CHENNAI: On the occasion of the US National Library Week, the American Centre at the US Consulate recently organised a reading session for school kids. At the event, US Ambassador Kenneth I Juster read out pages from the award-winning book The Phantom Tollbooth written by Norton Juster (his uncle) to children from Akshar Árbol International School.
“Back when he was writing this, my uncle had no children and so he would tell my brother and me what he was going to write about. We would keep asking him when it would be published and so he had dedicated this book to the two of us,” he recalled. He said that the book was published in 1961, and continues to be a top-seller.
The Phantom Tollbooth is a children’s fantasy adventure novel focused around the theme of love for education and adventure that comes with intellectual exploration. It has also been adapted into a film, opera and a play, apart from being translated into different languages. “He is an architect by profession and wrote this during his spare time. He is a very dedicated author” he said.
This year’s theme for the Library Week is ‘Libraries Lead’. Juster emphasised the importance of reading, the value of libraries and life-long learning. The concept of National Library Week started in 1958, and it is sponsored by the American Library Association and libraries across the country. It is observed as a time to celebrate the contributions of libraries and librarians to promote library use and support.
“As children it is really exciting to get their hands on books and learn more about a wide array of topics. It is also the responsibility of parents to find a way to get these kids to the library,” said Lauren Lovelace, US consul for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She also said that they plan to conduct similar programmes and events at the American Centre including the screening of films for children. “We also have this competition coming up in May where we see how many books students can read during the summer,” she said.
One copy of the books was given to Madras Literary Society, and another to the US Consulate library.