Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More from the 'Design for Giving Contest'

We have been uploading videos from the Design of Giving contest recently (watch here and here). DNA carried an article on the contest too.

Via DNA
The Design for Giving school contest has made children across the country think what they can do for others, and not what others can do for them. In a way, this contest is an integral part of the Joy of Giving Week -- when people all over the country are coming together to give anything that they can-- be it a smile, a hug, clothes, shoes, books, water, food,just about anything one can think of to bring a smile to another person's face and spread the acts of kindness across the country.

When asked, how she reached out to 32,000 schools, Kiran Sethi, founder/director of Riverside School, said, "Our school has partnered with organisations all over the country to reach out to schools not only in the cities but in remote villages as well.

Naandi Foundation, Akshara Foundation, Gray Matters Capital, Bharti Foundation, Pratham, Aid India are some of the organisations that have partnered to take this contest to the remote villages of the country, while Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Delhi government, Educational Initiatives, IDiscoveri and many other schools and institutions have worked tirelessly to make this a nationwide contest."

To ensure maximum participation, the organisers of this contest were mindful of diversity in languages in different states. Entry forms and contest materials were printed in eight different languages -- English, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam and Bengali. As a result, ideas of change are pouring in from schools from every corner of the country.

Kamath says, "School correspondents are very excited about participating in this unique contest that allows the children to engage in a democratic process and provides them the opportunity to address vital issues affecting their community through meetings, team building and consensus. The feeling of being empowered is very real."

Each of the stories of change is being documented and 100 best ideas will be published by Pratham Books. Organisers and partners of the Design for Giving School contest are excited to see the implementation of these ideas of change by the youngest protagonists all over the country to celebrate the first ever Joy of Giving Week September 27 - October 3. Results of the contest will be announced October 14.

Read the entire article here.

You can also read some of the stories of change submitted by children across India.

Image Source: Pratham Books

That's How a Pumpkin Grows

Alberto Cerriteño is one of my favourite illustrators. I absolutely LOVE his work. We have featured his work on our blog earlier, but that doesn't mean we cannot spread his happy and bright and cheerful work with you again. And only because it really is fabulous!

From Alberto's blog
Brian Vogan has a new CD "Little Songs" and a new music video for the catchy children's song "That's How A Pumpkin Grows". I had lots of fun illustrating and directing this animated piece created in team with the great people of FashionBuddha Studio.

That's How A Pumkin Grows from Alberto Cerriteño on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

'One Hundred Years of Solitude' Tops Poll of World Literature

Via guardian.co.uk

Gabriel García Márquez's seminal novel One Hundred Years of Solitude is the piece of writing that has most shaped world literature over the past 25 years, according to a survey of international writers.

Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from My Father, also makes an appearance on the list of favourite works chosen by fellow writers.

Indra Sinha, Blake Morrison, Amit Chaudhuri and 22 other authors were asked to pick the title that they felt had most influenced world writing over the past quarter-century. The survey was conducted by the international literary magazine Wasafiri – meaning "cultural traveller" in Swahili – which celebrates its 25th anniversary today.

Márquez's novel was the only book to be selected more than once. It was chosen by three authors: Chika Unigwe, Sujata Bhatt and the Ghanaian writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes.

Parkes said: "[It] taught the west how to read a reality alternative to their own, which in turn opened the gates for other non-western writers like myself and other writers from Africa and Asia.

"Apart from the fact that it's an amazing book, it taught western readers tolerance for other perspectives."

Find out which other books made it to the list and some of the reasons behind the choice.

Image Source : Bill McIntyre

Pratham Books : Book Launch of Asian Splendour (Delhi)

On 5th September, 2009, Samira's Awful Lunch and Samira Goes Shopping-two lovely new titles from Pratham Books were launched at the Delhi Book Fair. On 3rd October, 2009, we are launching another one of our books - Asian Splendour - in collaboration with the Eureka Bookstore, Delhi. The author Hema Pande will be present at the event and Anupa Lal will be conducting a storytelling sesson with the kids.


Venue : Eureka Bookstore
Date : 3rd October, 2009
Time : 11 a.m.

See you there!

(Click on the image above for more details)

Resources for Rural Schools : Design for Giving Contest

Watch another video submission from the Design for Giving Contest.

This submission comes from the seventh graders at Riverside school who got into action after hearing about the lack of resources in rural schools. After a brainstorming session, they decided to make bottle holders and books from recycled materials. The project grew and went on to involve the entire school in the production process.

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...

The Cauvery Contest is on and we have uploaded more tips and stories on the blog. Read the stories, be inspired, incorporate changes, share your tips and stories... and stand a chance to win books!

Last week's blogposts revolved around quite a few events taking place in Bangalore. One of the events Pratham Books participated in was Sneha Sante, a charity bazaar held to coincide with the 'Joy of Giving Week'. Read a post on the fair.

A quick event reminder for you - Bangalore's Goethe-Institut is holding a panel discussion on 'Issues in Contemporary German and Indian Literature' on 29th September at 6.30pm.

Three cheers to the power of Twitter! For those of you who aren't Twitter converts yet, read the following article on how Stephen Fry's Twitter posts about a novel resulted in a 6000% spike in sales. You can also read Belletrista, a bimonthly web magazine, which seeks both to encourage cross-cultural understanding through international literature written by women and to increase the visibility of that literature.

The Joy of Giving Week is finally here and we will be uploading videos from the 'Design for Giving Contest' as and when they are up on their site. Watch 'Stories of Change from Mumbai' to see how kids have gathered to come up with simple solutions to tackle problems.

Image Source: craigCloutier

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bangalore Cares a little!

In spite of the Dasara festivities in many homes, people did turn up at 'Sneha Santhe', the fair at National College Jayanagar premises.Several NGOs have put up stalls. People bought sweaters, candles, artifacts made by volunteers in aid of differently-abled people. Some bought T-shirts and stationery, natural fibre , bags and mats, We were thrilled to see parents and children browsing through our books. Shows that Bangalore does care, doesn't it!

We were thrilled to see parents and kids at our stall too. A group of young professionals who have set up a volunteering unit said they were planning to set up a library for government school children, and wanted to buy an entire set of our books in Kannada.

Drop in at the Santhe today, between 3pm and 9 pm. Show you care by supporting the charity bazaar that has homemade chocolates, toys, artifacts, books, jewellery, cards.Or sign up to adopt a pup. And after the shopping, gorge on chaat, italian khanna and popcorn. Sneha Santhe is an initiative within the Joy of Giving Week. And we all know that by Giving, we actually Get! So, go get it, Bangaloreans!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reminder: Sneha Sante


Just a quick reminder... Pratham Books is putting up a stall at Sneha Sante, Bangalore. We will be at Stall 22. Several new books and fabulous discounts to look forward to at our stall. You also stand a chance to enter a contest and win books!

Venue : H.N.Kalakshetra, National College, 36th B Cross, Jaynagar 7th Block, Bangalore (Route Map)
Date : 27th and 28th September, 2009
Timing: 3pm - 9pm

Apart from us, there are several other NGOs participating too. Puppet shows, dances, lectures and other events are also lined up for these two days. Events for today as follows:

3:00 - 3:20pmSneha Sante Inauguration, invocation prayer and lighting of lamp
3:30 - 4:00pm'Hope for the Flowers' - Puppet show by Ananya
4:15 - 5:00pm

'Nritya Kusuma Manjiri', a colourful bouquet of dance forms from across India presented by schoolgirls of Ashwini Charitable Trust

5:15 - 6:15pm'Sapta Swara' - a musical presentation by children from Spastic Society
6:30 - 7:15pm
Musical show by the popular IDL Blind Band
7:30 - 8:30pm

'Nannavala Kagada' (My Wife's Letter) presented by
WeMove Foundation for Performing Arts & Imagine India Foundation
Donor Passes: IndianStage / BuzzInTown


See you there!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rare Books at Select Bookshop's Annual Sale (Bangalore)

Via expressbuzz
Rare first-edition books from Select Book Shop’s stable await you THE warm smell of old books embraces you when you enter the atrium of the Alliance Francaise.

Hundreds of rare first edition books, periodicals and old paintings are arranged in no apparent methodical manner here. It is the annual sale of Select Book Shop, where old books, hard-bound, dog-eared, beautifully yellow with age, are going to find new homes, book-shelves and readers.

Murthy, the owner of the book shop, which was set up in Bangalore in 1945, sits in a corner looking over the books. He points at a book that was published in 1868 and asks, “Can you think of a price for such books?” Select Book Shop faithfuls know that the store’s biggest attraction has always been the fact that it is a treasure trove for old books.

The sale is on till September 26.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: lecercle

Belletrista - Celebrating Women Writers from Around the World

Today is Girl Child Day and after we gave a big shout-out to some of the lovely women whose tweets we follow on Twitter, we came across the online magazine - Belletrista.

Via Belletrista
Belletrista is a not-for-profit, bimonthly web magazine which seeks both to encourage cross-cultural understanding through international literature written by women and to increase the visibility of that literature.

We approach our mission as readers, not as academics or book industry professionals. Belletrista hopes to bring its unique view of women-authored, global literature to a broad audience of international booklovers, from the seasoned fan of world literature to the passionate reader who is just venturing beyond familiar literary shores.
You can read the first issue of Belletrista here.Also, read about the Afghan Women's Writing Project.

Image Source : mbgrigby

Talk on 'User Generated Content, Citizen Journalism and News'


Jamillah Knowles, an online and radio journalist for the BBC, is giving a talk on 'User Generated Content, Citizen Journalism and News' in Bangalore this Saturday.

Via The Centre for Internet and Society
Jamillah Knowles is an online and radio journalist for the BBC. She has 15 years experience working in the new business on many platforms. Starting in newspapers as a photographer she spent a great deal of time in print, moving on to radio for several years with BBC Radio Five Live and World Service before making a jump to online news.

Over the past year she has been working on developing relationships with online citizen reporters and looking at how social networks can play a role in creative news making.

This talk is about how the BBC has embraced user generated content and how it has changed our news environment in the way we research and provide news for radio, television and online.

Read more here. The event is being conducted at:

Venue : Centre for Internet and Society, D-2 Third Floor, Shariff Chambers, 14 Cunningham Road, Bangalore

Day : 26th September, 2009

Time : 4pm - 5.30pm

Image Source: Will Lion

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stories of Change from Mumbai - Design for Giving Contest

Spotted a video on designforgiving's YouTube channel. (Read about the Design for Giving contest here). The video shares three incidents where children have come up with solutions to 'give' or help tackle some of India's problems.

Pratham Books at Sneha Sante, Bangalore


Sneha Sante is a Charity Bazaar that is being held on the 27th and 28th of September at National College, Bangalore. Sneha Sante coincides with the 'Joy of Giving Week'. Pratham Books is participating... so drop by and get some wonderful books for your kids (or just come hang out with us!).

Apart from us, there are several other NGOs participating too. Puppet shows, dances, lectures and other events are also lined up for these two days.

Spread the festival cheer...support different causes and have fun... all at the Sneha Sante! We hope to see you there!

Venue : H.N.Kalakshetra, National College, 36th B Cross, Jaynagar 7th Block, Bangalore (Route Map)
Date : 27th and 28th September, 2009
Timing: 3pm - 9pm

More details on the event can be found here.

Twitter Posts on Novel Sparks 6000% Sales Spike

We already believe in the power of Twitter. We have met several awesome people on Twitter, are talking about collaborations and it wouldn't be wrong to say that WE LOVE TWITTER! For those of you who aren't Twitter converts yet, read the following article on how Stephen Fry's Twitter posts about a novel resulted in a 6000% spike in sales.

Via Telegraph.co.uk

The book, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, has also stormed to number two on bestsellers list, thanks largely to the positive recommendations from the comedian and writer on his site.

The book, a collection of stories about the afterlife, offers 40 brief scenarios for what happens when you die.

Fry tweeted: “You will not read a more dazzling book this year than David Eagleman's "Sum". If you read it and aren't enchanted I will eat 40 hats.”

Figures from online bookseller, Amazon.co.uk, show after Fry's "tweets" the title climbed to the number two spot on the its bestsellers list.

It rose from number 3,629 on the list, with sales jumping by about 6000 per cent.

“We have seen spikes in sales before as a result of activity on Twitter but nothing as significant as the uplift we have seen on the back of Stephen Fry’s recommendation," said Amy Worth, head of books buying at Amazon.co.uk.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Event : Issues in Contemporary German and Indian Literature

Via Goethe-Institut
Panel Discussion

29.09.2009 , 6.30 p.m., Bangalore

Literature or “the written word” plays a vital and ongoing role in creating and enhancing intercultural understanding and reconstructing cultural identities. Promotion of intercultural dialogue is one of the prime goals of the Goethe-Institutes across the world and the visit to South Asia of Dr. Hans-Ulrich Treichel, one of Germany's best-known writers, was motivation enough to put together a literary evening with participation from both countries. On the cards is a discussion on issues in contemporary German and Indian literature.
Read more information here.

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...


We launched our new book 'Cauvery' and a campaign for water conservation. You can click here to pledge your support and click here to share your water tips and Cauvery stories. Oh, and did we mention once you do pledge support, you/your organization/school/library could be part of the book launch event in Bangalore and win a FREE Pratham Books’ gift hamper. There are individual prizes for children and prizes for schools and corporates that send in the highest number of pledges. You can also participate in these contests and stand a chance to win a bucket full of books!

Taran Rampersad wrote an article talks about ebooks in education as well as a model of publishing for education that uses Creative Commons licensing (He also mentions some of our books in the article).

A tweet sent by one of our friend's on Twitter helped us discover Radio Mirchi's initiative to reach out to the visually challenged. Also, find out about the nationwide 'Right to Read' campaign. The campaign begins with road shows in four metros and will then be taken up in different cities. The first roadshow is to be held at Loyala College on 26th September.

If you are in Bangalore, you can take your kids to watch the play, Andher Nagari Chowpat Raja, on September 24.

Is Dan Brown's newest book 'The Lost Symbol' going to break all book records? Take a look at a list of backpacker classics compiled by Bookride. Read about the audio book reader produced by Saksham (a Delhi based NGO).

Image Source: René Ehrhardt

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Saksham's Audio Book Reader

Via The Hindu
Visually impaired students have to rely on Braille books which are not easily available across the country, particularly in smaller areas. Audio books too are rarely available.

Sensing such bottlenecks, Saksham, a Delhi-based non-government organisation, has come up with anAudio Book Reader (ABR). ABR is a pocket-sized device that reads audio tracks stored in a multimedia memory card (MMC).

The device is operated through a voice menu with user-friendly buttons. It can also be used by groups with external speakers.

It comprises hard power buttons for power supply and has five embossed buttons for browsing menus with one soft power button to indicate power (on or off). These five help navigate through any subject/ book or access any chapter. Memory can be extended through externally attached MMC.
Read the entire article here.

Andher Nagari Chowpat Raja - A Play for Children

Another event for your kids to attend...

There are any number of comedies for grownups but here is a play “of the children, by the children but not only for the children”. The play, Andher Nagari Chowpat Raja, will be staged at ADA Rangamandira on September 24.

Director Lubiana Kapasi has brought together children aged between 7 and 14 years from different parts of the city for the play, an adaptation of Bharatendu Harishchandra’s Andher Nagari.

“Changes have been made in the original play to make it more understandable and realistic to children. A touch of the current century is given to convey important messages,” says Ms. Kapasi.

The play is being hosted under the aegis of National School of Drama Regional Resource Centre, Bangalore. Tickets are priced at Rs.100. Call 9243009518.

Read more here.

Image Source : givepeasachance

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Backpacker Classics

BoingBoing linked to a list of backpacker classics compiled by Bookride.
I am not sure which books backpackers carry with them these days so this list may be a little out of date. The concept of backpacker books goes back to the days of the hippy trail when travellers would carry such classics as the I Ching, the Tibetan Book of the Dead or anything by Herman Hesse. A backpacker classic should have an element of profundity, preferably mystical -if not it should have cult status or be a statement about who you really are. There is an element of self discovery in setting off - the path to enlightenment, the journey inwards...A backpacker book is not a 'beach read'--the book must be worth the weight and space it takes up and should be reverentially handed on to other travellers or left in a hotel or bus station for another seeker to chance upon.
Some of the books that appear on this list include :
Joseph Heller. Catch 22

Herman Hesse. Siddhartha (also Glass Bead Game, Magister Ludi, and Steppenwolf)

Yann Martel. Life of Pi

Pirsig- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

J. D. Salinger. Catcher in the Rye

Vikram Seth- A Suitable Boy (for a very long journey)

Milton. Paradise Lost

The Holy Bible (King James version)

Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist

Alex Garland. The Beach (backpacker's novel about backpacking-- a great read)

Gabrial Garcia Marquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude

Irvine Welsh. Trainspotting.

Umberto Eco. Name of the Rose( also Foucault's Pendulum)
Take a look at the entire list of books. What books were you reading while you were backpacking?

Image Source : bennylin0724

The Right to Read Campaign

Millions of Indians are unable to read printed material due to disabilities. There are technologies available which can help them read print if the material is converted into an alternate format such as large print, audio, Braille or any electronic format. While the Indian constitution guarantees the “right to read” as a fundamental right, the copyright regime does not permit the conversion of books into accessible formats for the benefit of persons with print impairment, as a result of which a “book famine” is created.

Objectives of the Right to Read Campaign

· To accelerate change in copyright law

· To raise public awareness on the issue

· To gather Indian support for the Treaty for the Blind proposed by the World Blind Union at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The nationwide Right to Read campaign will begin with road shows in four metros and will then be taken up in different cities. There will be half day events with publicity. Events shall comprise presentations, debates and demonstrations, book reading sessions and stalls where various accessibility tools will be demonstrated. The first roadshow is to be held at Loyala College on 26th September.

More information here.

Pratham Books Launches its New Book "Cauvery" and a Campaign for Water Conservation

Click here to pledge now!

Oh, and did we mention once you do pledge support, you/your organization/school/library could be part of the book launch event in Bangalore and win a FREE Pratham Books’ gift hamper. There are individual prizes for children and prizes for schools and corporates that send in the highest number of pledges.

You can also click here to tell your Cauvery story and share your tips on water conservation!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Radio Mirchi's Initiative to Reach Out to the Visually Challenged

When we tweeted about the voice volunteers of the Rotary Helen Keller Talking Book Library, our friends @owos mentioned that Radio Mirchi had done something similar. A quick Google search ensued and with an email address at hand, I sent out a mail to the Radio Mirchi team. And, soon we were talking to Pallavi Rao from Radio Mirchi, Delhi.

A year ago, Radio Mirchi's CSR division was created and after some pondering, they realized that it was a logical step to work with visually challenged people as both their world's were influenced by the world of audio. The studios and infrastructure were there and so were the people with great voices... what else did one require? Just a little time and effort!

After tying up with the National Association of the Blind (NAB), Radio Mirchi started reaching out to several institutes/schools across the country through 32 of their radio stations.

One of the projects they undertook was the production of an audio newsreel. Every Friday, a CD would leave their stations with a weekly round-up of the news. But what was the point? Couldn't people hear the news on television? What they found was that many of the institutes that housed visually disabled people did not even have an audio player. The audio newsreels were produced in different languages and distributed for free. Pallavi shared an incident which involved an institute in Coimbatore praising the audio newsreels but adding that they did not want the newsreels. After some investigation, they found out that the institute did not have a CD player. The news hit the airwaves and within two days, 21 CD players found their way to the institute.

Radio Mirchi also experimented with the film Hari Puttar and produced an audio film. Audio films are not a new concept, but this was Radio Mirchi's maiden venture. When a film is being screened, a blind person can hear the dialogues, but he/she misses out on the action happening during the interlude scenes. Radio Mirchi got all the actors back to the studio, tweaked the script a bit, introduced a sutradhar, added more descriptive dialogues and the audio film was ready! The movie was aired across 11 stations and events were held for blind children to attend. The resounding laughter of the children proved that the experiment was a successful one. The radio station is also talking to other producers/filmmakers about releasing the rights for their films for such ventures and two audio films may be ready by the end of this year.

Last, but not the least, Radio Mirchi has also started recording audio books. They first started recording from their studio in Delhi and started with syllabus books for schools and colleges. It soon became evident that this was not an easy task considering the volume of information one was dealing with. That was when Radio Mirchi asked the public to come forward and help them with this venture. Within a short span of time, the radio station saw a surge of people volunteering to help. The material is recorded and then sent to NAB for editing and made available through the NAB offices and libraries.

We are happy to mention that during the course of the conversation, we got talking about Pratham Books. And thanks to some of our Creative Commons licensed books, our books were readily available for them to record. After we send out the books, they will be recorded at the Radio Mirchi studios and sent to NAB. Yayyyy, more books for more children (and in atleast seven languages)!

Another thing that makes us happy is that the tweet sent out by @owos also received a response from @barkhad (one of our followers on Twitter). She told us that she had attended a de-brief session by Radio Mirchi. We spoke to Pallavi and have requested if Barkha could work on one of the books we send them. And she will be!!

( Thanks @owos for letting us know about this initiative; Pallavi for patiently explaining this initiative and also agreeing to work with us; Barkha Deva for sharing your experience and volunteering to record one of our books)

Image Source : aloshbennett

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two Faces Of Publishing: McGraw-Hill and Pratham Books

Recently, we stumbled across an article written by Taran Rampersad which talks about ebooks in education as well as a model of publishing for education that uses Creative Commons licensing. Taran mentions Pratham Books and our CC-licensed books in his article too.

Via KnowProSE.com

The use of electronic books (eBooks) in education and for children - whether you consider them separate or not - is beginning to open up some more. McGraw-Hill is refining its approach to eBooks in very promising ways:

A new line of e-textbooks scheduled to be unveiled on Tuesday by McGraw-Hill Higher Education, for instance, comes bundled with "lecture capture" software, so professors can use the built-in microphone and camera on a laptop computer to record their lectures for students, as well as with other features that are new for textbook publishers.

At the core of the new products are still the electronic versions of the traditional textbooks, but they are designed to let students quickly jump between specific chapters, say, and the portion of a professor's recorded lecture that covers that subject matter.

This is very interesting and worthwhile to consider. It allows education to move in a new direction within the framework of present publishing models while adding value. It comes with the caveat of supporting the business model (ibid):

...Adoption of electronic textbooks has been slow, and McGraw-Hill Connect is just the latest attempt by a major textbook publisher to nudge the format forward. Publishers could benefit if students take to electronic versions because most online books cannot be resold by students. The reuse of print textbooks cuts into sales of new titles, and brings no revenue to publishers...

Therefore, students can't share books. Arguably, everyone will have one - for the price that is charged by the publisher. This model works well for publishers and it meets the basic requirements of a textbook while adding 'new' features.

The feature of allowing educators to modify the work is there - within the framework of what the publisher allows. But how good is it when compared to the use of Creative Commons Licensed content?

And, while it isn't explicitly mentioned, the same things that McGraw-Hill makes possible are already possible with Creative Commons licensed content. Pratham Books sells physical books, but the key here is that Pratham Books is a non-profit. The approach is different.

But remove the antiquated publishing model and mix electronic books with education and sprinkle the Creative Commons license liberally. You get ebooks that educators can adapt. The ebooks can be shared between students, significantly decreasing the cost of education. It's education, where everyone should have an equal opportunity to that education. If the goal is truly to educate students at a lower cost while making them more adaptable for educators, the clear win is Creative Commons licensed electronic content.

Sort of like... this.

Read the entire article here.

(Thanks for the mention Taran! And hurrah for Creative Commons!!)

Da Vinci Code Sequel to Break All Book Records

Talking about book mania...

Via express buzz
The Da Vinci Code sequel, The Lost Symbol, by author Dan Brown is expected to break all book records when it goes on sale next week amid some of the tightest security ever for a novel’s launch.

More than 6.5 million copies have been printed of the highly anticipated sequel to the 2003 mega hit, as book stores around the world brace themselves for an unprecedented stampede from hungry fans.

As well as being one of the largest first print runs in publishing history, an electronic version of the novel, which took Brown five years to write, will be released on the same day.

It is also already at the top of Amazon’s best seller list.

“The Lost Symbol” features the star of the series Robert Langdon, the Harvard University professor, returning to solve another, as yet disclosed, mystery.

Experts say the latest book, to be published in Britain by Random House, is the most sought after novel since the last Harry Potter book.

Extraordinary measures have been taken to keep the content’s under wraps, with the only detail the publishers have disclosed is that it takes place over a 12-hour period in Washington.

Guards have been posted at book warehouses across the globe, anyone who has come into contact with the book has had to sign a non-disclosure agreement and the reclusive author has not done the usual pre-launch publicity tour, bar one interview with the popular Today programme in the US.

Read the entire article here.

Dan Brown also confesses that thinking 'millions of people are going to read this' made writing the book very difficult.

Via guardian.co.uk

In a rare interview, the reclusive author said that he was already writing The Lost Symbol when he started to realise that The Da Vinci Code "would be big". "The thing that happened to me and must happen to any writer who's had success is that I temporarily became very self-aware," he told Parade. "Instead of writing and saying, 'This is what the character does,' you say, 'Wait, millions of people are going to read this.' It's sort of like a tennis player who thinks too hard about a stroke – you're temporarily crippled."

But Brown overcame the paralysis – "I realised that none of it had any relevance to what I was doing. I'm just a guy who tells a story" – taking five years to pen the new adventures of his dapper symbologist hero Robert Langdon.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...

Our favourite blog post from last week has to be the true story our colleague Mala shared with us on International Literacy Day. Our Delhi team had a blast at the launch of two of our new titles - 'Samira's Awful Lunch' and 'Samira Goes Shopping'. Read more about the launch and the book reading by author Bharati Jagannathan. We are also launching a new book titled 'Cauvery' that traces the journey of the river Cauvery. Keep a look out for the contests we are holding during this time and participate to win a bucket full of books

Bangalore's British Library is introducing 'The Reading Challenge' for children this month. The 2009 Reading Challenge has a fantasy theme. Called Quest Seekers, it takes young readers into a mysterious and wondrous land where they can discover the joy of reading and nurture a lifelong love affair with reading and books.The programme, which starts on September 15 and ends on November 14, 2009, is open to children in the age group five to 13 years.

Also read 'Urdu Story Books Now Within Reach of All'.

Toto Funds The Arts(TFA) invites entries for its fifth annual TOTO awards for Indian creative writers in English. Two cash awards of Rs. 25,000 each will be given in January, 2010.

We blog about many book-related and kid-related events. One of the events that you may want to take your kids to on the 15th and 16th of this month is the play Zapperdockel and the Wock at Rangashankara.

Stay tuned for more news and updates this week! Have a great week ahead.

Image Source: jodigreen

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Zapperdockel and the Wock -- Back at Rangashankara

Ranga Shankara's production with Wally and Paul Schimdt of Germany as Directors was received enthusiastically by both children and adults at the recently concluded AHA! Fest. The play comes back to Bangalore for two more shows, on Sep 15 and 16 (at 7.30 pm)

Via IndianStage
Age group: 6 years and older.

Zapperdockel is yellow, tiny, unsure and a crybaby. But that’s the way he is! Wock is blue, fat and grumpy. But that's the way he is! Is there still a chance that both get along with each other? "The Zapperdockel and the Wock" is the touching story of the beginning of a friendship between two creatures that couldn't be more different from each other.
The tickets are priced at Rs.100 each and are available at Rangashankara or at www.indianstage.in

Image Source

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Urdu Story Books Now Within Reach of All

Via Indian Express
It was a matter of great pride when Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari released a set of 50 Urdu story books for children at a function organised at the Triveni Kala Sangam auditorium in New Delhi on Wednesday evening.

The function was organised by Pratham, a local NGO working to improve the quality of education among India’s urban and rural poor children, which reaches out to 8 lakh beneficiaries through its “Read India” campaign.

In a press release, the NGO’s state coordinator Roopinder Dhaliwal said the function was attended by children of Urdu-medium schools of Delhi, education workers from different parts of the country and distinguished scholars of Urdu literature.

The Vice-President, in his speech, said the books reminded him of his childhood and suggested that the cost of such books be kept low in order to ensure that they reach one and all.

Professor Anwar Moazzam, a scholar from Osmania University, and Parveen Sayyed of the NGO led the initiative to develop the books based on stories originally written in the 1970s.

Roopinder Dhaliwal added that Pratham planned to expand its campaign by publishing another set of 100 children books in the future.
Image Source: ArtisteInconnu

Friday, September 11, 2009

Toto Awards 2010 for Creative Writing

Via Toto Funds The Arts

TOTO FUNDS THE ARTS (TFA) invites entries for its fifth annual TOTO awards for Indian creative writers in English. Two cash awards of Rs. 25,000 each will be given in January, 2010.

BUT: Entries are only invited from young people -- over the age of 18, and who have not celebrated their 30th birthday before 1 January 2010.

ALSO: The spirit of the Toto Awards is to identify promise and encourage young talent. Therefore, do not submit an entry if you are already an established writer.
TFA is looking for entries in three genres –– short plays, short stories and poetry. The submissions should not exceed 7,500 words. IF you are submitting poems, then please submit a minimum of 6, but not more than 10 poems. IF you are submitting short stories, then two stories would be preferable.

Entries should reach TOTO FUNDS THE ARTS (TFA) by 24 October 2009 at the latest.
Click here for more information.

Book Reading of 'The Music Room' - Bangalore

Via Random House India's Facebook Page

Namita Devidayal, author of the bestselling 'The Music Room', will be at the Oxford Bookstore (Leela Palace) for a book reading session on Saturday, 12th September from 3.00 - 4.30 pm.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

'AHA! Theatre for Children’ Reaches Chennai

The 11 day theatre festival held by Rangshankara in Bangalore has come to an end. But, some of the plays from the 'AHA! International Theatre for Children Festival' can be watched in Chennai this week.

Via The Hindu
Arundhati Nag, Creative Director for Ranga Shankara, brings creatively designed acts from Germany, Argentina and Australia, with the best of ‘theatre for children’ from India too.

The event will be on from September 10 to 12 at 11.30 a.m. at Koothambalam (Bharata Kalakshetra Auditorium), Kalakshetra Foundation, Thiruvanmiyur.

On September 11, watch “Pirates‘Code’” by Vuelve en Julio, Argentina; meant for children aged 10 and above. The story begins with an entangled pursuit between the corsair, the buccaneer and a woman pirate. This turns into a messy game at the end of which, each wins a powerful object — a map, a ship and the knowledge to use it. The play is performed in code, transcending languages and ages.

German play “Zapperdockel and the Wock” will be screened on the concluding day. This puppet theatre is brought by Ranga Shankara, and is meant for children six years and older. Zapperdockel is yellow, tiny, unsure and a crybaby. Wock is blue, fat and grumpy. Is there still a chance that both get along with each other? Tickets cost Rs. 100 per child and Rs. 100 for each accompanying adult, and are available at the venue.

Read the entire article here.

Bangalore's British Library Introduces 'The Reading Challenge' for Children

Via The Hindu

That young people have stopped reading is a perennial grouse of parents and teachers world over, and it is a challenge to get them to read seriously.

The Reading Challenge is an immensely popular and successful reading initiative run in libraries and schools in the United Kingdom which the British Library is introducing in Bangalore.

Each year the Reading Challenge encourages children to read six or more books of their choice. In return each child who completes the Challenge gets incentives and rewards, plus a certificate or medal.

The 2009 Reading Challenge has a fantasy theme. Called Quest Seekers, it takes young readers into a mysterious and wondrous land where they can discover the joy of reading and nurture a lifelong love affair with reading and books.

The adventure starts at the British Library here where young Quest Seekers meet Cadmus the gatekeeper. Cadmus challenges them to bring back a golden book, and there are three stages to their quest: Firebird Rising, Mountain Mission and Dragon’s Lair.

The programme, which starts on September 15 and ends on November 14, 2009, is open to children in the age group five to 13 years. Registration has commenced. There are limited seats available and registration will be done on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, contact the British Library, 23, Kasturba Road Cross, Bangalore 560001, or call 080-22489220 or email bl.bangalore@in.britishcouncil.org.
Read the entire article here.

Twestival Bangalore

Tweeple (People on twitter) are gearing up for the Bangalore Twestival 2009.


Via Bangalore Twestival
“With the advent of Social Media and Web 2.0 the world is now ‘Connected’. We can now connect to a larger - unknown - geographically diverse and scattered people for a reason you might just not know. The world has thus changed from a community of divided citizens to a smaller more connected community of netizens that care deeply about issues ranging from poverty and hunger to pollution, climate change and the environment.

To highlight one such burning issue, we netizens, bring to you ‘Twestival 2009 - a festival with a Cause’.

Get partying to Swarathma’s tunes, Nakul Shenoy’s mesmerizing acts, Stand up to Papa CJ - Aron Kedar’s comedy and feel GREAT about making a difference to the world around you. Your participation with help us fulfill a child’s Dream as part proceedings of the event will be donated to ‘Dream a dream‘.

Venue: Kyra Theatre, Bangalore
Time: 12:30 - 4:30pm
Saturday - 12th September, 2009
More information here.

Image Source

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Launch - Samira's Awful Lunch and Samira Goes Shopping

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

On Sept, 5, 2009, Samira's Awful Lunch and Samira Goes Shopping-two lovely new titles from Pratham Books were launched with due ceremony on the uncertain seas of life and they are sailing from one reader to the next with great aplomb!

Bharati Jagannathan, the author, said to me that she was feeling somewhat shy that we had organised a book launch for a 500 word book. She is an academic who teaches History to undergraduate students in a Delhi University college and 500 page books are more what she is used to...However, by the end of the afternoon she had revised her opinion of the impact of her 500 word book.

A large group of children from Jahangirpuri in Delhi had come to the book launch.They settled down in the corridor and Bharati sat on a moodha among them.They clearly stated which book they wanted read out first and by the time they had finished listening to both stories, they immediately knew their favourite.As Bharati read it out with great feeling, kids and families passing by stopped to listen and stayed...Being familiar with the stories, I was watching the faces of the children. It was better than any live mime act as their faces reflected each emotion unfolding in the story. Samira's disgust at being offered a cockroach wing for lunch to her delight at finally making peace with her parathas and sabzi.

Bharati read out the books in Hindi and English and personally signed copies for the children.I think she knows now that it is hard work being a celebrity! We really appreciate Bharati's books as well as her fine story telling which made for such an enjoyable book release.

Do read the Samira stories and tell all your friends about our 11 new titles.

You can see more pictures of the event here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A ‘Literacy Day’ True Story


September 8 is International Literacy Day. And I’m able to write this and you’re able to read this because someone thought it was necessary to make you and me literate.

According to a UNESCO list of literacy rates, 146 countries have better adult literacy rates than India, with its score of 60%. Clearly, the way to improve adult literacy is to go about getting our children literate. And that is where the challenge is, for there seem to be so many factors that help deny basic education to our children---poverty, casteism, infrastructure. Add to this the fact that a huge mass of adults do not have the conviction that education and literacy are necessary tools for the development of our children.

On this International Literacy Day, I’d like to share a story. A true story.

Many years back, a woman died in a hospital leaving behind a three-year old child named Saraswathi. The hospital handed over the child to Anatha Shishu Sevashram, an orphanage in Wilson Garden, Bangalore. Ms. Parvathamma Hirematt, who founded the institution in 1942, sent Saraswathi to school. When she was in Class 4, Saraswathi lost her eyesight following a smallpox attack.

Saraswathi, providentially named after the Hindu Goddess of Knowledge, continued her schooling at Jayanagar Blind School, finished her degree at B.E.S College, and earned an MA in Political Science from Mysore University. She was a lecturer in B.E.S. College for 11 years. But what inspires me is not that a blind girl attained these heights of literacy.

When Parvathamma passed away, Saraswathi took up the running of the orphanage. Since 1992, Sarawathi and her husband have been maintaining it. They do all the cooking, with the help of a few senior students. Today, she tends to 60 children, aged between 4 and 18. Several of her ‘children’ have finished their studies and have been married into good families.

I’m privy to this story because of something that started as a little idea. My husband’s colleagues decided that their company should donate whatever they could to charity each year. My humble contribution was a set of books from Pratham Books. (I had just signed up for the 7-day challenge organized by Joy of Giving. Friends and family think I must be the stingiest ‘donor’, for our books cost just Rs.25 or less). Some days back, Saraswathi Bhat---blind, extremely busy, unacquainted to me---called me up. “Thanks for the books! Some people from your husband’s office just came in and donated many things in cash and kind to our ashram, but I was so happy to get books for our children! They are going to be delighted.”

Literacy is not just about learning to read, write, comprehend and speak, it is also about spreading the worth of these skills, the joy of using these skills. If you believe in this, do spend five minutes today and every other day possible to spread the joy of reading. Talk to a street child. Help her ‘read’ a traffic sign. Show her a newspaper and read out the cartoon strip. Point out a school that she could go to. And do let us know what you did to inspire a child to become literate.Let's spread the joy of doing our bit....
(Illustration by Henu, for a forthcoming title from Pratham Books.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...


At Pratham Books, we feel extremely happy to see our books being used in different ways. So, when we found out and actually saw how our books were being used as part of curriculum at a training session held at Educomp, it made us feel very proud.

Pratham Books was also part of the Delhi Book Fair and our books were also available during Rangashankara's International Theatre Festival. Read Delhi Book Fair : Observations, Awards and More for news on the fair and the awards we won last week. If you have any pictures or anecdotes to share from the Delhi Fair or Rangashankara's Theatre Festival, drop us a mail at web@prathambooks.org and you can be a guestblogger.

A group of people from different walks of life have come forward to become 'voice volunteers' for the Rotary Helen Keller Talking Book Library (ROHTALK). It has one of the widest collections of Talking Books in English and Tamil catering to all sections of the visually impaired persons.

Bangalore has several small bookshops which enjoy a HUGE following of readers who aren't shifting their preferences to the newer, fancier and air-conditioned bookshops that have sprouted in the recent past. Read why these smaller bookshops continue to charm the Bangalorean reader. Nandan Nilekani’s book ‘Imagining India’ has won the Readers’ Choice Award for Non-fiction at this year’s Indiaplaza Golden Quill Awards. The PaperTigers blog has compiled a list of book related events taking place across the world in the month of September.

All book lovers must take a look at Neil Gaiman's library just because it is breathtaking and impressive. I wonder what kind of bookmarks he uses while he reads. A bookmark we came across this week was a bookmark that not only marks your page, but also the last line you were reading. How would you do place your books on this equation bookshelf?

Anthony Zuiker's new novel is a digi-novel. The digi-novel brings a TV experience to what he calls "a triple platform": books, videos and an interactive fan website. This month will also see the first video advertisement published in a traditional paper magazine.

Read about Devendra Shivlal Desai's Children Toy Foundation which has set up 272 toy libraries across India. Children will love their lunch if you made them a 'Funky Lunch'. Funky Lunch is a sandwich art project by Mark Northeast that encourages children to try and eat a varied and healthy lunch. Learn Something Every Day is a colourful, bright and fun project with random facts and trivia updated everyday.

Leaving you with this beautiful timelapse video of a 'Where The Wild Things Are' mural being painted.

Image Source : _bohemian_

Friday, September 4, 2009

Delhi Book Fair : Observations, Awards and More


Manisha Chaudhry, Head of content development- Pratham Books, writes about the Delhi Book Fair, the awards we won and the work we love.

Long maroon carpeted corridors wind between brightly lit stalls spilling over with books. Stalls of every shape and books of every size. Snooty ones with straight spines and abstract covers, the arty ones relaxing on sheets of plastic and children's books smiling down from wiry shelves.

Groups of keen eyed book lovers ferretting among piles marked 'buy one get one free', elbows occasionally jabbing eyes as one overhears murmured gossip about the authors,

Publishers shaking hands vigorously as they eye titles on the other one's shelves, snatches of sales figures float in the hall and it is difficult to find their owners.

Groups of youngsters in various stages of mirth, some of them nudge and smile while others laugh uproariously as only the young can as they pass stalls with flashy electronic display. Next to the constantly morphing screens stand scrawny necked young men in ties who are scanning the throngs to catch any eye. Encyclopedias, CDs to make your child a genius.

Exhausted families flop down in colourful heaps as the children demand ice cream. Teenagers who only look at books on computers while balancing paper plates of bhelpuri. Bespectacled middle aged men leafing through self help books as they gaze speculatively at the devout throng in the sahaj yoga stall.

The picture gallery with a focus on the north-east with writers who gaze impassively from the frames waiting to be read...

We troop into an expectant hall to be awarded for excellence in book production by FIP. Smiles and applause as two of our lovely books-Jaale Ki Jadugar, Makdi and Mera Ghar are announced. Our happy contingent has sat through much muttered gossip and few boring speeches for this moment when Mukesh ji proudly returns with the prizes... duly photographed.More than eighteen hundred books were submittted by various publishers across the country, so this is a moment to bask...savour...celebrate!


Audrey Kumar, our lovely French illustrator of Raja Nang Dhadanga turns up serendipitously with her husband and little boy, Remy. It is his fifth birthday.We all merrily make our way down to Stall 36-Pratham Books where Kabi is earnestly explaining the merits of each book to prospective buyers.Remy walks around picking up books and talking in rapid french. We quickly make a selection of books for his birthday as he exchanges a last hi-5 with me.
Another day at the Delhi Book Fair draws to a close. Achy feet but we are all smiling.

Neil Gaiman's Library


Spotted this on BoingBoing first... hopped over to Shelfari to read more..and then saw these stunning pictures of Neil Gaiman's library.
Shelfari has always been a place where people come together to talk about their books. A place where you can show off your virtual bookshelf and where communities form around your favorite books and authors. It’s no surprise to us that you can learn a lot about someone by seeing what’s on his or her bookshelf.

So we asked one of our all-time favorites, Neil Gaiman, if he’d be willing to give us a peek into his personal library, and he graciously agreed.

Shelfari has always been a place where people come together to talk about their books. A place where you can show off your virtual bookshelf and where communities form around your favorite books and authors. It’s no surprise to us that you can learn a lot about someone by seeing what’s on his or her bookshelf.
Naturally we’d assumed that someone whose work is filled with references ranging from literary to mythological would have a fairly extensive library but even so, we were a bit unprepared for the scope of what he sent us. In the basement of his house of secrets we find a room that’s wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with books (along with a scattering of awards, gargoyles and felines).
Read more at Shelfari. And you must absolutely click here to see all the photographs.

Timelapse Video of a 'Where The Wild Things Are' Mural Being Painted

Firstly, do you love children's books? Secondly, do you love time lapse videos? Thirdly, do you love a well decorated kid's room? If your answers to the above questions were YES, then I think you may like the video we have for you.

Via Grassroots Modern (via @designmom's tweet)

With the birth of our daughter two months ago, we needed to move our 2 year old out of the nursery and into his own “big boy room” downstairs. We decided to have a little fun with the room and had my good friend Tony paint a mural of “Where the Wild Things Are” on the wall. We finished it off by gluing down some Flor carpet tiles. The “video” is really a series of photographs, one taken every 30 seconds and played back at 24 photo’s a second. A total of 6,357 photo’s were taken, representing over 54 hours of work.
You can see some pictures of the mural here.

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.

Th Big Boy Room from Creede on Vimeo.

Equation Bookshelf

Via Marcos Breder

{Equation help you [to organize (your life) in priority] order}

Learn Something Every Day


These random facts on bright backgrounds will look rather nice on the new blue workstations we have. Apparently men can read smaller print than women. And did you know that blue birds can't see the colour blue? Go get your BRIGHT trivia fix at Learn Something Every Day :).

Have a fun fact you want to share? The best fact will be made into a super special poster at the beginning of each month and the winner wins a free poster.

Image Source

‘Imagining India’ wins Readers’ Choice Award

Via The Hindu

Former Infosys Chairman, Nandan Nilekani’s book ‘Imagining India’ has won the Readers’ Choice Award for Non-fiction at this year’s Indiaplaza Golden Quill Awards.

Amitav Ghosh’s ‘Sea of Poppies’ bagged the Jury Prize for the best book as well as the Readers’ Choice Award for Fiction at a function in Bengaluru.

Established last year, the Indiaplaza Golden Quill Awards are decided by an online poll and rewards the best fiction and non-fiction writing of the year by an Indian author domiciled in the country.

Read the entire article here. Have you read the book? What did you think of the book?

Image Source

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Toy Libraries in India

We had tweeted about the trend of toy libraries catching on in India. This article is about the Devendra Shivlal Desai's Children Toy Foundation which has set up 272 toy libraries across India.

Via Open Magazine
Over 26 years, his foundation has helped set up 272 toy libraries, including one in the Andaman & Nicobar islands. It currently runs two toy libraries and four toy vans (three in Mumbai and one in Allahabad) that visit government schools, children’s wards in hospitals, construction sites and homes for special and marginalised children. Children are encouraged to indulge in board games, craft, puppet shows, storytelling, drama and a varied set of outdoor games. “If we are 15 minutes late, the kids ask us to stay on for 15 minutes more,” says Utkarsha Manayar, a trained CTF teacher, recounting her visits to KEM Hospital, Mumbai. For Desai, games are a medium of creating emotional and intellectual growth. “Initially everyone cheats,” he says. “But then you become honest, patient and develop sportsmanship.”

The Toy Library in Matunga started in a municipal school nine years ago. Today, included in the timetable for students from the 1st to 7th standard is a one-hour toy library class. On an otherwise dreary Monday morning, kids from a 5th standard Marathi medium class enter the library and get down to the serious business of playing. They have already organised their groups based on what they’d like to do from the rows of bright toys, storybooks in Hindi, English, Marathi and Gujarati, a mind-boggling array of games, and even computers. Most can’t afford tuitions and have working or illiterate parents. The toy library class is as close to personalised attention as many kids get. And staff members too. Vandana Sonawane, coordinator, CTF, has worked here for nine years. “As a child,” she says, “I couldn’t even imagine such a range of games. At least I got to play them in adulthood.”
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: Great Beyond