Feb 6, 2009

Childhood Reads

One of my earliest memories is of the passage connecting the living room to the study in my grandfathers’ house. Bookshelves lined both sides of the passage and they were filled with the Readers Digest. My grandfather was an avid reader and he had started subscribing to the Readers Digest as far back as the 1960s and he had saved every single copy. I remember sitting on the cold floor, just a child of 8; breathing in the musty crumbly smell that I have always associated since with old books; trying to make sense of the stories and trying to solve word power.
I started my childhood readings with Champak – I remember devouring the whole magazine in two days and then pestering my mom to get me another copy not understanding that it I would have to wait till the next month to get it. Champak was followed by Nandan, chanda mama and children’s world. And then came the glorious years of Target magazine. This wonderful magazine started by Living Media was a fabulous mix of stories, comic strips and General Knowledge. I don’t think there is any child who grew up in the 80s who has not read Target. We started subscribing to it as soon as it started getting published in the 80s when I was barely 4 and my brother 11. We continued till 1995 although by then I was too grown up for a ‘children’s magazine’. But I could never give it up. Ruskin Bond, Sigrun Srivastava, Geeta Dharmarajan, Mala Marwha, Vatsala Kaul – Target introduced me to these wonderful children’s writers and they did a great deal in inculcating the love for literature in me.
Another favorite childhood read was Amar Chitra Katha. I guess you can call them our first desi comic books. Beautifully illustrated with stories out of our mythology.
A few years back when cleaning up my grandfather’s house, my aunt decided to throw away the entire readers digest collection. I insisted on bringing it to Delhi; dumped in the back seat of our car. It has a place of honor in my bookshelves now along with all the old editions of Target. I take them down sometimes, to leaf through them and to re-live the pleasures of childhood reading.


  1. i eagerly waited for RD to arrive at door..Was too small to read RD then

  2. I don't think there are many kids from Delhi who haven't read Champak in their childhood days. Reader's Digest has also been a favourite, but I started reading that quite late... around the time I was in 11th, 'coz that's when we got the subscription. And Amar Chitra Katha is another series that's always going to be a part of my childhood, I still read them sometimes!

    Wonderfully nostalgic post, two thumbs up!

  3. @arnab
    u know amar chitra katha is available online now ..try it out !

  4. had googled for reader's digest and somehow managed to land up here...interesting read...got me thinking about all the nights spent lapping up the digest...specifically with exams around the corner...they were quite a breather from the monotony of books..!

  5. Nostalgia! I too loved Champak, Chandamama and wisdom. And ofcourse, Amar Chitra Katha is a special one.

  6. Yay! I am delighted to see 'Champak' in your post. This post, and our morning conversation has left me missing those days real bad. I forgot to mention how my mom and older cousins were such fans of M&Bs that there are 3 cartons full of them, lying around for whosoever may be interested. No one seems to like them any more. I never did. :)

  7. I wonder what happened to all those Champaks and Targets that came to our house. I was never a book "keeper". I don't think I have ever gone back to re-read a book.
    Such lovely, nostalgic memories of our simpler days!



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