Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why Teachers Are The True Superheroes!

My favourite part about being on the field visiting schools is ALWAYS meeting the teachers. I have a firm belief in the prowess of every teacher and the impact they make. This furthered after I donned the teacher's hat for two years during my time at the Teach For India Fellowship and observed teachers as a peer - how with limited resources, limited training and sometimes with unfair pay scales they push boundaries for self and their students.

And the more teachers I meet, the more this belief strengthens. Here is a little story to back up my belief-

I spent a large part of April travelling to Pratham Learning Foundation's centers in tiny villages around Kota in Rajasthan. The centers are based within Government Schools catering to children of farm laborers from the same/nearby villages. These villages are really more like hamlets. Less than 100 residents, all engaged in agricultural activities.

 In one such village called Motikuan, I met the Headmaster and his team of teachers who were supremely  invested in their school and wanted to make it an 'Adarsh Vidyalaya'. The student attendance in the school was arbitrary, as children were often expected to help out in the fields during harvest season or look after siblings and home as both parents work in the fields. The girls were specifically most affected by this.

In an effort to keep the villagers interested in sending their wards to school and make education valuable in their eyes, the Headmaster and his team provide 'employment' to their 12th pass out students in the form of temporary teachers. Yes, you read it right, The Headmaster and the teachers spent a part of their own salaries (on their own free will) to employ ex students so that parents continue valuing education. These 'temporary' teachers helped the school with summer camps or work as substitute teachers as the school is anyway understaffed. Later, Pratham absorbs most as teachers and the school gets prepared to groom the next batch.

The commitment these teachers display towards education, towards their students is commendable. One cannot help but wonder if these teachers get the necessary resources and support, to what heights will they take their school and its wards.

Across the country there are many such examples, of teachers on the ground making real impact, making real sacrifices for the future of this country. Real unsung heroes. This country is in good hands. 

And as someone rightly said 'Not all superheroes wear a cape' :)

The school premises at Motikuan, Kota
Inside the school operates a Pratham Infotech Foundation center providing computer literacy for all Grades
A Balwadi teacher encouraging a child to identify क

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Apply For A Free Library That Sparks Curiosity And Discovery!

In keeping with our mission of putting a book in every child's hand, Pratham Books is inviting applications for a STEM Library Grant. With an aim to ignite curiosity in children, we want to give away 100 STEM Library Kits comprising of books that explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects and emotional intelligence.



Why STEM?
Sometimes, Maths and Science can be daunting for children. However, when concepts are presented in a fun and engaging manner children find it easier to grasp and retain them. There is a dearth of simple, informative books for young readers and access to these books will help children in their learning journey. Pratham Books has developed a special set of books that will enrich the child’s current curriculum and be a useful classroom aid for the teachers.

The books cover a diverse range of topics- from estimation of distances in How Far is Far, to a future world with robots- Bonda and Devi; from exploring the Fibonacci series in The Fascinating Fibonaccis to simple math calculations in Dum Dum-a-Dum Biryani. Children can easily grasp the concepts of saving, earning, budgeting, banks etc with our books on Financial Literacy.

Books with environmental themes also form a part of this kit- Jadav and the Tree Place transports readers into the life the Forest Man of India, Jadav Payeng and Up World, Down World is a story on the biodiversity of canopy forests. Dive! is a beautifully illustrated book that takes the reader on an underwater journey and our books on the seasons of India- Autumn, Monsoon, Spring, Summer and Winter will help children understand the specialty of each of these seasons. Books that focus on developing emotional intelligence among children are also present. A Helping Hand is based on the idea of inclusivity and accepting differences while Reethi and Mithu focusses on freedom.

These books will evoke curiosity in children and encourage them to discover and ask questions about the world around them.

What is a STEM Library Kit?
The kit is a wall-mounted modular library unit that can be put up in any classroom or library. It consists of 125 books, primarily in STEM subjects. Hindi or English books will be given away on the basis of medium of instruction in the classroom/learning center.

If you wish to apply for this grant, kindly go through the Application Guidelines listed below and if you fulfill the criteria, do fill out the Application Form.

Guidelines for STEM Library Kit Application :
  • The Applicant should be a Non Profit Organization registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 or Section 25 of Companies Act of 1956 or any other legal entity under regulations of Government of India OR a Government or Low budget Private School.
  • The Applicant should be working with children from low income communities. 
  • The Applicant should have a functioning reading program/ active library for children with fixed reading hours outside curriculum. This reading program must give children access and opportunities to read book, which are not a part of the set curriculum and are read for the pleasure of reading. 
  • The Applicant should be working with children from Grades 4 to 8. 
  • The reading program that the applicant runs should impact at least 150-200 children of the community.
  • The applicant would be required to sign a Memorandum-Of-Understanding with Pratham Books and give regular updates and feedback on the outcomes of the library received. The organisation would have to share two structured reports before March 2017. (a set format will be shared by Pratham Books)
  • The applicant should be open to collaborating with Pratham Books on a programmatic intervention as per need, requirement and interest. This could be any or all of these - digital intervention, volunteering opportunities, storytelling sessions, research related programs, marketing campaigns, opportunities for interaction with children.
  • Only online applications sent through THIS link will be eligible for the grant. E-mail or printed applications will not be accepted.
  • Preference would be given to organisations who have never received a grant from Pratham Books before.
  • The STEM Library kit from Pratham Books is available as single language kits with books in the following languages only : English and Hindi. The kits will be granted in the same language as the medium of instruction in the classroom or learning center.
Last day of application: September 5th
Applying for the grant- Please click on THIS link to apply for the library grant.

Points to be noted
  • A duly filled form is imperative for us to consider your application, so please don’t miss any columns while filling in your application.
  • Only applications received via THIS Google Form link will be considered. Applications sent via email or post will not be eligible for the grant.
  • Decision of Pratham Books will be final while selecting the final list of beneficiaries for the grant. 
  • Pratham Books is not obliged to disclose the cause of acceptance or rejection of any application.
As the applications start pouring in, we promise to read and consider every application we receive. We are also looking for new partners in this journey, so organisations who have not yet benefited from any grant from Pratham Books before will get first preference.

Please write to us at bookgrants@prathambooks.org if you have any further questions or comments.

This grant has been supported by Oracle Giving Initiative.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The #PBChamps Programme is Back!

It is that time of the year again! The time when we start gearing up for the annual champions event. Last year 2500+ storytellers joined us to take 'The Boy and Drum' across India (and some other parts of the world!). How many champions will join us this year? We need you to spread the reading virus and we need you to get your friends and family to join the tribe of champions too.

The idea behind the campaign : The idea is to encourage children to fall in love with reading. This initiative is part of the Pratham Books' Champions program where we encourage our community of volunteers to use one book to conduct reading sessions. These sessions are conducted free of cost and mostly with children from under-served communities.




We continue to celebrate the joy of reading around International Literacy Day. This year's event is scheduled for 10th September, 2016 (as it is a Saturday and more people can join us to celebrate the joy of stories).

Season 5 of One Day, One Story


This year's chosen book is The Elephant Bird (written by Arefa Tehsin and illustrated by Sonal Goyal And Sumit Sakhuja. A story about a magical bird, and a brave and curious child! This story could be used to talk about themes of friendship, courage, endangered species and more. You could also turn it into a play and involve kids in your storytelling session. Or tweak it a little to do your version of the story with tons of different characters and avataars.

We want you to take this story and use it in creative ways with kids -read it, narrate it and enact it.

Sounds interesting? Available on 10th September, 2016? Join thousands of others and do your part to make reading contagious!


*Registrations to receive a hard copy of the book end on 28th August, 2016. You will however be able to sign up to receive an e-copy of the book.

(We've also started a Facebook event group so champions can chat and share ideas with each other. Join the Facebook event page.)

So, how does this work? 
Fill in the form. A copy of the chosen book and a banner will be sent by the Pratham Books team. You are free to choose the place and time you want to conduct the session. You can also conduct other activities that you think may go with the theme of the book.

After the session, send us a short write-up or send us some photos from the event and we will feature it on the champions blog.

Note: (1) For logisitical reasons, we can't ship books to international destinations, but we will be able to share the PDF of the book with any international volunteers.
Note : (2) There are limited numbers of the books. If we run out of books by the time you register, we will send you an e-copy of the book.

If you have any queries, please mail champions(at)prathambooks(dot)org BEFORE filling in the form.

Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will the book be sent for free or does the champion pay for it?
Answer : The book is sent to you for free (till stocks last)

2. Does the champion have to find the venue?
Answer : Yes. Identify places where you can conduct this event in your city - A government school, an NGO, a library, a bookstore, a park, a train, your building...any place with regular kids footfalls. Approach the organization and explain the concept to them. Most of them will be happy to host you.

3. This is the first time I am conducting an event. How should I prepare for it?
Answer : Read the book a few times. If you are reading to a younger age-group, see how you can tell the story without actually reading the book (to retain their attention). Think of activities that you can do after the storytelling to engage the children (example : can the story take on a skit form, can the story be a way to talk about an important issue, etc).

4. Can i conduct multiple events?
Answer : Definitely!!! The aim is to reach as many kids as possible. We've had champions who've conducted 2-3 sessions on the main day and then gone on to conduct sessions on other days too.

5. Should I document the event?
Answer : We expect all our Champions to send us some documentation about the event conducted by them. You can send us mini videos, pictures or a write-up on the event which will tell us [and the whole wide world] on the “real impact” made. 

6. I really want to conduct a session but I am not free on 10th September? What should I do?
Answer : The aim of this campaign is to spread the joy of stories. Most people conduct the session on the chosen date. But just in case you are unable to, you can still conduct it on a day close to the chosen date. Because kids getting to hear a story is more important than the date, no?

Sounds like something you want to do? Sign up here.

(P.S- all the images in this post are of actual storytelling sessions conducted by our awesome champions).

Monday, August 1, 2016

Sing Along This August

August is a hectic time for us at Pratham Books. We begin our preparations for the annual Pratham Books Champions event and get busy packing books, sending them to volunteers across the India and planning a big, big book party! Lots of news to rejoice...like Sukhiya Kaka and Dinoo from this month's calendar. 

These joyful illustrations were created by Rajiv Eipe (one of the Illustrator Gurus of the #6FrameStoryChallenge). Rajiv's work was also remixed and a story called 'Singing in the Rain' took shape. Read the story here.

Here's wishing you a joyful and happy month ahead!


Download the image and turn it into your screensaver
How do I make this image my screensaver?
Right click on the image below and save it. Set as your screensaver (or maybe even your Facebook cover picture?). Done, done, done!

P.S - If you change your desktop screen, we would love to see some pictures of this travelling across screens :). Mail us at web(at)prath

Pratham Books is Hiring!

Pratham Books is as a not-­for-­profit children’s book publisher with the mission to see ‘a book in every child's hand’. In the last decade, Pratham Books has published over 300 original titles in 18 Indian languages. 


MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Right out of college, you joined the exciting world of communications, and loved the excitement and creativity. But now, 3 - 4 years' old in the business, you catch yourself wondering whether there is more to work than announcing a special offer on a packet of tea or choosing a celebrity to endorse a brand. Can communication actually influence, inspire, and make a change in the way people live -- and not just buy? You love brands, and you know that your skills are at bringing them alive, and engaging with the people they touch. And if it is people you'd like to focus on -- especially children.

If that sounds like you, please say Hello to one of India's largest children's book publisher, and join us in putting “a book in every child's hand”. We’ve reached out to millions of children to help them discover the joy of reading, and we’d love to have you on our team.

Location : Bangalore

Key Responsibilities 
  • To develop and present our brands/properties/platforms memorably, to help them stand out in a competitive marketplace.
  • To communicate and connect with multiple stakeholders - authors, illustrators, publishers, children, parents, schools, other non-profits, social enterprises and governments.
  • To effectively explore new media avenues- like digital marketing to achieve the brands’ goals.
  • To develop CRM programs and database management. Prior experience in this will be an added advantage.
  • Plan and execute research projects.
  • Plan and execute marketing campaigns for our brands/properties/platforms
  • To enhance brand's presence at Litfests and book fairs through marketing collaterals and on ground activation.
  • Develop and maintain media relations.
Requirements:
  • A degree in Business/Marketing
  • 3-4 years experience in advertising / media relations / MARCOM / social sector
  • Good communication, presentation and inter-personal skills
  • A self-starter, independent, team player who is motivated by the cause
  • Strong technology skills
  • Knowledge of Kannada is a plus
The ideal candidate should have a strong work ethic, high level of integrity and believe that all children should be given equitable opportunities to achieve their best.

Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Please send your resume to info(at)prathambooks(dot)org with 'Marketing Communications Manager' in the subject line of the email.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What's Happening at JUMPSTART 2016?

Soooo much to look forward to at this year's JUMPSTART Festival. From the JUMPSTART ALCHEMY LAB (psssst : sign up!) to the masterclasses by subject experts, from innovation to technology. Here's more on what you can expect from this year's event.
(Click on the image for a larger view)

Via JUMPSTART


At JUMPSTART 2016, we are inviting content creators, writers, illustrators, educators, teachers, librarians, publishers, thinkers, innovators and provocateurs to travel with us, and our global and local experts, along the wide and varied interface between education in school and children's content. Get Inspired by discussions on Innovations in educational content, drama in education, re-imagining the future of education via gamification. What are the evolving pedagogies in classrooms and is the content moving in step with them? What are publishers doing differently in new ecosystems of learning? Are new products being designed differently? In the constantly evolving world of learning and content, here is your chance to be updated, to create, ideate and network. Join in the fun at #JUMPSTART16. Know more: www.jumpstartfest.com

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How StoryWeaver Is Enabling Stories in Multiple Languages

Shrabonti Bagchi reports on how our online platform, StoryWeaver, is providing access to stories in multiple languages - including rare languages.

Via FactorDaily

Translations and languages have emerged as a very important part of the platform’s impact. “One of the most interesting aspects for us has been seeing our books being translated into many rare, tribal languages — and not just Indian ones,” says Suzanne Singh, chairperson, Pratham Books.

Languages like Banjari/Lambadi, Kuruk/Oraon, Gondi, Mundari, Sadri, Santhali and Kora don’t even have a written tradition, and in many cases, no script. Interestingly, some stories have even been translated into Sanskrit, which of course has a vibrant written tradition but very few reading resources for children. At the same time, many translators living outside India have used the platform to translate Pratham’s books into their own languages, such as IsiXhosa, Kiswahili, Olukhayo, Khmer, and Farsi. There are also translations into more mainstream foreign languages like Japanese, Portuguese, Hebrew, Russian, and Spanish.


Pratham Books' chairperson Suzanne Singh shares more about the journey of the platform...


Visit StoryWeaver to discover a world of stories. 

Learning to Read

This week, we came across two examples of how organizations are increasing reading fluency among the kids they work with. Closer home, Deepalaya Community Library Project conducted a Summer Fluency Pilot Program. In Cambodia, Room to Read lays emphasis on teacher training.

Via Deepalaya Community Library Project
While the Deepalaya Community Library at Delhi’s Sheikh Sarai has grown significantly in membership in the last one year, it has not escaped us that reading fluency amongst many of our readers lags behind their peers from more privileged backgrounds. In June 2016, a team led by Michael Creighton conducted an assessment of nearly 100 children from the ages of 6-16. The assessment required children to read continuously for 1 minute from selected Hindi texts (suited to their age-group). The total number of words read and the number of errors were noted as well as reading behaviors such as whether students were observed correcting their own errors. This was the basis for evaluating fluency-levels.  
The goal was to build fluency and enhance reading comprehension in Hindi. We chose Hindi for many reasons, but primarily because it mother tongue literacy is not just good in its own right, but it supports literacy in other languages as well.
Four groups of 4-7 students came for an hour a day, every day. The idea was to give individual attention to each child, helping them understand their blocks & mistakes and overcoming them through repeated readings of different types of texts ranging from picture books to comics to longer & more complex books with fewer pictures. Every night students took home childrens’ magazines to read from for ‘homework.’ 
Everything was aimed at giving students a variety of experience actually reading extended amounts of text: partner reading; independent reading; repeated readings of the same text. Students read daily both from leveled readers and from books and magazines of their own choosing.
Read the entire report to see the results of this project.

From Room to Read's report titled 'How to Read to Children: Why Training Teachers Matters'
“They borrow lots of books, especially after library period,” said Namex, who has taught first grade at the school for 28 years, “so many that I barely manage to write them all down in the logbook!” She giggled with delight. 
All of this was new to the teachers at Kampong Thom Primary School, too. Until recently, they hadn’t known how to show their students how much fun reading can be. 
“Where is my watch??” said Namex, turning the colorful page. Her face grew animated as she lowered her voice to make the sound of a clock ticking: “Tick! Tick! Tick!” Every first grader in the library was about to burst with anticipation. 
Even though Namex Pen had shared stories with her students many times in class before, her method had been to read from a government-issued textbook peppered with bland illustrations, then ask them to summarize the story. They’d never had a library before. Reading seemed like a chore and her students were easily distracted. 
Before the training course, Kampong teacher Sokmol Khit only knew about one reading activity — read aloud. Now she knows how to pair reading activities with the right grade. She likes the shared reading activity for kindergarteners because they can learn about sound and intonation while reading along. 
“It used to be only the librarians were trained,” says Sokmol. “Now that every teacher in school is involved in promoting reading I can see a huge improvement.”

Attend a Masterclass at JUMPSTART 2016

(Click on image for a larger view)

Via JUMPSTART 

For JUMPSTART, we’re taking a trek back to class as this year’s annual festival of content creator’s ‘JUMPSTART’ - Goes to School. Our aim is to provide you a 360 degree view of intersections of children’s content with education. With JUMPSTART 2016, we are inviting content creators, writers, illustrators, educators, teachers, librarians, publishers, thinkers, innovators and provocateurs, digital innovators to travel with us, and our global and local experts, along the wide and varied interface between education in school and children's content. This is how various content creators and disseminators can benefit from JUMPSTART this year: 

2nd August, Day 1: Inspiration
Target audience: author, publisher, illustrator, teacher or education technology expert 

Get Inspired by discussions on Innovations in educational content, drama in education, re-imagining the future of education via gamification. What are the evolving pedagogies in classrooms and is the content moving in step with them? What are publishers doing differently in new ecosystems of learning? Are new products being designed differently? 

3rd August, Day 2: Perspiration 

Writer’s masterclass- Ken Spillman 
Target Audience: Editors, Authors 
What does it mean to be a writer every day? Which techniques and methodology can prove to be helpful for a productive writing life? What sort of mind preparation goes into being a successful writer? How does one overcome writer’s block?. Watch the author of 60 books answer these questions and join him for practical writing exercises to unlock the writer within!

Digital learning’s masterclass- Florian Sochatzy 
Target Audience: Digital Publishers, Subject Matter Experts, Instruction designers 
How can didactical concepts be implemented technically? Which design strategies are useful in bringing forth innovation in the context of e-learning? What are the general tools and techniques used for e-publishing? Learn all this and more with our international expert and also design one chapter for multi- media textbook with the master himself

Illustrator’s masterclass- Orit Bergman 
Target Audience: Illustrators, Graphic designers, Authors 
What is the creative process that goes into the making of a picture book? How can picture books help in making our children better readers and writers? What is the use of picture books in primary schools? Watch our Illustration expert from Israel answer these questions and engage in a practical session with her which will make you fall in love with the process of making picture books!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Chat With Shahidul Alam

Chintan Girish Modi talks to Shahidul Alam on his latest book Brahmaputra Diary: A Journey To The Source of Asia’s Greatest River. 'Brahmaputra Diary' is our recently published book which  is a travelogue about one of the mightiest rivers of the world - Brahmaputra.




Alam is a human rights campaigner and a disruptive political artist from Bangladesh who is on the hit list of the anti-secular, extremist forces in the country. 

It, therefore, came as a surprise to me, when I learnt that Alam, who is primarily associated with his work as a photographer and human rights campaigner, has now authored a book for children titled Brahmaputra Diary: A Journey To The Source of Asia’s Greatest River.

Ilish fishing 2001

In the book, Alam writes, “Like a Hindu deity, the river has many incarnations, changing its name and nature as it flows along its 2900 km journey from its source near the holy mountains of Kailash through the icy glaciers in Tibet, the green mountains in India, and through the fertile plains of Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal. Near the source, the river is called Tamchok Khambab Kangri, meaning ‘the river coming out of the horse’s mouth’. According to legend, Tamchok Khamabab spilled from a glacier in the Chemayudung Mountains. The Tibetans know it as the Yarlung Tsangpo, the purifier. In India, it is known as the Brahmaputra. In Bangladesh, it is also known as the Jamuna, the Padma and finally, the Meghna, before it opens into the sea.”

Bangladesh


It has been published by Pratham Books in 2016, more than a decade after the photography exhibition it is based on was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2003. “My partner, Rahnuma Ahmed, has often told me that if I ever run out of work as a photographer, I can always get work as a baby sitter,” says Alam. “I love working with children but had never considered writing a book for them. I was thrilled to bits. Especially the fact that it is a cheap, affordable book with such a large print run!”

“I don’t think that Shahidul would have seen himself as a children’s book author in a stereotypical sense,” says Manisha Chaudhary, his editor at Pratham Books. “His great passion is visual communication, which goes beyond boundaries of age. He had text to accompany the exhibition. However, it needed some simplification, additions, and explanations to make it more accessible to children. Shahidul was willing to work with our constraints to create the best possible book for children without any dumbing down of the written text.”

Bangladesh

The book speaks of political, cultural, racial boundaries, and crossing them — not only by gliding in and out through places but by immersing in local stories and folk songs. We learn about religious scholars, alpine vegetation, mythological lore, and nomadic life. We see Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the wind, bridges made of rocks, sheep seeking shelter, fisher folk going about their daily chores, and lamps being lit in temples and monasteries.

In the book, Alam writes, “No one is known to have traversed the entire run of this river. We take you on this journey, across the millennium, across three nations, through Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. From the icy trickle in the glaciers, along Pei in China, to where the river narrows into a rapid-filled gorge reaching phenomenal depths and amazing cascades.”

Read the entire review here.  Buy the book here.