Mongolian author rides camel to bring children closer to books

Jambyn Dashdondog, Mongolian children’s books author is in town with an aim — to make children fond of books.

In his native country, Dashdondog is known to bring joy to children through his “mobile library”. Author of 108 books, the author makes sure children even in the remotest part of his country have story books to relish. To achieve that end, Dashdondog does not mind riding a camel.

Travelling vast expanses of his country, with books in tow, Dashdondog wants to enable students in the countryside — the nomadic groups of Mongolia — to “spend their holidays reading books”.

He started the Mongolian Children’s Mobile Library project in 2002, with the help of many volunteers including students, writers and artists, as well as his own family.

Dashdondog is one of the delegates visiting Delhi for the International Conference on Children’s Libraries — Building a Book Culture — organised by the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC). “His mobile libraries on camel back and horse cart are interesting to look at,” said an AWIC official.

In fact, Dashdondog has won the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY)-Asahi Reading Promotion Award in 2006. The award is given biennially to a project run by a group or an institution making a lasting contribution to promote reading among children and youth.

“He read children’s literature and started his efforts to translate these into Mongolian,” said the AWIC officials, organisation promoting reading habits in India. Dashdondog has spent 18 years loading his books on any means of transport — horses, cows, camels, reindeers or automobiles — to access rural areas with his mobile library.

Interestingly, he cannot communicate in English and has an interpreter from the Mongolian Embassy. Many other delegates from abroad addressed the event at the India International Centre today with former president A P J Abdul Kalam as the chief guest.

Kalam emphasised on the importance of reading among children. “Overburdened in school and with excessive homework assigned to them, children generally get little time for extra reading. Television further takes away most of their spare time. Further, unimaginative and uninteresting textbooks diminish children’s interest in books,” Kalam said, adding parents, teachers, librarians can play a role in inculcating reading habits among children.

By Maroosha Muzaffar, reporter of


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