I have a deep appreciation for American culture that nurtures a love of reading. We’ve been reading books to our daughter since she was only a few months old. She reads every day and expects us to read her bedtime stories every single night. It is very endearing to witness her love of reading.
I come from the land of myths and folklore. We grew up on stories of Mahabharata, Ramayana. Being born in a Buddhist family we also invited monks in our home for ‘Paritran’ to share stories of Buddha’s teachings. Storytelling is embedded in our culture. But most of our stories were so soaked in religion, I feel like I never really inculcated the habit of reading, solely because I wanted to stay away from the influence of any religion. Some of my very good friends however, grew up reading and they still are such voracious readers. I remember being curious, but not enough to feed my curious mind. Maybe the kinds of books I wanted to read were not available. Perhaps my options were limited. Perhaps they were too expensive. The reasons are plenty!
I think about how I would possibly tell a tale of Mahabharata to my daughter, a kid’s version would probably do the trick! I doubt it if kids versions of these mythological stories are even available in the market.
But fast forward today, Nepal’s own reading culture is growing immensely. With Nepali authors like Narayan Wagle, Manjushree Thapa, and Buddhisagar stepping into the international market, it is exposing Nepali stories to an ever-growing audience. So the trend in Nepal is very promising. Even the Nepali movies today celebrate authentic Nepali narrative. With globalization, it seems the need to tell our own story is gaining bigger momentum. And I’m all for that!
Coming back to America, one of the reasons why the reading habit is an intrinsic part of its cultural fabric, is the way the system works. There are great networks in place to support this reading culture in America. One good example is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Available countrywide (even worldwide to an extent) and bolstered in the community level. They send in free children’s book every month until the child is five. Since we’ve signed up, our daughter has been getting brand new books every month. Some of her most favorite books are from Imagination Library. I hope someday in Nepal, we can have a similar mechanism in place to support young kid’s love of reading.
Check to see if your region qualifies for free books: https://imaginationlibrary.com/check-availability/
Also, you can buy second-hand books for so cheap in thrift stores across America. There is that system of sharing and recycling, which I don’t think is prevalent in Nepal. Our per capita income is so low that our first worry is how to put the food on the table versus what story to read.
But having said all of that, today’s Nepal is so much well-read than the Nepal I grew up in. Some of my daughter’s favorite books are also in Nepali (some of which I have shared on this post). There is now growing support for the illustrators, the writers in Nepal, and I hope this trend only continues to get bigger and better!
Here’s to our love of reading!
Pictures shared on this post:
- Sanu and Andhiberi – written and illustrated by Bandana Tulachan. Translated by Samip Dhungel
- Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
- Koili ko Katha – written by Jayashree Deshpandey and illustrated by Kedilaya. Translated by Deependra Bhatta
- Time for a Hug – written by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green. Illustrated by David Walker