Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vani Foundation Fellowship for Writers and Illustrators at Jumpstart 2014

Via an email sent by GBO New Delhi

The Vani Foundation will award Fellowships each of Rs. 20,000 to two writers and two illustrators of children’s books at Jumpstart 2014. The winners also get to attend a Jumpstart 2014 Masterclass.

Fellowship Mentors:
Gulzar Sahib - poet, filmmaker and Academy award winning lyricist
Paro Anand - renowned children’s author

Application guidelines:
Submissions are invited from writers in Hindi, English and other Indian languages.
One of the two awards for writers will be allocated to a Hindi language writer.

  • Please submit previously unpublished work
  • Please label your work under one of the following themes
    • Fantasy, ghost and monster stories
    • Reality Fiction
    • Graphic novels and Comic books (5 – 6 layouts)
  • Please categorize your content based on the age group
    • 4 years – 8 years
    • 9 years – 12 years (Tweens)
    • 13 years – 16 years (Young Adults)
  • Short stories submitted will have to be the complete unpublished work.
  • The word limit for longer works of fiction/ non-fiction is 2000 words. Please include a synopsis.
  • Please email your submissions to
The deadline for submissions is 06:00 am, Monday, Aug 18, 2014.

For any queries, write to

JUMPSTART 2014 : Play is Fun - Register Now

Jumpstart is back... and this year, the event is also coming to Bangalore. We are also happy to announce that Pratham Books is also collaborating with German Book Office New Delhi's 'JUMPSTART: Play is Fun' as a Knowledge Partner. JUMPSTART will be held on 25th,26th August in New Delhi and on 28th August in Bangalore.

It's all about play this year at Jumpstart!

Play is fun, Playing is one of the first things children do. 

It is how they discover themselves and their world. As adults engaged in creative work, we find that play holds within it the promise of inspiration, change, leisure, jouissance, lateral thinking and sometimes subversion.

In Jumpstart 2014 we look at ways in which we - as writers, illustrators, artists, storytellers, designers- creators in general, can play in the process of creating content for children- Whether it be writing a book, illustrating, animating or creating a game. What makes play possible? How do we play with words and pictures in making books for children? What does playing mean in an everyday learning environment and how is it useful? We hope to explore play in all its polysemy- the gaming of play- domestic, public and virtual spaces of sport and leisure and the embodiment & practice of play.

We want to bring together experts from the books, media, education and creative industries to create a dialogue and explore the different facets of play and its intersections with storytelling, imagination technology and reality that will translate into better content for children.

Pratham Books is also hosting a workshop for teachers on 26th August (9.30am-12.30pm).

This is the one thing that we don’t have to learn. This is the one thing that we all have a natural propensity for and it is the one thing that we all enjoy-the act of play. It is a universal thread in all human development regardless of race, class, region and belief system.

Educational planners and practitioners in India have also used play and activity as a scaffolding for children to achieve learning objectives in the early grades. Are there some experiences that are unique to our country? What are the points of convergence and divergence with the variegated cultural practices and beliefs around childhood ? Where are the interfaces between learned theory and actual situations on the ground ? What are the challenges in implementing play-based classroom activities In overcrowded multilingual classrooms where materials may be scarce? How does play get transformed in a multi-grade classroom? Can such challenging situations that may be common in resource poor schools, be turned into opportunities for greater sensitivity and a more holistic definition of education?

The Pratham Books-Jumpstart session on Aug 26, 2014 will give a hands-on opportunity to explore such questions and more. Eminent academics, Dr Asha Singh Associate Professor Lady Irwin College and Ms Amukta Mahapatra, Director, Schoolscape will lead a workshop for early grade teachers on the use of play in learning. The backdrop of theory will be lit up by incandescent questions from real practice. The participants will get a chance to work in groups to try out fresh ideas with the benefit of expert facilitation. It will be experiential learning at its best…because after all, it will all be child’s play

Click here to view the schedule and to register for the programme.

Image Source : Jumpstart

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Books as aids to keep your kids safe from child sexual abuse

Sandhya Renukamba writes an important article on using books to address child sexual abuse with your kids.

Let me begin by saying that literature for very small children does not lack cautionary tales.
We have a multitude of nursery rhymes which bring up the element of abuse and bullying, introducing these as a possibility. Think of Georgie Porgie kissing the girls and making them cry, or a great big spider coming along to bother Miss Muffet. 
We have fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood who was attacked by the Big Bad Wolf, or the Grimm Brothers’ version The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids where the kids are attacked when the mother goat is out shopping, or those like The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson and the parallel character of the White Witch in the Narnia series—I could go on.
Then we have the book series like Berenstain Bears books (Learn about strangers), the gentle, funny Mike Gordon books that make the kids think, like Safety, The Playground Problem, I Feel Bullied, Its Not Fair, I Feel Sad, and many more that deal with peer behaviour, intimidation, feelings of sadness and guilt, etc., that are key terms in any kind of abuse, including sexual abuse. 
Educating children about their bodies, biological changes at puberty, and answering questions about gender and sexuality is empowering to the child, as it dispels myths and insecurities brought about by information gathered from peers and the media, which can be really crippling sometimes. 
There are many wonderful books that can be used with children, like Babette Cole’s Hair in funny places, Mummy never told me and Mummy laid an egg
Then there are the amazing selection of books by Robie H. Harris which, however, have the disadvantage of too much information in one book, which might not be all needed at the same time. Parents can however find these books a great help for empowering themselves to talk to their children, as well as use them with children if they feel comfortable about it. 
Sandhya lists out some of the books that she uses and also says , "That said, it is up to each parent to assess their child and choose the best age / method of educating their child, and if using a book doesn’t work for them, that is OK, too. As long as steps are taken to protect the child."

Also read : Chintan Girish Modi's article 'Making schools safer for children: Beyond the CCTV camera cure'
' for more resources.

Register for the Achieve Together Conference

(Via Fiona Vaz)

Achieve Together Conference is a one day conference that aims to bring children from different socioeconomic backgrounds together for a day of inspiration, learning and togetherness. After two successful editions in Mumbai, the event will be held in Delhi for the first time in collaboration with INDUSaction.

The conference will be held on 9 August 2014 at The Heritage School, Gurgaon from 8 am to 6.30 pm. Sr Cyril Mooney, the educator who has been awarded the Padma Shree, Ms Jo Chopra of the Latika Roy Foundation will be sharing their inspiring life lessons with the students. Students will have a choice to participate in one of eight workshops on story telling, art, drama, writing, games for peace, dance, science and meditation. All workshops are conducted by experts like Aditi Rao, Ankit Chadha, Abhilasha Ojha, Rahul Hasija and so forth. The conference will also have a parallel track for teachers, parents and school leaders on how to make spaces and opportunities for children more inclusive. Experts like Mr Sunil Batra, Kanwal Singh and organizations like Adhyayan Asia will be leading sessions for adults.

All students from the age group of 12- 14 years are welcome. Registration is open at a cost of 100 INR which includes, a conference kit and meals.

Last date for registration is 3 August 2014.

Please see the website for more details and write to for registrations. You could also reach out to Hemakshi at for more details.

The book bond : Fat King Thin Dog

When Priya Mani introduced her son to  Fat King and Thin Dog she noticed  a bond develop between him and the book.

‘Fat King Thin Dog’ from Pratham Books has a simple, uncluttered storyline. It caught Ashwath’s fancy in a way no other book had this far. Naturally, the book was a winner in my eyes.I narrated the story to him – sound effects, animation, et al – and he loved it. Over time, I was delighted to see the attention that he lavished on the book.He would sit at his table, looking intently at the pictures. Sometimes, even burying his nose in them.I watched with barely concealed pride his growing fondness for the book. For the way he plopped himself on my lap to listen to the story, fervour undiminished.Then the attention got a little personal.He began seeking out the book. Like a dear companion, a favourite teddy. Tugging it out from my careful hands.

She documents her son's delightful friendship with the book here :

Friday, July 25, 2014

Puppets and Comic making workshops

Bookalore and its bunch of authors are doing an event this weekend for kids:Puppet Tales and Comic Trails. Shweta Taneja, author of The Ghost Hunters of  Kurseong and  Krishna: Defender of Dharma  will be doing a special session on how to turn a ghost story into a comic. Author of Rhino Charge Vijaylakshmi Nagaraj will host the puppetry party.

Name: Puppet Tales and Comic Trails
Date: 26 July 2014
Time: 10.30am - 12.00 noon
Venue: RSI, MG Road, Bangalore
Details: Make your own stick puppets! Narrate exciting stories! Create action-packed comic books! Have a creative blast!
Event includes: Puppet Party for 3-8 years and Comic Fun-das for 9-13 years where they get to create their own comics. Parents will also get to listen to what kind of books to get for their kids.

We do love these booky lores! Enjoy the party.


Happening today---Tentastic Storytelling

Our #PBChamps continue to conduct their storytelling sessions across the country.  Pratham Books Champion Mangalam is having her third storytelling session and it is open to the public.Sorry for the late update, but we do hope many of you and your children will be able to make it!

The Happening Place 

BrainSTARS NumberNagar 

# 48 - 49, Off Kanakapura Road, Gubbalala Main Road,

Subramanyapura, Bangalore, Karnataka, 560062

Phone: +91 9980163689

on : 25th July 2014, friday
at 6pm.

To know more about the Tentastic Champions, click here. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review : Daddy's Mo

R's Mom reviews another one of our books on Indian Moms Connect.
Again, the girl’s name is Anu and its about her Daddy’s mustache. Its an interesting book especially for R whose dad doesnt have a mustache. We loved the way, in the book, the daily routine of her dad is described. The little girl’s attractiveness to mustaches forms the gist of the story.
Honestly for someone who is not a big fan of mustaches (read RM), we enjoyed the book thoroughly especially going through the various descriptions of the mustaches. 
The ending is the sweetest which obviously I wouldn’t want to state, but only add that the four year old in the house along with her 30 year old mother, now a days have loads of fun making mustaches.  
Go on and buy the book from Pratham Books, only for its illustrations, they are amazing.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stories hidden in the Seconds

This Friday morning, as I sat with my morning tea bracing myself for all the grim news that fills the newspapers these days, I discovered a hidden jewel in the Times of India. The excellent morning read came from none other than Jug Suraiya, who wrote about Kathmandu and the famed second hand bookstores there. He says that the advantage and value of second hand books is more, primarily because apart from the story written by the author, you often come across stories buried by the previous owner, knowingly or unknowingly. Little scribbles here and there, footnotes, words and phrases underlines, and bookmarks forgotten.

Mr.Suraiya’s column put an instant smile especially because just a week back we discovered a similar gem. A colleague brought a Jane Austen book from Blossoms (the very famous second hand book store on Church Street, Bangalore) and found a really old Gems wrapping in it. Now this was a packing which was in circulation when I was in school, so it must be easily 10-12 years old. This really was somebody’s special memory. Maybe a reward from a parent or a gift of love from a sweetheart, preserved with a lot of care over many years till it went out with the book. That wrapper made us smile and wonder about the ‘other’ stories between the pages, other than what Jane Austen wrote.

The concluding para of the article is the most remarkable:-
So the next time you sell one of your old books imagine that I might be the next owner of it. Or that I was an earlier owner of an old book that you’ve just bought. The book will connect you and me, and we might never know it. That’s the best secret of the secret history of old books.

Read the whole article here…

Have you even found a hidden story in a second hand book ? If not, look closely the next time.

Photo Credits :

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ek Mukta - A Free and Open Source Font Family

Last month we received an email from Girish Dalvi informing us about Ek Mukta - a free and open source font family. We wrote to Girish to find out more details about this project.

People in the publishing industry, bloggers and web designers have always felt that there is a lack of good quality Devanagari Unicode-compliant fonts available for use. The available fonts have limitations of their own, due to which they have not seen widespread acceptance. Girish Dalvi of Industrial Design Centre, IIT Mumbai, with his team have​ developed and released ​a free and open source font family, Ek Mukta, which hopes to be a new experiment in the field of design. This font family has both Devanagari and Latin scripts in it.

Usually while designing multi-script font families, visual features of one script unnecessarily dominate the other scripts. To avoid that, keeping in mind the similarities and differences of both the scripts, and by maintaining the balance of their characteristics, the font has been developed to form a visually cohesive family of two different scripts' letters (glyphs).

Mukta is Unicode 6.3 compliant and has several open type features.

The glyphs are narrower, especially the Devanagari ones, thus more content can be fit in the given space. Large number of Devanagari compound letters (conjuncts) are included, thus reducing the hassle of using half letters and keeping their beauty intact. The font can be used for languages such as Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit, Konkani, Nepali etc. The differing glyphs for these languages are included as stylistic variations, such as the Marathi श and ल. The Vedic signs of Unicode Extended Devanagari are also included. Another feature is the addition of mathematical signs and fractions to the glyph set.

This font is mainly designed for use on the web. It has been hinted for display on screens. It has seven weights, viz. Light, Book, Regular, Medium, Demibold, Bold, Extrabold. Ek Mukta is the only family offering these many weights in the open source domain
This font is released under the Open Font License (OFL) as a free and open source font.

There are several reasons for releasing Ek Mukta under the Open Source License. Font development is a difficult and time-consuming activity where multiple skills are required. Once a source code is available, a base is acquired for developing new fonts. The existing files can be used to develop new fonts, thus saving time and efforts. Technologically relevant progressive fonts can evolve out of this. And if there are any shortcomings in this font then people contribute to improve it. It is not necessary that Open source fonts should be free, but this font family is both free and open source.

​One of the reasons for setting fonts free is the fact that students/designers don't have access to quality fonts while working on their projects/assignments, they either resort to using pirated fonts or use bad quality fonts. I am hoping by open sourcing this font more and more designers/students will use the Devanagari for their projects and assignments.

​Links related to the font:

Demonstration of font features/possibilities of how to use the font and advanced typographic layout using html+css

​​The fonts and the source code files are free to be used and studied and are available at:

Place where you can download the font

For reporting bugs, suggestions, feedback, collaboration

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goodbooks : All About Children's Books from India

A recent website we've been referencing on our blog and Facebook is the Goodbooks blog. We've enjoyed reading the insightful book reviews that the folks behind Goodbooks write and wanted to share more about the work done by them.

We chatted with the Goodbooks team to learn more.

Why and when was GoodBooks set up? is a joint venture by Wipro Applying Thought in School and the Goodbooks Trust. There are plenty of Indian children’s books being produced in the country today but they don’t get the visibility that they deserve. Children’s books are not usually reviewed in literary journals or newspapers and if they are, not many take the trouble to critique them the way they would a book for adults. Our aim is to create a one-stop space where Indian children’s books are in focus: we wish to bridge the gap between publishers/authors/illustrators and their audiences. We also cover news and events from the world of Indian children’s books.

The site went live in December 2013 though we began the spadework for it from 2011 – researching various review sites to bring together the most relevant features, networking with publishers, building a team of reviewers and laying down guidelines for them so we can be assured of high quality, and organizing archival material (reviews of children’s books and articles) that we had sourced from The Book Review journal into more accessible and user-friendly categories.

Who reviews the books?
An independent panel of reviewers composed of people from various walks of life: educators, librarians, writers, illustrators, editors, scientists, researchers. They work with us on a freelance basis. Since we are very particular that the reviews are insightful and approach a book from various angles laid out in our guidelines, we insist on seeing a sample review from a reviewer before we take him/her on board. We don’t want reviews that are general in nature, merely summarizing the story.

What has been the response to the site?
While quite a few big and small publishers have been sending us books regularly, we’d expected that many more would actively participate in this venture to make it successful. Maybe they are taking a wait and watch approach! We need continued support from within the industry and we hope more publishers will hop on board with us soon. Traffic to the site has been on the rise.

Who do you think is the main audience of the site?
We’re primarily a site for promoting good Indian books through professional reviews. The focusis very much on building a group of really good reviewers who take children's books seriously and will be able to critically evaluate all aspects of books. This in turn will help teachers, librarians and parents select good books and increase their awareness about them.

Schools will be the main focus for Goodbooks - they are keen on getting Indian books for their libraries but they have very little information about the books in the market. Goodbooks will provide them with the publishers’ information so that they know how to get the books. Many teachers and librarians have little awareness about how to select good books. The reviews will create that awareness, we hope. In short, the site will help them find information, select and access books.

Any plans of including regional language books?
We will be including regional language books soon. We are talking to a potential partner and when they come on board, information about more than 2000 titles in different languages with links to online sites wherever available, will be given so that readers can buy the books. 

Simultaneously we will start the process of reviewing the books. They will also be providing the online store links for the books we review on the site.

How do you see the platform grow?
Future plans include workshops for librarians and reviewers, conferences on children’s literature, exhibitions of children’s book illustrations and instituting awards. The Goodbooks awards, as we see it, are not only an acknowledgement of the growing talent in the field today but also a way to create awareness among all the stakeholders about the fascinating range of Indian children’s books available in the market.

How can someone become a reviewer on Goodbooks?
If you are interested in reviewing books for us, send us your details along with a sample review. However, do go through the guidelines on the site before you do so. You may email us at

Thank you Sowmya for sharing more details behind the Goodbooks platform. Good luck with the platform and we look forward to reading more reviews about amazing books by Indian publishers.