Little nooks of imagination

Little nooks of imagination

Next time you want a book for your kid, perhaps you’ll consider going to small, personal places? You might save them from closing down.

Well, that was a weird year! For me, books proved to be trusty mates at a time when we couldn’t meet real friends. But unfortunately, bookstores and libraries themselves were in trouble due to the pandemic. Some had to shut down.

But around the world, these book places did their best to survive and hold their own against big corporates. In the UK, a website, Bookshop.org, was launched to help independent bookstores stand up to Amazon. By ordering books through this site, you could help keep these shops running. Elsewhere, bookstores and libraries have started no-contact delivery and pickup, online sessions and of course, have made use of a whole lot of masks and sanitisers!

Here’s a look at how you can get hold of books (safely) from my favourite children’s bookshops and libraries in Bengaluru. (These are the places who know that Indian literature for children is much richer than just mythology and folktales!)

Funky Rainbow: This travelling bookstore is run by three brilliant, enthusiastic people. They take books to pop-up stalls at events and connect school students with authors through their Library Love sessions. The pandemic put a pause to that and they’ve increased home delivery. They’ve also started what they call the Book Buzzaar, where you can shop and browse online live, along with them (well, almost.) Every Saturday, they go live on Facebook, chat with authors and recommend books based on the theme of the week. Their session on books on disability even had Indian Sign Language Interpretation. Since they themselves have read most of the books in their collection, they are great at personal recommendations; they know just what book the child needs. They deliver anywhere in India.

Lightroom Bookstore: This warm, colourful bookstore is run by people who know and love books. Lightroom thrives on personal interaction and are known for their interactive sessions with authors and storytellers. They’ve hit the pause button on the sessions for now, but their store is still open with all precautions in place and they’re delivering a lot more books (and happiness) directly to children.

Before the pandemic, Rabbit Hole Bookstore used to do pop-up stores and in-store activities that included revival of traditional Indian art and games. But now, they’ve had to move to an online-only model and have diversified into more than just books.

There are libraries too, for children. I love Cosy Nook Library, run by a teacher-storyteller, a writer and a children’s books' publisher. They are friendly and fun, know a lot about books, offer home delivery and pick up and sanitise books between uses. Their welcoming space follows safety protocols.

Kahaani Box is popular too and has been encouraging people to opt for home delivery instead of visiting the library. They’ve made their catalogue available online to help with this. Next time you want a book, perhaps you’ll consider going to small, personal places like these before resorting to big corporations? You could save them from closing down!

The author got a master’s degree in energy engineering and worked in the IT industry until her daughter dragged out the writer lurking inside her. She has written eight books for children and can be reached at www.shruthi-rao.com 

GobbledyBook is a fortnightly column that gives you a peek into the wondrous world of children’s books. Hop on! Or as Alice did, plunge into the rabbit hole.