Side-hustle journey: How I started a children’s book club following my passion

Published: September 16, 2021 at 9:23 am

Last Updated on December 29, 2021 at 6:24 pm

In this episode of “how I increased my income with side-hustles”, we meet Apoorva, who followed her passion and built a successful book club for children on Facebook.

About this series: We all appreciate the importance of a higher income but increasing our income is not easy. It requires time, effort, sacrifice, dedication and opportunities. In these articles, we showcase inspirational stories about people who have increased their income, their station in life via self-improvement, upskilling or side-hustles.

This idea started when I had asked members of Facebook, Asan Ideas for Wealth, to share real-life stories of how they or someone they knew increased their income by upskilling, self-growth (personal development), or side-hustles.

Many of the stories were quite extraordinary. These are stories published earlier:

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We have similar stories lined in the coming weeks. If you have increased your income and changed your station in life, please share it with our community. It will inspire and motivate many. Contact us at freefincal {AT} Gmail {DOT} com with a short outline to take it forward. It can be published anonymously if you prefer.

I’m Apoorva, based in Bangalore. I’m an engineer by qualification and an educator by passion. I have 9 years of experience in the software industry. In 2017, after some frustrating situations at work, I decided to volunteer to feel better about life.

I used to visit a low-income school near my house and help children overcome their fear of English. I chose to do this through storybooks, and the response was overwhelming. Children eagerly looked forward to my sessions, and even though our interaction was only once a week, teachers reported an improvement in the English skills of the children at the end of the academic year.

Being an avid reader, this incident cemented my belief that books can be useful for much more than just academic learning or “timepass”. I started researching books (particularly those written by Indian authors) and gave myself a monthly budget of ₹500 to buy and read more children’s books.

I also joined groups on FB where these are discussed in detail. After a year, I started my own FB page to document my learnings and share book reviews/recommendations. After the pandemic, I received many requests to stock the books I reviewed as they aren’t easily available in regular bookstores. That’s a small income stream for me now.

I was blessed with a baby last year and decided to take some time off work. My page already had around 500 followers, and I was noticed in the groups dedicated to reading that I had joined earlier. I launched my virtual read-aloud sessions in May 2021 to help every child fall in love with reading.

Collection of children's books used in a read-aloud session of Bee's Book Space
Collection of children’s books used in a read-aloud session of Bee’s Book Space. For more photos, check out the FB page link below.

I choose books that encourage creative thinking and problem-solving and deal with topics like empathy, kindness, and relevance to our lives while also being fun. I read and facilitate discussions around these books through zoom. Having my FB page helped increase my reach and get my first batch of participants. I still regularly document my activities.

FB Page link: Bee’s Book Space


Bees Books space FB cover image
Bees Books space FB cover image.

Monetization: I am utilising the page to sell books and as a platform to market my virtual read-aloud sessions. I now earn a reasonable revenue through this. About 80% of the registrations for my classes are through FB page followers. I don’t use any form of paid advertising.

The plan for the future is to make the page a one-stop-shop for Indian children’s literature. When I was growing up, we had moral stories, some novels from regional writers, and that’s it. Apart from that, we had to read Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys.

There are books for children written and published in India starting from six months till 15 years with various categories such as board books, picture books, chapter books, novels and young adult books. These are also written in various genres across fiction (with extremely relatable characters and situations) and non-fiction. One of my book reviews is appended below.

My page would be a ready reckoner for parents looking to pick up contemporary Indian children’s literature. I also intend to continue documenting and advertising my classes on the page. Facilitating book club discussions, author interactions with children and creative writing events to open up children’s horizons are all on the cards.

One of my book reviews:

Title: Ahimsa (available via Bees’ Books Space)
Author: Supriya Kelkar

Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar front and back cover
Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar front and back cover

This one is a must-read for everyone over 10 years old. History has a way of being condensed to just dates and events in schoolbooks. Books like Ahimsa paint an authentic picture of what life was like during the freedom struggle.

Told through the eyes of Anjali, a 10-year old whose mother decides to join the Quit India movement, this book delves into all the violence and divides (Indians-Britishers, Hindu-Muslim, Upper caste- lower caste) during the time. Initially, Anjali is an unwilling participant, very morose about burning her favourite ghagra cholis and wearing khadi.

As the story unfolds, she can see and question the events that unfold.
For me, the highlight of the book was Anjali’s questioning of Gandhiji’s policies towards Dalits. When she realises, in the words of a Dalit boy, “Your God has forsaken us”, many questions arise. Is it possible for a leader to be wrong? Is such a person a bad leader? Should we unquestioningly follow someone?

We have similar stories lined in the coming weeks. If you have increased your income and changed your station in life, please share it with our community. It will inspire and motivate many. Contact us at freefincal {AT} Gmail {DOT} com with a short outline to take it forward. It can be published anonymously if you prefer.

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Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr. M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter, Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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