Chandni Khanna is a director on the board of Hippocampus Children’s Company, headquartered at Bangalore, with a branch in Chennai. Hippocampus believes in promoting reading for the sheer joy of it. Consequently, it tries to create an environment that enhances the experience for children. The main focus is their books – they take pride in their collection which is a wonderful mix of popular books, as well as classics and many lesser known gems, sourced from all over the world, with a blend of Indian and international titles.
Besides books, the other major focus area at Hippocampus is maintaining a very vibrant library. This includes organizing weekend activities, planning summer workshops, keeping in touch with consulates of different countries and publishers,with the aim of hosting visiting authors and illustrators of children’s books from different countries, promoting book launches and organizing story-telling festivals. They organize a host of other associated activities like publishing periodic reading guides and book reviews. Their Good Reading Guide is sought by not only their own library members but also by quite a few librarians in prominent schools and Institutions across Chennai and Bangalore.
Toward its objective of promoting reading among children, Hippocampus has also introduced a home library club, to deliver books to children at their doorstep in far-flung parts of the two cities. Hippocampus helps schools set up libraries – the main focus being book curation and establishing active libraries and offer librarian training and book-based programs for K-5 grades. Their work in the field of libraries, books and reading, led to a partnership with Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Delhi, in 2010. One of the mandates under this collaboration was to set up a modern model library for children in Chennai, where the ambiance and collection, with excellent customer services, could set a precedent for other upcoming libraries.
Being a student of English literature who grew up on books available at neighborhood libraries, Chandni Khanna was totally fascinated with the concept of Hippocampus. She helped set up and run a children’s library for a partner in Bangalore. Eventually, she was instrumental in setting up the Hippocampus in Chennai. The entire operations of the Chennai branch is co-ordinated by her. Her dream to see a book in each child’s hand has led her on this very interesting journey and she encourages ideas, suggestions and support from like-minded people who can help her team achieve this goal faster.