On Saturday, September 9th, 2023, the Grow Your Reader Foundation (GYRF) celebrated the inauguration of two new Book Garages in partnership with Goofi at Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed Park in Gulshan. This marks a major milestone for GYRF’s mission to promote reading and connection with the Bengali language and culture among children.
The Book Garages contain a selection of Goofi Bengali books that visitors can borrow and read right in the park. They aim to provide free and easy access to the joy of reading for families who visit, countering the trend of declining Bengali language proficiency among children influenced by the prevalence of English.
Strategically located near the popular North End Cafe and Kids’ Zone, the Book Garages will allow kids to seamlessly grab a book for a break during playtime. GYRF plans to gradually install more across Dhaka’s parks.
The inauguration event on Saturday gave families and book lovers a taste of the literary excitement to come. From 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM, attendees enjoyed a lively storytelling session by Goofi’s Tahmina Rahman Sathi and a puppet show.
GYRF founder Sadia Jafrin explained the initiative’s goals to “foster a profound love for Bengali books, preserving cultural heritage; bring back books that are forgotten, enriching the community’s reading resources; cultivate empathy and respect through diverse perspectives; and create nurturing reading environments in parks and schools for both young and adult minds to explore and grow.”
The need arises from a shared concern among parents about declining Bengali language proficiency, as English dominates schools, media and entertainment. By providing an alternative entertaining source of Bengali books, GYRF aims to nurture children’s connection with their native language.
The Book Garages encourage a communal approach to reading. Visitors can borrow a book to enjoy during their park visit and then faithfully return it so others can also experience the captivating stories. They can even donate pre-loved books to share with the community.
In this way, the Book Garages promise to enrich visitors’ time at the park while strengthening ties to the Bengali language, promoting literacy and preserving cultural heritage. They create an engaging, inclusive space for young and adult minds alike to rediscover the joy of books.