Tuesday, June 30, 2009

मराठी असे आमची मायबोली...

हा माझा ब्लॉग लिहिण्याचा पहिला प्रयत्न आहे... म्हणजे मराठी लिपीतील (देवनागरी) ब्लॉग. म्हणूनच म्हटलं थोडं मराठीबद्दलच लिहावे.

मराठी भाषा अतिशय लवचिक आहे. एका शब्दाचे अनेक अर्थ आहेत आणि एकाच अर्थाचे अनेक शब्द आहेत. यामुळेच मराठी भाषा समृद्ध झाली आहे.

मराठी भाषा सर्व महाराष्ट्राची जरी एक असली तरी ती दर बारा कोसावर बदलते. लेखी भाषा तीच असली तरी बोलीभाषेत फरक होतो. तिचे हेल वेगळे होतात. मराठीत अनेक पोटभाषा आहेत. जळगाव, धुळे आणि नाशिक येथे अहिराणी, पूर्व खानादेशाता खानदेशी, विदर्भात वऱ्हाडी किंवा विदर्भी, कोकणात कोकणी तर गोव्यात कोंकणी भाषा बोलली जाते. पराभी, कोळी, किरिस्ताव, कुणबी, आग्री, ठाकरी, बाणकोटी, मावळी, मालवणी, अशा अनेक भाषा कोकणी भाषेत येतात. नायगाव, वसई, डहाणू भागात वडवली बोलली जाते. नालासोपारा आणि विरार भागांत सामवेदी बोलली जाते. दक्षिण भारतात तंजावर मराठी, नामदेव मराठी आणि भावसार मराठी बोलली जाते. महाराष्ट्र-गुजरात सीमेवर डांगी भाषा बोलली जाते.

अशी ही मराठी भाषा नुसती भारतातच नव्हे तर मौरिशस आणि इस्रायल मध्येही बोलली जाते!

आता गंमत अशी आहे की ही भाषा दर पंचवीस किलोमीटरवर वेगळी भासते. आपण कोल्हापुरला गेलो तर तिथे मराठी भाषा खणखणीत, स्पष्ट आणि नेमकी वर्मावर बोट ठेवणारी! तिथल्या स्त्रियाही म्हणतात, "आम्ही आलो! आम्ही जातो, मी जातो!" साताऱ्याला भाषा थोडी नरम होते. लंवगी मिरचीचा झटका जाऊन साताऱ्याच्या तंबाखूची गुंगी त्यात डोकावते. तरी पण "लई" "चिक्कार" `आयला' वगैरे म्हणजे खास सातारी ढंग! कोकणात हीच मराठी अगदी मऊ होते.

मराठी भाषेचा उगम संस्कृतपासून तर तिचे व्याकरण आणि वाक्य रचना प्राकृत आणि पालीपासून तयार झाले आहे.

काळ बदलला तसे मराठी भाषेत अनेक बदल झाले आहेत. मराठी भाषेत अरबी, फारशी, कानडी, हिंदी, इंग्रजी अशा अनेक भाषांतले शब्द आले आहेत.

आज इंग्रजीला फार महत्त्व आहे. यात कोणाला दोष द्यायचा? कारण महाविद्यालयीन आणि उच्च शिक्षण सर्व इंग्रजीतून होते. पदव्या मिळवून तरुण मंडळी परदेशात उच्च शिक्षणासाठी जातात. तिथे इंग्रजी भाषाच बोलावी लिहावी लागते. असो. पण म्हणून आपण आपल्या मातृभाषेला विसरून जायचे का? परभाषा जरी अवगत झाली तरी आपल्या मराठीला विसरु नका. प्रत्येक मराठी माणसाला मराठी भाषा बोलता, लिहिता-वाचता आली पाहिजे. आपल्या मराठीतसुद्धा खूप विषयांवर लेखन झाले आहे. शास्त्र-विज्ञान, ललित साहित्य खूप आहे. त्याचा उपयोग करू या, आपल्या ज्ञानात वाढ करू या! म्हणून मराठीत फक्त बोलू नका तर लिहूनही ही भाषा आणखी समृद्ध करा.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rewind. Recap.

Last week, our colleague Sampurna Murti wrote a short piece on the importance of reading books, getting kids to read and the work that we do. Our guest blogger Dhwani Yagnaraman wrote about her Skype sessions with fourth and second graders from Central Manor, Pennsylvania. We also put up a set of our Creative Commons licensed illustrations on our Flickr account. We also conducted a storytelling and puppet making workshop this Saturday. Stay tuned for pictures and news from the event. Cathy from Anorak magazines sent us two big packages of their beautiful magazines to share with kids from the Akshara community libraries.

26th June saw the release of two books for kids published by Lama Mani books. The books are part of a project that marks 50 years of Tibetans in exile. The Kannada Book Authority (KBA) is planning to bring out Kannada literary classics in the Braille format. Pearson Education and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is bringing out a children's book series on climate change. Karmayog has started the "Donate books, Receive Books" campaign to enable any person from across the country to connect with and donate books to any public library, school, college, hospital, NGO, Trust, etc.

Rajshri Media launched 4 regional content video websites and became India's No.1 YouTube channel. Meanwhile, Wikipedia has plans of adding video options to articles.

We leave you with Wordnik - the revolutionary online dictionary.

Image Source: Dakimapics

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pratham Books Presents a Storytelling and Puppet Making Workshop

For those of you in Bangalore, bring your kids to a fun storytelling and puppet making workshop being held at Crossword on Residency Road this Saturday. Please click on the poster above to read details about the workshop. See you there!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wikipedia to Add Video Options to Articles

Via Mashable
Wikipedia is a great knowledge base, containing tons of text and lots of photos, but it’s lacking when it comes to videos, which are, well, quite scarce. This is all going to change in a couple of months, as Wikipedia has big plans for video; both in the sense of having more videos on the site, and letting contributors edit and annotate the actual videos.

According to MIT’s Technology Review, this should happen within two or three months. Wikipedia editors will get a new option, Add Media, which will let them search for videos, and insert portions of the video (via a simple drag and drop interface) into the article. Further plans include annotating the actual videos, and editing as well as reorganizing Wikipedia’s video collection – similar to what is now done with Wikipedia’s articles.
Read about where Wikipedia plans to get the videos from and how users can contribute.

Image Source

Lama Mani Books - Launch of Two Books for Kids

Aravinda wrote in to inform us about the 3-day multimedia exhibition taking place between 26th-28th June, 2009. The exhibition is taking place at 1shanthi road and is being organized by Think Tibet which is working on a project that marks 50 years of Tibetans in exile.


Lama Mani Books was started as a tribute to the story tellers of yore. Their first two books are part of a series called Meyul - which is the opposite of homeland - a place that is not one's home. There are two titles -
  • Dorje's Holiday at the Gyenso Khang which is set in the old age home at Mundgod (the oldest old age home in exile)
  • Dolma Visits the City - which is set amongst the sweater sellers who come to Bangalore
The books have been illustrated by a Tibetan artist Chime Tashi and written by Aravinda A. There is some more information on the project here.

Update : There is a small change in the programme. The launch and release of the two titles is on the 26th and not on the 27th as mentioned in the poster.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Children Book Series on Climate Change

Isn't it supposed to be raining at this time of the year? The weather patterns have changed. During summer, fans hardly provide a respite from the increasing heat. Sigh, blame it on climate change! A new book series to teach kids about the perils of climate change is now available.

Via express buzz
Pachauri was speaking at the launch of "SOS: In Extreme Danger", an environment primer for children. The slim volume is part of a Save Planet series of 10 books, published by Pearson Education and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)."It is in the hands of the children to try to change their own lives towards greater protection of their environment and all our natural resources. This series is aimed at providing children with knowledge on what needs to be done in all these areas," Pachauri, the director-general of TERI, said.

"The reality of climate change poses a grave danger for the current generation and those to follow. They will have to bear the brunt of the impacts which are to take place. So children have an interest in seeing steps being taken to stabilize the earth's atmosphere and climate. It is important for children to understand the influence of human actions on the earth's climate and the measures that can be taken to control it."

Other titles in the "Save Planet" series are "Green Genuis Guide: What are Wind Power, Solar Power, Hydro-power and more", "How Come: How So", "The Amazing Journey of a Soda Can", "The Quickest Way to Increase Your Green Quotient", "Endangered Life on Land - Struggling to Survive", "Future Power Energy" , "Nature's Fury: Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tsunamis", "101 Facts: Renewable Energy" and "Reduce. Refuse. Recycle."
Read the entire article here. You can place an order for the book here.

Also read about Disgustingly Cool Books to introduce children to green ideas.

Image Source : rAmmoRRison

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dhwani Writes About Her Skype Sessions

12 year old Dhwani Yagnaraman is back to do some guest blogging for us (Her first post was a Mother's Day post). Dhwani had some Skype sessions with our friends at Central Manor, Pennsylvania last month and wrote in about her experience. You can also read Ms. Teresa Reisinger's account of Dhwani's session with a class of fourth graders.
When I was first asked to talk to some American students on Skype, I was very nervous. I had no idea what to say or do. Soon I started preparing. Then the time came. I was very excited although scared. I spoke to two classes- one 4th grade and the other 2nd grade. The 4th grade class first started with folk stories that they were doing in library and then went on to questions which they asked me. Soon we got to know each other and learnt a lot about the difference in our schools, lifestyle and almost everything. Then after a week I spoke to the 2nd grade class. Although younger, they asked me a lot of questions which I thought were very interesting. They read out some of the poems they wrote about Spring. Each one was very unique and different in their own way. I guess creative writing is one class which should be there all around the world and what Indian schools lack. The students were very curious in both classes and I guess we both benefited from the conversations by learning about each others lives. I hope to interact with them again and it was definitely a rare and unforgettable experience. My heartfelt gratitude to Maya, Teresa, my mom, and all the teachers and students involved for this amazing opportunity.
- Dhwani Yagnaraman

Wordnik -- The Revolutionary Online Dictionary

In 2007, Erin McKean gave a TED talk about changing what the dictionary means to us. Two years later, she launched Wordnik, a dictionary that evolves as language does.

Traditional dictionaries make you wait until they've found what they consider to be "enough" information about a word before they will show it to you. Wordnik knows you don't want to wait—if you're interested in a word, we're interested too!

Our goal is to show you as much information as possible, just as fast as we can find it, for every word in English, and to give you a place where you can make your own opinions about words known.

By "information," we don't just mean traditional definitions (although we have plenty of those)! This information could be:

  • An example sentence—even if we've only found one sentence for a word, we'll show it to you. (And we'll show you where the sentence came from, too!
  • Related words: not just synonyms and antonyms, but words that are used in the same contexts. (For instance, cheeseburger, milkshake, and doughnut are not synonyms, but they show up in the same kinds of sentences.)
  • Images tagged by our friends at Flickr: want to know what a "pout" looks like? We'll show you.
  • Statistics: how rare is "tintinnabulation"? Well, we think you'll see it only about once a year. "Smile"? You might see that word many times, every day.
  • An audio pronunciation—and you can record your own!
  • Something YOU tell us! Use the "Contribute" links to tell us something—anything—about a word.
On Wordnik, users can add new words and meanings, tag words with related expressions, see real-time search results for words from Twitter and Flickr, discover how many Scrabble points each word is worth -- all on one page.

It’s funny because it’s completely intuitive to dictionary editors. How can we show how a word is really used? The other day I tried to find out if “pants” was being used as a suffix and I found a tweet for “awesomepants.” Twitter is like overhearing people’s conversations, which is exactly what dictionary editors have been wishing we could do for years.

Flickr -- well, if you’ve looked at dictionary illustrations you know that they tend to be uninteresting, and so small. With Flickr, you get a lot of abstractions too. What dictionary would have pictures of “honor”? When you look “honor” up on Wordnik, you get pictures of women named Honor, which tells you that it’s also used as a proper noun. You also get images of flags and different symbols of the military. Now you can see what feelings words evoke.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Twitter used to invent new words. I’m more interested in seeing how people deepen and expand the network of words than seeing any words in particular. I really can’t wait to see what will happen with the tagging function. Already, if you look up the swine flu tag, you find words like “aporkalypse” and “hamdemic.” You would never find these in a regular dictionary! We’re trying to make the ephemeral more permanent. And, again, it’s less about the individual word and really about expanding how words are connected. After all, we don’t speak in one-word exchanges.
Read the entire article here and visit Wordnik.

Image Source: Leo Reynolds

Kannada Literary Classics to be Available in Braille Soon

More news on books being made accessible for visually challenged people...

Via express buzz
For, the Kannada Book Authority (KBA) is shortly bringing out works of great writers like Kuvempu, Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre, D V Gundappa, Kota Shivarama Karantha, Girish Karnad and G P Rajaratnam in Braille format.Books will be printed at the Government Printing Press for Braille in Mysore.The books to be printed are Kuvempu’s ‘Pakshikaashi’, ‘Chomanadudi’ of Shivarama Karantha, ‘Sakhigeetha’ of Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre, DVG’s ‘Mankutimmana Kagga’, ‘Tughlaq’ of Girish Karnad, ‘Rathnana Padagalu’ of G P Rajaratnam, ‘Mysore Mallige’ of K S Narasimhaswamy and 16 other books.

As many as 200 copies of each book will be printed,” he said.KBA will be distributing the books free of cost to district central libraries and Braille libraries.The books will also be available at affordable prices at leading book stores.
Read the entire article here.

Also read : Readable.in - An online library for the visually impaired and about the work we are trying to do to make our books more accessible for visually challenged kids.

Image Source : domi-san

More Creative Commons Licensed Illustrations on Our Flickr Account

We added some of our content under a Creative Commons license last week. Today, we added some more illustrations from our book 'The Moon and the Cap' to our Flickr account. We are eager to see what pops up when people start experimenting with these illustrations and creating their own stories.

You can see the two sets of illustrations here and here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

'Donate books, Receive Books' Campaign

We received an email from the people at Karmayog about the "Donate books, Receive Books" campaign:
An all-India campaign to "Donate books, Receive Books" has been started by Karmayog to enable any person from across the country to connect with and donate books to any public library, school, college, hospital, NGO, Trust, etc.

The campaign's aims are:

- establishing permanent, local linkages between people and organisations so that they can 'Donate Books, Receive Books' at any time in the future also

- making people realise that there are many people and organisations who can use and need the books, magazines, CDs, etc. that are lying unused in our homes and offices, or which we regularly sell off as raddi / waste paper

- Public libraries, reading rooms, old people's homes, public hospitals...are some examples of places where magazines, light reading material, etc. is always needed

- Children's homes, orphanges, schools and colleges are always in need of books for their libraries

- ensuring that each book donated is read by at least one more person, if not many more, before it may end up as waste

- Many NGOs have special requirements of books (e.g. for training purposes) which they find difficult to get - while there may be people who have such books to donate.

How does the 'Donate Books, Receive Books' initiative work?

A web-section has been developed on Karmayog with a compilation of Collection Centres and those who need books, so that any person can periodically check and donate books to the organisations listed at the locations listed.
Visit www.karmayog.org/donatebooks if you wish to donate books, act as a collection centre, or would like to receive books.

Image Source: guillermogg

Anorak Reaches Our Office

Monday started off on a great note as we opened a parcel that had come over the weekend. Under the brown wrapping was a HUGE dose of colour. We had received Anorak magazines! What a great way to start the week. Bright, colourful and full of fun illustrations...a dose of happiness in the morning. We found @anorakmagazine on Twitter and Cathy Olmedillas mailed us to express her interest in sending us some books for kids in India. Since we work closely with the Akshara Foundation, all the magazines are going to the Akshara community libraries. The magazines are truly a visual delight and we can't wait to see what the kids think about them.

Thank you Anorak! Thank you Cathy!


Rajshri Media Launches 4 Regional Content Video Websites, Becomes India's No.1 YouTube Channel

Via WATBlog.com

Well Rajshri Media has launched 4 regional content video websites in languages like Bengali, Tamil, Telgu, Marathi. This as we had analysed is their foray into regional/vernacular video content. They have also launched a youtube channel each for these regional sites.

On the youtube front Rajshri became the number one most viewed YouTube channel in India with more than 100 million viewers. Rajshri Media part of 60 year old Rajshri group which is one of the oldest and largest entertainment group has leveraged its offline content repository and even made tie ups to scale its online presence.

What makes them hit in India is their content repository which includes all time hit epics like Ramayan, Shaktimaan, Mahabharat etc which make them unique and front-runner in providing the content which may have lost with time.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source

Reading Made Fun - A Pratham Books Journey

We started this blog last year and it is a space to talk about the work we do and the different initiatives taking place in the world of publishing. Travelling through the worlds of publishing, kidlit, books, literacy, writing, reading, authors, illustrators, art, web 2.0, social media, collaborations, non-profits, India, community, Creative Commons, open source and more, we have learned a lot on this journey. Last week saw us post our 1000th post and we have made many friends along the way. Readers who eagerly mail us to ask us a question about a post, readers who correct us, readers who praise us and readers who criticize us... Thank you all! To celebrate this journey, we have an article written by Sampurna Murti from our Delhi team.

While all agree that reading as an activity needs to be encouraged and fluent readers tend to be better learners, few know exactly how to go about making this happen. Various groups around the country have been working on this issue and a lot of reading material has also been generated for this purpose. However, how much of this material has been developed keeping issues like graded content, limited and controlled vocabulary, use of simple syllables (this is applicable to Indian languages) etc is not known.

Pratham has been working with children all over the country, to help them to read, write and do basic mathematics as these skills help to keep children in school. Pratham sets up libraries in all areas that they work so as to make books accessible to all children who may not have access to books. However, there is a lack of good quality, inexpensive children’s books in the market, especially in Indian languages. Pratham Books was set up in January 2004 to fill this gap. In the 5 years of its existence, Pratham Books has been endeavouring to publish attractive books for children in a bid to get them to read and make them readers for life! We now have more than 150 titles in 10 Indian languages and English.

Pratham started the early reading program for 3-6 year old pre-school children 3 years ago. The thinking behind this program was that early intervention would get children hooked to the reading habit and improve their reading skills. One of the major problems Pratham faced during the program was a paucity of simple, well-illustrated books for little children.

Pratham Books took up the challenge of producing such books and published 35 such books, ranging from 8 to 20 pages, in the first year. The topics are varied and relate to the everyday experiences of an average Indian child. The book development process involved regular interaction with Pratham Balsakhis (teachers involved in working with children in the anganwadis and educational resource centers). Scripts were shown to them for approval of content and language. Their suggestions were conveyed to the authors, illustrators and translators for modifying the text and pictures. The books were again sent to the balsakhis for testing with children before they were printed. The feedback helped in the development of new books. We now have more than 80 books for early readers.

One of the visions of Pratham Books has been to create a platform for bringing together publishers of children’s books to create many, many books for children so that all children in this country have access to good books. Our attempts at creating books for early readers have brought in many other publishers who have also begun producing similar books. This will hopefully alleviate the lack of books for children in India.

How do books help in development of reading skills?

Pratham has found that children learn to read as a result of many factors. What exactly gets a child reading is a combination of many factors and is different for each child. As one balsakhi said, “Children seemed to pluck something out of the air and started reading on their own”. It is a recognized fact that learning is not a linear process. I think the same is true for reading. One of the factors that stimulates reading skills is the availability of ample reading material that a child finds attractive and interesting.

Importance of illustrations in children’s books

What is it about a book that attracts a child? The colourful illustrations – undoubtedly! The importance of bold and colourful illustrations in children’s books can never be overemphasized. Even children who do not know how to read will leaf through a book and spend hours looking at the pictures. This is not a passive process. The mind is constantly processing and storing all these pictures and making connections with incidents and situations that are present in the environment of the child. It is the formation of these cross connections that is of utmost importance in the growth of a child.

All this information together with incidents during the growing process is what is stored as ‘experiences’. The cumulative effect of all this is what we call – Learning!

Importance of relevant text in children’s books

This brings us to the next important feature of children’s books – content.

Children’s books must have content that a child can relate to. Pictures that are not related to a child’s sphere of experiences have little meaning for a child and will not induce a child to read. This is not to mean that the books have to be repetitive with no variety. A child can be introduced to animals or environmental features, that are not a part of his / her immediate environment, gradually while allowing the child to make the connections and conjectures with his/ her immediate environment.

The other aspect of relevant text is ‘sound’. The sound of words is very important as is repetitive text. All children enjoy hearing and reciting poems because of the rhyming words. Sounds of words linked to text evoke pictures of objects and events in a child’s mind like Ding- dong bell and pitter-patter raindrops. Indian languages have lots of such ‘sound words’ that make reading and reciting fun.

The next important question is whether all of the above are the adequate requisites for getting children to read. The answer is – No.

To get a child interested in reading, it is important that the child is read to. Hearing someone reading is a stimulus that induces a child to read. In this process the child begins to relate words with pictures. The Pratham technique involves the balsakhi reading to children and encouraging them to read ‘like her’. In due course of time, with repeated attempts at putting together words in a sequence, a child suddenly discovers word patterns. The child starts identifying written/printed words as pictures associated with objects or sounds or events. Once this happens, a child starts reading. After this, it is a matter of practice and time that will turn the child into a fluent reader.
Thank you all for helping us in our mission to provide 'A Book in Every Child's Hand'.

Image Source: Pratham Books

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...

On World Music Day (21st June), we were offering a FREE book download of 'How the Earth was Filled with Music'. Click here to download your copy of the book. We also put up some illustrations from our books under a Creative Commons license. You can find them on our Flickr account. Feel free to remix them and create your own story. We also hope to make our blog as multilingual as our books and did a test post on the different Indic languages our blog can support.

An Israeli newspaper conducted an experiment where they allowed writers and poets to run the newspaper for a day. Every week, Free Reads is making free CC-licensed fantasy short stories available for kids. Catherynne M. Valente is putting up one chapter a week of her YA fantasy book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, on her website for free. 'FREE: The Future of a Radical Price' is also giving away 150 books before it is launched next month. R. Sriram's paper 'Understanding the Demand Drivers of Books in India' made for an insightful and interesting read. June 16th was Bloomsday : a day to commemorate the life of James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses. We found two hotels which are spreading some book love to their guests and also learned what one college campus thought about e-textbooks. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Archer rewrote a book to appeal to the newer generation. If you like words, check out this post on hard words, invented words and beautiful words. Check out our Twittering Thursday post for some interesting links from our Twitter account.

Lastly, start your Monday with a chuckle and watch this stop motion animation made from a musical score.

Image Source: doug88888

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pratham Books Offers a FREE Book Download on World Music Day

If the above link does not appear in your window, then please click here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Words of All Kinds

We were talking about the millionth word to enter the English language last week. We also like the 'Save the Words' website and there was also an etymology related post we did long ago. Another word-related post for today...

Open Culture has a post on 'Hard Words in the New York Times'.
When you’re reading The New York Times and stumble upon a word you don’t know, you can highlight it and the Times will give you the definition. Naturally, the Times keeps track of the definitions it provides. So what are the most commonly looked up words?
  1. sui generis
  2. solipsistic
  3. louche
  4. laconic
  5. saturnine
kottke linked to a post on words from invented languages...
pona

INVENTED LANGUAGE: Sonja Elen Kisa's Toki Pona (2001)
Toki pona is a "minimal language that focuses on the good things in life." It has only 118 words, so words are used in multiple ways. Pona can be a verb ("improve," "fix," "repair," "make good"), an adjective ("good," "simple," "positive," "nice," "correct," "right"), a noun ("goodness," "simplicity," "positivity"), or an interjection ("great!", "cool!" "yay!"). Pona!
kottke also linked to a site which has a list of the 100 most beautiful words in English. Some of the words that I like are Talisman, Serendipity, Mondegreen and Ephemeral. What are your favourites from the list? We also have an 'Ailurophile' in our office!

Image Source: * Cati Kaoe *

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twittering Thursday

Tweet tweet...chirp chirp.. Time for a twitter update...

One of our books 'The First Farmers- A Warli Folktale' is on our Scribd account. Skip over and read the entire book. We also put up some illustrations of our books under a Creative Commons license and uploaded them to our Flickr account. Feel free to remix them and add a dash of your own creativity and magic.

@mitaliperkins was tweeting about celebrating book birthdays on Twitter. If you're on twitter and have written or illustrated a traditionally published book for children or teens releasing 2009-2010, Mitali will spread the word around and celebrate your book birthday. Now isn't that a fabulous idea?

Mitali also tweeted about the responses she got to the question "Would it would be okay to update a classic children's book to reflect changing mores about race?"

We found out about The Uniform Project which is year-long fundraiser for the Akanksha Foundation. Sheena Matheiken has pledged to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion. At the end of the year, all contributions will go toward Akanksha’s School Project to fund uniforms and other educational expenses for slum children in India.

We were also reading 'Why Primary Education Should Be the Government's Primary Concern' and 'The Price We Pay for Schools'.

With Twitter becoming so popular, teachers and students may be interested in knowing 50 ways to use Twitter in the college classroom. We also found a link to 100 awesome open courses for those who want to change the world.

Find out why illustrators are upset over Google's invitation to contribute free art.

@shioyama led us to a World Map of Social Networks and @abhaga sent us to an article on 'Hundred years of Arthashastra in print'.

Look at pictures of the Kindle DX with 10 everyday things.

We leave you with some pictures of Ché Francisco Ortiz's day at the Bbardwalk. A site called Wooster Collective asked their fans on Facebook "If I gave you $50 today, with the condition that you had to spend it on "art", what would you do with it?". Ché Francisco Ortiz said: "Buy a ton of sidewalk chalk and give it out to every kid i saw at the park or boardwalk." So, they sent him the money and he sent them pictures of what happened after that. Cute :).

Image Source: Tad Carpenter

Indic Languages on our Blog

Hi Everyone!

This is a test post of sorts - please let us know if the languages below look okay and if we've messed up on the spellings...

नमस्कार - Hindi - Namaskaar (Fixed! Thank you!)

ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ - Kannada - Namaskaara

നമസ്കാരമ് - Malayalam - Namaskaaram

வணக்கம் - Tamil - Vanakkam (Fixed! Thanks Sundar...)

ناماسکاار - Urdu - Namaskaar

নমস্কার - Bengali - Namaskaar

नमस्कार् - Marathi - Namaskaar

ਸਤ੍ ਸ੍ਰਿ ਅਕਲ੍ - Punjabi - Sat Sri Akal

કેમ છો - Gujarati - Khem Cho

నమస్కారం - Telugu - Namaskaaram

ଶୁଣିବେ - Oriya - ??

Saluton - Esperanto

Welcome - English

Deadline for TEDIndia Fellowships Extended

We had blogged about the TEDIndia Fellows Program earlier. The deadline has now been extended by a few more days. So, send in your entry!

Via ThinkChange India

Our original TEDIndia Fellowships deadline was this past Monday, but we have extended the deadline to make it possible for those who have just heard about the program to apply. Complete details are at http://www.ted.com/fellows. TEDIndia details at http://conferences.ted.com/tedindia. Email fellows@ted.com if you have any questions।
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FREE publication is a month away! 150 books to give away now.

FREE: The Future of a Radical Price will be available in the US and UK from next month. But, read about the experiment they are conducting before it is launched.

Via The Long Tail
We’ll be announcing the many ways in which you can get bits versions of the book (audio, ebook, web) for free around pub date, but in the meantime, it’s time to start giving away some good old atoms!

We want to give books to people who will spread the word--as with free digital forms, we think that free is the best form of marketing. Convince us that you’ve got a megaphone, microphone or at least know people who know people and we’ll send you a signed book, weeks ahead of publication.

There are two ways how:

1) Impress us with your cool friends (you get FOUR books!)

2) Impress us with your social media skillz (you get one book)

Read the entire article here.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bloomsday and James Joyce’s Ulysses

Yesterday (June 16th) was Bloomsday, a day to commemorate the life of James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses.

Via Neatorama
Bloomsday occurs on June 16th thanks to Joyce’s Ulysses, because everything in that 900-page tome happens in Dublin on that day. Festivities often include a full Irish breakfast, people dressed in Edwardian costume, treks around Dublin that trace the steps of Ulysses protagonist Leopold Bloom, and drinking. Lots of drinking. Some serious fans even hold readings of the whole thing. And it’s not just Dublin - Szombathely, Hungary, where Leopold Bloom’s father was born, holds a celebration every year as well. Trieste, Italy, where the first part of the novel was written, also throws a big party, especially since the Joyce museum opened on - when else? - June 16, 2004. We even get into it here in the States - the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, which is where Joyce’s handwritten version of Ulysses now resides, holds an annual street fair with readings of the novel and Irish music and food.
Via Open Culture
Published in serial format between 1918 and 1920, James Joyce’s Ulysses was initially reviled by many and banned in the US and UK until the 1930s. Today, it’s widely considered a classic in modernist literature, and The Modern Library went so far as to call it the most important English-language novel published during the 20th century. Although chronicling one ordinary day in the life of Leopold Bloom in 1904 Dublin, Ulysses is no small work. It sprawls over 750 pages, using over 250,000 words, and takes over 32 hours to read aloud.
Boing Boing linked to a rare recording of Joyce reading his own work. Open Culture also linked to an audio reading of the text and a reading by Stephen Colbert.

Image Source: scatterkeir

Jeffrey Archer Rewrites Book for a New Generation

'Change with the times', they say. That is exactly what Jeffrey Archer did with his book 'Kane and Abel'.

Cars, computers, economic cycles – everything's faster these days, so perhaps it's inevitable that Jeffrey Archer has rewritten his 1970s thriller Kane and Abel for the instant gratification generation.

The rewrite, which took Archer nine months – he says that he handwrites everything – saw him slashing around 40,000 words from the original novel, and putting back in around 27,000, leaving himself with a leaner, shorter novel in which the pace increases from breakneck to warp speed.

The revised version – which will be published in mid-October to mark the book's 30th anniversary – doesn't change the plot, just the style. "Jeffrey reread it a couple of years ago and felt he could do it much better now," said Trevathan. "I was perhaps sceptical about what he could do in that I couldn't work out how he could do this without changing the plot, but I'm now won over … One of the things Jeffrey said to me was that it's as if he sat down and wrote it now, rather than 30 years ago. We were going to call it 'Kane and Abel for a new generation'. It doesn't feel dated, whereas the old edition feels dated."

Read the entire article here.

Image Source: freshjiyan

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Free YA Novel : The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Via Boing Boing

..."Catherynne M. Valente (Tiptree winner, Clarion Alumna and all-around-awesome speculative fiction writer) is putting up a wonderful piece of YA fantasy, one chapter a week, on her website for free: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making."

There's free audio of the author reading the book, too.
Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her father's house, where she washed the same pink and yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog. Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her, and flew to her window one evening just after her eleventh birthday. He was dressed in a green smoking jacket, and a green carriage-driver's cloak, and green jodhpurs, and green snowshoes. It is very cold above the clouds, in the shanty-towns where the Six Winds live.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

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Books and Hotels

Found two hotels which are spreading some book love with their guests. The first one is The Heathman Hotel in Portland and the second one is The Library in Thailand.

The Heathman Hotel offers a “Books By Your Bedside” package. Home to one of the country’s few catalogued hotel guest-lending libraries, this package includes accommodations for two, a tour of the hotel’s library, a hardcover edition of a book written by the hotel’s most recent guest author and other goodies.

Authors Anthony Bourdain and David Sedaris both made appearances at the hotel within the past two months. Thomas L. Friedman, a popular environmental writer, as well as Annie Leibowitz, the famed celebrity photographer, were at The Heathman back in April. Michael Pollan graced Portland with his politically-correct presence in January, along with Calvin Trillin.

Via The Library

It started from an idea of the Project Designer who love to see things close to herself rather than look further to nowhere. She saw one activity every where she went especially on the beach, reading. Travelers can spend hours and hours reading on the beach, by the Pool, at the Restaurant. She thinks to complete one good vacation, what else do you expect, apart from a nice room, delicious meals with good ambience? One good book, memorable movies and music in style - these will help you enjoy and complete one good vacation with your loved ones or friends.

The unit of library by the beach serving as the biggest library for beach resorts. The theme building of The Library is of course, the library unit, and we called it 'The LiB' ...

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6 Lessons One Campus Learned About E-Textbooks

Via chronicle.com

Northwest Missouri State University nearly became the first public university to deliver all of its textbooks electronically. Last year the institution's tech-happy president, Dean L. Hubbard, bought a Kindle, Amazon's e-book reading device, and liked it so much that he wanted to give every incoming student one.

Students who got the machines quickly asked for their printed books back because it was so awkward to navigate inside the e-books (though a newer version of the device works more gracefully).

Based on my talks with professors, students, and administrators at Northwest Missouri, here are six lessons for any university considering assigning digital textbooks.

1. Judge e-books by their covers. No, not their jacket art, but the device and software used to display them. Those wrappings are key to satisfaction when it comes to electronic textbooks, since the choice of reading device determines whether students can highlight material or easily flip the pages (things they take for granted with printed copies). E-books come in many shapes and sizes — some electronic books work on laptops or desktop computers, others are formatted for Kindles or other machines designed just for e-books.

4. Long live batteries. The technical difficulty that came up the most in my interviews with students was battery life. Students said they sometimes forgot to charge their laptops overnight, so they had to find a spot in the lecture hall to plug in if they wanted to use their books in class. Other students said they had several classes in a row and inevitably ran out of juice. "It's harder to take your computer everywhere than a book, I think, because you have to carry the power cord and all," said Sara Herrera, a freshman whose laptop's battery typically lasts only about an hour and a half.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source: tuexperto_com

Understanding the Demand Drivers of Books in India

R. Sriram presented a paper 'Understanding the Demand Drivers of Books in India' at the workshop on Contemporary Indian Writing In English And The Indian Market in 2007.

Via goodreads
The Demand drivers of book buying can be defined in terms of three types of access:

1. Desire for books or psychological access
2. Affordability or commercial access
3. Availability with required proximity and visibility or physical access

And as the Indian market evolves rapidly, becomes more globalised, with the constant of change, the need to update one’s knowledge and competences become more pronounced.

Also, with the rapid shift from joint to nuclear families, the source of knowledge and wisdom with regard to the conduct of our lives no longer comes from the elders, whether to do with parenting and child-care, religion and rituals, cuisines, improvement of self etc. These trends present a great opportunity for books to play a larger role in providing relevant knowledge and even wisdom.

If we study the affordability factor in the countries with a large book market, we can observe that books are priced cheaper than a movie ticket – infact they are only 70% of the cost of the ticket.

In India however this is not the case – rather it is an inverse situation.

The distribution process in India is also in the cottage industry stage, with little ability to manage the complexities of the long tail of books. Bookstore chains like Crossword are able to get only a 60% fulfillment at best, thus leading to a huge loss for all stakeholders.
Read the entire paper here.

Image Source: lecercle

Stop Motion Animation Made From a Musical Score

Eleanor Stewart, a final year student at the Glasgow School of Art, has created a stop motion animation film from a musical score.
I created a music video for the Classical music work 'Hoedown' from the Rodeo Suite by Aaron Copland. It is a stop motion animation in which various characters, inspired by Cowboy and Western films, come to life from the musical score.

Hoedown from Rodeo from Eleanor Stewart on Vimeo.

Also watch: This is where we live

Pratham Books - Remixing Illustrations


For those of you who follow our blog, you know that we talk about the Creative Commons movement frequently. We have already released six of our books under a Creative Commons license on Scribd. Yesterday, we went ahead and posted a few illustrations under a CC license on our Flickr account. In the coming weeks, we will be posting more illustrations from our books. Feel free to experiment with these images and create your own stories (or use it in whatever way you want). Leave us a link if you try your hand at creating something, so we can also see what you came up with.

Hop over to our Flickr account to see the illustrations. And check back often to find more illustrations.

Happy remixing!

Update: Yayy! We made it to boingboing (Thanks Cory Doctorow). A huge welcome to boingboing visitors. You can keep track of our other CC-experiments by following our blog, following us on Twitter or remixing our CC-licensed books.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Free CC-licensed Kids' Fantasy Short Story Every Week

Via Boing Boing
"As an aspiring author of fantasy for young adults, there is only one to get better [and get published] that I can think of: write. Then write more. And write better. So in order to do that I have set myself the target of putting a free short story online every week, and to keep doing just that for a year. I'm at the third week, and I have a couple in reserve to cover busy weeks. But more than that, I am making these stories available under a Creative Commons Share-alike Licence, hoping that others will take the stories to places that even I can't imagine. And on top of that, I'm willing to let commercial licences go for 1 euro. Just to get the ball rolling."
Read the entire article here.

Visit Free Reads

Israeli Newspaper Run by Writers and Poets for a Day

An Israeli newspaper conducted an experiment where they allowed writers and poets to run the newspaper instead of their journalists.
For one day, Haaretz editor-in-chief Dov Alfon sent most of his staff reporters home and sent 31 of Israel’s finest authors and poets to cover the day’s news.

The idea behind the paper’s June 10 special edition was to honor Israel’s annual Hebrew Book Week, which opened the same day, by inviting Israeli authors to get away from their forthcoming novels and letting them bear witness to the events of the day.

For this edition of the paper, nearly all the rules taught in journalism school were thrown out the window. Writers used the first person and showed up in nearly every photograph alongside their interview subjects, including the likes of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres.

Among those articles were gems like the stock market summary, by author Avri Herling. It went like this: “Everything’s okay. Everything’s like usual. Yesterday trading ended. Everything’s okay. The economists went to their homes, the laundry is drying on the lines, dinners are waiting in place… Dow Jones traded steadily and closed with 8,761 points, Nasdaq added 0.9% to a level of 1,860 points…. The guy from the shakshuka [an Israeli egg-and-tomato dish] shop raised his prices again….” The TV review by Eshkol Nevo opened with these words: “I didn’t watch TV yesterday.” And the weather report was a poem by Roni Somek, titled “Summer Sonnet.” (“Summer is the pencil/that is least sharp/in the seasons’ pencil case.”) News junkies might call this a postmodern farce, but considering that the stock market won’t be soaring anytime soon, and that “hot” is really the only weather forecast there is during Israeli summers, who’s to say these articles aren’t factual?

Alongside these cute reports were gripping journalistic accounts. David Grossman, one of Israel’s most famed novelists, spent a night at a children’s drug rehabilitation center in Jerusalem and wrote a cover page story about the tender exchanges between the patients, ending the article in the style of a celebrated author who’s treated like a prophet: “I lay in bed and thought wondrously how, amid the alienation and indifference of the harsh Israeli reality, such islands — stubborn little bubbles of care, tenderness and humanity — still exist.” Grossman’s pen transformed a run-of-the-mill feature into something epic.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: Brian Negin

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...


Our 'Happy Maths' series was mentioned in an article on different organizations that are making maths fun. Pratham Books has also jumped onto the Orkut bandwagon. Read about another one of our Skype sessions with kids at Central Manor and leave us a note if you know about a children's book that gives a realistic picture of India. We also uploaded 'The First Farmers- A Warli Folktale' on our Scribd account.

We are huge advocates of the Creative Commons movement and have also released some of our books under CC licenses. Last week, we learned about CC Zero which allows content creators to distribute their work on the Internet copyright-free. While YouTube introduced a new feature for its users, Amazing Radio is a place for you to discover unsigned artists. Other news we heard was the launch of the world's first tuition-free online university. CAPL or Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon provides authentic images for language learning. Also, find out which word became the millionth word to enter the English language.

Moving on to book news...

Harper Collins launched the Amanda Project to bring a book for teens on a multi-platform, interactive and digital format. From the next school year, California schools will have access to open source and digital textbooks. An article on Wired talks about why e-books are stuck in a black-and-white world? We also found out about Kidwick Books. You have to visit their website to hear the excellent audio demos of their books. Did you know that Donald Duck is loved in Germany? Read about Virginia Woolf's take on the demise of books. Google is entering the e-book market and Bookshare is making books more accessible for people with disabilities.

Do you know about the autorickshaw rally which will take place in July to raise funds for rural education? Also, learn about the School Choice Campaign that believes in funding students rather than schools.

Keep track of the stuff we read and see on twitter by reading our Twittering Thursday posts here and here. Look at pictures of a lovely alphabet drawer and see what Wikipedia would look like if it was printed.

We leave you with Radha Ramachandran's immensely cute illustrations. Look out for Reynold Reeds ok?

Image Source: Denis Collette...!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A True Picture of India, anyone??

Which children’s book best describes contemporary India? Which children’s book best describes contemporary USA? Do share your choice please!

Do children in the United States of America eat only cereal? Do kids there plot pranks while huddled in tree-houses? Do people hang out in pubs all the time? Do heavily-jewelled gangsters chase young people through the wet back alleys of American cities throughout the day? If we were to imagine a country based on what we see of it in movies, then yes, that’s the picture we get.

So, I was not too surprised when a young student from Central Manor, Pennsylvania asked me during our India-USA Skype talk, “Have you sat on an elephant?” Of course, I told him, several times, as a kid on a zoo visit. And the children listened awe-struck as they heard about how elephants move, and how it is to be seeing the world from atop an elephant!

Many innocent questions followed. Do you have animals on the road? (We’d just blogged about the Mobile Camel Cart Astronomy Exhibition in Gujarat!) What animals? What do kids do in India? How hot is it in India?

We have thousands of species of animals in India, I said. And at the time of our Skype session, western India was burning, while eastern India had rains, and Bangalore in southern India, from where I was talking to them, was mildly hot, and it was snowing in northern India. A country with so many weather features! Wow, they said. And kids play computer games, cricket, foot ball, basket ball, and hockey, go swimming, go to school, do homework, and eat pizza and cereal…..very much like you all, I said. And they also have a choice of hundreds of other, Indian foods…...

Since the Central Manor children had just studied about government formation, they wanted to know about the Indian set up. We are a democratic country just like USA, and we've just had our elections, I told them. And we have a lady president, I added.

I had a wonderful time talking to Niki, Jeremy, Will, Andrew, Lenette, Rachel, Danielle, Chris and Jason. (“They were so thrilled to hear you repeat their names with your accent. Some comments I heard were: "my name sounds pretty when she says it" and "that sounds so cool!" wrote Mrs. Teresa Reisinger, who co-ordinated the Skype session. Thanks, Teresa!)

Reading is fundamental to learning. And while we learn a lot through movies, they do tend to perpetuate stereotypes. And that is the reason why we should be reading more. Wishing the students of Central Manor a very happy vacation!

Dear readers, if you know of a good children’s book that gives a realistic picture of India, or America, do drop a line here. My choice: find glimpses of India in Ruskin Bond’s “The India I Love”.