In the summer of 2018, I was living in a place called Aliso Viejo, CA and happened to see the words ‘Readers are Leaders’ at Oak Grove Elementary School. This caught my attention. Travel teaches you a lot of things. We started putting ‘Readers are Leaders’ to practice at DCKAP.
It becomes important not just for the leaders to be reading, however, every employee should have the habit of reading. It will help transform them into global leaders. Also, in schools in the US, a lot of emphases is on reading and kids are asked to write reviews on books they read every week. Usually, in the various places I have lived in the States, we were able to go to a library within 2-3 miles radius and sign up for free membership. They let you take up to 40 books per member for free, you can read, return them and borrow another 40.
In one of the trips, we have debated as a family on why we do not have enough libraries in India. My kids set up a library at our home and started lending books to other kids. I have also seen other kids do the same thing. It was fun and we wanted to do something bigger.
Chennai Book Fair
We emphasized reading within our company and started co-learning. This helped in enhancing the skills of our team and had a business impact. The Chennai Book Fair happens in January of every year and I have visited it a couple of times in the past.
In December of 2019, we happened to see a social media post on the Chennai Book Fair event happening in January 2020. We thought it may be a good idea to sponsor the event. We are not a publisher and we also asked ourselves if we really need to sponsor the event. We thought the event aligns well with our company culture and we might find other like-minded prospective employees to join us. We were thinking that this will also help with a larger cause to promote reading. The cost of the sponsorship was Rs. 1,00,000 (which is significant by Indian standards). We went ahead with it.
The execution of our plan at the Chennai Book Fair was entrusted with Srija Santhanam. She did the entire execution from start to finish. She put together a great team of interns, volunteers and more. This is something new to us. We were not even sure what we would be displaying in our booth. This is when the team came up with the name ‘Lits Meet’ and we were the first tech. Company to exhibit at the Chennai Book Fair.
We went in with zero expectations. However, the effort was lauded by everyone. We did a book swapping exercise (Take a Book, Leave a Book) and it was a great success. All eyes were on our booth and the media was extremely supportive in spreading the reading cause. The team lead by Srija did a phenomenal job and it was motivating to see this success. A lot of people started contacting us to post the event and asked us to continue the ‘Take a Book, Leave a Book ‘ effort. You can read more about it here.
India is going through rapid change. Though we are progressing as a nation, a good number of them are left behind. Everyone deserves to read and learn. With the support we received with the LitsMeet initiative at the Chennai Book Fair, we are starting the NovelNation journey. We strongly believe Reading will transform the nation and this is what we aspire to do. We have a huge list of volunteers supporting this initiative. We will be promoting the cause of Reading and learning through Novel Nation. Be a part of the change.