Women Authors and Hosts Lead the Way at Penguin’s 30-Venue Readathon

In an initiative that gladdened the hearts of book-lovers across India, Penguin Books organised a 30-venue Readathon and Book Gifting Journey to celebrate its 30th anniversary in India.

The venues – mostly run by women – were hand-picked in acknowledgement of the selfless role they have played in their communities. They ranged from shelter homes, community reading rooms, informal schools, an environment documentation centre, to organizations working with people with disabilities.

Each venue was gifted 100 books and the reading session was conducted by a local Penguin author.

Aditi De at Hippocampus

One of the venues was Hippocampus Children’s Library, Bengaluru, with author Aditi De, who is known for her children’s books and for founding the popular children’s magazine Junior Quest.

Another venue was Broadleaf India, Darjeeling, a school for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The reading was conducted by Shaguna Gahilote (lead image above), who is a performance storyteller with a double Master’s degree in maths, and heads two literary festivals.

Prarthana Gahilote at R&R Community Reading Centre

Shaguna has co-authored a children’s book with her sister Prarthana, who also participated in the Penguin Readathon. Prarthana held a reading at R&R, a community reading centre in the resettlement colony in Mumbai.

Urvashi Butalia at the Community Library Project

There was also a session held at Mridula Koshy’s Community Library Project, with a reading on Partition histories by Urvashi Butalia.

Since many of the spaces selected catered to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, the reading sessions and interactions became a way for them to tell their own stories and imagine new futures.

First published in the January 2018 issue of eShe magazine. Read it for free here, or buy the print edition.