Aimed at enhancing the reading skills of deprived, excluded and vulnerable children, ChildFund India, a leading international NGO, launched the second phase of its reading improvement campaign, Books, My Friends. Titled Ujjwal Bhavishya ki Ore (Towards a Brighter Future), the second phase, launched last week at the India Habitat Centre, saw solar lanterns with chargers being distributed to each of the organisation’s enrolled child or family, to help them overcome poor electricity supply problem in rural areas.

In its first phase, in December 2014, ChildFund India distributed reading bags, consisting age-appropriate multi-lingual reading books, encouraging children to read for pleasure. Apart from distributing books, the organisation also conducts activities like storytelling, skits, painting, reading aloud to make the books come alive for the children with help of their volunteers or "community mobilisers".

"Given our understanding of the situation and the ground realities, Reading Improvement Programme was conceptualised to promote not only a culture of reading but also help children and youth develop a taste for reading, which impacts their learning levels in the long term," said Geoffrey Petkovich, Asia Regional Director, ChildFund International.

"Our programme outcomes over the years have shown that child-friendly learning aids and teaching methodology help enhance learning and comprehension capability of children," said Neelam Makhijani, national director, ChildFund India.

Targeting at over 1.15 lakh children across 14 states in India, the campaign has been specially developed to increase the literacy skills of the children in the age group of 6-14 years, belonging to the most deprived, excluded and vulnerable communities in India.

In the next and penultimate phase of their campaign, ChildFund India will set up model schools, solarised community libraries, introducing solar powered mobile libraries and enable school management committees (SMCs) to provide reading friendly environment.