Bookworm came into being in 2005, the result of a vision by Elaine Mendonsa and Sujata Noronha, two educators, to create a library and learning space to enhance literacy and the love of books amongst the children of Goa. So they converted a family-owned second-floor apartment at St Inez into a lending library funded by subscription. Initiatives like a children’s magazine soon followed. Elaine also now had the facilities to develop literacy through her innovative ‘read aloud’ story skills and associated activities and this soon became Bookworm’s flagship programme that continues to this day. .
The income flow from better-off families funded programmes to enhance literacy in more disadvantaged families. By 2008, this latter process had been formalised into an independently funded ‘School Book Treasury’ programme, aiming to support schools that are poorly resourced by supplying reading materials, together with help, support and training for existing teachers, to enrich the library work done within the schools. As part of this, boxes of books would be delivered to these schools which were then rotated on a regular basis so that there was always a fresh selection of targeted books.
This was so successful that the Book Treasury was soon taking up all of Sujata’s and Elaine’s time in delivering boxes of books by private car. After a major fund-raising drive, 2009 saw the arrival of Bookworm’s now famous red van and a driver to do the routine deliveries. Sujata and Elaine were free to teach and innovate again!
As part of the Bookworm workshop environment, Sujata was soon taking groups of children around Panjim to discover their heritage on walks called Cholta Cholta. Accompanied by Pritha Sardessai, a local architect with a great eye for illustration and a knack for storytelling, they gave the kids sheets detailing the route with thumbnail sketches of the sights.
From that point it was but a little leap to the concept of a book that could be sold to families finding out about the State’s capital city or people from the vibrant Goan visitor market. This melded with Bookworm’s dreams of publishing much needed Goan-orientated children’s books and so in 2011 Bookworm Publishing was born.
The newest and one of the most innovative areas of growth for Bookworm is the Mobile Outreach Program that swung into action in late 2011. Planned, developed and executed by some of Bookworm’s own young people who now want to give something back to society, the aim of MOP is to take books and the mobile library out to the children of some of the poorest socio-economic groups in Goa. These are children that until now have had no access to books or opportunity for creative work.
Finally having outgrown its original home, 2012 saw Bookworm’s move to a pretty red house in the Panjim suburb of Taleigao. Aided by a generous benefactor, Bookworm’s new home is spacious and well suited to the needs of its library, workshops and offices.