Saturday, January 30, 2010

Recipe for kedgeree: courtesy Gandhiji!

It's been exactly two years since Pratham Books published 'A Man Called Bapu' to commemorate the great man's 60th year of martyrdom in 2008. Today, as I think about the work that went into the book, I find myself smiling .

Subhadadra Sen Gupta wrote the story in record time, and Neeta Gangopadhya did the lovely illustrations quickly. The layout was done, the translations were done in ten languages, and then when we looked at the pdf, we decided the book needed a bit more seasoning. So we dug up facts about Mahatma Gandhi from a little book called 'Hundred Facets of Gandhiji', compiled by Prof.Krishnaswamy, a retired physics lecturer, scientist and Gandhian who helps run a schoolfor the under-served in Bangalore.

We found a note about Gandhiji's daily menu and one word baffled us---kedgeree. So we quickly got down to some 'research' and here is what I mailed my colleagues one evening:

“...And as for kedgeree, a character in the Miss Marple story 'The 4.50 Paddington' that we watched today (BBC DVD from British Council), mentions that the one made by the pretty new housekeeper (in the story) is the best!

Kedgeree comes from the Hindi work for Khichdee, but all the recipes on the Net involve fish! Think Gandhiji would have eaten that??”

Manisha, my colleague in Delhi, checked her dictionary and found out that while the English added fish to their kedgeree, the Indians added onions. Sampurna wanted to know if anyone had a recipe for kedgeree that she could try out.

That evening, two people on the Pratham Books team made kedgeree, one without fish, and the other without fish or onions.Since we were in two different cities, we could not judge each other's culinary creations......but Gandhiji was a topic of conversation that day and for many more days in our household.

Thanks to freedom fighters like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and others, we have the freedom to write what we want, and share it with whomever we want!

Jai Hind! And may Peace prevail on earth!

By the way, if you are inspired by Gandhiji's simple menu, try eating a bowl of chopped bananas sprinkled liberally with powdered groundnuts some day, and this would taste even better topped with some honey.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pratham Books at the Jaipur literature Festival

Manisha Chaudhry, Head of content development- Pratham Books, writes about the Jaipur Literature Festival

North India has been in the news lately mostly for disappearing under a dense layer of fog. Jug Suraiya in TOI speaks of it as …”fog-so thick and impenetrable that you felt you could cut it in huge chunks that would help replace all those melting Himalayan glaciers that RK Pachauri’s been carrying on…about and which mayn’t be melting after all-smothered Delhi in a total white out and wiped it off the face of the map.”

What better than to escape to places that didn’t evanesce off the map in a swirling white cloud but stayed determinedly on and were sunny to boot!

So that is what we did at Pratham Books. We went to sunny Jaipur. The vast temporary descent of literary luminaries for the Jaipur Literature Festival only helped add to the glow. The hype of “The Greatest Literary Show on Earth” notwithstanding, it had its moments that stay with you like the play of light in your eye after a star burst…

Gulzar reciting his extraordinarily simple but moving poems about afternoons in old Delhi, his love for mountainscapes, a patch of sunlight retreating from a room as evening comes and much more…Pavan Varma, his perceptive translator laughing uproariously as a fair Gulzar turned to him, his darker skinned interlocutor and twinkling affectionately said,“Mora gora ang lai le, mohe shyam rang dai de…”

Shabana Azmi spoke passionately about Shaukat Kaifi’s book on her life with Kaifi Azmi. She gave us a glimpse of the great love between her talented parents and their early family life in a commune. She traced the roots of her growth as an actor with activist leanings as well as how her own feminist ideology has been tempered by her mother’s experiences.

It was a packed programme with many hard choices to make at every hour as there were readings, panel discussions and larger events. There were the Bhaskar Bhasha events with a focus on Indian languages and writers. There were international authors such as Wole Soyinka, Roddy Doyle, Christophe Jaffrelot, Romesh Gunesekera….to name just a few.There were Om Puri and Girish Karnad reading from Tughlaq…There was Kancha Ilaiah speaking about the Dalit experience.

There were book launches and TV style events on topics such as Can the Internet Save Books and In a Tough Neighbourhood with writers and political activists from across South Asia.
Diggy Palace was overrun by students, professors, book lovers, star struck teenagers who wanted Rahul Bose’s number and the Delhi fog-escapers.

Fortunately for us, they all made their way to the Pratham Books’ stall. They bought books and asked questions. We also star gazed as Ratna Pathak Shah and Rahul Bose came and browsed through our selection (and no, we did not ask for his number).Many visitors were old friends who brought new ones with them so that our circle of friends grew. A selection of our books reached the groups of children who were taking part in the Being Human workshops that were happening in parallel.

We also brought some of the Jaipur warmth back to Delhi. The fog seems to be lifting finally.

View more images here.

World Book Fair 2010

We are also organizing a read aloud session of our Hindi book “Raja Nang Dhadhanga” on 2nd February 2010 from 10.30-11.30 am.

Jaipur Literature Festival 2010

The Jaipur Literature is over, but we continue to see links on our Twitter stream about the festival. Here is a video for those who didn't make it to the festival this year. See you there next year!

Nilanjana Roy also shares her Jaipur Lit Fest experience on her blog (1, 2, 3, 4 ,5, 6 and 7).

Click here to see images from the festival.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Akshar Bharati

Via Akshar Bharati

Akshar Bharati is a sincere effort to reach the children from rural and underprivileged areas who have the will to learn, to read books and to make difference in their lives. Akshar Bharati is trying to set up small libraries for such children in their localities so that the books will be available for them when they need them the most.

Akshar Bharati provides an easy way for everyone to get involved in Social work. We work along various NGO organization who are active in areas where we see requirement of a library.

The advantages of working along with area specific NGO are:

  • The NGO volunteers can look after Akshar Bharati library
  • Provide us constant feedback about working of Akshar Bharati
  • Akshar Bharati does not need to have a dedicated person required to manage the library

Once Akshar Bharati library in place we encourage volunteers to conduct various activities at the library location so to build curiosity among children to utilize books of the library.
Read more here. Learn how you can be a volunteer.

Image Source

Tree of Life Festival

Via Prakriti Foundation

Prakriti Foundation's annual Tree of Life Festival, takes place from 28th January to 6th February 2010, across different venues in Chennai.

Designed around the theme, 'Nature, Chennai, Us', the Tree of Life Festival aims to bring a greater awareness of the environment that nurtures and sustains us, to school children and the larger community. It involves storytelling sessions and spinning workshops in schools, with performances, nature walks, sand sculpting competitions, and art in various forms.

Read more here. The storytelling sessions will be conducted on the following days (you can view the entire schedule here) :





28 January 2010

Story Telling by Parnab Mukherjee

Shankara Vidyashram


29 January 2010

Story Telling by

V.R. Devika

A.M.M School


1 February 2010

Story Telling

by Sonali Shah

Shankara Vidyashram


Story Telling by

V.R. Devika

A.M.M School


2 February 2010

Story Telling

by Sonali Shah



Story Telling by Parnab Mukherjee



3 February 2010

Story Telling

by Sonali Shah

Asan Memorial


Story Telling by Parnab Mukherjee

P.S. Senior School


Story Telling by

Jeeva Raghunath

Asan Memorial


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Puppet Festival, Bangalore

Via Ananya Trust

Hope for the Flowers is a tale about life and revelation. It is a story about a caterpillar who like all of us, has trouble accepting what he is. He wants to win in the rat race and reach the top.His struggles mirror the struggles of each student, employee and individual in the urban world who is desperate to fit in. The obsession to win the competition makes us mechanically display our merits such that we overlook our latent potentialities. But the real victory is the revelation of who I am and what I can be rather than what the world wants me to be. The play has now been modified and is brought to you in a new package. We have improvised it to make it more picturesque by adding puppetry and black light theatre. All parts of the production are the children’s own creations and are exhibited in the present performance. This public performance, the first in Bangalore, has used a medium to help children learn new skills: Sculpting, music, lights and stage management. This performance is the beginning and we hope to host a theatre festival later in the year inviting teachers, students, parents, artists and residents of Bangalore to participate in a series of workshops and performances by the children of Ananya.
More information here.

Click on the image to see the schedule.

Mobile Library Run by Kids

Via Newstrack India

In a unique initiative, children in Kolkata, are distributing books free of cost to children residing in rural areas to help educate them, and inculcate the reading habit in them.

Surojit Das, Shintu Das, Subha Das, Ayush Chettri and Gaurav Das, all of whom are young school students, have taken the responsibility of delivering books to poor children.

"There are many children in my locality who want to study but due to their financial difficulties, they are not able to go to school. This mobile library has given them an opportunity to read many books, so that they can do well in future," said Surojit Das.

These children fill up a cycle van of second-hand books and take the van to several rural areas. Every Wednesday they drive their mobile library, aptly named 'Boi Gari', (Books Van), and distribute the books to children in the rural areas.11 Pally Unnayan Samity, a local club, started this novelservice in 2007.The club engaged local children to take the responsibility of spread literacy to other children in the area.The club bought the cycle-van and stuffed it with around 150 books to create a free mobile library.

"To grow interest, we thought that only children should be engaged to take this initiative ahead. Now these kids do all the work, they ride in the van, take it to different localities and distribute books. They go to each house and call out to the little children to take the books," said Prasun Dey, Secretary of 11 Pally Unnayan Samity.

The children running the mobile library not only read out stories to the poor children but also teach them how to read themselves.
Read the entire article here.

Inkpop - Interactive Writing Platform For Teens

Via TechCrunch

News Corp-owned HarperCollins this morning put out a release about the launch of, an interactive writing platform for teens.

Anyway: Inkpop is a project from HarperTeen, HarperCollins Publishers’ teen publishing unit. The platform aims to attract young readers and writers with a combination of community publishing features, user-generated content, and social networking elements.

In addition, the company has engaged a group of international HarperCollins editors and authors to function as some sort of ‘editorial board’ whose job it is to review the site’s top five monthly selections, provide teens with feedback and mentorship opportunities, while also considering their work for publication.

Susan Katz, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, said: “Teens are a key consumer group with significant financial impact. Teen fiction is one of the most robust and fastest-growing categories in publishing today.”

Read more here.

Image Source

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baleine Bookmark

Plunge into your books with Atypyk's Baleine bookmark (spotted on the sub-studio design blog)

Monday, January 25, 2010

India - A Thriving Book Market


But the Indian economy is growing, and so is its appetite for books.

Kavade Tournament - Traditional Games

Kavade(Bangalore) is organizing a tournament of traditional games on 26th January, 2010. You have to register in teams of 2 for the event. Click on the image above for more details.

Citizen Matters carried an article on last time's tournament :
The tournament included games such as Chowkabara, Pagade, AduHuli Aata and Alugulimane. Divided into two age groups, above and below 15 years, this event attracted more than 60 participants in two days. The participants enjoyed playing together with friends and family.

Many parents said that they have grown up playing such games and the event gave them a chance to introduce their children to it. One such parent, Mohan Joshi felt that people today rarely keep these games at home. He added that tournaments like such help children develop patience in their otherwise fast paced life. He said his son Rohit, all of nine years, seemed to have developed a liking toward these games after trying his hand at alugulimane. “It helps children apply their mind unlike the aimless video games, thereby improving the thought process”, he said.

The tournament saw practised board gamers and first timers. Completely engrossed in chowkabari were two such novice youngsters Narahari and Murari who participated on both the days of the event. The boys who learnt chowkabari on the first day were quite competent on day two. Narahari considered these games as a source of bringing families closer together and bridging gap. Murari infact found board games such as chowkabara better than video games. They plan to come here more often.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...

We are participating in several book fairs in January and February. Check the following schedule and mark your calendar.

'Reading Our Commonwealth - International Rights Exhibition of Books on the Sports of India' is aimed at showcasing and documenting publications on Indian sports and bringing into focus the Commonwealth Games being hosted by India in October 2010 from the perspective of the publishing industry.

Chitra Books sources the best work from the world and brings them to India in unique, English-Hindi bilingual editions.The first series presents 4 picture books by Eric Carle. Tulika's new 'Looking at Art' series introduces Indian artists and their work to children. If you have been looking for bilingual books, Mantra Lingua may be place to find them at.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) which is facilitated by the NGO Pratham has been released. Click here to read about the findings of this report.

The Presenting Lenore blog is starting an 'international book blogger mentor program'. Any book blogger who blogs in English about books and lives outside the US and Canada can apply.

The Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC), the Indian Section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), is holding a three-day International Conference on Children’s Libraries – Building A Book Culture, on February 4th—6th, 2010 at New Delhi.

Bookshelf lovers, does a pill-shaped bookshelf look like something you may want in your house?

At Srishti ventures, a creative space for children, art, culture and literature, Nagaraj Navunda and his colleagues collect Kannada books from donors and then give it away free during the 'Pustake Parshe'.

Fundraisers are calling for urgent short story submissions to help raise money for disaster-stricken Haiti. Stories must be received by Monday 25 January, 2010.

Thumbthing is an invention that makes reading more comfortable.

Browse through the Twitter treasure chest to find links to varied topics and things we find on Twitter. (1, 2)

Image Source: theCarol

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Twitter Recap -2

From the Twitter treasure chest...


@brainpicker : Short Circuit bookshelf

@tarabooks : Photographs from Manu Chitrakar's visit. Manu Chitrakar, Patua artist from West Bengal came to Chennai for a workshop that will see the completion of a graphic novel 'I Seen the Promised Land' based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

The lovely books published by Tara Books was also featured on @BibliOdyssey 's awesome blog - Folkart Books from India

@RITOPL : Twitter notebooks...twitter and books collide again!

Novel Teas - teabags individually tagged with literary quotes from the world over

@BubbleCow: Book Drum are running a competition to find writers and editors

@newexperiments: MAG organises Short Story Competition, invites writers to participate.

A few questions were posed by our friends on Twitter. If any of you know the answers or have any suggestions, please leave a comment on this post and we shall pass on the message:
1. Has anyone read 'The Beautiful Tree-A Personal Journey into How the world’s Poorest People are Educating Themselves'. What did you think of the book?
2. Suggestions as to Indian writers/publishers/musicians/filmmakers, etc., who'd want to oppose DRMs? (via @pranesh_prakash)


@katharnavas: Tamilnadu Government has shared all school text books online for free as pdfs.

BaLA (Building as Learning Aid) Grows : Lifts schools across India, improving physical parameters of the learning environment

@RoomtoRead: $100 billion investment potential in Education sector over 5 yrs

Investors see education as a recession-proof industry


@krittika_v : 10 Global Trends in ICT and Education - Link

Find out which Indian non-profits and activists are on twitter. If you know of any non-profit which is on Twitter and which is not on that list, contribute and help build the list.

@FYSE What enables the best nonprofit to to create lasting social change?


Graphic Collages : images from Blaft's book -TIMES NEW ROMAN & COUNTRYMEN, by Vishwajyoti Ghosh, Jan 21-Feb15, Chennai

@tarabooks: Book Launch: The To-Let House, Friday, January 29 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, Chennai.

@HCIndia: Chandigarh launch of Mukul Deva's BLOWBACK on Saturday, 30 January at 5 pm at Capital Book Depot, Sector 17 E

@santoshmaharshi: CSO Partners is organizing a workshop for NGOs in Chennai - Opportunities in Challenging Times

Open Knowledge Conference (OKCon) 2010 - Call for Proposals, Submission deadline: January 31st 2010

Image Source : jek in the box

Twitter Recap -1

Interesting stuff we come across on Twitter...


The Hindu asks five prominent names on the Indian English literary circuit for their favourite books of this decade. Shashi Deshpande talks about 'Tradition and Indian Writing in English' . The Hippocampus blog has a list of books published in India for children in the year 2009. Sign the Right to Read Campaign Declaration. Indian momics (comics on mobile phones) are all set to revolutionise the industry in February.

News from the Jaipur Literature Festival:
@tcot_steve : India's literary magic
Jaipur Diary – The Early Birds
@nilanjanaroy: Very rough notes from the Jaipur literature festival and hanging out with the gang at Jaipur on Day 2.
@forbes_india: Day One at the Jaipur Literature Festival - some notes

IBBY Fund for Children in Crisis: The Haiti Project

@RHIndia : Random House authors choose their favourite books of 2009

@aravindadiga : An old article on RK Narayan

@PicPocketBooks: Who has time to listen to their kids read aloud? You do!

@r27: The Exquisite Book- a book project involving ten groups of ten artists

@cinnamonteal : Market sluggish for Kindle in India

@abhaga: Hind Swaraj Collector's Edition by Navjivan Press

@kkconkers : Books from Blocks

@cinnamonteal: Bhasha Samanwaya Awards declared

@randomhousekids : Vote for the 2010 CBC Teen Choice Book of the Year! (vote before 1st February, 2010)

@cinnamonteal : Own it Yourself bookstore. See for details
@inclusiveplanet: Braille without borders. Also, help Inclusive Planet achieve Project 10k! Lets create a planet without barriers!

@pothidotcom: Discounts, Delhi World Book Fair, free shipping if books are collected at the book fair - Link

@timeoutblr : Discount on Tara Books: 30 per cent off till Jan 30 - Link


Students in Kottayam are on a mission to find out how the State's water bodies have been affected by indiscriminate human action.

@AnorakMagazine: Huggable Stuffed “Aminals” Bring Kids’ Drawings to Life


Watch 'I Need My Teacher To Learn 3.0' , a video on why teachers must embrace emerging technologies and make the classroom a greater place of learning. The world will soon become a smaller place for nearly 1.5 crore schoolgoing children in India who are going to be linked though broadband internet connections and webcams within the next three years.

Read the ASER 2009 report : Findings in Karnataka. Also read: Landmark initiatives in the education sector in 2009.

Education’s Big Face-off : Private Schools or Govt. Schools?

@gkjohn: India still home to largest illiterate population: UNESCO - Link

Revisiting our archives : Girl Star- Anita the Beekeeper

@fn : Let's make studying accessible for blind students with the Accessible Class Notes Project


Do you know exceptional individuals with ideas/initiatives for social change? UnLtd India is looking for applicants from Mumbai.

@adropofwisdom: Looking for volunteer translators for Twestival. Interested? Contact @virtualwords or

@twestival: We are now officially accepting new city and volunteer registrations for Twestival Global 2010

@deepam_ : How to partner with Deepam and support for a cause

IG Khan Memorial Trust invites photo/ graphic short stories on social justice. Last date: 25th Jan,2010.

@shioyama: The Idiom Project -a social translation community to help people find the real meaning of idiomatic phrases.

@inclusiveplanet: I’m Blind, But There’s No Need To Talk To My Dog - Link

@dhimant: Blind with Camera - promoting the art of photography in people with visual impairments.

@kkconkers: Sans Parapluie - wonderful handpainted armoires

Image Source : jek in the box

Priceless Books for Free

Yes, someone is actually giving away priceless books free so that more people, and children in particular, could benefit. At Srishti ventures, a creative space for children, art, culture and literature, Nagaraj Navunda and his colleagues collect Kannada books from donors and then give it away free during the 'Pustake Parshe'. Visitors are encouraged to donate Kannada books that are collecting dust in their homes (well, shiny, mint-fresh books also welcome!) and they can walk away with a book of their choice for free. Read all about this novel venture featured in the DNA newspaper here.
If you do visit this place in Basavangudi, Bangalore, do try the famous Bangalore rice dish Puliogare at the outlet downstairs, called "Puliogare Point'.

Image from the Pratham Books library.

Thumbthing for Comfortable Reading

Spotted on Laughing Squid

A brilliant new invention for reading books – it makes reading more comfortable.

Simply put the Thumbthing onto your thumb and place into the spine of the book. The two wings will hold the pages open more easily, making reading more comfortable.

It allows you to read with one hand only.

It prevents the spine of the book from being broken.

When finished reading place the Thumbthing into the top of the book so it doesn’t get lost.


Image Source

Saturday, January 23, 2010

100 Stories Needed to Help Haiti

Via pressdispensary

Fundraisers are calling for urgent short story submissions to help raise money for disaster-stricken Haiti. Out of the submissions, 100 pieces of fiction will be chosen to appear in an e-book, the proceeds of which will go to the Red Cross.

The Red Cross is just one of a number of charities and humanitarian organisations mobilising a vast aid effort to reach the thousands of injured, hungry and thirsty survivors of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake to hit Haiti on 12 January.

100 Stories for Haiti is the brainchild of author Greg McQueen. On the morning of January 19, Greg posted a video on his blog saying: “Dear Twitterverse, I can't keep watching this on the news or trending on Twitter without doing something. I woke up this morning with the idea that together we could make an e-book and donate all the profits to the Red Cross.”

Within hours, news had spread throughout microblogging website, Twitter, and story submissions began arriving. Nick Harkaway, author of ‘The Gone Away World’, will be editing a story for the book as well as penning the introduction. Lorraine Mace, co-author of the ABC Checklist for Writers, and award-winning environmental journalist, Sarah Lewis-Hammond, are volunteering their time to help with the editorial process.

100 Stories for Haiti needs short story submissions and volunteers.

If you want to send a short story, please follow these guidelines:
• Do not exceed 1,000 words.
• No stories containing graphic violence, death or destruction.
• Send all stories in the body text of an email to . Stories sent as attachments will not be opened.
• Stories must be received by Monday 25 January, 2010.
More details here.

(Thanks @JayneHowarth for sending us more information about this project!)

Image Source : soubhagya - zest for life...

Book Pills

Via Yanko Design
So you’ve got all the book shelves, yes? I bet you don’t have a stack of pill-shaped bookshelves. Take a peek at this stack of shelves right here. Made of flexible inner materials (aluminum or iron) and a little bit more flexible material (rubber or sponge), plus the outer shell of plastic. That’s a recipe for a good time. A good time with amazing bookshelves.
The rad part of these shelves is the flexible materials on the inside – they allow for an adjustable bookend or bookends! You can move em all around the outsides or put them right in the middle.
Image Source

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mantra Lingua

If you have been looking for bilingual books, Mantra Lingua may be place to find them at.

Mantra Lingua is a UK based publishing house that supplies bilingual resources around the world.

The products connect with and transcend national differences in a way that is respectful and appreciative of local cultures. The name Mantra Lingua is an amalgam between the Sanskrit and Latin, but Mantra also covers the Far Eastern and the African continents.

Mantra Lingua is about connecting languages for children. With increased mobility of populations across the globe, e.g. Brazilians in Japan, Germans in Sweden, Indians in Gambia, Mantra Lingua has developed a set of values that stems from a desire to retain distinctness and yet encourage integration of new communities in various societies.

Mantra Lingua's values are as follows:

  • To celebrate the cultural and linguistic nature of society and to establish a culture of tolerance and awareness in young people, both from the host and the new communities.
  • To provide resources for ethnic minority groups with strong central characters and community settings, to help build the child's self esteem and social interaction.
  • To share across cultures the children's books that are special - taking best selling well-known books and publishing them in as many languages as possible.
  • To provide teachers and librarians with creative resource materials, which are inclusive of all the community and are not dominated by one single culture.
  • To strive for innovation and creativity in learning methods, promoting the values of bilingualism not only to enhance language skills but also in the learning of the major national language.
  • To increase the awareness of the diversity of cultures and the enriching prospects for more cross-cultural activities and resources. Together these will make for a more global understanding of the nature and nuances of peoples from different countries or communities.
Visit Mantra Lingua.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

'Looking at Art' Series

Tulika's new 'Looking at Art' series introduces Indian artists and their work to children.

Awareness about Indian art and artists is not completely lacking but is surely underrated and diffused. Will the generation next ever learn about the rich art that its country claims ownership of or about the home-grown geniuses responsible for it? Since an interest in art is very subjective, Anjali Raghbeer hopes to at least initiate a dialogue with her Looking at Art series for children published by Tulika that introduces them to the life and work of four great artists that India should take pride in.

“In the West, everyone markets their art so well. Everyone would know the Mona Lisa. But nobody will know which is Hussain’s or Ravi Varma’s best painting” -- this was her motivation to work on an unlikely set of books on artists for children.

Explaining her choice of artists, Anjali says “We went with ‘who are the top five’ and thought we’ll do them geographically -- North – Amrita Sher-Gil; South – Ravi Varma; East – Jamini Roy; West – M.F. Hussain, with Souza being the other choice. If you were to name the top five contemporary artists in India you would actually come up with these names and it was fortunate that they were from different parts.

But the best in the series is arguably ‘My name is Amrita…’ born to be an artist. “I wanted children to see it from her point of view, see into her mind, her sensitivity, her genius and how it developed. In the short span of 28 years that she lived she was the top” says Anjali who in this book, unlike the others, has used excerpts from the artist’s own diary entries that were usually accompanied by illustrations by Amrita herself. It is indeed interesting to actually see these illustrations evolve over the years from a childish doodle to mature sketches as Amrita grows.
Read the entire article here. You can also read the Saffron Tree review and you can buy the books here.

Image Source

Conference : Building a Book Culture

Via iBbY

The Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC), the Indian Section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), is holding a three-day International Conference on Children’s Libraries – Building A Book Culture, on February 4th—6th, 2010 at New Delhi, India. The aim of the Conference is to discuss the potentials and scope of libraries in strengthening the book culture. This Conference, a pioneering attempt by the Indian BBY, is a step towards this goal.

We invite children’s librarians, educationists, publishers, authors and all others interested in children and books, to attend this important conference. Participants will benefit from the academic sessions, share the experiences of eminent speakers from around the world, and watch demonstrations of reading promotion activities. At the same time, they will enjoy the attractive displays and cultural evenings organised for the occasion.

For further details contact:
Conference Organiser
Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) / Ind.BBY
Nehru House
4, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
New Delhi- 110002

Tel.: 91-11-23311095, 91-11-23316970-74
The list of speakers and more information can be found here.

Image Source : carolinesphotos

International Book Blogger Mentor Program 2010

The Presenting Lenore blog is starting an 'international book blogger mentor program'. I love the idea behind this project.

It can be tough to keep up with the book blogging community when you don’t live in the US or Canada. Publishers won’t send you books, most contests aren’t for you, and it can be next to impossible to find certain titles in your home country.

I would like to continue supporting international book bloggers and have decided to start the International Book Blogger Mentor Program. Any book blogger who blogs in English about books and lives outside the US and Canada can apply. Each month I will pick one blogger to send 2-3 of my most recent review copies to. Upon request, I will also look over the reviews you write for the books and suggest improvements. Once you post your first review, I will feature you and your blog on Presenting Lenore.
Apply here. Also read: Frequently Asked Questions.

Image Source : morberg

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meet Us At ....

Earlier this month, we had a post on the several bookfairs taking place across India in the months of January and February. Pratham Books is participating in some of these bookfairs. Check the following schedule and mark your calendar:

Jaipur Literature Festival - Jaipur - 21st-25th January, 2010

Bal Kumar Sammelan - Nasik - 29th- 31st January, 2010

World Book Fair - Delhi - 30th January - 7th February, 2010

AWIC Meet (Conference) - IIC, Delhi - 4th-6th February, 2010

Kala Ghoda - Mumbai - 6th- 14th February, 2010

State of Education in India : ASER 2009

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) which is facilitated by the NGO Pratham has been released and these are the findings of the report.

From the Press Release:
In 2009, ASER was conducted in 575 districts, over 16,000 villages and 300,000 households, and surveyed almost 700,000 children.

In 2009, we find that 96% of children in the age group 6 to 14 in rural India are enrolled in school. 73% of these children are enrolled in government schools and 21.8 % are enrolled in private schools. In 2006, there were 8 major states that had more than 10% girls in the 11-14 age group who were out of school. These states were Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. All these states have shown a decrease in this number. The steepest drop in the percentage of out of school girls in the age group 11 to 14 is in Bihar where the figure fell from 17.6% in 2006 to 6% in 2009.

On any given day, the average attendance rate in rural India is around 75%. In states like Kerala, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Nagaland, 90% or more children attend school on a given day. But in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh more than 30% children were absent on the day of the visit. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh enrolment is close to 95%, but more than 40% children were absent on day of the visit.

Reading and arithmetic abilities in Std 1 are showing slight improvement.

For higher grades in primary school, there is little evidence of substantial sustained improvement over the past few years. The percentage of children in Std 5 in government schools who can read at Std 2 level has been around 50% for the last four years. This means that half of the children in rural India are at least three grade levels behind where they need to be. Of course there are notable exceptions. From 2006 to 2009, in some states there has been a change of more than 10 percentage points in the proportion of children in Std 5 who can read at Std 2 level. These states are Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In 2009, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal and Maharashtra top the reading chart with
more than 70% children in Std 5 reading Std 2 text fluently.

In maths, the situation is even more worrying. From 2007 to 2009, for children in government schools in Std 5, the ability to do division problems has actually declined from 41% to 36%. Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh record relatively high levels topping the chart in 2009 with over 60% of children in Std 5 able to solve division problems. Chhattisgarh shows that big improvements are possible in a short period of time (31% in 2007 to 59 % in 2008). But overall, hardly any other states show any major improvement in maths.

Interestingly, paid private tuition is on the rise across the country. Between 2007 and 2009, the percentage of children taking paid tuition increased for every class, in both government and private schools. In government schools, 17.1% in Std 1 take tuition and this proportion rises to 30.8% in Std 8. Among children attending private schools, almost a quarter take private tuition even in Std 1.
For a more detailed analysis of the report, click here.

Eric Carle's English-Hindi Bilingual Books

Via Karadi Tales

Chitra, meaning 'picture' in Sanskrit, is a way of communication, a story, a reflection. A good picture book is a child's first introduction to the joys of reading. A good illustration tells a story with multilayered dimensions that fire up a child's imagination. Chitra, an imprint of Karadi Tales, brings to India some of the greatest picture books of the world. Our children are exposed to multicultural and diverse methods of art and storytelling.

Chitra sources the best work from the world and brings them to India in unique, English-Hindi bilingual editions.The first series presents 4 picture books by Eric Carle, who is the world's largest selling picture book creator of all time with over 90 million copies sold.
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Event-- Katha 1: Ramayana and other stories

Via Scholars

The Department of Comparative Literature of the Central University of Kerala will host Katha 1: Ramayana and other stories, a spectacular celebration of the art of storytelling, using the Ramayana as a backdrop. This is the first in a series of public events based on the theme of Narrative and the one-day programme on 22 January 2010 will feature Paula Richman of Oberlin College, Ohio.

The story, or katha has been vital in moulding societies and cultures. In order to stress the comparative orientation of the programme, they bring together various narratives – oratory, poetry, photography, documentaries, and puppetry – into the single frame of Katha 1!

In addition to Paula Richman who will speak on “The Unique Ramayana Traditions of South India”, there will be Vellikkeel Raghavan talking on “Literary Traditions of North Malabar”, Readings from Mappila Ramayanam, a unique Muslim Ramayana, documentaries (on the cockfight pastime of the coastal region) and more.
More details here.

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Chase Community Giving - Cast Your Vote

Chase Community Giving is 'harnessing the power of social networking to give individuals and communities a voice in corporate philanthropy.'

Our friends at GiveIndia are one of the charities that are participating in this challenge.

GiveIndia is 1 of 100 NGOs selected (globally) by Chase Foundation to compete for $1 million on Facebook. NGOs have to get Facebook users to cast a vote for them and the NGO with the highest number of votes will win the prize.

In the first round of the competition, GiveIndia got about 3,000 votes and won $25,000. But, in order to win the $1 million prize, they need all the votes they can. If they win the prize, GiveIndia plans to use the money to educate 40,000 children for a year.

Voting begins on January 15 and ends on January 22.

Just 1 minute of your time can educate a child for a year! Click and vote to educate 40,000 children in India at

Reading Our Commonwealth - International Rights Exhibition of Books on the Sports of India


Sports in India have a long history. From traditional Indian games with their own cultural and social contours to all popular international ones, Indian sports have colourful tales to tell. The International Rights Exhibition of the books on Indian sports and related themes has twin purpose: it is aimed at showcasing and documenting publications on Indian sports and bringing into focus the Commonwealth Games being hosted by India in October 2010 from the perspective of the publishing industry.

Registration of books starts on 1st May, 2009 and the last date of entries for inclusion of books in the annotated rights catalogue is 30th september, 2009.

Read more here.

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...

Evolving over thousands of years from clay tablets, to scrolls, to bound manuscripts, to e-books and audiobooks - read about the evolution of the book. Mala Kumar, editor - Pratham Books, writes about books, children and the reading habit. Tata DOCOMO will now deliver Manga and Marvel comics on your phone. Read about the two rare collections that Chennai's new state library will get soon.

Vermillion House is a cozy little bookstore (which is part of a bigger shop) in Bangalore. Surrounded by books in a room filled with sunlight and lovely antique furniture on display, it is a whole world away from the glitzy bookstores you find in malls.

Bookshelf lovers, check out the 'Letter Bookshelf'.

Kiran Bir Sethi talks about teaching kids to believe in their own potential, take local issues into their own hands, lead other young people, even educate their parents.

We leave you with Quinn Dombrowski's Flickr stream which has a collection of beautiful South Asian book covers.

Image Source: Jano De Cesare

Sunday, January 17, 2010

‘No Storybooks Now Please, My Kid has Exams!’

Mala Kumar, editor - Pratham Books, writes about books, children and the reading habit.

Via Deccan Herald
Mohan Raj, a voracious reader was presented a set of picture books for his six-year-old son by a colleague. Pushing the books deep into his laptop bag, Mohan said to his colleague, “My son has exams this week, I’ll show these books to him after he’s finished the exams.”

Since when has reading become a distraction? Since when have books been in the same league as Evil TV, Horrid Video Games, Bad Munchies? The pity is that in this instance, the child should not have been having an examination at his tender age! And even if he did, the parent should be have been happy to ‘distract’ him with story books. But that’s my view, and as an editor of children’s books in a publishing house, this could be considered professional bias.

Kids today have stories in comics, on television, in video games and movies. Vinayak Varma, feature writer, illustrator and graphic designer, said: “I don’t think we can compare one media with another. If there is new technology then we have to be excited about it...for these come from the same DNA as books.”

“Books, toys and TV are all vying for time. That some children still like to read books shows that there is considerable magic in books,” he added.

“It’s precisely because there is so much information that they need to read books — you get a world view,” said Gita Wolf, author and founder of Tara Publishing.

So what kind of books should children be reading? “Just surround children with good books,” said Usha Mukunda, bibliophile and librarian. Added Roopa Pai, author of the recently launched book, The Quest for the Shyn Emeralds, “As kids, no one told us what to read, and we each discovered our own tastes in reading — we can read ‘bad’ books and still learn something from those!”

For parents who are not yet convinced that books — all kinds — help their children, there is news from the Central Board of School Education. Students from class 5 onwards could soon be rewarded on their reading habits under a CBSE proposal to use a new evaluation system to encourage children to read storybooks.

Not all children like to read. This is perfectly normal, just like not all children like ice-cream. And just as there is a need to surround children with books, there is a more important need for parents to avoid forcing books down the throats of unwilling readers. Experts suggest that a child who sees his peers and parents enjoying the act of reading is more likely to become a reader. Finally, award-winning author and illustrator of Are We There Yet and other books, Alison Lester had this to say about children and the reading habit, “If you can read, you can go anywhere.”
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: Pratham Boooks