The Book Home: Writing a new chapter amid the pandemic

Children browsing books at The Book Home (Morung Photo)
Children browsing books at The Book Home (Morung Photo)

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | September 27 

“We need to raise children who are so much more aware of the world and the differences we have, like special needs.

Children need to be questioning poverty, talking about adoption, racism, etc. We should be giving them literature that makes them question.”

These were the thoughts that inspired Yirmiyan Arthur Yhome to start a library called ‘The Book Home’—a happy, safe and fun space for children in the outskirts of Kohima town along Billy Graham Road. The library filled with a wide range of 2500 books, and still counting, comes from years of collection, personally handpicked and curated over the years.

Yhome, who confesses that she is completely and totally in love with children’s literature says, “This happened because of my daughter and son,” adding that through them she is also rediscovering children’s literature.

In an exclusive interview with The Morung Express, she expresses that “I saw the difference in them with reading books as compared to watching films/mobiles”, the attention span of the latter being much shorter.

“But with books, once you start a page, you have questions, you are curious. When I first started this idea, I had no lofty ideas. I just wanted to do it to share children’s books with the rest of Kohima”, she shares. Now that her dream of a library has come true, she expresses, “I am putting in much more concerted efforts. I am trying to find diverse books from different countries.”

While children have school books for education, she feels that “more than that, books need to open the minds of young children, teach human values first and foremost, and need to create empathy about situations, people and experiences.”

She is apologetic when she says that “sometimes it’s like I am passing on our burden to our children, because when you really think of it, it’s like our world is crumbling”, but she firmly believes that ‘when children read, they can make a difference.” Citing instances of how the influence of reading has made it a normal thing for her daughter to play with her cousin, who is differently-abled, she adds that ‘we have to be able to talk about it’.

“Unless we are comfortable about it, children just know it. But if your parents make you feel so confident, you don’t have a problem. They let you go out and own the space”, she points out while observing that when it comes to this issue, it is a ‘big problem’ in the Naga society. “It has to start from your home”, she emphasizes while highlighting that there are wonderful books about accepting challenges.

Yhome is starting with her library to inspire change in young minds. But The Book Home is not just for children. It also offers space for adults to visit and ‘try and see things from children’s view’.

 When it comes to finding books to read, she also believes that one size does not fit all while expressing that “every child is different and that is the beauty of it.”

In this regard, she states, “Choice is the magic word. We have to allow children to choose for themselves, one step at a time and then read and before you know it, their love for reading will increase, and if you enjoy reading, you are going to come back and get more books, and the next time, maybe they will pick a different type of book.”

Describing herself as an ‘absolutely crazy mother who is totally in love with children’s literature’,  it has been Yhome’s fervent desire to see children grow up with a library. She herself grew up in a similar environment wherein her sisters and she, would lend books to others from their library. Her association with books had started long back, thanks to their father who even subscribed to magazines from a faraway country.

With friends who come across as ‘the best curator of children’s books’ and those who passed on many books for her daughter while in Delhi, and several other books that flawlessly fit into the library, The Book Home is a beautiful home in every sense of the word.

Open six days a week from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, the library caters to children’s literature for the age group of 0 to young adults. Hundreds of new titles are also on the way from Bangalore and Delhi.