reason, the library is, and should be, filled with mirrors and windows.
Nicole Overton, Libraries Need Diverse Books, April 15, 2016
Since 2017, Let’s Open a Book has been working towards creating access to books for every child living in the remotest village of Spiti Valley. While over 600 Spitian children now have a small collection of storybooks that are their ‘windows’ to the outside world, there is hardly any ‘mirror’ in which the children can see their own reflection.
This is especially important given the current crossroads that Spiti is at. In the recent years, there has been a huge rise in mass tourism. In 2018, Spiti was named as one of world’s top ten tourist destinations by Lonely Planet. It is hardly surprising then that the number of tourists visiting this place is increasing by the day. It will further increase over the coming few years, bringing with it a plethora of social and environmental challenges. There is an immediate need to take action towards the preservation of Spitian identity and cultural heritage.
But how does one preserve something that they are not even fully aware of? Spitian children hardly have access to art and literature which talks about the Spitian identity and culture, let alone helping them fully grasp the beauty and richness of their home and instilling a strong inner desire to celebrate and preserve it. What’s worse, a child who doesn’t see herself in the stories around her may begin to question her own value. Given this context, books created by children can help them in developing a habit of reflecting upon and writing down their thoughts, give them exposure to art, and at the same time bridge the representation gap that exists in children’s literature. Our bookmaking workshops use the mediums of visual art and stories to help children discover and articulate the narratives around them.
Click on the images below to listen to stories that children created during our bookmaking workshop.
Click on the links below to read stories that children created during our bookmaking workshop.