Friday, October 30, 2009

Pratham Books at Moscow Book Fair

President Pratibha Patil visited the Moscow International Book Fair 2009 held between September 2-7, because India was an official Guest of Honour this year. While that made headline news, we at Pratham Books are delighted about a little-known fact: As part of the Guest of Honour presentations, National Book Trust put up a collective exhibit of Indian books published in the last three years. Of the 100 Indian children's books showcased at the Fair, there were 30 published by Pratham Books. Yipee!

In the words of Nuzhat Hassan , Director, National Book Trust,
"Indian publishing over the years has advanced rapidly in terms of quality of
production, its content and the diversity of subjects. Indian books have earned
worldwide respect and commercial viability. The publishing scenario in contemporary India is conceptually exciting and linguistically and quantitatively diverse. India is third largest producer of English language books in the world after the UK and USA. Approximately, 92,000 new titles are published every year, out of which roughly 40 per cent are in the English language.”

You can see all the hundred books that went to Moscow here. With so many million children still without access to good books, there's plenty of work to be accomplished by all publishers.

We thank all our authors, illustrators, translators and others who have helped bring out our books.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Time Out on Water Conservation

Time Out Bengaluru recently ran an article that featured Arghyam, the School India Water Portal and us.

Initiatives and practical education of this form are what the NGO Arghyam hopes to encourage through its new portal, that was launched in February. The portal aims to get people, especially in educational institutions, to gain a better understanding of water.

The way ahead is to get children involved in water-conservation awareness drives, in initiatives like the one by the non-profit publication house Pratham Books, which is urging kids to become “water champions”. The publishers recently released the second book of their series on the rivers of India. “The first book was on the Ganga, and the second is on the Cauvery, which has always been a rich source of stories,” explained Suzanne Singh, a trustee. They’ve also launched the “Conserve Our Rivers, Save Water” campaign, which has tied up with Arghyam’s website to give water conservation tips to schools and students.
Read the full article here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reading as a Fundamental Right

It's no secret that here at Pratham Books we're big fans of allowing the re-use of our content to reach as many children as we can. To this end, we've tried a number of experiments but one that is particularly close to our heart is creating accessible versions of our content for those who are visually impaired - you can find some of our books on Bookshare here and here.

I've been helping with a campaign and an organization that is pushing the barriers of access to information for the visually disabled and wanted to talk about them here.

The campaign is called the Right to Read Campaign and seeks to build support for a change in Indian's copyright laws to allow for conversion of content to formats that are easy for those who are visually impaired to access.
Millions of Indians are unable to read printed material due to disabilities. There are technologies available which can help them read print if the material is converted into an alternate format such as large print, audio, Braille or any electronic format. While the Indian constitution guarantees the “right to read” as a fundamental right, the copyright regime does not permit the conversion of books into accessible formats for the benefit of persons with print impairment, as a result of which a “book famine” is created. International conventions that India is a party to specifically require India to amend its copyright laws for the benefit of persons with disabilities and to make available information and material to persons with disabilities on an equal basis as others. Publishers also do not make books available in accessible formats as a result of which less than 0.5% of books are available in accessible formats in India. As a result persons with print impairments get excluded from the education system and it impacts their career choices.
A report from their Chennai Roadshow is here.

The second is a platform called BookBolé which describes itself as:
BookBolé is a platform that enables visually impaired readers from across the world to connect and share accessible content. Lack of accessible materials and content is a major problem amongst the visually impaired and BookBolé is a community-driven solution to resolve that precise problem. By using BookBolé, users can create geographically, culturally and topically relevant communities around accessible content and overcome the barriers they face.
They go on to state that:
BookBolé is a platform that enables visually impaired readers from across the world to connect and share accessible content. Lack of accessible materials and content is a major problem amongst the visually impaired and BookBolé is a community-driven solution to resolve that precise problem. By using BookBolé, users can create geographically, culturally and topically relevant communities around accessible content and overcome the barriers they face.

Imagine Dan in Canada sharing computer programming notes and articles in accessible formats with Kumar and twelve other eager learners in India; or Rob in the UK sharing the poems of Byron in accessible formats with young romantics in China. Imagine a very successful visually impaired person from Turkey sharing his mantra for success with everyone on BookBole, and how millions across the world can learn and get inspired from those experiences.

It’s also about sharing the small victories, the handy tips which makes everyday life easier, sharing a document on your cooking tips, or how you learnt stitching, or share your personal user review of the latest assistive device, or how you overcame the lack of sheet music in accessible formats, or your first excel spreadsheet. The possibilities of sharing and learning from each other are endless.
At Pratham Books, we're firmly behind the Right to Read Campaign and support efforts to accelerate change in copyright law , raise public awareness on the issue and gather Indian support for the Treaty for the Blind proposed by the World Blind Union at the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

After all, our mission is a book in every child's hand and that isn't limited to only children who have the gift of sight.

Book Review

The Maharashtra Times carried a review of some of our books here.

तिखट-गोड फराळाचे डबे एव्हाना फस्त झाले असतील तर आता एका वेगळ्या फराळाकडे वळूया. हा फराळ आहे पुस्तकांचा. खास छोट्या दोस्तांसाठी हा फराळ आहे. मोठ्यां साठी दिवाळी अंकांची मेजवानी असते मग लहानग्यांसाठी काही नको का! फराळात जसं वैविध्य असतं तसंच पुस्तकांच्या या फराळातही आहे. काही चकलीसारखी कुरकुरीत तर काही शंकरपाळ्यांसारखी छोटी पण गोड. बाल आणि कुमार साहित्यात बरीच नवीन पुस्तकं

It talks about the goodies we prepare for Diwali... But the goodies made up of words and not sweets...

It says that this Diwali has brought faraal i.e. Diwali goodies not only in form of sweets, but books with different flavours. It starts with stories in famous books/ magazines/weeklys in Marathi such as Champak, Thak Thak, Akbar Birbal, Isop tales, etc. Then comes note on a book by Popluar Prakashan. Then comes our Manee Maaoo which specifically says about Pratham books and Rijuta Ghate. Then are few sentences about Rohini Nilekani speaking about our low-cost model.

Then again comes note on other books on animals and birds, about Rajat Prakshan, Marathi Diwali Magazines, Manovikas Prakashan, Urjaa Prakashan, etc.

Then comes one paragraph about our Cauvery; it says that a very different book with lots of research and exclusive pictures. It says the book has origin of Cauvery, island of birds, Battle of Shrirangpattan, Curse of Talakad, Power of the waterfall, Cauvery meets the sea, etc. Quotes from Cauvery about how long it is and it will take 100 days to travel.
You can buy this book here.

Operation Education : Three Students Help Bridge the Gap

Remember the inspiring story of Babar Ali, the youngest headmaster of the world? Here comes another story of three students who are bridging the gap between books and the people who don't have access to them.

Via Deccan Herald
Not so long ago, three young girls decided to give underprivileged children what no one could ever take back from them: Rivetting stories. And from there, a journey to unexplored worlds.

Janani Ramachandran, Zonu Reddy and Dhivya Perumal – all 12th standard students of The International School, Bangalore – have a mission. “It’s to improve the intellectual landscape of underprivileged schools,” says Zonu. “And create as many scholars as we can,” says Dhivya. And it’s called Operation Education or OPED for short.

OPED is a student-run volunteer organisation that is the bridge between those who have books and have no use for them and those who don’t but could do with them. As a result of residential book drives and donations from publishers and distributors, they’ve managed to set up libraries in eight underprivileged schools in Bangalore.
The young team maintains a rotating library system with sets of books exchanged from one school to another every few months. They also hold weekly interactive reading sessions in the schools to engage the children and inculcate in them the reading habit.
“Many of these children are poor but these books will take them to new worlds and places,” says Dhivya.

OPED is Janani’s brainchild. “Having grown up in the United States, I was accustomed to having my city filled with local public libraries. Reading opened my mind to worlds that I would never have discovered otherwise. But on moving to Bangalore, I realised that there were no free public libraries in my area, Whitefield. It struck me that unlike fortunate people like myself, students in poor schools simply do not have the opportunities to read anything beyond their textbooks.”

That thought prompted Janani to approach her school principal in February 2008 who encouraged her to prepare a detailed plan. The school also made an initial contribution of 1,000 books.

Later, while attending a summer course called Leadership in Law at Columbia University, New York, Janani and a group of her classmates developed the idea further as part of a project to take action in the local community.
Read their story here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

CROCUS: "Around the world in 7 days"

Saffron Tree is running a week long exchange program called CROCUS and it is to:

...find a selection of folktales for you and your children to enjoy from around the world! Read the reviews with your children, and talk about the tales they focus on. You and your children can make up your own modern folktale or may be even a twisted or fractured one must be fun. Best of all, you really don’t need a book to share a folktale from another part of the world. All you need is a little bit of imagination and the possibilities are endless! Together, this CROCUS 2009, let’s share lots of folktales with our children and pass on the torch of story-telling traditions for future generations!
Folktales from India and across the world is something that's dear to us here and part of our mission so this is heartening to read.

Report on Water Conservation from Akal Academy Punjabi Medium Cheema

We had previously written about the Akal Academy (EM), Cheema and the water conservation related activities being held in their school. The Principal has recently sent us an email detailing what they did and pictures too - we love what they're doing to spread the message of water conservation amongst their students!

More pictures and a full report below...

The Akal Academy Punjabi Medium, Cheema has 723 students, 32 teachers and 3 non teaching staff. Our grateful thanks to the Principal, Bayant Kaur.


Report on water conversation programme from Akal Academy Punjabi Medium Cheema

In the morning assembly all the students along with staff took a pledge to conserve water. One of the teachers, Varkha Singh (Punjabi teacher) delivered a speech on the topic. After having pledge the students of 5th, 6th and 7th class were sent to nearby village named Ugrahan. They marched in the village having banners in their hands in the form of a Chetna March; they reached the Dharmsala of the village. There they performed a stage programme which started with a Shabad followed by a religious song. Then the students of 7th class played a skit which conveyed a message to conserve water. Hardeep Kaur of 10th class made a speech touching different aspects of water. Mr. Balbir Singh (S.St teacher) and Mr. Jaspal Das (S.St teacher) also delivered speeches and told the farmers gathered there to adopt crop rotation and save water for future and they threw light on keeping the environment neat and clean.

The students of 4th and 5th classes presented poems related to water.

Hari Singh (Panchiat member and Member of Gurudwara parbandak committee), Darshan Singh (Member of Gurudwara parbandak committee), Karnail Singh Mann (Writer) praised this programme.

All the people gathered there very much impressed and ask the teachers to visit the village with such type of programmes of awareness.

If you have stories of change to share, please do email us at info at prathambooks dot org and we are always happy to spread the message.

Grape asks "What did you do today to change the world?"

Stamp Spotting

Grape, the yak, visited the Philately Museum at the GPO in Bangalore during the Postal Week and brought back some interesting pictures of stamps. (Click on the images for a better view. Sorry for the quality of the images, but the lighting was not conducive for a good shot!).

Writing related stamps

Communication related stamps

Book related stamps

Printing related stamps

Psst : Has you child send in his/her submision for the nation-wide letter writing competition “Gandhiji Writes a Post Card”. Winners are entitled for various prizes such as laptops, ipods, cameras, music systems, etc.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Humpty Dumpty had a great overhaul

My colleagues and I never tire of talking about children and books. What do children like to read? Why do they like to read? How do children learn to use words? And, why do we continue to teach some things like 'Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water', when Jack, Jill and pail are such alien words in Indian English.... and really, which kid would ever trudge UP a hill to fetch water?

Last week, BBC was in trouble because viewers of CBeebies were offended when '...all the king's men made Humpty Dumpty happy again'.Yours truly had a good laugh, and promptly dashed off an article in lighter vein to Deccan Herald. If you have the time and the inclination please do check out 'Rhyme and reason'.
And if you like verse, check out the late author Kamala Bakaya's wonderful work in 'Raja nang dhadanga hai'.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gandhi's Autobiography Still a Bestseller

Via express buzz
It has been 140 years since the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. And his autobiography continues to be a bestseller with annual sales of 2,00,000 copies even in these rapidly changing times.

Until 10 months ago, Navjivan Trust alone had the copyright on all of Gandhi's works.

"The expiry of the copyright has had no adverse impact on sales. It is still as high as before," Jitendra Desai, managing trustee Navjivan Trust, told IANS over telephone.

"The sales of the autobiography are about 200,000 annually, in all languages," he stressed.

The Navjivan Trust is concerned that Mahatma Gandhi's books must remain accessible to the common person. Its own publications of Gandhi's works are low priced and affordable.

The apostle of non-violence is said to be the only public figure to have written so much."He wrote without stopping. When his right hand got tired, he would use his left. There is still so much of his work not in the public domain - as many as 30,000 pages are scattered in the form of letters and othes writings," Anupam Mishra, member Gandhi Peace Foundation, told IANS over the phone.

These unpublished writings are with individuals and institutions.Scholars and admirers of Mahatma Gandhi feel this should all be compiled and brought under a designate authority.

"Now we want to regularise and make available the original corpus of his work. The concept is to collect, restore and reprint all the regional 'Gandhiana' and to bring it into public domain," said Dina Patel, a senior Gandhian scholar from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.
Read the entire article here.

And, if you want your kid to learn about Gandhiji, gift them 'A Man called Bapu'. Read reviews about the book here and here.

Image Source: bee721

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pushkar Literature Festival

The Puskar fair is being held this year between 25th October and 2nd November, 2009. The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. in association with Siyahi is bringing the Pushkar Literature Festival to Pushkar on the 31st of October.

Via Siyahi
As a part of the famous Pushkar Fair, RTDC introduces the Pushkar Literature Festival 2009 in association with Siyahi with an aim of adding new shades of the magical world of words to the multifarious culture of Rajasthan. The one-day event will bring authors like Namita Gokhale, Prasoon Joshi, Meghnad Desai, Sheen Kaaf Nizam, Anuvab Pal, Aruna Roy, Tarun Tejpal, Veddan Sudhir and Aman Nath to meet and interact with the vast number of visitors during the Pushkar Fair. The festival will bring writers, poets, book lovers, publishers, performers and storytellers together to add to the mesmerizing riot of colours, textures, hues and flavours that come alive during this one action packed week.

This rendezvous will help explore and discover the meeting points between contemporary literature and folklore, oral traditions, legends, myths and languages, which precisely define the spirit of Pushkar.
Image Source

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just a Pinch of salt!

Here's a little pinch to awaken you to an often neglected facet of parenting: Are your children, and the children around you getting their daily dose of salt? Or rather, Iodine?

Many factors affect children's ability to read and learn. One of the factors is Iodine, and how much dietary Iodine a child gets. According to UNICEF, Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD)is the single greatest cause of preventable cause of brain damage. Iodine deficiency affects brain development, causing a range of intellectual, motor and hearing deficits. However, the problem is easily and inexpensively prevented by iodizing all salt for human and animal consumption.

October 21 is recognized as Global Iodine Deficiency Disorder Day. Salt iodization prevents millions of babies from being affected by IDD.

Cereals, milk and other dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables, and salt provide our daily requirements of iodine.

Pratham Books wishes all its readers,well-wishers and all the children of the world a happy, healthy life.

Grape Meets the Awesome Library Team of Akshara Foundation

For those of you who do not know about Grape, the yak, you may want to read a little about why a baby yak has travelled all the way from China and is currently spending time at the Pratham Books office. Grape is part of the Yak Around the World Campaign and is visiting changemakers around the world. Before we send her off to another changemaker, we decided to take her to meet the lovely people at the Akshara Foundation.

On 16th October, Grape was invited to attend a training being conducted for librarians at the Govt. Urdu Model Primary School on Tannery Road, Bangalore. With 45 enthusiastic librarians in the room and 4 eager teachers of the library team, the session started. The library team has planned two activities per month for all the libraries and will start this initiative with the Shivajinagar libraries. The librarians were asked to discard their roles of librarians and be children at this session and learn and participate like they would want the children at their libraries to participate. Arvind Venkatadri, head of the library team, let his other colleagues take over after announcing that magic does exist and that these activities would transform the libraries into magical places.

The session was a multilingual session where Urdu, Kannada, Hindi and English were spoken with equal ease. After the manuals were handed out in the preferred languages, Ramesh, Latha and Nirumpama (from the Akshara library team) did a fantastic job of explaining the entire process.

Grape watched on as....

a book was read (in two languages.. and at times three)... and then stopped midway..

Questions raised...and answered

A skit enacted (where Grape's yak cap elicited many laughs from the librarians when they had to use it as a prop)...

Another round of questions ensued...

A book reading session took place...

Librarians ventured out in the hot sun and stood in the compound to learn about mathematics...

Where librarians became parts of the atmosphere and rays of the sun to explain how the sky turned blue...

And more book readings...

Everyone tried to solve a puzzle which involved sand, haldi, marbles and plastic balls..

...and another book reading!

"Oh, what fun it is to be a librarian", said Grape!

But we shall stop talking and let the pictures do the talking. Read the captions beneath the pictures for a little more information.

So, when Grape asks us - "What did you do to change the world today?", our answer would be - "help create magical libraries with the help of Akshara Foundation".

Story Telling for Little Patients

The Uday Foundation sent us an email today about their wonderful program that helps little children in hospital listen to stories narrated by volunteers. You can help too by volunteering or donating books.

It's generally not a lot of fun for anyone to be in a hospital, but it's especially tough on kids. Though doctors, nurses, family and friends make long stays more bearable, there is still much time where pediatric patients can feel lonely, bored and scared.

Storytelling has been well researched for its therapeutic effects with children. While Storytelling is entertaining, it provides metaphors to life situations, often helping children deal with their current emotional states and find alternatives for the challenges they face..

During the hospital stays and/or visits, children and their families experience unusual amounts of stress, anxiety and discomfort. Recognising the therapeutic and entertaining nature of the art of storytelling, The Uday Foundation plans to create and implement a storytelling program at Max Hospital, Saket using our storytelling volunteers as well as storytelling performances by celebrities, artists, sports persons, teachers, writers, journalists and all the faces which are very popular among children.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ali Oh Baba! - The Children's Annual Theatre Production is Back

Via aliohbaba
Dream A Dream and Bangalore Little Theatre have returned with yet another fun filled entertainer for everybody and absolutely anybody! In the last two years, we have had a great time producing two shows for you from Indian folklore. Your response to The Magic Drum and The Ungrateful Man has been overwhelming. This year from the land of all things magical, we bring you ‘Ali Oh Baba’. This year’s production of Ali Oh Baba will both encourage theatre appreciation as well as raise funds for Dream A Dream’s programmes which empower vulnerable children.

Ali Oh Baba is a retelling of the all time favourite tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The story unfolds on the stage in the form of day dreams of a little boy discovering the 1001 Arabian Nights. He and his friend, a little girl, share their discoveries with the children in the audience through games, narratives, song and dance. In the process the key figures in the 1001 Arabian Nights are also drawn into the play, the clever Sheherezad and the not so clever King. The two friends manage to tell the audience the entire tale without bringing Ali Baba on stage. It might well be the little boy himself! And who knows the clever maid in Ali Baba’s house might well be the little girl! As can be expected, the audiences are actively engaged in all of the storytelling and it is done with much contemporary humour.

Venue: Gurunanak Bhavan, # 6, Miller Tank Road, Near Mahavir Jain Hospital, Indian Express Main Road, Vasanthnagar, Bangalore - 560 052

Dates and timings
Public Show
October 30th: 7.30 pm
October 31st: 11:00 am, 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm
November 1st: 11.00 am, 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm
More details here.

Image Source

Question Box

Over at the World Bank Blog (yes, they blog too!) Joe Qian has a post up on an interesting project based out of India.

"An example of this creativity can be found in the Questionbox, devised by the non-profit organization, Open Box, which brings global intelligence into a small solar powered audio box that works to empower residents with knowledge even if the area lacks reliable access to electricity or if the user is illiterate."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Diwali!

Happy Diwali Everyone!

Water Conservation Programme by Akal Academy (EM), Cheema

Many of you may already know that we are running the ‘Conserve Our Rivers, Save Water’ . Along with the launch of our new book Cauvery, we are spreading awareness about water conservation, asking people to pledge their support, share their water conservation tips and Cauvery stories.

The Principal of Akal Academy (EM), Cheema sent us a mail about the water conservation related activities being held in their school.
To make the students aware about water conservation, we have organized following activities.
1.Oath ceremony was held.
2.Poster making competition was organized in classes 4th,5th and 6th. Three best posters were given prizes.
3.Students were motivated by a speech given by teachers and students during the Morning Assembly.

Now we are going to organize following activities.

1.Speech on water conservation by 9th and 10th standard.
2.Quiz competition for 6th, 7th and 8th standard related to causes and effects of reckless use of water.
3.Skit by the student of 2nd and 3rd standard.

4. Awareness Campaign :- We will carry following activities in five Villages/Towns. (Cheema Sahib,Sunam,Khiwa,Mihan Singhwala, Sheron, jharon)
Rally conveying the message of water conservation through slogan and Nukkar meetings.
Pamphlets will be distributed regarding “How to stop the misuse of water”

5. Project Work :- A project on Rain water harvesting has been assigned to 11th and 12th standard. Best project will be submitted to the Authorities for further action and will be duly rewarded. The project created will be sent to Baru Sahib for its implementation at Akal Academy Cheema.

Note :-Activities No. 1 , 2,3 will be taken on 24th Oct 09 (Saturday)
Activity No. 4 will be taken on 30th Oct. 09
Mail us if at if your school is doing something towards water conservation and help spread the message.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

IGNITE Young Minds by Gifting them Books this Diwali

Click on the image above to read our Diwali offer and click here for more details.

Neil Gaiman Crowdsourcing a Story via Twitter

Via BBC Audiobooks America
Starting October 13 at Noon EST, Neil Gaiman (known as @Neilhimself) will launch a special round-robin interactive storytelling experience. He'll tweet the first line of the story and then the rest is up to you! Just login to your Twitter account (registration is free) to continue the story.
Read the opening line of the story tweeted by Neil (or catch up with it in progress by visiting #bbcawdio) and then follow us at to post the next sentence of the story (tweets must be 140 characters or less) like this:
@BBCAA Your Tweet Here #bbcawdio
When roughly 1000 Tweets are logged, we’ll edit the contributions and compile a script, then head into the studio to record and produce the audiobook. The final audiobook will be downloadable free on our website and also available as a digital download at iTunes and other audiobook retailers.
Read more here.

Image Source : kopp0041

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gandhiji Writes a Postcard

Via The Hindu

The Department of Posts is conducting a nation-wide letter writing competition for children on the subject “Gandhiji Writes a Post Card”. The competition will be conducted in two categories — Classes III to V and Classes VI to VIII.

Children will have to buy a Rs. 10 competition post card from a post office. The letter has to be on a civic problem of the day, to a friend or a family member, as if Gandhiji had written.

The post card has to be sent to the Chief Post Master General, Maharashtra Circle, P.O. 200, Mumbai 400 001. The last date for the receipt of the hand-written post cards is October 30. Winners are entitled for various prizes such as laptops, ipods, cameras, music systems, etc. For further details, parents and children may contact post offices or visit, according to a release here on Tuesday.

Pratham Books and Yak Around the World Campaign

We have a yak in our office!

Yes, yes... a Yak!

How? What? Why? Huh...what? A yak? Really?

A yak that has come all the way from China. Ok, don't believe me? Take a look at Grape (that is our yak's name).

Heheheh, I did say we have a yak in our office. I did forget to mention it is a yak toy.

So, why is Grape visiting us? Grape is travelling around the world as part of the 'Yak Around the World Campaign'.
On August 8, 2009, Shokay launched the Yak Around the World Campaign by sending 24 hand-knit baby yaks to 24 individuals who are dedicating their time and careers to creating positive social change. During their world tour, the yaks are highlighting changemakers and their innovative work, aiming to inspire people all over the world to think of new ways they can do good and have an impact.

When each person receives their yak, they will help kick off the campaign by answering the question, “What are you doing to change the world today?”
During her stay with us till now, Grape has seen how we are asking people to reuse our content which are under Creative Commons licenses. A comment on a post introduced us to the people who work towards providing content for the Braille Mitra reader. The software can instantly convert Indian languages and English to Braille and helps visually challenged people read. We have spoken with the concerned people and will soon be sending them the required files to be converted and made available for the visually challenged. Grape was also there when we uploaded another book under a Creative Commons license and this book will also be recorded at the Radio Mirchi studios to be given to the National Association of the Blind.

So, while Grape hangs out with us and learns more about Pratham Books, we are also looking forward to seeing where her other yak friends have been travelling and the people/organizations they have been meeting.

Travel along with the yaks on their world tour or read about the Yak Around the World Campaign.

Grape has been travelling trememdously while she is with us. She went on a holiday to Ooty and then flew to Delhi to meet our Delhi team. Check back for more updates on Grape's adventures.

Pssst: Grape is asking “What are you doing to change the world today?". Share your story in the comments below.

Babar Ali : The Youngest Headmaster of the World

A truly inspiring story of a boy who made it his mission to share the education he was receiving in his own way. Read about Babar Ali - possibly the youngest headmaster in the world. The power of an idea indeed!

At 16 years old, Babar Ali must be the youngest headmaster in the world. He's a teenager who is in charge of teaching hundreds of students in his family's backyard, where he runs classes for poor children from his village.

The story of this young man from Murshidabad in West Bengal is a remarkable tale of the desire to learn amid the direst poverty.

Babar Ali's day starts early. He wakes, pitches in with the household chores, then jumps on an auto-rickshaw which takes him part of the 10km (six mile) ride to the Raj Govinda school. The last couple of kilometres he has to walk.

The school is the best in this part of West Bengal. There are hundreds of students, boys and girls. The classrooms are neat, if bare. But there are desks, chairs, a blackboard, and the teachers are all dedicated and well-qualified.

As the class 12 roll-call is taken, Babar Ali is seated in the middle in the front row. He's a tall, slim, gangly teenager, studious and smart in his blue and white uniform. He takes his notes carefully. He is the model student.

Chumki Hajra is one who has never been to school. She is 14 years old and lives in a tiny shack with her grandmother. Their home is simple A-frame supporting a thatched roof next to the rice paddies and coconut palms at the edge of the village. Inside the hut there is just room for a bed and a few possessions.

Every morning, instead of going to school, she scrubs the dishes and cleans the homes of her neighbours. She's done this ever since she was five. For her work she earns just 200 rupees a month ($5, £3). It's not much, but it's money her family desperately needs. And it means that she has to work as a servant everyday in the village.

But Chumki is now getting an education, thanks to Babar Ali. The 16-year-old has made it his mission to help Chumki and hundreds of other poor children in his village. The minute his lessons are over at Raj Govinda school, Babar Ali doesn't stop to play, he heads off to share what he's learnt with other children from his village.

At four o'clock every afternoon after Babar Ali gets back to his family home a bell summons children to his house. They flood through the gate into the yard behind his house, where Babar Ali now acts as headmaster of his own, unofficial school.

Lined up in his back yard the children sing the national anthem. Standing on a podium, Babar Ali lectures them about discipline, then study begins.

Babar Ali gives lessons just the way he has heard them from his teachers.

Babar Ali was just nine when he began teaching a few friends as a game. They were all eager to know what he learnt in school every morning and he liked playing at being their teacher.

Now his afternoon school has 800 students, all from poor families, all taught for free. Most of the girls come here after working, like Chumki, as domestic helps in the village, and the boys after they have finished their day's work labouring in the fields.

"In the beginning I was just play-acting, teaching my friends," Babar Ali says, "but then I realised these children will never learn to read and write if they don't have proper lessons. It's my duty to educate them, to help our country build a better future."

Including Babar Ali there are now 10 teachers at the school, all, like him are students at school or college, who give their time voluntarily. Babar Ali doesn't charge for anything, even books and food are given free, funded by donations. It means even the poorest can come here.

The school has been recognised by the local authorities, it has helped increase literacy rates in the area, and Babar Ali has won awards for his work.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source: SheWatchedTheSky

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Managing the Saraswathi Mahal Library in Thanjavur

The Hindu has an interesting article on how books are conserved in the Saraswathi Mahal Library in Thanjavur.

Via The Hindu
And if it's tough to take care of a few hundred books, imagine what it would be like if one were responsible for the welfare of 49,000 manuscripts and 65,000 books. That's the responsibility which rests on the shoulders of Dr. Perumal, Conservator and Librarian of the Saraswathi Mahal Library in Thanjavur.

"To keep book lice and insects at bay, fungus formation has to be prevented. Four factors have to be controlled, to prevent fungus formation - dust, light, heat and humidity," Perumal says. "If you see a silver fish on a wall, you can be sure there is fungus there. The silver fish is our scientific monitor of conditions."

"What's the science behind our traditions," I ask him. "There's a lot. I'll just give you a glimpse. Palm leaf manuscripts used to be wrapped in red cloth, because the colour red is an insect repellent. In many old houses, there would be a broad red band on the floor, running along the length of the wall, because insects tend to keep close to walls, and they would be put off by the red colour. For our kolams we use kaavi, which acts as a repellent," he explains.

He says manuscripts and books would be dusted before Saraswathi puja, in order to air them before the rains. During Bhogi, fungus affected manuscripts would be cast into the fire, after a copy had been made.

Palm leaf writing began in South India and spread to Indonesia, Thailand, Ceylon and Burma. The juice of the Dhandhura leaves and kosina indica (kovai in Tamil) was mixed with lamp soot, and applied on manuscripts. This served two purposes - it highlighted the writing, and also repelled insects, because kosina indica is bitter and dhandhura is mildly poisonous.

What would they do during the monsoons? "If people had palm leaf manuscripts at home during the monsoon, they would put them on a wooden plank, which would be suspended from ropes in the kitchen. The warmth from the kitchen fire would keep away fungus. And the plank doubled as a school bag. They'd just pick up the plank by the ropes, and walk off to school!"
Read the entire article here.

Image Source

Monday, October 12, 2009

Archie Comics in Indian Languages

Om Arora has a secret wish. As the owner of Delhi-based Variety Book Depot, he’s been the exclusive distributor for Archie Comics in ndia and other countries in this region ever since 1974 when, as a 30-year old army drop-out, he persuaded the conservative, family-run American company to switch from India Book House to his family’s small magazine distribution business.

Since then he's made India, and other countries in this region, into one of the largest markets for Archie Comics in the world. The American teenager has become a local cultural icon, influencing film-makers like Karan Johar in films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai . Archie's Indian popularity influenced the company to launch an Indian character, Raj, in the series. But that's not enough for Mr Arora. "I would very much like to see a Sikh character fitted into the series somewhere," he said hopefully.

He may get his wish. Because this most American of companies is about to open its very first international office in New Delhi. To start with, Archie will be producing its regular comics in Hindi and Malayalam versions, with other Indian languages to be added on later. "We‘ll just be translating the text in the speech bubbles," said Mr Arora. But, the company may introduce more Indian characters, and may even be open to giving their American characters some Indian touches.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source : littlestar19

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was....

We have submitted our profile for the InDiya Shine Awards 2009. What do you think of us? Do you think we have earned the right to be a winner of in the 'Indiya Awards 2009' campaign organized by 'Great Nonprofits'? If the answer is YES, please submit your review here. It will just take a few minutes of your time(we promise!).

Our new book 'Cauvery' and another book 'Forever Friends' got reviewed by Deccan Herald and another new title "Asian Splendour-Folktales from Asia" was released at Eureka! The Bookstore for the Young at a delightful event.

We have also uploaded two new books to our Scribd account. If you or your kids want to review our books, please write in to us at and we can make you guest bloggers for our blog.

Rukmini Banerji shares her experience at a government primary school in Bihar. Rukmini's post captures the importance of making learning fun and the importance of books!

IISCs’ Digital Library of India has now digitized 1.5 lakh books and the books range is superb: history of the Parsis, Beethoven’s music, early American jazz, Sanskrit Brahmasutras, Chinese poems and Tamil palm leaves. One of the most loved characters from the Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) comics’ series, Suppandi, is now going to be featured in a movie. Amazon is lowering the price of Kindle and making it available internationally. What does this mean to the Indian reader?

We mentioned the Scholars Cull Fest last week where books were given out to anyone who wanted them. Their blog has pictures from the event and some plans for next year's event. Siyahi and India Habitat Centre present a focused literary meet on the stories, tales and folk narratives of the North East India. 'Voices from the North East' is being held on the 13th and 14th of October in Delhi.

Send in your entries for the Katha Chitrakala Award 2009 before 1st November, 2009. The Katha Chitrakala Award recognizes exemplary children's book illustrations and concepts that are fresh, powerful and unique, and have the potential to keep young readers interested and turn them towards life-long reading. Read about the contest and prizes here.

Project 10100 is a call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible. The voting ended on 8th October, but stay tuned for the results of the vote.

We leave you with this video of the production of the pop-up book "Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs".

Have a fun week ahead.

Image Source : freebird (bobinson|ബോബി� ��്‍സണ്)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Voices from the North East

Via Siyahi

Siyahi and India Habitat Centre present a focused literary meet on the stories, tales and folk narratives of the North East India. The verdant seven sister states from the North East of India have a unique indigenous culture where myths, oral traditions, legends and folklore are commonplace and yet unique. It will take into account the quantum of diversity in art and culture, which is evident from the multitude of languages, ethnic groups and their common collective memory. It will deal with the art of storytelling in context to the development of North Eastern culture and civilization. The event will bring authors, poets, storytellers and performers together to engage in a cultural dialogue and understand the North Eastern literature in all its myriad forms and dimensions.

City Specks : Mapping Memories

Via theatresundays

Listen to KKS Murthy's journey as a bookseller at Select Book Store.
Venue: Select Book Store, Bangalore
Date and Time: 10th October, 5.30 pm

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Production of the Pop-up Book "Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs"

This looks like a LOT of work...

If you liked watching the other video, take a look at how paper engineer Sam Ita creates pop-up books.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kindle for the Indian Reader

We first spotted a tweet which informed us about Amazon lowering the price of Kindle and making it available internationally. We have done several posts on the Kindle reader, but now that it will soon be available to the Indian reader, what does that mean?

It is very much available in India and you can even pre-order it through Amazon now – Buy Kindle (Kindle with U.S. & International Wireless will be available for shipment to customers in over 100 countries around the world on October 19.)

But before you click on that link, remember there are many questions yet to be answered for Indian Kindle consumers.

So the first thing is that Kindle is not going to cost you just $259 (approx. 12.5k rupees) – There is a custom duty of close to 40% (I assume so..) which is levied on all imported electronics & computer items. So, the Kindle with Custom duty comes close to Rs. 17000/- roughly.

So after you have procured the gadget, now what. The new Kindle works on 3G with AT&T worldwide, we dont have that and will have to probably wait for Kindle partnership with various providers. But wait, do we even have 3G as yet ! so that particular feature is useless atleast for now. yes, it does have wireless/ GPRS/ EDGE connectivity – so you can download you stuff via these available methods.

And, other small aspect is that you dont have to worry about US-India Voltage difference, Kindle supports 100-240V…sweet.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Yutaka Tsutano

Project 10 to the 100

Project 10100 is a call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible.

Last fall we launched Project 10^100, a call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible. Your response was overwhelming. Thousands of people from more than 170 countries submitted more than 150,000 (or around 10^5.2) ideas, from general investment suggestions to specific implementation proposals. As we reviewed these submissions, we started noticing lots of similar ideas related to certain broad topics, and decided that combining the best aspects of these individual proposals would produce the most innovative approaches to solving some very pressing problems.

The result is the list you see below of 16 "big ideas," each inspired by numerous individual submissions. Which ones should we make happen? You tell us. Your vote for one of these ideas will help our advisory board choose up to 5 projects to fund, at which point we'll launch an RFP process to identify the organization(s) that are best suited to implementing them.

Visit the website to vote for the big idea you believe in. Choose from ideas like enhancing science and engineering education , making educational content available for free, helping social entrepreneurs drive change and many more.

The last day to submit your vote is 8th October, 2009.

The Scholars Cull Fest, 2009

Via Scholars without Borders

In two days, on the 9th of October, 2009, Scholars without Borders will be having our second Cull Fest where we will be giving away a few hundred books to anyone who wants them, and who can come and pick them up from JNU. The books are all pre-owned and on diverse topics, ranging from detective fiction, to philosophy.

The venue of the cull fest is the foyer of the School of Physical Sciences building on the JNU campus, and the giveaway will start at 10:00 am, and last as long as there are books still remaining or 1 pm, whichever is sooner.
Read the entire post here and take a look at a post from last year's Cull Fest.

Image Source

More Books Uploaded to Our Scribd Account

We've uploaded two more books on our Scribd account.

Chaand ka Tofah is the Hindi version of our popular book 'The Moon and the Cap'.

"Do you like to wear a cap on a sunny day?
Find out who else likes to wear a cap in
this charming book."

We also uploaded the adorably cute book 'Listen to My Body' (We especially uploaded it for Harshita, the 2 year old daughter of one of our friend's Vaijayanthi aka @adropofwisdom)

""Each of us has a wonderful body.
But have you ever listened to what it tells you?"

So, click on the links above and let your kids start reading!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Aloo, Maloo and Kaloo - Fun with Books!

Rukmini Banerji shares her experience at a government primary school in Bihar. Rukmini's post captures the importance of making learning fun!

Via Teacher Plus
I am in a small village in north Bihar. The sky is overcast, dark clouds hang overhead. Soon it begins to rain. Children are running to school holding their bag and books over their heads. This is a government primary school. The building is small – only two rooms and a verandah. A new classroom is being built but it is not yet complete. Children of Standard 1 and 2 sit in the verandah, crowded together. The older children sit inside in the rooms.

One girl brings out a story book from the cupboard inside. It is a book about a boy called Maloo and his black dog who is named Kaloo.* The story is about their adventures in finding aloos (potatoes). The book is a bit dirty; the corners of the pages are curling upwards. It is clear that it has been well used. Some children can read the story and others can read the words. I read it out loudly. The words are fun to say out aloud … the pictures are clear and vivid.

Most of the children in Standard 1 and 2 cannot actually read. It seems to me that some cannot even decipher letters. Yet, once we read the story out aloud several times, there is a lot of discussion. Our drawing activities have made it very natural to start putting things down on paper. Talking, looking at pictures, giving opinions, drawing, scribbling – all seem to happen naturally in the class. The book comes alive through the talk, the arguments, the discussions and debates. Talk has to happen with others. There can be agreement and disagreement, give and take. But on paper, each is on his or her own. Individual thinking, individual expression. Sometimes the drawing is clear and sometimes the scribbles are actually words. If I ask a child what they have made – they can always tell me what it is.

The rain has stopped. The school compound is full of water. The children’s slates are full too. There is Maloo in every drawing – a boy who often bears some resemblance to the artist. And there is Kaloo too. It is not hard to make a little black dog with a pointy tail. And of course there are aloos and potatoes everywhere. Now the children are looking for more books to read, more books to talk about and more books to have fun with.

Read the entire article here.

Here is the Hindi storycard of Aloo Maloo Kaloo...

aloo maloo kaloo

Book Launch : 'Asian Splendour- Folktales from Asia'

Manisha Chaudhry, Head of content development- Pratham Books, writes about the book launch of our two new titles.

Ask 30 giggling children what they did on Oct 3, 2009? They'll giggle some more as they tell you that they launched a splendid book!

Pratham Books' lush new title for older children "Asian Splendour-Folktales from Asia" retold by Hema Pande was released at Eureka! The Bookstore for the Young at a delightful event.

Anupa Lal, a dear friend and cherished author of Pratham Books narrated two stories from the book in her inimitable rib ticking style as veteran author Hema Pande looked on smilingly. Her joy warmed us to the core as her age and delicate health keeps her largely housebound but she made a special effort to participate in our book release.

After listening to the filipino tale of Marikita and the Sea King, the children created a lovely, blue seascape with Marikita rowing her boat in the middle. Anupa had them chanting Marikita and Makushiro and they loved getting their tongues in a twist as they chewed over these strange but interesting names.You could almost smell the salt in the air!

Then it was time to listen to the hilarious Korean tale called The Magic Picture. Anupa held up a little mirror that figures prominently as a character in the story and as the children looked at their own faces, they chuckled as they listened to a story about a small town where nobody knew what a mirror was!

The event ended with the very charming sight of the children queing up to get their copies of the book signed by Hema. They all told her that they loved the stories and then patiently spelt out their names for her.Hema wrote an affectionate message in each book.Seeing their heads bent over the same book was like looking at a perfect blend of the ages.
Asian Splendour is available in English, Hindi, Marathi and Urdu and is priced at Rs.90. You can order the book here.

View more pictures from the book launch here.

InDiya Shine Awards 2009 - Write a Review for Pratham Books

We (Pratham Books) have submitted our profile for the InDiya Shine Awards 2009 and we need your help....

Via Great Nonprofits
Nonprofits that serve causes in India or Indian communities abroad with the most positive reviews in their categories will be announced as winners. 3 winners will be announced in each of 3 budget sizes (Small, Medium and Large). Winners will be featured in Little India - the largest overseas Indian publication - with special editorial content.

Contest deadline: October 20th

This is an opportunity for nonprofits to engage their stakeholders – clients, volunteers, board members, donors, and others. They can share their experiences with one another and the larger public. All reviews will appear on both and, the premiere site for philanthropic research. Nonprofits can also use these reviews in their marketing and brochures.

There's no better time to give back and all you have to do is write! Plus, everyone who writes a review is eligible to win great prizes!!
More information here.

You can view our profile here. Please take some time out to write us a review if you know of us/our work. Spread the word around and help us get 'a book in every child's hand'.

Thank You!

Image Source: Pratham Books