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USAID and Room to Read India Advance Children’s Literature with Inaugural Awards

New Delhi, December 11th , 2023: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Room to Read India successfully concluded the first edition of its Children’s Literature Awards, a pioneering initiative aimed at addressing the dearth of age-appropriate children’s literature, particularly in vernacular languages. The Awards, supported by the USAID under the Scaling-Up Early Reading Intervention(SERI) Project, underscore the critical need for quality children’s literature in India.

The Room to Read Children’s Literature Awards (CLA) were conceived as a response to the shortage of quality children’s literature in India, especially in vernacular  languages. Committed to recognizing and promoting high-quality children’s literature, CLA seeks to create awareness and evolve a culture of reading through collaborations with like-minded organizations.

The awards serve as a platform to acknowledge and provide new opportunities to book creators while offering high-quality books to children nationwide. In its inaugural year, the awards focused on literature published in the Hindi language and intends to expand to other Indian languages and Room to Read presence countries in the upcoming editions.

This year, the awards were presented under two broad categories, Teacher-Librarian’s Choice Award (where teachers and librarians voted for the best books for ages three to eight and eight to twelve) and Picture Book Creator Award (where Young Picture Book Authors, illustrators and publishers were awarded for their books for ages three to eight and eight to twelve). Celebrated Author and Management Guru, Gurcharan Das, was the Guest of Honour for the day and felicitated the winners.

Speaking on the occasion Mark Tegenfeldt, Director, General Development Office, USAID/India, emphasized, “Promoting children’s literature in vernacular languages is essential for building a strong foundation in literacy. The Children’s Literature Awards serve as a platform to spotlight the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity in children’s books, promoting relatable literature in India.USAID is proud to partner with Room to Read India on this novel initiative that is set to benefit children across India.”

Poornima Garg, Country Director, Room to Read India, stated, “By instituting the Childrens’ Literature Awards, Room to Read India and the USAID aim to establish a foundation to encourage budding writers, illustrators, and publishers to bring creativity and magic to

children’s lives. Through such initiatives, we will continue our efforts to contribute towards the national policies in India’s literacy landscape, advancing the realization of the SDG4.”

The event featured a comprehensive panel discussion on “Gaps in Original Indian Language Children’s Literature and Lack of Book Creators,” where literature experts shared insights on the critical issues.

A pivotal moment of the event was the unveiling of the report titled “Bringing Children’s Literature to Classrooms,” to support dissemination of learning from the Scaling-up Early Reading Intervention (SERI) project.

Media Contact: Aena Iqbal, aena.iqbal@roomtoread.org

About the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

USAID is the U.S. Government’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID works to help lift lives, build communities, and advance democracy. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity; demonstrates American generosity; and helps countries progress along their development journey. In India, USAID is collaborating with the country’s growing human and financial resources through partnerships that catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship to solve critical local and global development challenges. To learn more, visit www.usaid.gov/india

About Room to Read India

Room to Read India was established in 2003 and presently has programs in 11 states – Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi NCR, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.

Room to Read is a global organization transforming the lives of millions of children by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Founded in 2000 on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated Children®, our innovative model focuses on deep, systemic transformation within schools during two time periods that are most critical in a child’s schooling: early primary school for literacy acquisition and secondary school for girls’ education.

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