Monday, November 30, 2009

The Pop-up Book of Phobias

The Pop-up Book of Phobias from donvanone on Vimeo.

Note: If you are receiving this blog post in an email or through an RSS feed and cannot see the videos, please open the link in a new page.

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...

Read the review of the book 'Symbiosis' from a British and South African perspective and the latest entries for our Cauvery contest. Read about all the fun we had at the Bangalore Book Fair and also about the potential of children to be changemakers. View pictures of the book distribution and competition held for school children in the Bhagamandala government primary school by SELCO.

The Koel's Song is a book written by Adivasi children as part of a literacy project by the Uttar Chandipur Community Society, called Suchana. The Brooklyn Art Library is conducting the first ever Art House literary project called The Fiction Project. The Fiction Project sets its sights on literature and creating a narrative book that fuses writing with art.

Vote for a book and help change lives for the students at Subornogram Schools, Bangladesh. The book with the most votes will be supplied to these students.

For those of you who aren't or Twitter or who may have missed some of our tweets, here is a Twitter recap for the month of November.

Read about the Charter for Compassion - a charter that invites people to 'restore not only compassionate thinking but compassionate action' too.

Find out which word became Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year for the year 2009. Konkani authors are eager to see the kind of readership and acceptance translated Konkani works will get.

As part of their 75th anniversary celebrations, British Council (Bangalore) is asking people to participate in the 'Books Gone Wild' programme. The Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness The Dalai Lama is inviting contribution in the form of essays and poetry for a book titled 'Tibet: Voices in Exile" which will be published by an international publisher. Comic Discussion Board of India (CDBi) and are inviting entries for COMIX.INDIA: a self published comic magazine.

The Science Express has reached Karnataka and will be in Bangalore from 10th-14th December, 2009. The Science Express is a train which houses 300 exhibits, 150 films and multimedia presentations. From 8th-18th December, 2009, Jodo Gyan is conducting 'Beyond Math Lab' - a series of workshops, demonstration and an exhibition.

We leave you with Mike Stilkey's library of painted books.

Image Source: Kaushal Karkhanis

Friday, November 27, 2009

Entries Invited for India's First Self Published Comic Magazine

Comic Discussion Board of India (CDBi) and are inviting entries for COMIX.INDIA: a self published comic magazine.

Via Pothi
Concept and Rules of the magazine

1. COMIX.INDIA is a self-published magazine, in partnership with, which is a website that prints and sells self-published books on a 'print-on-demand' basis. To learn more about selfpublishing and print-on-demand, please go to .

2. There is no investment of money involved since the magazine is printed only when somebody orders it on

3. However, whenever a copy of the magazine is sold on their website, the profit generated is split equally between all the contributors. For example, if the magazine costs Rs.200, and the profit is Rs.50, this Rs.50 will be divided equally between all the comic authors. This is the earning for the author. will keep adding up the sales accounts of each author, and as and when a decent amount is reached, will send a cheque to each of them. Each author will have a account so that he or she can keep track. This co-operative system means that each author is part 'owner' and 'publisher' of the magazine, and is entirely responsible for the magazine's success. This is why the magazine is called 'self-published'. The Editor and Designer are simply part of the authors of the magazine.

4. The copyright of individual contributions rests with the author. Neither CDBi nor hold any copyrights over the magazine.

5. Another incentive for authors is that they can buy the magazine from at a discounted 'Author's Price'. This allows authors to sell copies to others and pocket the profit. To clarify, this means that in this case the profit is not shared by all authors but will go to the author who put up the money to buy copies from Authors can order copies at 'Author's Price' by logging into their accounts at .

6. The authors for the first Volume of COMIX.INDIA will get a FREE COPY of the magazine from

7. Only members of CDBi are eligible to contribute comics to the magazine. So please register on the forum before sending work.
Read more about the concept and rules and regulations.

Image Source: justmakeit

Entries Invited for 'Tibet: Voices in Exile'

The Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness The Dalai Lama is inviting contribution in the form of essays and poetry for a book titled 'Tibet: Voices in Exile" which will be published by an international publisher.

Via furhhdl
We are looking for personal narratives and perspectives from Tibetans in exile in India and overseas. These could cover any concern, issue, reflection, memory or dreams exploring experiences, or predicaments that are personal, social or political. Authors can explore the past, the present or the future – both personal experiences in exile, of the Tibet left behind or the Tibet that might be, in the future. The canvas is wide open.
We are not looking for theoretical, academic pieces, rather those that reflect felt experiences and passions. We believe this has the potential to evolve into a major document both for the Tibetan cause and for history.

We are more interested in the sensitivity and nuances of the ideas, the richness of the content, rather than quality of the language or prose. All pieces selected for publication will be edited for clarity, if necessary, but will try and retain the texture of the authors writing.

We encourage contributions across different age groups, from school children to senior citizens, private citizens to those who have served the Tibetan Government or community.

Contributions will need to be in the form of essays in ENGLISH (of approx 2000 to 2500 words). We will also welcome poetry.
Find more details here. The deadline for submission of entries is December 15th 2009

Books Gone Wild

Via British Council, Bangalore

As part of out 75th Anniversary celebrations, we have chosen 75 books with a British connection and we are releasing them in to the wild. We want each of them to travel around the city, country and even the world to create ‘book chains’ that link people together! You can be a part of it.

Here’s what you do:

1.Go through the list of 75 titles. Select any one title that you would like to initiate your book chain with. Get back to us by 30 November 2009 with the

  • Serial number*: ……
  • Title*: …….
  • Your Email*: …….
  • Your Phone: ……..
2. We will select one reader for each book. If there are more than one readers interested in the same book we will pick the reader by lucky draw and hand over the book to them

3. Selected readers will be invited to a function that will be held in British Library, Bangalore, and the books will be presented

4. Once you have the book in hand you can log on to our website and enter the book-code given on the book to join the chain for that particular book

Read the book

1. Visit us online again and tell us what you thought of the book

2. Once you’ve finished reading the book, pass it to a friend, colleague relative or even a stranger and tell them to follow these instructions too

You can follow the book you have read, as well as others, as they travel around the city and beyond, find out what others thought of the different books!

Exciting prizes to be won: Some lucky members of the longest book chains can win a kindle e-book reader and other goodies


Image Source: pteittinen

Twitter Recap

It has been a while since we did one of our Twittering Thursday posts. Thus we bring to you some of our favourite tweets of this month....

We have put up another CC licensed book up for the kiddies on our Scribd account. Read Nilaavum Toppiyum (Tamil).

Have you read about Grape's (the yak) interaction with Akshara Foundation's awesome library team?

@Scholars had a review of our book Cauvery and @citizenmatters had a small write up on the Bangalore Book Fair and us (We were also tweeting pictures from the Bangalore Book Fair which you can now see on our Flickr account). Other albums we were tweeting about included children spreading the message of water conservation,


Did you know about the Book Wall created in Delhi? Check out 'A new friend for Ruku' - A children's book by @raghavakk for his son Rudra. Another children's book you can read online is 'Roofus the Canine Cannonball'. And isn't this bookcase for children's books rather lovely? If you are in Thailand, find your way to the Shopping Mall Library. Read about the history of the Book Jacket. Loving the clever way in which Christoph Niemann's book 'The Pet Dragon' incorporates written Chinese characters into the illustrations. Read
JD Salinger’s Uncollected Stories.

@SmallWorldBooks: New database of picture books with behind-the-scenes details of the art and how each was created.

If you do not know about @bookbole yet, here is where you can find out more : 1, 2, 3, 4

@tarabooks: 'The Forest Eye' - A fairy tale told through Gond paintings. Ther are now offering 30% off all titles purchased on their website till January 31st.

@thecreativepenn: Lovely picture - the "book" of knowledge

@inkyelbows: HarperCollins And Skype Team Up To Host First 'Virtual' World Author Tour

@Bookgal: Book Authors, book publishers on Twitter:

@blaftness: Vishwajyoti Ghosh's postcard book "Times New Romans & Countrymen"

@Bookshare: Students with disabilities needing accessible books.

@krittika_v: Read about Mallika, age7, the storyteller who changes her voice for different book characters and vote for a book to reach kids in Bangladesh.

@tulikabooks: Time Out Bengaluru's review of the Thumb Thumb books.

@jayajha: Publishers are not evil!

@sanjeevn - Nonsequential Narratives: Hypertextual Books (1, 2)

@bookbole: Braille without borders:The right to be blind without being disabled.

@bilingualrdrs- Storytelling Grandmothers Programme

@book_mommy: Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2009/New York


The Shortie Awards is a film & news festival for students (ages 7-18 & teachers)! See how you can contribute to Encyclopedia Indica Kids : a culture and ecology project. Watch an animation about education for One Laptop Per Child. View the drawings made by kids for the Doodle 4 Google contest. We were also reading 'the scandal of schools'

@deepam_: Children in rural Nepal discover magic of 'www'

@krittika_v: Children's Film Society, India

@_thealternative: Thematic magazine "Offbeat" -- "Empty Benches.Whither Children?". Download at -

@adropofwisdom: Now, a library period to enthuse kids about books

@FYSE: Read the story of Nimesh Ghimire, age 19, making a difference in the Nepal education system

@SmallWorldBooks: Rhymes from India (others can also share their rhymes)


@adropofwisdom: For the list of state-wise registered NGOs in India: 1, 2

@aksharafdn - Read 'Investing in the Future' and OHM extending its support to NGOs and conducting free dental checkups for children. See photographs of 'Teaching Training in NNG' and of tent schools.

@deepam_: Sandpaper, the BITS Pilani alumni magazine features Deepam

@pluggdin: Millee – Rural India Project that uses Mobile Gaming for Learning

@ashokaindia: 10 Inspirational stories of change

@questionbox: Indian Express featured a really nice Question Box writeup


@deepam_: Deepam plans to open two new centres in Chennai. If you wish to volunteer, teach, please do get in touch.

@rahulanand: Looking for a skilled English teacher to work part time for this street school

@FundACause: Sponsors sought for a poetry and theatre performance by kids in Chennai. Read more.

@NanubhaiEF: Want to live, explore, & teach in rural India? Nanubhai's search for 2010 Teaching Fellows and interns!

Arts Education: Contexts, Concepts, and Practices in Schools is a conference conducted by Max Mueller Bhavan (Bangalore) and IFA on Dec 11-12th, 2009.

@Gauravonomics: @lisahodges is doing a workshop on social media for non-profits on Dec 21-23.


Designing a Font to Preserve a Vanishing Language

@pikaland: The work of artist Katie Lombardo

@funkylunch: Funky Lunch competition: be part of Funky Lunch by creating a sandwich that will appear in the Funky Lunch book

Image Source: monettenriquez

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lighting up Lives with Books and Solar Lamps

Students from Class 6th, 7th and 8th with their own copy of the book Cauvery

Rachana D.P. from 7th standard was one of the prize winners. SELCO's gift comes as a true blessing for Rachana who doesn't have electricity at home.

Another prize winner was Shahida T.M from 7th standard

Read about the event here.

Translations of Konkani Literature and Readership

Via The Times of India
Goan writers are hoping an anthology of short fiction stories, including what is considered to be the first modern short story in Konkani penned by Shenoi Goembab in the 1930s, and other insightful works translated into Hindi will open a window for Konkani literature to other Indian languages and afford readers a peep into the state’s cultural and social life.

“Konkani works translated in other languages or other literature translated into Konkani have been few and far between, and we hope this work will act as a window into the past reality of Goan life as well as a bridge to language and literature in other Indian languages through Hindi,” says Kiran Budkuley, a critic in Konkani and English. Konkani literature is trying to finds its feet at national level. Concedes Pundalik Naik, a reputed playwright and winner of an Australian award, “Whatever literature we have produced has largely remained insulated, and we have been hardly aware where we stand in terms of our standard with other Indian languages.”

“Translation of Konkani works into other languages, a passport to larger readerships at the national level, is happening now, albeit slowly. Earlier, only poems were being translated, but now short stories and dramas are also being translated,” he adds. Three novels and a few anthologies of poems and short stories have been translated into English, French, Portuguese and Indian languages, but writers hope the release of ‘Katha Darpan’ on Tuesday, which includes Goembab’s fiction ‘Mhoji Baa khoim gelea’ (Where is my wife?) will be a turning point.

Budkuley explains further, “This collection has a feel of Konkani culture and literature. The themes are still relevant today and hover around Goan history, culture, freedom struggle, social stratification and issues of the downtrodden as well as an insight into the cross section of native experience.” Conceding that the work will be critically assessed, whether “good or not-sogood”, Budkuley said, “We hope it may inspire others and also draw healthy criticism towards Konkani literature.”

The works range from Laxmanrao Sardesai’s ‘Gitul’, Shantaram Hede’s ‘Ghanti’ and Chandrakant Keni’s ‘Ahilya’ to Uday Bhembre’s ‘Gotlu’ and Olivinho Gomes’ ‘Bhav Vibhor’. Some of these writers had grown up reading up on other literature, including Portuguese and other foreign languages. “The selection has some of the best stories and hopefully they will get a bigger readership,” says A K Lotlikar, programme officer, Institute Menezes Braganza.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: kdinuraj

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Cauvery Contest

Some of the latest water conservation tips come from:

Juhi Gupta -
As much as possible, every individual should use the same glass to drink water throughout the day. A coaster can be used to cover the glass, so that it remains clean from inside, in order to maintain hygiene. Also, you can fix a place at home/ office for 'your' glass, so that it doesn't get mixed up with other glasses.
Two benefits:
1. Since the same glass is used, lesser glasses to be washed throughout the day. So saving water that would otherwise be used for washing multiple glasses.
2. If one is unable to have a glassful of water in one go, next time u wanna take a sip, u shall consume d water left in your glass. So, a few drops saved this way. 'Cause every drop counts!!

Mehakdeep from Strawberry Fields World School submitted the following poem along with the pledge to save water:
I take a pledge today
to conserve water everyday.

Whatever it takes
I know a huge difference it makes.

A tiny drop is very precious indeed
because water will always be in need.

I will take many steps to conserve water
as the lakes become shorter and shorter.

It is a challenging task for every nation
to leave no one with dehydration.

I promise to do my part
and educate people about this even if they are miles apart.

I take a pledge today
to conserve water everyday.

Latest Cauvery Story
: This story was submitted by Naga Chokkanathan
Recently we visited Srirangapatna and River Cauvery was very near. We went and had a ride in a "Parisal" (Big Circular Boats).

The trip was pretty ordinary, till the boatman decided to take us to a very small island there, It was so small that you can stand there feeling as if you are in the middle of the river, But still your legs are not wet. Our daughter thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then the boatman asked, 'Give me your camera, I will take a picture of you in this island'

I gave it to him immediately, But had a thought, Will he return the camera properly? Or is it a trick to steal the camera? What if he goes away with the camera? Will we be standing here all alone with nobody to take us back to main land?

Thankfully, nothing of that sort happened and the boatman returned the Camera to us. Then I thought how foolish of me, these people who live because of this river, will be respecting it as a god and won't be stealing right in the middle of it!

One of the books we are launching this year is 'Cauvery'. 'Cauvery' is a 44-page visual treat. The glory of the river Cauvery is highlighted with stunning photographs by Clare Arni. Oriole Henry’s text captures all the myths and stories of a river that feeds thousands of fields in southern India.

On the occasion of the launch event of the children’s book "Cauvery", Pratham Books invites you to cherish the journey of our great rivers and do your bit towards water conservation.

To coincide with the launch of the book, we are running two contests- 'Tip a Tip Contest' and 'Your Own Cauvery Story'. Participate in these contests and stand a chance to win a bucket full of books!

Click here to tell your Cauvery story and share your tips on water conservation!

We will continue to update this space as and when we get new tips and stories...Scroll down to see the water conservation tips and read people's 'Cauvery' stories...

As an example, our brand manager Purvi Shah shares her Cauvery story with us :
Last year we went for a holiday to Coorg and for the first time my 85 year old grandfather came from mumbai. He was very particular that besides seeing all the other tourist attractions he definitely wanted to go to "TAL CAUVERY" and see where the great Cauvery river starts from. We advised him against the same since it was really far from our home-stay but he was adamant and we did the trip. Needless to say it was a very beautiful and spiritual experience for all - to see the small beginning that eventually takes a big shape in the form of a river!
Our first water tip comes from Talluah Dsilva :
A simple garden tip. Line your potted plants or planters or plant beds with coconut husk. Even dry leaf litter will do. This helps in retaining the moisture content thereby helping in water conservation.
11 year old Sriram who visited the our Bangalore office shared the following water tip:
"When it rains you can collect the water and use it for washing dishes, watering our gardens."

Bhavna says,
The water left in the school drinking water bottle must be used to water a plant instead of wasting by throwing it into the sink and down into the drain
Preethi shares some of her tips,
1. I have seen many people with the habit of brushing the teeth with the tap open until they finish brushing. Instead they can just on the tap as and when needed for usage.
2. Also bathing is shower consumes more water than using a bucket and a mug. So it is always best to take bath using a bucket full of water rather than standing in the pleasure of the shower and wasting lots of water.
3. Rain water can be collected and used for several household purposes as below:
a) we can use it for watering atleast few plants in the garden
b) use if for washing clothes (especially white shirts/dresses)
c) washing vessels if really more buckets of water are collected
d) cleaning/mobbing the floor at home.
Saving one bucket of water per day per home might make a great difference tomorrow.
Sapna says,
Using water level indicator in the house helps us save water overflowing every time your overtank is filled. Saves water and saves trouble from neighbours! Google to find how to make simple water level indicators. In case you dont want, ensure you reuse this water for the plants in your house or the neighbours.
Rohith's suggestion...
By making use of grey water for flushing. The water that fills the flush tank in the toilet today can be used for washing hands before it goes into the flush tank. Make the pipe come out instead of going into the tank, such that your tank lid acts as a sink and u can wash ur hands, the water then drains down the hole in the lid to the tank.

Jetpack for Learning Design Challenge

For this Design Challenge we are looking for innovative Firefox add-ons that turn the open Web into a rich learning environment.
Add-ons empower millions of Firefox users to personalize their browser's form and function. Mozilla Labs recently launched Jetpack, an easier and faster way to extend the Firefox web-browser. It enables you to bolt on new features or change the user interface without having to get involved in complex Firefox software development.
We are looking for designers, educators, and software developers who want to use Jetpack (or other Firefox add-on technologies) to unlock new opportunities for digital learning. You don't need to be a computer geek, but participants are expected to implement their ideas as Firefox add-ons, which will require writing some software code.
Send us your ideas for Firefox add-ons, preferably ones created with Jetpack, that can turn the web-browser into a platform for rich personal learning.
The Jetpack for Learning Design Challenge is divided into three phases: the submission period for mockups that runs until midnight (US Pacific Time) on 27 November, an online course during December 2009 and January 2010, and a face-to-face design camp in March 2010, immediately prior to SXSW Interactive.
Participation is open to individuals and teams, but we especially encourage submissions from inter-disciplinary groups (designers, educators, and software developers). If you don't have a team of collaborators and would like to work with other people on your submission, check out the informal team formation page on the Jetpack for Learning Design Challenge wiki.
During the first phase of the Jetpack for Learning Design Challenge we ask you to produce a concept, mockup and an explanation of your thinking behind it. A mockup can be anything from a low-fi sketch on a napkin to a high-fi video presenting your concept.
Read more about the challenge here.

Image Source

Mike Stilkey's Library of Painted Books

What does Mike Stilkey, an artist, do with his books? He paints all over them!

Via The New Yorker
His work on stacked spines and covers reworks books into a beautiful, albeit unreadable, library. I asked him a few questions:

What’s the ratio of books-for-painting to books-for-reading in your

That’s a good question. I have collected many books over the years, and combined with my wife’s library. We have a pretty impressive selection of reading material. I would estimate that at this point in time, I have gotten my hands on about five hundred discarded books—these are what I use to paint on. Occasionally this number will be in the thousands, depending on the size and scope of whatever installation I’m creating.

How do you choose which books to use for a particular painting?

I consider several aspects of the book when I’m selecting for a painting. One factor is the color of the book cover, another is the material of the cover, and a third is the title of the book and how this relates to the narrative of the piece.

Read more here.

Why did you choose to paint on books? It seems like it would have been a challenge to go from working on paper to painting on something so dimensional. What was that transition like?

It was sort of an accident. I was painting on book pages for forever, and actually published a book in 2005 titled "100 Portraits" in which I drew one hundred portraits on old book pages. At the time, I was drawing on books, records or anything else I could find at a thrift store. Eventually, I started drawing on the books themselves. I was going to do a project where I just drew on the covers of the books, and as I finished them I would stack them against the wall. It dawned on me that it might be a good idea to paint down the spines of the books instead of just on the covers.

Read more and view pictures here.

Image Source

Children's Book Fair at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

We have already blogged about this event at the beginning of the month, but a quick reminder for those who may have missed it.

Pratham Books is participating in the Children's Book Fair being helf at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in Delhi.
This year, being 120th birth anniversary of Nehru, a month long program has been planned. As part of this, a book fair is being organized. The centre is also starting a children’s library. This is being done in an attempt to get children into reading meaningful relevant literature and to appreciate that as a way of learning about history, culture and self growth. The library for children would also be inaugurated at the time of the Book Fair.
The book fair will also be marked by a range activities related to reading and writing like story telling and making, theatre, music etc.
Venue: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murthi Bhavan, New Delhi
Date: 27th -29th November, 2009
Timings: 10am - 4pm

Aviva Young Scholar Bookaroo Festival - Children’s Literature Festival 2009

It is that time of the year again.... It is Bookaroo time!!! For those of you who have been following our blog for some time, you may remember the posts we had on the Bookaroo festival last year (If not, here goes : 1, 2, 3, 4).

Via Bookaroo
Bookaroo promotes book related events working in tandem with internationally renowned writers, illustrators, story tellers, theatre people, publishers, editors and schools.

The second Bookaroo festival of children’s literature will take place in the last week of November and will be an annual event for the children and booklovers of the NCR region of Delhi.
The venue for the festival is Sanskriti Anand Gram and there are sooooooooooooooooo many events happening at the festival. Keep the 28th and 29th of November free for your kids and yourself and travel to the land of books and magic at the Aviva Young Scholar Bookaroo Festival.

The events Pratham Books is conducting on 29th November 2009 include:

12.00 - 12.45 The Emperor's New Clothes Swagata Sen Pillai (Hindi)
Listen to this old favourite in a new avatar in Hindi verse.
Ages 8-12 Think Tank

12.30 -13.00 Fun with Samira Bharti Jagannathan
What will Samira get up to next?
Ages 4-6 Banyan Tree

13.30 - 14.30 Meet the Phantom of the Snows Pranav Trivedi (Hindi/English)
Pre-registration required
The elusive and beautiful snow leopard's story lures you into a wild and snowy mountain world where man and beast must learn to live in harmony.
Ages 11-14 The Workshop

More details on the festival can be found here.

Image Source

Charter for Compassion

Via Charter for Compassion

The Charter for Compassion is the result of Karen Armstrong’s 2008 TED Prize wish and made possible by the generous support of the Fetzer Institute.

The Charter of Compassion is a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the center of religious, moral and political life. Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, and lies at the heart of all religious and ethical systems. One of the most urgent tasks of our generation is to build a global community where men and women of all races, nations and ideologies can live together in peace. In our globalized world, everybody has become our neighbor, and the Golden Rule has become an urgent necessity.

The Charter, crafted by people all over the world and drafted by a multi-fath, multi-national council of thinkers and leaders, seeks to change the conversation so that compassion becomes a key word in public and private discourse, making it clear that any ideology that breeds hatred or contempt ~ be it religious or secular ~ has failed the test of our time. It is not simply a statement of principle; it is above all a summons to creative, practical and sustained action to meet the political, moral, religious, social and cultural problems of our time.

We invite each of you to adopt the charter as your own, to make a lifelong commitment to live with compassion..
The charter invites people to 'restore not only compassionate thinking but compassionate action' too. Explore the stories of compassion or add your stories and experiences of compassion. A few examples of acts of compassion:

"My junior school showed great compassion for a man named Roy who was severely mentally handicapped. He had Down's syndrome, wore a leg brace and rode a motorless scooter. The school allowed him to visit classrooms and play his harmonica for us. This gave him obvious pleasure and we cheered him on" - John Pugh

As we close a decade marked by war, help us usher in a decade focused on compassion.

The names of all affirmers on December 31 will be sent along with the Charter for Compassion to 5 world leaders whose countries are engaged in conflict.

Add your name today. Share the Charter with your networks.
Over 21,000+ people have affirmed the charter already. Read more about the Charter for Compassion and join the movement!

Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year 2009

Via OUPblog
Every year the New Oxford American Dictionary prepares for the holidays by making its biggest announcement of the year. This announcement is usually applauded by some and derided by others and the ongoing conversation it sparks is always a lot of fun, so I encourage you to let us know what you think in the comments.

Without further ado, the 2009 Word of the Year is: unfriend.

unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

As in, “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” notes Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program. “In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year. Most “un-” prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar “un-” verbs (uncap, unpack), but “unfriend” is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of “friend” that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!). Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”

Some of the other words which were considered include hashtag, intexticated, funemployed, birther, ecotown, deleb, etc. Read more here.

The word 'unfriend' may be Oxford's word of the year, but the word doesn't apply to how the year 2009 has been for us at Pratham Books. This year has been spectacular for us and we have made several friends across networks who help us further our mission, enjoy a chat with us, are constantly encouraging us to do our best.

Thank you all for being our friend and not unfriending us :)

Image Source : Roger Smith

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A British and South African Perspective on Our Books - Part 3

Our hardworking interns Naomi and Amani have become master reviewers during their internship with us. They have actually managed to review 170 of our books. Yes, yes... you read that right.. 170 titles! Phew!! So, we decided to share their perspectives (Naomi's British perspective and Amani's South African perspective) on our books.

The book being reviewed today is - Symbiosis

Naomi says...
“Symbiosis” is interesting as it is fundamentally just an explanation of what “Symbiosis” is : “Animals helping each other.” However the book puts this explanation into context, creating a story around it so that it is not clear that this is what the book’s purpose is until the final page. The reason that this is so effective lies in the title, naming the book “Symbiosis”, a word that most children and adults will not be familiar with, immediately creates interest and keeps the reader engaged, as they will be keen to know why a book about
“Zippy the Zebra” has such an unusual title.

The story itself is very simple- Zippy is irritated by the itchy fleas on his back and repeatedly tries, in vain, to get them off. He has just about given up when he notices two birds, Pick and Peck, and they happily volunteer to eat up what they consider to be “a splendid meal.” This is an alternate way to communicate to children the common phrase “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”, i.e. just because you like/dislike something doesn’t mean that everyone else feels the same.

Although this story is set in Africa this is a message that rings true all over the world, and is a relevant message to all children. However what children may enjoy most about this book is the feeling that they are learning a little bit about Africa. Referring to “a baobab tree” and grassland as “savannah”, although perhaps unfamiliar words with children in India and the UK and elsewhere, adds to the authenticity of the book. However what I believe is the highlight of the book and what contributes most towards the book’s “African feel”, are the illustrations. These are done using watercolours and are of blurry backdrops which are brightly coloured but not detailed, teamed with clear, detailed images of Zippy the Zebra, and later the birds too. These illustrations add a lot to the overall enjoyment of the book and are what may first attract children to “Symbiosis.” I believe that just as all these elements make the book fun and appealing to children in India, they will be equally attractive to children in Britain, who will also appreciate the subtle moral message, learning about what “Symbiosis” is, the beautiful illustrations and most of all the general feeling of reading about Africa.
Amani's view of the book was as follows...
A simplistic tale about how a zebra finds friends and how they help him with his pain. On an educational level, it shows the process of symbiosis. It is a well planed title because it’s a word that is clearly defined by the interpretations of the story. Though it may seem apparent to viewers as being tough for younger age groups, it is clearly and creatively shown within the context of the story.

The story is very coherent to South Africans as there are many animals, including Zebras, birds and fleas, mentioned in the story. The book adds a more African approach to illustrations, images and figures used. The story though simple conveys its message and shows the protagonist Zebra anguishing with pain and being relieved from it by a simple matter of finding friends. Thus, making the Zebra more lovable to the reader.

The language is simple yet entertaining, emphasizing on words that describe pain such as “ He even tried thumping all four legs at once!” Overall, it is very simple yet allows the interpretation of the story to fit well with the process of symbiosis. Due to its simplistic manner there where no grammatical errors.

The characters have an almost animated or “cartoony” look to them, which show their playfulness to the younger children.

Within a cultural context, a lot of images and relations contribute to the African feel. Words such as “African Savannah” give it that African ambience. A great book that holds good educational meaning.
*Symbiosis is a book published by Orient Longman. Pratham Books and Orient Longman are joint publishers for the language issues of this book.

Read Amani and Naomi's first review and second review of some of our other books. If you have read the book and wish to share your review, please email us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org or leave a message in the comments.

Science Express Comes to Karnataka

Via The Hindu

The Science Express, which has been attracting a large number of people including students across the country, will enter Karnataka on Thursday.

The train, which is an innovative science exhibition on rails, will enter the State at Belgaum, where it will stay from Thursday to Sunday. It will halt at Hubli Railway Station on December 4 and 5 and move on to Bellary — December 6 to 9. It will be in Bangalore (Cantonment Station) from December 10 to 14, in Mysore from December 15 to 18 and in Udupi from December 20 to 22.

According to a press release here on Monday, the mobile exhibition, which was flagged off by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on October 30, consists of 16 air-conditioned coaches with 300 exhibits, 150 films and multimedia presentations. The focus is on spreading awareness on the “challenges of sustainable development” and “new sources of energy”.

The exhibition will be more helpful to those studying in ninth standard and above. There is no entry fee for the exhibition, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : mirandaceleste

Choose a Book. Change a Life.

At Pratham Books we all agree that books change lives! We were happy to find out about Books for Asia - an organization which has been 'committed to empowering children with literacy, creating opportunities for higher learning, and educating future leaders in 18 countries, from Afghanistan to Vietnam, for 55 years'.

Earlier this year, Books for Asia invited people to vote for their favourite book from a selection of storybooks. Once the voting ended, the storybook that received the most number of votes was 'Oh the Places You'll Go'
by Dr. Seuss and this book was given to each of the children of Morwakee School in Thailand. The following video documents the journey of the books to the kids in the Morwakee School.

On November 23rd, YOU CAN HELP CHOOSE A BOOK for kids in Bangaladesh.

Via In Asia
In Bangladesh’s ancient capital, along the banks of the Meghna River, two groups of formerly nomadic people have settled. They have survived for decades without electricity, basic services, or access to schools. One made home on the small island of Mayadip in the early 1980s, after massive flooding in the south displaced them, and they rely on the river’s catch of fish. The other still dwells aboard traditional boats along the river, in Sonargoan village, going ashore only to sell wares. A local NGO has recently begun providing schooling to these forgotten people – and Books for Asia is helping out. Each child at the two new schools were given a book of their choosing – a rare, and now prized, possession. View a slideshow of life along the Meghna, and the children in class with their new books.

Check back on November 23 to vote for your favorite book again for these students in Bangladesh.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What children can do!

Given the right support, every child has the potential to effect change. Education is a basic right of every child according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The document was adopted 20 years ago, and to celebrate this convention the Concerned for Working Children (CWC) showed an excellent documentary called 'Makkala Grama Swaraj'. Produced by CWC and Antonia Hungerland, the film documents the rise and truimph of the makkala panchayats (children's councils) in Kundapur Taluk in coastal Karnataka.

The film shows how duly-elected children of the grama panchayats draw up plans and present them to the local governing bodies. Their detailed presentations regarding the issues and problems related to education, basic facilities, personal problems, gender discrimination, disability and child labour have resulted in several positive outputs like the building of a bridge across a river. The whole exercise of selecting child members, electing them and running the panchayats is an excellent live lesson to all the children in the area, far more effective than any lesson in a classroom.

Children have clearly demonstrated how they can use political space to negotiate with the local governments and influence decision-making processes. Several adults who have interacted closely with children, as well as those who are well aware of the children’s process, such as former Planning Commission member L. C. Jain share their reflections in the film.
CWC has played an instrumental role in capacity building for both adults and children. This has resulted in children involved with the Makkala Panchayats becoming increasingly equipped with the means to deal with local government structures.
The film screening was done with the help of Maraa, a media collective based in Bangalore. Maraa is dedicated to reclaim media space for communities, and address, both issues of social justice, as well as creative expression. The film screening happened at a unique place called Jaaga, a creative common ground. Jaaga is a community space created to serve the arts, technology and social change communities in Bangalore.

The film inspires on all levels. It shows that children are capable of a lot more than we think they are capable of. That local governments do work. That there are NGOs like CWC and collectives like Jaaga and Maraa that believe in collective intelligence and in the advantage of Creative Commons.

Schools, organisations, colleges can contact CWC and ask for a free screening of the 55-minute film. Though the film is in Kannada, even those who cannot understand Kannada can follow the film. With some funding, CWC is ready to insert English sub-titles too.

Cartoons add fun to Bangalore Book Fair

It rained, it poured and roads got jammed, but that did not deter Bangaloreans from coming to the recently concluded Bangalore Book Fair 2009 at the Palace Grounds. Publishers and booksellers had put up over 300 book stalls, and most of them got excellent foot falls during the 10-day fair.

It was wonderful to have visitors at our stall, Stall No.199. And what made us even more happy was the fact that there were more hundreds of people milling at book stalls than at the food counters! This is not to say that the food at the stalls was bad, only that more people seemed to prefer to feast on books!

Pratham Books had two events during the Bangalore Book Fair. On November 8, we had a 'Happy Maths' session where children made friends with numbers. We threw paper balls, learnt to use our fingers to do multiplication tables, read out the story about the slow horse race from the 'Happy Maths' series of books, and more. Between trying to wrest the mike from a little girl who got attached to my mike, and trying not to stumble over a 19-month old child who managed to dance all over the stage, we did manage to have Sum Fun. At the end of the show I asked the kids, “Hope you all had some fun?” Imagine our plight when the mike-loving girl said clearly into the mike, “NO, I did not have some fun, (our hearts stopped)...I had lots of fun.” Whew!!

On November 14, Children's Day, architect and teacher Arun Swaminathan engaged children in a cartooning session. He drew characters from our recent books, 'Yakkity Yak', and 'Manee Myaw' and showed how children could make up characters easily. We had an impromptu naming session: children had to give a funny name to the yak. Soundarya got a prize for naming our yak Yak-chik, Kshitij won the lucky dip prize, and little Atharv got the prize for showing amazing promise as an artist. Thank you, Arun! Chocolates and sweets on the house when you drop into our office next!

Thanks to all the people who came to our stall, and to all the children who participated in the two events. And a big thanks to all those who bought books. And an even bigger thanks to those who gave us suggestions on topics for books and on how to improve our work! We're all in this together, you know....the mission to put a book in every child's hand!You can see all the pictures here.

Beyond Math Lab - Workshops, Demonstration and Exhibition

Concrete materials continue to be a cornerstone of primary mathematics teaching.

Jodo Gyan has been involved with developing activities and curriculum to make mathematics understandable. We have developed a range of mathlab materials over the last ten years.

Jodo Gyan is conducting a detailed exhibition of these and other mathlab material in December.This would be accompanied by workshops on the activities to be done in the classroom.

Programme : Beyond Mathlab

Venue : Jodo Gyan Resource Centre, Jia Sarai,

Near IIT Gate,New Delhi - 110016

Date : 8 December - 18 December 2009

Timings : 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Contact Details: 011-27100104 , 9310076613, 9873084472
View the invite here.

The Fiction Project

The Brooklyn Art Library is conducting the first ever Art House literary project.

Via art house co-op
This project is a sister project to The Sketchbook Project. The Fiction Project sets its sights on literature and creating a narrative book that fuses writing with art.

Each book submitted will be housed at the Brooklyn Art Library in Red Hook.

The only rules are that your book must be 51% writing based, the journal we send you is used in some way, and that it stays the same size when closed (5.5x8.5 inches). We encourage mixing writing with art.

When you sign up, your book will be randomly assigned a theme. This is just a guideline to give you a gentle push in a direction. You are by no means absolutely bounded to this theme. You can even be as loose as using words from the theme in your story.

After you sign up to participate in the project, we'll mail you a package containing a lined Moleskine sketchbook with a barcode on it, a randomly picked theme to create your book around, and detailed instructions about the project.

Entry fee is $18 for a United States shipping address and $21 if it is shipped over seas.
If you are interested in participating in this project, you have to sign up by 15th February, 2009. Read more about the project here.

Image Source: artbwf (Image from the moleskin Sketchbook project)

The Koel's Song - A Book Written by Adivasi Children

Via InfoChange India

It’s a slim storybook for children, but what’s unique about it is that the stories in it are not written for children, but by children. Called Kokiler Banshir Sur in Bengali (roughly translated that would be Songs from the Koel’s Flute), the stories in this book are short and sweet. The illustrations too are done by the children.

Kokiler Banshir Sur comes out of a literacy project by the Uttar Chandipur Community Society, called Suchana. Gradually, this non-formal school in Uttar Chandipur, about 6 km from Shantiniketan, in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, took on a life of its own. It presently caters to the education and health needs of around 150 children, aged between four and 13, from six villages in the region.

Somnath Dolui, who was one of the three main resourcepersons for the creative writing classes every Wednesday for about three months, guided the children through the entire writing process. He said: “In stories, everyone talks -- the sky, birds, rivers.” He told them to write about anything. To bank on their own impressions, members of their family, their experiences. And to try and come up with a funny ending. That’s all the instructions he gave. This freedom resulted in a riot of imaginative, original stories.

To get the children to think independently and write their own stories, Somnath had to be a storyteller himself, first. He drew on his own repertoire of stories and books from the Suchana library.

Sometimes the teachers gave them story-starters, and sometimes they started with a discussion on a recent event or a day they had enjoyed. They were then asked to write about it. Each had an exercise book in which to write their stories; some had five or six. From this pool the best stories were selected and finally voted to become part of the book. It took a year for the book to be printed, but the anticipation of a book in print kept the children enthused right from the start.

Children who attend the early learning group (ELG) classes at Suchana are mostly from adivasi or tribal communities. About 77% of them belong to the Kora and Santhal communities and are largely children of peasants and fishermen. Needless to add, most of the children’s parents have had little or no formal education. So even if the parents desire an education for their children -- something they never had due to lack of opportunities -- poor accessibility and poverty keep children out of government schools in the area.

The stories in the book reflect this proximity with nature. Take, for example, Pooja Hazra’s delightful story about three ants which records the conversation between three ants on their colour -- black, brown and red. The red ant says it is red because it sucks human blood; the black says it is covered in soot; the white ant got its colour by dabbing on powder every day!

Kokiler Banshir Sur is priced at a modest Rs 50.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source

(Thanks for sending us a mail about this article Chintan!)

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...

The Beautiful Tree-A Personal Journey into How the world’s Poorest People are Educating Themselves" was launched on 11 November 2009. The book "is a journey that begins in India and takes the reader to East Asia and Africa, to learn of the efforts of poor communities in education . While doing so, one discovers competent, committed entrepreneurs who have started schools catering to slum children. Through the book, the author recounts the stories of engaged teachers, passionate entrepreneurs and teaching models working together to ensure that students are engaged and learning."

Lisa Dempster, an independent author, shares her views on why she chose to license her book 'Neon Pilgrim' under a Creative Commons license. Our interns, Amani and Naomi, review the book 'A Man Called Bapu' from an African and British perspective. 'Learning Curve' is a newsletter by the Azim Premji Foundation and the October issue focuses on language learning. On 26th and 27th November, 2009 , a seminar and workshop on 'Bringing Books and Children Together' is being held in New Delhi.

Our Bangalore office has a new visitor- Paper Preeti. This Paper Preeti was sent to us by 12 year old Shivani from Garahara village in UP. Read more about her here. Our other friend, Grape (the yak) learns about the organization Toybank.

The deadline for the Katha Chitrakala 2009 Award has been extended to 14th January, 2010.

One World South Asia airs a radio programme called 'Ek Dunia Ek Avaz' on AIR FM every Wednesday between 4.30 and 5.00pm. The main focus of the show is to cover various social issues. Last week's programme was on 'volunteers involved at the community level in the field of education'.

We leave you with the awesome TEDIndia talk given by Pranav Mistry on the thrilling potential of SixthSense technology.

Image Source : B e r n i ✮

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Grape Learns about Toybank

During Grape's stay with us, Grape has done quite a lot- witnessed the Bangalore Book Fair, attended a TED after-party at Bangalore, met Akshara Foundation's awesome library team and more. As Grape is a tiny little yak toy herself, she wondered if kids from lower income families had access to toys too. So, after seating Grape in a nice little shikara on Dal lake, I proceeded to share a story about an organization called Toybank!
If you asked the weatherman in Belur the weather forecast for 6th September, 2009, he would have told you that there was rain in store for this temple town. He wasn’t entirely wrong…. And here is why….

A slightly cold and wet day marked the day that the Bangalore chapter of Toybank was embarking on its first toy distribution drive in rural Karnataka. With a bunch of three enthusiastic and energetic teachers to greet the 9 of us, we couldn’t help but feel excited. As we drove down the narrow roads surrounded by lush greenery on each side, we learnt that nobody had ever visited this small little school in Siddarahalli before. As the bus got closer to the school, one could see kids running to school in their bright blue uniforms. Bright eyes, smiling eyes, inquisitive eyes, questioning eyes, shy eyes …all wondering who these nine new people were. After a quick round of discussions with the extremely enthusiastic and passionate bunch of teachers and with no time to waste, the event had begun...

Rows of children lined up according to their classes and the leader of the group )the boy who was voted as the chief minister of the school) gave them the ‘savadhan’ and ‘vishram’ commands. That moment seemed like the apt moment to unveil the new possession their school had received… the brand new shiny parade drum. The plastic was pulled off, the stand put in place and the stick to beat the drum was handed over to the student leader. His eyes shone with pride, while the other children eyed this drum. Encouraged by the teachers, he struck the drum once… BANG… some of the children shut their ears, some looked puzzled, some a little scared. He hit it a few more times…but the faces of the children still registered looks of bewilderment. The drum had no context currently. So, the teacher asked the leader to go about his regular routine of giving commands for exercises and after a few rounds of exercise, he asked the leader to give the commands through the drum beat. Ah ha! The drum now had been placed into a context. The bewildered faces now smiled when they connected the dots and realized what the drum was for. And this drum was now theirs!
But all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. And thus began the game sessions. With some explanation and some trial sessions, the games elicited many giggles and a lot of laughter. When the young ones were playing, the older ones still wanted to be part of it by being spectators. When the elders started to play, the younger ones demonstrated their vocal talents by singing as loud as they could and reciting all the nursery rhymes they knew. Games made up on the spur of the moment to cater to the energy that all of them had…Phew!

Then, mixed groups of children were formed and whisked away to different corners to be given a bright bunch of sketch pens and crayons to colour sheets with cartoon characters on them. Kids shared the common bunch of colours they had, bargained and booked for colours and even suggested colour combinations to each other. Multi-hued fishes, a mickey mouse with a blue tongue, a boy with a yellow leg and a green leg – old cartoon characters now had new avatars!

And then… ta daaaa… it was time for the goodies. After all who comes to school on a Sunday if there isn’t a good enough reason eh?

And there was reason enough…

Pencils, erasers, sharpeners, pens, scales and crayons found their way into the hands of these lovely children. But, wait.. what were those mysterious bags sitting in the middle of the school ground? Wrapped and hidden from their inquisitive eyes, they wondered what the bags contained. And then each approached the bag and picked out a mysterious package from it. When they finally got to open the package, what did they find? Toys!!! Each different from the other. Nobody had a toy just like theirs. And they each had a toy. Even the mentally challenged boy who came to their school occasionally had a bright red car. Even the cook who lovingly cooked a sumptuous meal for them every day had something to take back for her son.

So, you may be wondering what the weatherman had to do with any of this. He did mention some rain… and rain there was! A rain of gifts. He forgot to mention the flood of smiles and happiness that ensued after that though. And he certainly forgot to mention the rainbow that appears after the rain. A rainbow of hope and colour.. not only for the children, but also for the volunteers at the event.. of things to come.. of things to do… and things to happen!
Thus, Grape learnt about Toybank - a non-profit organization has been set up with the aim of providing toys to children and with a vision to work towards a world where all children have a happy and healthy childhood. Learn how you can donate toys or volunteer and take a look at the photos from the event too.