Pratham’s Readathon program encourages children in the USA to read as many books as they can, while their friends and families help raise money to provide better education to less-privileged children in India, writes Aparna Prakash. – @prathamusa #prathamusa @siliconeer #Siliconeer #aparnaprakash #readathon2016 #educateindia

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” Reading is undoubtedly one of the finest hobbies a person can have and it is best initiated at an early age. A child who discovers the joy of reading a tender age is bound to become a voracious reader as the years roll by.

To be able to read, though, a child needs to obtain basic education. You and I, who are able to read this article, the newspaper, and brilliant creations by our favorite authors, should be grateful that we had the means to obtain quality education.

Unfortunately, about 250 million children around the world aren’t so lucky; it is even more saddening to learn that two-fifths of these children are in India. Good education is one of the keys for addressing issues like crime and poverty around the world and it is interesting to note that the California State University system has introduced ‘Rebound,’ a program that allows people with criminal records to obtain a college degree. Statistics show that college exposure has the power to reduce repeat offenses by 43%.

Pratham has numerous programs like Literacy and Learning, Girls’ Education, Vocational Training, and Research and Advocacy and it is truly encouraging to see their success rate. Since its inception in 1995, Pratham has instilled a love for education in over 40 million children, 80% of women helped by the organization earn their diplomas, 30,000 youth have been equipped with vocational skills, and eight countries have adopted Pratham’s methods to increase literacy.


Pratham USA conducts an annual Readathon program. As the name suggests, it is a reading marathon that helps bring the whole family together around a stack of books. Readathon strives to make the next generation aware of the organization and its endeavors to address illiteracy in India. It aims to encourage children in the USA to read as many books as they can, while their friends and families help raise money to provide better education to less-privileged children. “Pratham Readathon will make caring common, by raising awareness in Indian American children about the quality or lack of education available to children of their age in many parts of India. Readathon is a program designed to motivate children to read more and in turn help their counterparts in India,” says Subha Rajana, advisory board member of Pratham’s Bay Area chapter.

The Readathon website has a special fundraising tool that allows you to set a goal for each book your child reads, and as the child moves from one book to the next, the funds raised inch closer to the goal. Each child can set his or her own goals including the number of books to read, number of children to help, and the time in which to complete the marathon. Since the summer holidays are in session, now might be the right time to get started. “I think education is important because learning is a life skill. One more person that is educated is one more person that can do something good in this world. Also, in order to navigate, shop or get a job you need to know basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic,” says Sanaa, a Readathon participant.

Not only does the Readathon program encourage children here to read more, it also instills in them the significance of being able to read. Along with exposure to abundant knowledge, the children participating in this program will feel content to know that every book they complete is helping a child in India learn their alphabets or sharpen their mathematical skills. Yash, another enthusiastic participant states, “I hope to give the gift of education to children of my age in India through Readathon.”

Readathon is open to children of all ages and if your child is too young to read, you can read out their favorite stories to them. Adults can join too and maybe refresh their interest in books for a noble cause. Need more encouragement to start reading? Readathon 2015 beat its goal of $175,000, by raising $183,595. This year, Pratham has set a goal of $100,000, which will enable them to educate 4,000 children for one year.

What are you waiting for? Ready, Set, and Read!