Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Launch : Dhyan Singh 'Chand'- Hockey's Magician

Folks in Mumbai - Are you ready for some Hockey Magic at MCubed Library? 


Why was he called hockey's magician? How did Dhyan Chand prove Hitler wrong? Why is hockey a great game? Come, hear about the game's magic from Dilip D'Souza, author of the children's book Dhyan Singh 'Chand'- Hockey's Magician. He will be in conversation with Viren Rasquinha, Olympian and ex-captain of India's hockey team. 

Venue : Maharashtra Mitra Mandal (MCubed Library), Princess Building, Near Bandra Gymkhana, D'Monte Park Road, Bandra (West), Mumbai. 
Phone : 022-26411497
Email : mcubedlibrary@gmail.com
Date : 26th June, 2016
Time : 10.30 a.m.

Do remember to get your copy of the book autographed by the author!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A PBChamp Jumps Into the World of Storytelling

We are always delighted when we hear stories of how a project we started went on to start another journey. We get to hear many such stories - especially with the Pratham Books Champions project. Here's the story of Vani Balaraman and her journey as a storyteller.



What influenced you to become a storyteller?

In 2012, I was at work and was looking for activities for my son who was 2.5 years then. Back then, I wasn’t aware of story workshops, kids’ events and libraries. I was just another working mom, with a small kid in the daycare, that fell sick often and me battling the corporate. It was September and when I look back now, I have no idea how I landed on the Pratham Books blog and learnt that a champion program was happening 2 days later on World Literacy day.

With just 2 days in hand for preparation, and with neither a hard copy of the storybook nor a banner in hand, I went ahead to do my first ever story event with just a color print out of the story – Susheela’s Kolam! The story is hence very dear to me and so is Pratham books and all their events! That was when Storytelling wasn’t as popular as it is today. I hadn’t visited a single event before. What I performed that day for kids from our apartments, was my first brush with storytelling and I think I fared well. This year in 2016 , I would complete my 5th year as a Pratham books champion.

Now when I look back, I think I always had a passion for stories. Even as a child, I wrote pretty good essays in school. While a Bachelors degree in Engineering and surviving the corporate might have blurred my true calling, I am glad I went back to doing what I did best as a child. Today I take story writing and spinning a tale as the best gift given to me, so as to strike a work life balance, something which is a MUST for every corporate individual!

What is the story behind Cuddles and Reads?

On the very same evening in 2012, I attended a Pratham books champion’s story event, organized at Atta Galatta, Bengaluru, by a bunch of theater enthusiasts. I was curious to know how different storytellers perform the same story. Atta Galatta was then operating out of their bungalow in Koramangala, in a lane laden with the most beautiful bungalows and old oak trees. Again my brush with Atta Galatta happened accidentally and since then there has been no looking back. I have attended various events, book launches, and even went on to perform at their book store for the Pratham Champion event.

Cuddles and Reads was started primarily to chronicle the many events I attended in Bengaluru. Now it has turned into a space where I share my passion for writing, narrating stories and providing reviews on books I enjoy reading or narrating to my son. I also share details of events happening across cities. It is a mixed bag where I share my passion for books, stories, story writing, story narration, etc.

People who perform put in a lot of effort to bring the best to the audience. Today social media is the nicest platform to say a THANK YOU to them and when I feel truly touched by a performance, I do a huge shout out on my page to THANK them.

Read the entire article. You can follow Vani's page 'Cuddles and Reads' on Facebook.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Different (and Important) Narratives

Mridula Chari writes about how different narratives and perspectives are becoming a part of children's books published in India. Some of our own story picks would be Chuskit Goes to School, Chipko Takes Root, A Helping Hand and Bonda and Devi.



Children’s literature in English in India is beginning to respond to a shifting political consciousness in the western world and in certain sections of the Indian society.

“It is important that books which tackle issues, whether sexuality or class, have to work as stories at the level of the book, as opposed to having characters be the vehicle to deliver your issue,” said Roy. “The challenge when you are looking for and writing alternative books is, to now allow the alternativeness to overwhelm the story.”

Among the new crop of books for children are titles that have leading and peripheral characters exploring their sexuality (Himanjali Sankar’sTalking of Muskaan, Payal Dhar’s Slightly Burnt), children with disabilities going about everyday life (Sujatha Padmanabhan’s Chuskit Goes to School, Leela Gour Broome’s Flute in the Forest) and families with single parents (Shals Mahajan’s Timmi in Tangles).

These might seem like heavy tags, but these books do not always make these issues central to their plots or characters. Authors say they simply want to expand the scope of what children read.

“Forget alternate sexualities, sexuality itself finds very little representation in [young adult fiction] in India, and it’s only beginning to change now,” wrote Payal Dhar in an email to Scroll.in.

“The idea that children might have questions about sexuality, their own or of others, is a terrifying thought for us, adults, and the way we deal with it is to pretend it does not exist or shut them up when they bring up the issue,” she wrote. “This is how I got the idea for Slightly Burnt – when it struck me that LGBT kids are virtually invisible in India.”

“Especially in India, we tend to take class for granted,” said Sankar. “My children’s exercise books all assume that they come from certain class positions and are familiar with things like phones or access to technology. My main concern while writing the book was to ensure my tone was not condescending.”

Learning with Digital Open Source Platforms

Radhika Oberoi writes about how open source digital platforms like African Storybook Project and StoryWeaver are 'helping children overcome academic difficulties by making culturally specific stories borderless'.

Via The Wire

Nourished by blasphemies, oaths and lullabies, the mother tongue becomes a constant reminder of the region, the village or even the lane one is from. Unlike a country’s official language, the mother tongue is the language of one’s childhood peeves and squabbles – lively and dynamic, but also reliable, clear and fluent like no other language.

It is when homespun vocabulary finds itself in a classroom, where the language of instruction is English, that the process of learning becomes traumatic for new school-goers. Familiar with the alphabet, but untrained in forming sentences in English, the child learns by rote, fumbling through stories of seagulls and daisies, struggling to discover their magic.
A UNICEF report titled The State of the World’s Children 1999, delineates this argument:
“…in many countries, lessons are still conducted in the former colonial language – for example, in many of the English- French- and Portuguese-speaking African countries that have the lowest levels of primary enrolment in the world. If the medium of instruction in school is a language not spoken at home, particularly when parents are illiterate, then learning problems accumulate and chances of dropping out increase. On the other hand, there is ample research showing that students are quicker to learn to read and acquire other academic skills when first taught in their mother tongue.”
Based on these findings, the South African Institute for Distance Education (Saide) launched an interactive website in 2013 called African Storybook (ASb). A repertory of open-access digital stories in multiple African languages as well as English, French and Portuguese, the website encourages new readers to overcome their inhibitions.

But before a story can be uploaded, downloaded, translated and shared, it has to be written. Among the ASb’s inexhaustible source of narratives is an Indian publisher of children’s literature, Pratham Books. Several original titles like Listen to my Body, The Moon and the Cap and The Elephant Bird have found their way to the ASb and captured the fascination of young readers across continents. Pratham Books’s own digital initiative, StoryWeaver, is a treasure trove of multi-lingual books, which, through a liberal Creative Commons licence, allows users to share and adapt stories as well as images in any medium. There are close to 1,800 stories, available for reading and sharing in 41 Indian and international languages. “While our Hindi and English stories continue to be very popular, we have seen the user community respond with great enthusiasm to Malayalam, Sanskrit, Telugu and recently, Tibetan and Santhali as well,” says Suzanne Singh, chairperson of Pratham Books.

Stories are the √©lan vital of open-source platforms, which prompt children to rapid fluency in the mother tongue, before they can read simple sentences in English. And perched upon the diaphanous wings of broadband transmission, stories can reach eager listeners through any digital medium. Pratham Books’s recent initiative, ‘Missed Call do, Kahaani Suno’ allows children to listen to audio stories in English, Hindi, Marathi or Kannada by leaving a missed call at a given number. An auto-generated call in response lets them pick the language of the story, followed by an SMS that links them to the story on StoryWeaver.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Dial A Story


Kunal Ray writes about the 'Missed Call Do, Kahaani Suno' campaign.


Via The Hindu

Set up in 2004 as a not-for-profit children’s book publisher with a mission to see ‘a book in every child’s hand’, Pratham’s most recent campaign, ‘Missed Call Do, Kahaani Suno’, is to ensure that every child gets a story simply through a missed call.

The telephone transforms into the storyteller and free audio stories of Bheema, Sringeri Srinivas, Veeru, and a wide array of delightful characters regales the children.

Says Purvi Shah, head of digital projects, Pratham Books, “From our experience with children, we know that storytelling is a great way to draw a child into the world of books and reading. That led us to create audio stories for children to create a culture of listening to stories in the child’s home environment.”

The idea was to ensure that the parent did not pay for the story. “That’s how we thought of exploring the ‘missed call’ idea,” says Shah. Exotel created the framework to deliver the audio stories and support the campaign.

The campaign, the first leg of which was held last month, received close to 5,000 missed calls. “The stories are the ones we print at Pratham Books. They are available on print as well as digitally,” says Maya Hemant Krishna, community manager, Pratham Books.

C. Pallavi Rao Narvekar, group head, Radio Mirchi Corporate Social Responsibility, talks of how stories have been recorded not only in Hindi and English but also Urdu, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Marathi. Voice volunteers from various Radio Mirchi stations volunteered their time and talent. Most important, all the stories and books used for the campaign are available for free online at www.storyweaver.org.in and www.soundcloud.com/prathambooks.

Volunteers such as Dharmaraj Solanki printed a placard with the campaign phone number on it and attached it to his backpack.

“My favourite moment was when a father read the placard, gave a missed call, heard the story — and had the widest smile I had seen in the longest time. The first thing he said was ‘I’ll go home and ask my daughter to listen to a story in Hindi and English. She loves stories and she is learning English too."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Call for Applications : Maverick Teachers Global Summit

Agastya International Foundation in partnership with Synopsys presents the MAVERICK TEACHERS
GLOBAL SUMMIT 2016 : ‘Education for a sustainable world - Pedagogies for the future’. If you are a teacher (or know a teacher) who is eligible to participate, register (or nominate) for it. 
About the Summit : 

The summit brings together 35 specially invited Maverick School Teachers from around the world. These teachers will spend 6 days to explore and create pedagogies for the future to support education for a sustainable world. The Summit will be guided by about 30 global thought leaders, policy makers, and expert practitioners from the field of education.

Through a process of ‘Collaborative Mavericking’ the gathering will seek to leverage its creativity and diversity to find a common ground. Our collective insights will culminate in examining pedagogy prototypes that stand to benefit teachers and children across the globe.

Who is a ‘Maverick Teacher’:

“Maverick Teacher as someone who applies a balance of creativity, innovation, empathy and science to the art of teaching to support students and their learning. They think carefully about the students being taught, and the learning intended before designing teaching-learning strategies. They do not deter from reworking, re-organizing or re-arranging subject matter to make it more accessible and meaningful to students. A Maverick Teacher is someone who delights in the success of their students, and encourages student agency in assessment for learning, and the student’s independence as a learner.”

More details about the Summit can be found here.

50,000 Books and Counting!

What does Rani from Bundelkhand,  Alok's second graders from Ahmedabad, Preeti from Sirohi, Atharva from Panshet and Parvati from rural Tamil Nadu have in common you say?

Well, YOU, dear friend!

And WE did it!
Because of your generosity and a deep conviction in building a Reading India, we finished our Donate-a-Thon of 50,000 books. It took a little time, but together we did it. In this journey of 10 months, we hosted over 141 unique campaigns, reached 300+ libraries, made books accessible to over 1 lakh children and made many many new friends.

We couldn't have done this without our wonderful partner organisations who chose the Donate-a-Book platform to build libraries or without our generous donors who placed their trust in us to get 'a book in every child's hand'. It's been a long journey but a rewarding one.

Through Donate-a- Book many organizations have kick started their reading programs and built libraries that are helping India’s children read books in languages they love and understand.

There are so many heartwarming stories, that recounting each one is an impossible task.

Like the story of  a tribal hostel in rural Tamil Nadu where a library was established for the first time, thanks to the efforts of setting up a campaign on Donate-a-Book by its wonderful volunteer. The hostel caters to girls from the Irula tribe and provides them with an access to education.They experienced the joy of holding a book with colourful pages and lovely stories thanks to the donors who made it possible and to Lakshmi, the volunteer who decided to make this possible.


In the tiny village of Kolwadi, in Pune district St. Thomas English Medium School (STEMS) is
the only English medium school serving a big area and a bigger community. To take its students' learning beyond textbooks they set up a campaign to get books for their reading program. Their campaign was funded in 3 days of going live and they have additionally set up a library for children from nearby communities.



A passionate individual who set up a campaign to raise books for a library she runs in Cuddalore, saw Satya Special School’s (Puducherry) campaign on Donate-a- Book and was so moved by their work, that she now volunteers with them to conduct reading sessions for the special kids they work with.

And did you read about about the 'return-gift' we got from the little ones from Ahmedabad?


Excuse us while we wipe away the tear that threatens to run down every time we recall these stories.

Donate-a-Book has been a platform of joy-
... the joy of fresh brand new books in one's hand
... the joy of meeting a book and making it your friend for life
... the joy of knowing you have helped a child smile and giggle and ponder and think
... the joy of a brand new library smelling of paper and ink
... the joy of making connections, collaborations and conversations

Thank You!

Here's to much more 'joy' in the coming days. Lets build more libraries across India!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

World Oceans Day Picks

Have you been seen many book lists on our blog these days? Yes? This is because many people have been writing to us asking if we have books on a certain topic. So, we've been making these lists and sharing them  on the blog for anyone who may also be looking for similar lists. 

Today is World Oceans Day and we are sharing stories of some of the lovely sea creatures in our books.


TURTLE STORY (written by Kartik Shanker, illustrated by Maya Ramaswamy)
The book is a first person narrative by a young hatchling turtle is as charming as it is illuminating. The narrative takes the reader through the entire life cycle of an Olive Ridley, and also introduces several other interesting creatures along the way. 

Eartha also listed this book in its list of '10 books about the environment for kids (by Indian authors)'

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PISHI CAUGHT IN A STORM (written by Mala Kumar and Manisha Chaudhry, illustrated by Sangeeta Das)
Pishi was a huge manta ray fish. Once, when he was caught in a big storm in the Indian Ocean, guess who came to his rescue? Dive into this book for a dramatic story.

This story was born out of the illustrations Sangeeta sent in for the #6FrameStoryChallenge. Read more about it here. You can also read the book on StoryWeaver.

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DIVE (written and illustrated by Rajiv Eipe)
Take a dive with us into the spectacular world of coral reefs, and catch a glimpse of some strange and beautiful sea creatures!

If you are also looking for books on a certain topic, leave a comment below and let us know!

Making Money in the Classroom

Mala Kumar, the author of the 'Rupaiya Paisa series', writes about making money in the classroom. 

If you were to tell your class 5 students that they could make money in the classroom, what do you think their responses would be? If I were to say this to you, dear educator, what would your response be? “Are you talking about play money? Paper money? Print money? Really?” Do you think students will ask you how they could make money? Do you think they would probably tell you a thing or two about how they are already making money outside the classroom but could do it in the class too? 
So, let’s get on with making some money, legally, in class. This could be done in classes 3 and up, but for consistency, let me consider class 5 as our experimental group. 
Let’s say you teach Sanskrit to class 5. Your lesson for the day is based on a Subhashita, the eloquent form of wise poems. The aim is not just to teach the Subhashita, but also to teach children how to make money in the class. You have 40 minutes to do this. Spend three minutes distributing 2 rupee coins to all 30 students in the class, and tell them that for every ‘work’ they do during that period, they will get a coin. And for every ‘work’ they extract from others, they have to pay a coin. Let me be realistic – you will need another 3 minutes to explain this crazy act and answer all the questions that may come up. Then you can go about teaching the poem. And finish it 5 minutes before the bell. 
If nothing else, each student has still made Rs.2 for listening to you, spellbound! 
Can you think of the many transactions that may have taken place in the class?
Read more here.


For similar easy ways to explain financial concepts to children, get our Rupaiya Paisa series. This series on financial literacy introduces children to the concept of money and its usage. Playful illustrations make it easy understand the concepts of saving, earning, budgeting, banks, self-help groups etc. 

The Rupaiya Paisa series is currently available in English, Marathi and Tamil and is available at discounted prices till the end of this month. Get your copies!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Big Little Book Award

Calling all publishers, authors and illustrators!

(Click on the image for a larger view)
Via Big Little Award

Over the last two decades, a handful of authors, illustrators and publishers have attempted to give voice to Indian children’s literature with stories that talk to young readers about who they are, and help them navigate a multicultural and multilingual environment. These authors and illustrators have attempted to balance the traditional with the contemporary to reflect the Indian reality in content, visuals and production. They have given us stories that are not didactic but layered and sensitive, illustrations that fight gender and caste stereotypes, are inclusive, bring humour and fun into books, and books that make for great reading. The Big Little Book Award is a first of its kind award instituted by the Parag initiative of Tata Trusts and ‘Literature Live!’ to recognize and honour significant contribution of such authors and illustrators to children’s literature in Indian language (s). The first awards will be announced at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest, 2016. The award will be given under two categories – one for author and another for illustrator/artist. An eminent panel will select the winners.

Read more details here.

Publishers, librarians, academics and experts are invited to nominate names for the awards. The nomination process is open till 30th June, 2016.