Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The International Edible Book Festival

The International Edible Book Festival is held annually around April 1st.
April 1st is the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), famous for his book Physiologie du goût, a witty meditation on food. April fools' day is also the perfect day to eat your words and play with them as the "books" are consumed on the day of the event. This ephemeral global banquet, in which anyone can participate, is shared by all on the internet and allows everyone to preserve and discover unique bookish nourishments.
(taken from the books2eat website)

The site states that the rules for participation are that the event be held on April 1st (or around that date) and that "All edible books must be "bookish" through the integration of text, literary inspiration or, quite simply, the form."

Do you plan to participate in this event tomorrow? Will you cook up a creation for the Edible Book Festival? (If you do, please send us a picture too. You do remember that we love books as much as we love food, don't you?)

Read more about the festival here and see some of the 'bookish' creations here.

Image Source

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marketing Your Book by Giving Away Kindles

Another marketing and publicity strategy employed to get more readers...

Via Publishers Weekly
Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, and the book’s publisher, Workman Publishing, gave away one Kindle every hour to readers who purchased the book from any online retailer. As the author announced the winners through his live streaming video chat, which lasted all day, the book steadily climbed Amazon’s bestseller list and hit the number one spot around 2:00 p.m. EST.

Within a few hours, the book reached #33 on Amazon’s bestseller list; by afternoon it was at number one, both in physical books and on the Kindle platform.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source

Happy Birthday! Our Blog's First Birthday!

*Blow the balloons*

*Light the candle*

And whooooossssshhhhh (blow off the solitary candle).

Happy birthday to us....This BLOG just turned a year older.

A huge THANK YOU...

.... to everyone who visits our blog regularly (and even accidentally).

.... to all the readers who subscribe to our blog.

....to all you lovely people who leave comments.

.... to everyone who sends us links and ideas and mails us.

....to all the CC users on Flickr whose pictures we use on this blog.

... to everyone who gives us feedback on the work we do, the books we publish, the contests we hold and the ideas we have.

We made new friends, stumbled across great ideas, shared our love for reading and had a fun blogging year. Looking forward to another exciting year of blogging.

Oh yes, leave us some presents in the form of comments. Let us know what you want to see on this blog, what you wish to read and what you do or do not like.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Pssst: For anyone looking for return presents for the blog turning a year older, you can go get your dose of stories here or download 3 new stories to download on the left side of the site).

Image Source: Pratham Books

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Free Verse Project

Do you know about the "Free Verse Project"?

Inspired by the 2009 National Poetry Month Poster design, the Academy of American Poets invites you to capture and share your own ephemeral bits of verse.

Write lines from a favorite poem on a sandy beach, assemble twigs on a hillside, or chalk the sidewalk. Take a photo before it disappears and post it in the Free Verse group page on Flickr, or on the Academy's Fan Page on Facebook, or email your photo to freeverse@poets.org.

More details here.

Seen Below: from First Fig by Edna St.Vincent Millay

Seen below: from "You Can't Have It All" by Barbara Ras

See the entire Flickr stream here.

While we are on the topic of poems, Booker Prize Winner Ben Okri is publishing a poem on Twitter. One line a day! Read more about the Twitter poem.

Remembering T. N. Shanbhag: The Man Behind Strand Book Stall

Our Twitter friend @RaviBramha led us to this blog post. T.N. Shanbhag, the founder of Strand Book Stall passed away on February 27, 2009.

Here is his story... (Via Straying Around)
Many know that Mr. Shanbhag started his book stall as a kiosk in the erstwhile Strand Cinema (thus the name) in Colaba on November 20, 1948 and moved it to its present location in 1954. Geeta Chadha who has written a chapter "Mirroring the Precinct", in the book Zero Point Bombay on The Horniman Circle precinct writes: "Having been humiliated in a reputed bookstore of the time for touching a book, the young Shanbhag wanted to start a bookstore where the access to ‘Saraswati' would not be restricted to the elite, but would be open to a wider section of the people. Shanbhag approached Keki Mody, the owner of Strand Cinema with his idea, and that is how the Strand Book Stall came into being on the premises of the cinema hall." Ths idea came to him during the screening of "Cheaper by the Dozen" at Strand Cinema.

I have seen him, many a times forego much more than 20% for students and others who did not have enough to cover the bill. The additional book was always thrown in. This would never have happened in any other book store. He always used to say that Saraswati can never be bought or sold. He had in-depth knowledge of any book that you wanted which made you feel that he must have read each and every of the lakhs of titles in his store and I am sure he must have.
Via Business Line (from an article published in 2003)
Shanbag was committed to sell books at affordable prices. "I believe a book is man's best friend," he explains. "A book seller acts as a catalyst between a book and the reading habit."

Shanbag is not the kind of person who would refer to a book as a `product' or `commodity'. For him, a book has life, it communicates and gives pleasure to people. He is one of those rare people who are in business not just to make money.
Read another article on T.N. Shanbhag and Strand Book Stall here.



Via social actions

Calling all web developers! Create a web application by April 3, 2009 that draws on Social Actions' open database of 60,000 + actions for a chance to win cash prizes.

Social Actions currently aggregates opportunities to make a difference from over 50 online platforms such as VolunteerMatch, Kiva.org, DonorsChoose.org, Idealist.org, and Change.org. We're looking for applications that will share these opportunities to take action on the websites, blogs, and social networks that people visit every day.
More details here.


Via ThinkChange India
In collaboration with the Gates Foundation, Changemakers recently launched a competition on Solutions for Rural Communities. The framework provided for this competition is,
Three-quarters of the world’s poorest people—the 1 billion who live on $1 a day or less—rely on agriculture to feed themselves and their families, yet many cannot grow enough to sell or even eat. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its partners are providing small farmers with tools and opportunities to boost their productivity, increase their incomes, and build better lives for themselves and their families.
Innovative solutions that span the entire agricultural value chain – from seeds to sales – are necessary to accomplish these goals. We encourage you to take part in Ashoka Changemaker’s “Cultivating Innovation: Solutions for Rural Communities” competition to help bring about innovative, creative solutions for small farmers in the developing world.
Entries are welcome up to May 13th and voting will begin on June 24th.


The conference will be held between November 4-7, 2009 at Mysore.

From the website:
At a time of enormous economic uncertainty, one thing remains clear. There's been an unmistakable shift of influence to the east. It's not just about low-cost jobs, or IT outsourcing. Increasingly India, China and the rest of Asia are making their presence felt globally in new technologies, design brilliance and countless instances of cultural and economic innovation. And so, our conference theme: "The Future Beckons."
More details here.


Via Live Journal
If you have travelled in India, you are sure to have some unique anecdotes, experiences and photographs to share with others. It is not possible to travel in this country and come back without any indelible impressions.

Would you like these to feature in a book? Kunzum, a publisher of travel books, in association with Live Journal invites you to submit your contributions for consideration in an anthology of travel bits on India. Not only can you be proud to be a part of an exciting project, but also have a shot at a portfolio to flaunt.
More details here.


@abhaga, one of our Twitter friends led us to this one.

Via Blog a Penguin India Classic
To celebrate the Penguin Classics, we are launching 'Blog a Penguin India Classic'. We're encouraging readers and book clubs throughout India to celebrate the entire range of Indian Classics by blogging about them, and what's more, we will provide the books!

Each of the 74 Penguin India Classics is up for grabs. We want to hear what you, the reader, thinks of these books, and so we have set up 'Blog a Penguin India Classic'; a platform that will allow you to post your reviews on the Penguin India Classic that we send you. Here's how it works...


Here is another addition to the "Around the World in 100 Bookshelves" Project. Have you sent in your entries yet?


Via NGO Post

A book on Careers in Non-Profit Organization. You can download it for free from the idealist website: http://www.idealist.org/en/career/guide/firsttime/fullbook.html
Its a great book for first time job seekers listing the various options open. This book is a free resource for emerging professionals pursuing their first position in the nonprofit sector.

Image Source: tkellyphoto

To Go the Self-Publishing Route or Not?

With more authors treading down the self publishing path, this author wonders if he would self-publish...
A few weeks back, Dave Birch asked me if I'd publish my next book myself. I don't think I would.
So why am I happy with them, and what can you learn from that?

However well an author may understand their audience, there are trends in publishing, and understanding those trends is far easier for a publisher who has people monitoring their sales and those of competitors.

So we got effective market advice from our publisher.

The next thing authors get is financial support, either in the obvious form of an advance, or in that the publisher pays for printing, binding, warehousing and distribution in advance.

The final thing you get from a major publisher is channels, both domestic and international.
As an aside, in "Why There's no Tip Jar" Charlie Stross writes, "If I put a Paypal tipjar on this blog, to take conscience money from folks who've downloaded a (cough) unauthorized ebook or two, the money would come to me, not to the publisher. And without the publisher those books wouldn't exist: wouldn't have been commissioned, wouldn't have been edited, wouldn't have been corrected and marketed and sold in whatever form filtered onto the unauthorized ebook market."
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: * Photography by Chris *

Does Gender Have Anything To Do With Reading Habits?

A survey suggests that women are more avid readers of books than men.

Via Telegraph.co.uk

A study of reading habits showed almost half of women are 'page turners' who finish a book soon after starting it compared to only 26 per cent of men.

The survey of 2,000 adults also found those who take a long time to read books and only managed one or two a year were twice as likely to be male than female.

Men are also more likely to have shelves full of books that have never been opened.

Via guardian.co.uk
In the survey of 2,000 people the researchers found different types of readers. Forty-eight per cent of women can be considered to be Page Turners, or avid readers, compared with only 26% of men. Slow Worms are those who spend a long time reading, but who take their books very seriously and always finish them. They can often manage only one or two books a year. This group was made up by 32% of the male respondents and 18% of women.
Ian McEwan observes the responses given by men and women to books he and his son were giving away at a park and concludes that:
Reading groups, readings, breakdowns of book sales all tell the same story: when women stop reading, the novel will be dead.
Image Source: terren in Virginia

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Strengthen Journalism as Newspapers Die

More on the death of newspapers...

While many entrenched in the media industry are trying to find ways to prop up the traditional model of print - micropayments, subscription models, media cartels - in the face of economic turmoil, some thinkers - Steven Berlin Johnson and Clay Shirky among them - believe that this attempt at life support is only delaying their inevitable demise or perhaps, reorder.

Johnson suggests traditional media start doing to the online sector what is increasingly done to them -excerpt. He shares some wisdom courtesy of Jeff Jarvis, “Do what you do best, and link to the rest.” This Johnson notes, could free newspapers to return to their roots and refocus on their main strength - long form journalism - which is what Shirky has been pulling for all along, sort of.

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

And while Shirky doesn’t see print’s role as essential to preserving the overall reader experience, Johnson maintains that newspapers can remain relevant in other ways, notably by serving as gatekeepers to the increasingly cluttered field of players - separating out the reputable voices from the rumor mill.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: Pragmagraphr

How Some Children's Books Become Classics

What books did you love as a child? Are some of those books the ones your child loves too? What makes the same book appeal to a child who was born several years after you were?

Via CNN.com
Parents read them to their children, forming a powerful bond. Years later, those former children read these children's picture books to their children, and the thread between generations is extended yet again.

"Children's books live a long time because you always have children growing into them," says Pat Scales, president of the Association for Library Service to Children and a retired school librarian. "And parents read [to their children] what was read to them."

The making of a classic is a strange alchemy of skill -- a good story, strong illustrations -- and luck. It's not easy to appeal to three audiences: publishers, parents and -- oh, yes -- children.
But what makes them classics? What makes them books that we continue to hold on to even after we have outgrown them? What makes them books our children start loving as we start rediscovering these books as we read them?
"If you think of all those stories, there's a loving parent ... allowing a transgressive kid a leash to investigate the world and come back," she says. And through the child's eyes, parents find their sense of wonder renewed, she adds.
You can read more about what makes a children's book a success here.

Image Source: Lab2112

Information R/evolution

Via Active Learning Blog Carnival
This video by Dr. Michael Wesch, a professor of cultural anthropology explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information. This video was created as a conversation starter, and works especially well when brainstorming with people about the near future and the skills needed in order to harness, evaluate, and create information effectively.

Also see The Machine is Us/ing Us

MIT Faculty Publications to be Open Access

The faculty of MIT have unanimously voted to make any publications they produce open access.

Via Ars Technica
If there were any doubt that open access publishing was setting off a bit of a power struggle, a decision made last week by the MIT faculty should put it to rest.

So far, the battle lines on open access have been drawn with publishers on one side, funding groups on the other. Funding groups, such as the NIH, Wellcome Trust, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, feel that the research they pay for will have a larger impact if more people have access to it.

In short, as of last week, everyone at MIT is expected to retain rights to distribute their works at no cost for their parent institution. Anybody who wants to publish with a journal that refuses to grant these rights will have to submit a written request for an exception to the MIT provost.

Far more striking than the policy itself, however, is the perspective of those who were instrumental in formulating it. Professor Hal Abelson, in a statement provided by MIT, said, "scholarly publishing has so far been based purely on contracts between publishers and individual faculty authors. In that system, faculty members and their institutions are powerless. This resolution changes that by creating a role in the publishing process for the faculty as a whole, not just as isolated individuals." Ann Wolpert, who directs MIT's libraries, said, "in the quest for higher profits, publishers have lost sight of the values of the academy."
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: Gideon Burton

Alberto Cerriteño's Illustrations

Illustration love time!

And this time it is a fabulous find. Stumbled across Alberto Cerriteño's illustrations on Flickr and fell in love with them instantly. The textures, the colours, the details and the characters.... everything looks fantastic. Meet psychedelic monsters, cosmonauts, fire spewing giant monsters and a host of other quirky and fun characters...

From his website:
Alberto Cerriteño is a Mexican illustrator & designer who has lived in America; Portland for nearly four years now. Strongly inspired by urban vinyl toys, alternative cartoons, and the pop surrealism movement, Alberto Cerriteño has developed his own very personal technique and style, having always present a delicate hints of traditional Mexican artistic influences in his management of rich textures and decorative patterns.

Fly to see the his Flickr photostream and if you want to see more, visit his blog too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama's Guide to Social Media

Indian election fever has gripped cyberspace too and we see political parties entering the social media sphere every day. Ads, Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, blogs : the buzz is all around. While we are talking about politics and social media, one cannot fhelp but mention Obama's campaign. The following article points out why Obama's campaign worked and of how organizations and individuals can adopt such a plan to communicate with their audiences:

The Obama campaign gave prospective supporters different set of options and ensured that supporters are engaged in different stages of the campaign:

Personal - You could start by friending Obama on a social network. Then, you might sign up for text messages and e-mails to stay informed about the campaign. As a supporter, you may make your first donation or register to vote.

Social - Once invested, you may post a comment to a friend’s profile, telling them why Obama was the right candidate for them. Perhaps you would jump to the MyBarackObama.com Web site, where you would create an account. After getting positive feedback on the site, you might join or even create a group.

Advocate - To drive interest in the group, you may post pictures, write blog posts or create a video declaring your support, which you could post to YouTube.

Lovely Murals for Libraries

The variety and choice of books you house (and whether your librarians are good too) in your library will always determine whether it entices kids to come to libraries. And if you nail that and make your library look as spectacular as these libraries, I am quite sure that you will always have a crowd of kids flocking to your library to read.

Via Pentagram
Nearly nine years ago, Pentagram was asked to contribute to a visionary effort by the wonderful (and design-conscious) Robin Hood Foundation: an initiative to build new school libraries in elementary schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

Along the way, we discovered something interesting. The libraries are usually located in older buildings with high ceilings, but the shelves in the libraries can’t be built higher than kids can reach. This means there is a space between the top shelf and the ceiling, an up-to-six-foot band around the room just begging for something special. That something turned out to be murals.
And this is what happened...

See more pictures here.

Image Source

Is Eco-Friendly Printing Possible?

Lalana Zaveri, co-founder and director of Printo, talks about whether eco-friendly printing is even possible.

Via Citizen Matters
By one estimate, the size of the digital print market in Bangalore itself is between Rs.80-100 crores per year. So let’s see how we can minimise environmental impact when printing.

Print waste is actually the one thing that makes printing most destructive to the environment.

Paper is usually manufactured in standard sizes and can be cut into other standard sizes with minimum wastage. In India, the “A” sizes – A3, A4, A5, A6 – are the standard sizes used and prints on these sizes are usually the most economical. However, you don’t have to be stuck with these sizes only. Just before starting your design, do ask your printer what the size of his biggest sheet is and you can then see how many multiples of your design you can fit into the paper to optimize its use.

With mail merging, variable data printing and image personalisation tools that are available today, you can use customer data wisely and artistically to make very attractive, non-throwable marketing collateral. Besides, you no longer need to print things in millions in order to ensure that part of it reaches your customer. The key to personalisation is to print exactly as much as the data you have – no more, no less – and this is possible through digital printing.

A large portion of wastage control has to happen at the printer’s end. During “pre-press”, the printer must lay out the print matter in multiples in ways that the paper use is optimised. Before going through the entire print run, the printer must submit a proof to the customer to check spellings, grammar, formatting and layout. Sometimes, the biggest mistake a print-buyer can make is to trust his/her printer with spellings.
Read the entire article to learn how each one of us (on an individual as well as an organisational level) can reduce the damage we may be causing.

Also read about Green Print, Ecofont and Eco-Friendly Ink.

Image Source: e.marie

Tuesday's Links for Kiddies


Via Download Squad
Kideo Player is curated by a father of two, and his taste is videos is a lot better than the spotty results you get from community moderation. The curator has a stake in the videos he selects, because his own kids watch them. Minimizing parental annoyance seems to be a priority, too: think Sesame Street, not nightmarish gummi bear. The library of videos seems to lean heavily toward educational material: I saw sign language, Spanish lessons, and animal vids when I was watching.

Via designboom
'Villa Julia' comes with a plan detailing the easy instructions for assembly; children set it up themselves(assisted by an adult) and make it their own by coloring the drawings found on the sides.


Via KidRex
KidRex is a fun and safe search for kids, by kids! KidRex searches emphasize kid-related webpages from across the entire web and are powered by Google Custom Search and use Google SafeSearch technology.

In addition to Google SafeSearch, KidRex maintains its own database of inappropriate websites and keywords. KidRex researchers test KidRex daily to insure that you and your child have the best web experience possible.


'Think!' is a program designed to encourage kids to think outside the box. Every week there is a fun challenge posted on the blog and kids have to try and see how they can come up with a solution. Challenges range from building boats (which can actually float) with duct tape and cardboard, making tool bridges, making small trampolines, etc. After your child has come up with something, take a picture and send it to the blog. Check out the blog to see what new challenge they have this week.

And oh, there are hints for teachers and parents too:
I would encourage you to let the children solve the problems offered here on their own. In the process of experimenting and failing, they will learn. If they are getting extremely frustrated, I would suggest that you ask questions to help direct their solution.


Via Monster Exchange
Monster Exchange is designed to encourage the development of reading and writing skills while integrating Internet technology into the classroom curriculum. Classrooms from a variety of schools worldwide are paired together; the students in each classroom are split into groups, each of which designs an original picture of a monster. The students must then write a description of the monster. The partnered classes then exchange their descriptions via e-mail and the Internet. These students are then challenged to use reading comprehension skills to read the descriptions and translate them into a monster picture. The true challenge involves creating a redrawn picture as close to the original picture as possible without looking at the original and using only the written description of the monster.
See an example here and read more about it too.

Why Free Culture?

Roger Lancefield's view on "Free Culture":

Free culture isn’t about ripping off someone else’s “intellectual property”, neither is it about a generation of youngsters who are growing up with the expectation that expensively produced content should be available at zero cost.

Free culture is epitomized by innovation and collaboration, it builds networks of people and content, it encourages and facilitates mutual help and support, it leads to the creation of many thousands of open and free collections of knowledge and media, it helps us reclaim data which by rights belongs to us rather than to government or corporations. Far from being all about obtaining the hard work of others for nothing, free culture is instead characterised by giving for nothing, it’s about contributing and collaborating without the expectation of financial reward.

However, the real driver for “free culture” is not personal convictions, but its inevitability as a result of the technology we possess and the oversupply of content of all types that has resulted from the use of that technology. Free culture is not primarily a political movement, it’s the natural result of mass ownership of myriad devices that can share data. Such devices have enabled man’s natural propensity to collaborate and share to go exponential!
Read the entire article here. (Via Open Access News)

Image Source: stephmel

World Storytelling Day Through Pictures

Finally... *drum roll please*.... *some trumpet sounds too please*...

Pictures from the World Storytelling Day Event (Don't know what that is? Find out here and here)

The venue for the World Storytelling Day event in Bangalore : Akshara library in Annasandrapalya.

The storytellers for the event: with the librarian of the Akshara library: Sharada, Mufeida, Varsha, Pankaja (the librarian), Lohit, Ajay, Ajmal, Murshida.

Children getting ready to talk to their friends at Central Manor.

And then the reading began...

and more reading...

and some more reading....

After all the reading, the question and answer session began and the kids loved it.

After exchanging questions and learning a little bit about each other, the kids at the Akshara library closed the session by singing the national anthem.

See more pictures on our Flickr photostream.

Around the World in 100 Bookshelves

The PaperTigers blog is collecting pictures of children's bookshelves as part of their "Around the World in 100 Bookshelves" project.
So here’s the deal: whether your little one has too many or too few, in shelves or piles, tidy or scattered on the floor, please send us pictures of their books! Mail us a photo with your child’s first name, age, city and country, and we will post it here, as part of our “Around the World in 100 Bookshelves” project. Hopefully our combined photos will offer a glimpse of a big world made smaller through books and reading.

By submitting a photo you will be automatically entered in a drawing to win a selection of 5 age-appropriate books to add to your little one’s bookshelf!
Find more details here and send in your entry. See some of the entries here and here.

Image Source

Monday, March 23, 2009

Indian Publishers Concerned About 'Invasion' by Foreign Publishers

Via The Publisher's Post

Despite a growing domestic market and increasing exports, Indian book publishers are concerned over the ‘invasion’ by their foreign counterparts and have demanded that the government scrap the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the industry.

‘We demand the government scrap the FDI in the business of publishing to give a breathing space to Indian publishers,’ Anand Bhushan, advisor and former chairman of the New Delhi-based Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP), told IANS here.

The government allowed 100 percent FDI in book publishing in 2000. The domestic industry has been seeking a reversal of the policy ever since.

‘Foreign publishers have big capital and full support from their governments. They have badly invaded the Indian market and Indian publishers cannot compete with them,’ he said.

According to official figures, book exports increased from Rs.800 million in 1998 to Rs.12 billion in 2008.

However, publishers are not impressed with the growth in exports.

‘Despite this huge figure, we stand nowhere in the international market. This figure is just a fraction if we compare it with the number of books exported from countries like the US, Canada, Russia and the UK,’ Harish Jain, owner of 28-year-old city-based Unistar Books Publishers, told IANS.

Even the government does not give enough importance to the publishing industry, he said. ‘In countries like Russia, there is a separate ministry of book publishing that takes care of publishers’ interests,’ Jain said.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source: msstrangercat

Traditional Indian Games in Bangalore

When it comes to organizations and places that offer traditional Indian games, some of the names you may already know are Sutradhar and Kreeda. Now Bangalore has a new place where you can find traditional Indian games - Kavade.

Via NGO Post
Kavade (pronounced Ka-va-de in Kannada), a niche toy hive in Seshadripuram aims to revive traditional Indian craft (mainly toys) that are fighting a valiant battle against the "made-in-china" brand of toys imposed on our children today. On the one hand it helps small self help groups earn a livelihood, while on the other hand our kids get to learn and enjoy a wide variety of traditional Indian games.

Kavade has aligned with K4, a self-help group of about 50 women from the villages of Kanya Kumari, which is evolving as a Craft Community working with palm leaf and other natural materials for a sustainable livelihood.
Find more information about Kavade here.

World Storytelling Day Celebrations at Pratham Books

Pratham Books celebrated World Storytelling Day with kids from the Akshara library in Annasandrapalya, Bangalore and kids from Central Manor, Pennsylvania. The event aimed at allowing kids from both countries to share stories and learn about different cultures.

25 children from Central Manor trooped in almost 2 hours earlier than their normal school session to come chat with their Indian friends who were eagerly waiting at the Akshara library from 5 pm. Even parents came to the library to watch their children participate in this event of exchanging “kathe’s” (stories) with children in America.

The storytelling session was held via Skype and as soon as the video link was established, the Indian kids said “Wow” in a chorus as they saw their friends on the other side. At Central Manor, children were shown where their new friends were located on Google Maps and were introduced to some Indian music before the reading session started.

After a short introductory session from both sides, the kids from Central Manor recited the Pledge to their flag and informed us about how they started their morning in their school. And then the reading began…

After getting over their initial shyness, all the children began to read with a lot of confidence and showed each other pictures from their books as they read. After swapping a story, children were free to ask each other questions related to the books. Some of the kids from CM wondered if we also celebrate birthdays with birthday cakes and if we ate spaghetti. They were told about a local dish eaten in Karnataka called “shavige” which is similar to spaghetti.

After most of the kids from both sides swapped stories, it was time for a question and answer session. The session was a big hit with all the kids and the questions didn’t seem to stop. Questions ranged from what subjects children liked to what the children wanted to become when they grew up, from what their favourite books were to what they did after school, from pets to favourite flowers, from national animals to national birds and so on. The kids at the Akshara library told the kids about cricket and clarified doubts of whether cricket was played while riding on a horse. The kids at CM talked about how the weather was changing and that ‘flowers were just about pushing up from the ground’. They talked about each other’s schools and what their schooldays were like. One little boy from the Akshara library wanted to know how money is symbolized in America and then a money bill was shown to the kids at the library. Excited by seeing their money, the kids went on to show their friends what a hundred rupee note looks like.

The question and answer session carried on and you could see the eagerness from both sides to chat with their new friends as they crowded around the computer with several questions. The skype session went on for more than an hour and ended with everyone at the Akshara library singing the national anthem.

A huge thank you to everyone who made this event possible : All the kids from Central Manor, all the storytellers from the Akshara library (Varsha, Mufeida, Murshida, Ajmal, Sharada, Ajay, Lohit), Teresa Reisinger, Shelby Foster, Shelly Arment, Arvind Venkatadri, Pankaja and all the parents who let their children participate in this event.

Also read about World Storytelling Day on the Central Manor blog.

About the Akshara library at Annasandrapalya: This is a community library which is currently sponsored by Juniper Networks. It has been running since 2006 and around 1004 children from around 10-11 schools in the neighbourhood visit this library. Learn more about the Akshara libraries here.

Book News


Penguin India held a treasure hunt to promote Sam Miller's Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity online.

Via The Penguin India blog
In the book, Sam, a BBC journalist, undertakes a series of walks around Delhi, traveling in an anti-clockwise spiral as he works his way out of the city, writing about his adventures, the people he meets, and the fascinating eccentricities of India's capital.

We decided to replicate his journey on Google Maps, offering people extracts from the book, and photos Sam took during his walks. But there was a twist-the Delhi Treasure Hunt! Each week as the spiral grew we set clues to be solved, which in the end reveals the whereabouts of the real-life Treasure.

n addition to the Treasure Hunt we set up a Facebook Group for the book, filling it with additional photos, games, quizzes, and information surrounding the book.
Read more here.


Via guardian.co.uk

The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has authorised a series of books detailing the life of the teenage Sherlock Holmes, which will see the budding detective falling in love for the first time, learning the deductive skills that serve him so well in his adult life, and making the acquaintance of a certain Dr Watson.

Starting at age 14 and tracing Holmes's life at school and then at university, the books will be written by author Andrew Lane – a self-confessed "super-fan" who has a collection of over 100 Holmes-related books – kicking off with a case referenced but never explained by Conan Doyle, The Colossal Schemes of Baron Maupertius. This will see Holmes, who is sent to stay with relatives in Surrey after his soldier father is unexpectedly posted to India, uncovering a series of murders.

Read more here.

Image Source

Rewind. Recap.

Summing up what happened last week on our blog:

Book news first! Three of our books are up for download on our website right now (look for them on the left side of the site). Get your hands on them now! We also chatted with Yvette Garfield from Handstand Kids. Also, go read "An Awesome Book". Read about how 'Signed Stories' is improving literacy for deaf children. Peter Collingridge shares his views on the Indian Publishing Industry and we found out why publishers are partnering with Scribd. Have you heard about the 'Disgustingly Cool Books'? Personalize a "First Words Book" for your child and learn how to reach reluctant readers.

Do not miss this beautiful video of children across India going to school.

Google Noticeboard is trying to connect communities and a blackboard newspaper in Liberia brings news to people.

Fun stuff we came across this week were Mary Anne Lloyd's Illustrations, The Book Inscriptions Project, Facebook in the 1750s, Lovely Papercut Sentences, an application to create your own fairytale and illustrated Nursery Rhymes.

Children wrote back to us about reading cards and also revealed why they love reading. It was World Storytelling Day on 20th March and we took a look at two different storytelling traditions of India( 1 and 2).

Have a great week ahead!

Image Source: Victor Bezrukov

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nursery Rhymes

We have featured Flickr user pilihp's 'Fruit and Veggie AlphaDeaths' on this blog before. He also has a set of beautifully illustrated 'Nursery Rhymes'. Head on over to see them.

Which is your favourite?

Image Source: pilihp

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tolpava Koothu : Storytelling Through Shadow Puppetry

Another medium which is popularly used by storytellers is puppetry as it is a powerfula nd engaging medium. India has a rich puppetry tradition and the traditions practiced vary across regions in terms of style, stories, size of puppets, etc. Some of the shadow puppet traditions practiced are known by the following names : Tholu Bommalatta in Andhra Pradesh, Togalu Gombeatta in Karnataka, Tol Pava Koothu in Kerala, Tholu Bommalattam in Tamil Nadu, Chamdyacha Bahuliya in Maharashtra and Ravana Chhaya in Orissa. This post is about the 'Tolpava Koothu' : The Shadow Puppet Tradition of Kerala.

Via mykerala.net
It is an ancient peculiar ritualistic art form dedicated to Bhagavati, worshipped by the people of Kerala as the Mother Goddess.

The puppet plays are based on selected verses from the famous Tamil Epic '’Kamba Ramayana'. The language used is a dialect of Tamil with an admixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam words.

An excerpt from the book "Tolpava Koothu: Shadow puppets of Kerala" by G.Venu:

Tolpava Koothu – alternatively Pavakootu or Koothu – originated in the Palghat district of Kerala, where it is performed in the temples of Bhagati or Bhadrakali as a part of the ritualistic worship of the goddess. Tol means leather, pava means puppet and Koothu means play. Tolpava Koothu thus means performance of a play with puppets made of leather. The theme of Tolpava Koothu is the Ramayana stories, extending from the birth of Rama to his coronation.

It is chiefly to propitiate Bhadrakali that Tolpava Koothu is performed in her temples and the devotee’s believed that the goddess watches the performances and would be pleased by it. This belief is based on a legend which is even today current among Pava Koothu performers and the devotees. Long ago there lived an asura (demon) named Darika, who was a threat even to the gods and who also became an intolerable menace to rishi –s and man. To kill this asura, lord Siva created the goddess called Bhadrakali out of the Kalakooda poison round his throat. Bhadrakali killed Daika in a prolonged battle. It was while Bhadrakali was engaged in this battle that Rama fought Ravana and killed him. Thus Bhadrakali was not able to witness Rama’s triumph over Ravana. She was unhappy because she had missed watching this event. That is why the story of the Ramayana was chosen for Tolpava Koothu and is performed in Kali temples.
What storytelling traditions are you familiar with?

Create a Fairy Tale

At We Tell Stories, you can create your own fairy tale. From choosing the name of the peasant's daughter to that of the evil king, from choosing who will help the girl on her journey to how your story will end: you can do it all! So, what are you waiting for? Fly away to this site to create a fairy tale.

Cherial Scrolls: An Indian Storytelling Tradition

Since today is World Storytelling Day, we thought we would share a few of the wonderful storytelling traditions that India has.

Cherial (or Cheriyal) scrolls are made in a place called Cherial/Cheriyal which is located in the Warangal district in the state of Andhra Pradesh. These traditional scroll paintings are used as visual aids for the storytelling traditions in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. Bards would travel from one village to another with these scrolls and sing about the stories painted on these scrolls.

Via Warangal
...it illustrates the origin of a particular community and tells stories of their heroes. Thus, each community of Telangana has its own stories narrated with the help of dolls and masks. The colours used in scroll painting are bright, while the materials are biodegradable. And the background is always red.
Via mapsofindia
This traditional art form are inseparable part of the profession of the story telling community known as Kaki Padagollu. They utilize the scroll paintings as visual aids to tell their stories.

The Kaki Padagollu present their stories to different communities with the help of the Cherial Scroll paintings, which includes mythological stories from Madelu Puranam, Ramayanam, Gowda Pudanam and Mahabharatam. Each scroll can run into several meters.
Via ekdesh
Popular (and APTourism) belief is that the Cheriyal Scrolls depict stories from the Puranas and other Hindu legends and thrived primarily under the patronage of the Kakatiyas of Warangal.

But from what I had read about them, the scrolls seemed to have been more than just that. At one time, these scrolls used to be a very important part of the sociological and cultural milieu of Telengana (modern day districts of Karimnagar, Warangal, Mahbubnagar, Medak and Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh). And painted to narrate legends about the origin of a particular caste and the heroic deeds of one of its legendary heroes.

Some of the scrolls did depict episodes from Hindu mythology, but as is typical of India's cultural mosaic, the heroes of the caste in question were painted into the narrative through the brush strokes of the artist.

As is also typical of the great Indian tradition of storytelling, these scrolls were used as a visual aid by picture storyteller minstrels, usually to the accompaniment of folk songs and music.
Do you know more about Cherial scrolls or a similar tradition?

Stories for Storytelling Day

“Storytellers, by the very act of telling, communicate a radical learning that changes lives and the world: telling stories is a universally accessible means through which people make meaning”-Chris Cavanaugh

On World Storytelling Day, we want to share three wonderful stories with you and your children. "My Friends" is a story where a child introduces you to his friends. "Chuskit goes to school!" is about how a boy named Abdul decides to do something about Chuskit's inability to go to school. "City of Stories" is about a little girl and Didi who start a tidal wave of stories in a city where nobody has the time to tell a story.

*Click on the different thumbnails found on the left corner of the website to download the books.

Happy World Storytelling Day

It is World Storytelling Day and we are highly excited about the storytelling event we are conducting between children from the Annasandrapalya Akshara library in Bangalore and children from Central Manor in Pennsylvania. Excited! Excited! Excited!

In this post we are sharing some things children have said about reading and our books:

This is Vinay and he studies in Class 6. He says: "They call me a 'kitabi-keeda' - a bookworm- but I don't mind! I love the Pratham community library and borrow books daily. In fact, I sometimes don't go out to play at all... if I'm reading a book I like."

Satish says: "They call me naughty Satish, I wonder why! I just like to have fun. I also love to read story books!! I am 12 and study in class 6. My teachers never punish me if I am naughty because I come first in class. My teachers say that's because I'm always reading books at the Pratham Library".

This is Swati and she is 8 years old. She says: "I love looking at pictures in books when I come to the Pratham library. Didi reads us such nice stories."

Happy World Storytelling Day everyone. Share a story and sprinkle some magic!