Nine-year-old Muskaan Ahirwar lives in the slums of Arera Hills in Bhopal. Muskaan’s father Manohar is a carpenter and her mother Maya, a housewife, reports The Times Of India. Like all other nine-year-olds, Muskaan, who is a class three student, is curious about new things. What is unique about this girl is that Muskaan runs a library for other children. At this tender age when other children scamper around in their free time, Muskaan takes on the role of a librarian. Her library is called Bal Pustakalay.
According to The Huffington Post, after returning from school, at about 4pm every evening, Muskaan sets up the library for the slum children outside her house. The students eagerly wait for her to open the library and as soon as she does they surround her to listen to her stories and read the books. “We play here, learn hear and read lot of books about freedom fighters and great Indian kings and many others,” one enthusiastic reader said.
The idea of a library in the slum was conceptualised in December when the local branch of the Rajya Siksha Kendra realised that while many children go to school they do not really bother reading once they’re back. They first gave about 25 books to children to share and read. The library now has 119 books. To create an interest among the kids, the members of the Siksha Kendra held a quiz competition among the kids. Muskaan won the quiz and was one of the most enthusiastic participants the Kendra members had met.
She was then given the responsibility of educating other students in the slum. “I love doing this. Other children in slum area take books and then return other day. Some stay back to read here with me and ask questions where they don’t understand,” said Muskaan. With the help of her elder sister, who is in class 7, Muskaan also maintains a register for her library.