Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Teaching One Child at a Time: Shukla Bose

Educating the poor is more than just a numbers game, says Shukla Bose. She tells the story of her groundbreaking Parikrma Humanity Foundation, which brings hope to India's slums by looking past the daunting statistics and focusing on treating each child as an individual.
Note : If you are receiving this blog post in an email or through an RSS feed and cannot see the video, please open the link in a new page.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Water Stories

(Rashmi Gopal handles the Schools Water Portal at Arghyam. She has been working in the field of environment education for over 7 years now and is trying to spread water literacy in schools using 'fun' methods through the portal. Rashmi agreed to guest blog for our blog to enter Tulika's second blogathon edition)

Stories can capture the imagination of young and old. Indian folklore and mythology has many stories on water bodies. Here’s one on Lake Chilika, India’s largest brackish water lake:
In mythical times, king Raktabahu came to ransack the rich temple city of Puri in Orissa. Being a successful pirate he had a huge fleet of pirate ships. As he wanted to attack the city stealthily, he anchored the ships in deeper waters, where he could lie low undetected. But the sea gave him away for the waves carried in the refuse from the ships!
As soon the people got wind of his visit, they gathered all their precious articles and fled. When Raktabahu entered the city, he found it completely deserted. Furious with the sea, he ordered his people to attack it. To save itself the sea went into the sea bed. Then gathering its mighty strength, the sea surged back and drowned Rakabahu’s entire fleet and formed the Lake Chilika.
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The Schools Water Portal (www.schools.indiawaterportal) has many such stories / folklore on water bodies around the world. Check these out at Some of my favourites are the stories about the Kosi and the Narmada. As a child I lived in Jabalpur and we often went boating down the Narmada through the marble rocks of Bhedaghat. I remember the boatman pointing out to a cave high up in the rocks and telling us that a sage has been living there for many years and doing tapas. For a seven year old, that sounded so fascinating.
My grandmother would throw in a rupee coin whenever we went to a river. Rivers, she said, are to be worshipped and just as we make an offering of money to a temple, we should make an offering to the river. A couple of years ago we were driving by the river Cauvery. I gave my son a rupee and asked him to put it in the water. I gave him my grandmothers logic. He gave me back the coin and said that he was not going to be party to polluting the river. It is now time to go with the flow and listen to our next generation. But let’s keep the stories alive.

Image Source : Rita Willaert

Monday, March 29, 2010

COMIX.INDIA : Multi-lingual, Self-published Comic Magazine

Via expressbuzz

As an author, artist and filmmaker, Bharath Murthy used to feel his country had no platform for original, short comics. This spurred him to launch Comix.India five months ago. The multi-lingual, black-and-white indie comic magazine, floated last October, focuses on original work by Indian creators — and is gaining popularity.

Bharath first put out a submissions call for the first volume in the hope that it would stir up the nascent comics industry. Today, several submissions later, he is optimistic that the magazine will not only encourage aspiring authors and artists but will also spawn a new generation of adult comic readers. A brief glance at the artwork and stories makes one thing clear: Comix.India is trying to move away from the child-centric comics of yesterday. It’s no retelling of mythology or folk/fairy tales; here they address adult themes and issues.

Take Dr L Prakash’s Ear Rings. The story is a true-life account of his fellow prisoner’s journey to jail. Although written in an almost child-like language, the art is stark with disturbing blotches of grey and black. That the writer is a self-taught artist is evident. Also finding space in the anthology is Sudeep Menon’s crime noir about a gangster in Mumbai called Just Another Job.

The magazine hasn’t received much support from traditional publishing companies. The loss of a major publishing house also meant the limitation for Comix.India’s budget for marketing. But this is the age of the Internet and viral marketing. The magazine was promoted on social networking sites like Facebook (600 fans) and Twitter. It also made its presence known in the blogosphere. Already, has members posting artwork, critiquing each other’s work and talking comics. The site also features a blog and a database of registered artists and writers to encourage collaborative efforts.

A wary publishing industry is one reason why Comix.India has chosen to self-publish, using “Comics companies in India operate on an archaic ‘factory system…like a 19th-century industrial model,” Bharath notes. “It relied on our mythologies that lent themselves to the comic genre. A publisher only needed to find the artists to ink and letter the product. Here, it’s the company — not the artist — who owns the artwork.

If Volume One of Comix.India does not have a theme, with stories range from memoir to essay to historical fantasy and urban detective pieces, the second volume is on ‘Girl Power’, courtesy Bharath’s film (Fragile Heart of Moe) on the female manga artists in Japan. “We have no comics for girls in India, and almost all Indian comics are implicitly addressed to male readers.” The deadline for submissions to Volume Two is April 30.

Read the entire article here. The magazine can be purchased here.

Image Source

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mountain Echoes - A Literary Festival

Via Siyahi

For a unique literary and cultural experience in the pristine beauty of Bhutan, the India-Bhutan Foundation presents to all book lovers - Mountain Echoes – a literary festival, in association with Siyahi. Focusing on the magic and mystique of writings of and from the Himalayan regions, the festival will be held from the 17th – 20th May, 2010 in Thimphu, Bhutan.

Programme details (as per the email sent by Siyahi)

(Subject to change. Entry to all sessions is free)
17th May, 2010
Inaugural at India House Auditorium at 5 pm
Keynote Address - By Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck
GNH as a Transformational Tool: A vision of common purpose - A talk on Gross National Happiness by the Prime Minister of Bhutan, His Excellency, Lyonpo Jigmi Yoser Thinley

18th May, 2010
Return to Roots: A discussion on culture and identity - Pavan Varma in conversation with Pema Choden and Namita Gokhale
Bhutan: The inner self – Dasho Karma Ura introduced by Namita Gokhale
Of Women, by Women - Kunzang Choden and Urvashi Butalia
In the High Mountains: Encountering the Himalayas - Omair Ahmad in conversation with Mitali Saran
Stories and Folk Tales from a Grand Mother’s Lap - Bulbul Sharma
Scripting Cinema: Bhutanese and Indian films - Tshering Penjore, Tshering Wangyel, Rajkumar Hirani
Poems about Love: Poetry reading - Gulzar and Pavan Varma introduced by Neeta Gupta
A Bhutanese Village Experience

19th May, 2010
These Hills Called Home - Sampurna Chattarji, Mamang Dai and Temsula Ao
The Quest for Younghusband - Patrick French in conversation with Sadanand Dhume
Talking Lozey - Sonam Kinga introduced by Namita Gokhale
Five Poems: Poetry readings - Mamang Dai, Temsula Ao, Kynpham Sing
The Himalayan Wonderland – M S Gill in conversation with Dasho Kinley Dorji
Words as Arrows: Poetry and archery - Kynpham Sing moderated by Sampurna Chattarji
Winds of Change – Dasho Kinley Dorji in conversation with Ravi Singh
Soulmate: the band from the North East

20th May, 2010
Tales of the Land - Samten Dorji moderated by Choki Shomo
An Ancient Epic, Modern Times - Namita Gokhale moderated by Sadanand Dhume
The Rule is there is no rule: Creative thinking and storytelling – Siok Sian Dorji, Ravi Singh
Mapping the Himalayas: From Pandit Nain Singh Rawat to the Askot-Arakot Abhiyan - Shekhar Pathak in conversation with Gopilal Acharya
Young Writers, Young Readers - Chetan Bhagat moderated by Jai Arjun Singh
On Balance - Leila Seth
Mind Travel: Words, pictures, stories - Sarnath Bannerji

More details here.

Image Source : jmhullot

'Cauvery' makes World Water Day Special

Annual exams were in full swing at the Government Urdu Higher Primary School in D J Halli, and exam fever was palpable in the atmosphere. But for over fifty students of the school, it was a day to examine something totally new. They gathered on the terrace, first to test 'Cauvery', a book brought out by Pratham Books in October 2009 and then to examine a unique but simple contraption to save water while washing one's hands.

On March 20, two days before World Water Day, Pratham Books held a book reading to introduce the children to the river Cauvery. I enjoyed reading out excerpts from the Hindi translation of the book by Manisha Chaudhary. Author Oriole Henry has put some amazing facts about the river Cauvery into the book to make it a history, geography and mythology book rolled into one. While each of Clare Arni's stunning pictures in the book could have said a thousand words, the kids had to listen to my words instead. Getting me to tell a story is easy....getting me to stop is tough! And since it was World Storytelling Day too, who could stop yours truly!

After the storytelling, Vishwanath S, founder of Bangalore's first Rainwater Club, and Aajwanti, one of his students at Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, demonstrated the use of Tippy Tap. This is a wonderful and fun device used to dispense small amounts of water to wash hands with soap and improve hygiene.

Pratham Books then gave away prizes to the winners in the 'Cauvery' contests held to mark the publication of the book. Government Urdu Higher Primary School too was one of the winners in the contest. The contests were held alongside the 'Pratham Books-Save Our Rivers, Conserve Water' campaign. The campaign called upon students, teachers, bloggers and others to sign up to become Water Champions. Over 1, 22,000 pledges were received from people all over the country saying they would save water. The campaign was done in partnership with Arghyam, and Deccan Herald's student programme DHNIE.

Fresh-faced children (well, they used Tippy Tap to clean up their faces too on this summer day, and they did it very economically!) got free copies of our books on environment. You could say the books were literally up for grabs....check out the picture of my young colleague Balkrishna getting mobbed by the youngsters.

And its' so hot in Bangalore now, that I'm going to head for the part of Cauvery that flows close to Banglore, Hoggenkkal Falls. Would any of you want to write in and tell us what Hoggenkkal means?

YouTube Edu : 65,000 Videos, 35 Full Courses

Via YouTube blog
A college education is something many people take for granted, but only about 1% of the world actually gets one. A year ago today, YouTube EDU ( launched with a very simple mission: deliver some of the world’s greatest university courses to anyone with an Internet connection and a screen.

Whether it’s Salman Rushdie reading poetry by the last mughal king to Emory University students, or a lecture in electrical engineering at UC Berkeley, YouTube EDU has helped some of the oldest institutions on the planet blaze a trail into the 21st century by opening up a rich and empowering corpus of video content to aspiring students everywhere.

YouTube EDU is now one of the largest online video repositories of higher education content in the world. We have tripled our partner base to over 300 universities and colleges, including University of Cambridge, Yale, Stanford, MIT, University of Chicago and The Indian Institutes of Technology. We have grown to include university courses in seven languages across 10 countries. We now have over 350 full courses, a 75% increase from a year ago and thousands of aspiring students have viewed EDU videos tens of millions of times. And today, the EDU video library stands at over 65,000 videos.

At the end of the day, YouTube EDU is about using the democratic nature of the Internet and the power of video to make higher learning accessible to all. We’ve heard from thousands of users like trainerstone, who writes: “Thank you so much for your videos. I live in provincial Philippines and have very little access to the arts and academic stimulus.” But perhaps one user put it best: “This is what the Internet was created for.”
Read the entire article here.

Ghalib Institute

Via Ghalib Institute

The idea of founding a fitting memorial to Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was first mooted by a committee formed under patronage of Dr. Zakir Husain,late President of India to celeberate Ghalib Centenary in 1969. Mrs.Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister was appointed the president and Mr. Fakhrudddin Ali Ahmed (also a former President of India) the secretary of the committee. As a result of the endeavours of this committee Ghalib Institute was established in 1971. It is now a well-know Institute, actively engaged in various academic and cultural fields, managed by a Trust of eminent people.

Ghalib is popular not only amongst the researchers and academicians but also amongst the people at large. The Institute, therefore, has always had a two-pronged approach in popularising and promoting Ghalib's works in the literary spheres as well as in the cultural arena. The Hum Sub drama group, which is a part of the Institute and was headed by Begum Abida Ahmed till her death, has been very active and its various plays well received by the people. We have also organized from time to time special programmes of musical presention of Ghalibs poetry by well known singers of the sub-continent. Mushaira is also a regular annual feature in which all eminent Urdu poets are invited.

The Institute also publishes the well-known six-month research journal "Ghalib Nama". We have brought out a large number of research publications on Ghalib and his other eminent contemporaries. The library of the Institute contains rare manuscripts and important publication.
More information about the institute can be found here.

Image Source : `[ Amr Malik ]'

Our Books Reach Cambodia

(Ashok Kamath, Trustee - Pratham Books, writes about his trip to Cambodia and about our books now being read by kids in Cambodia)

Last week, my wife and I took off for four days to visit Angkor Wat ( largest temple in the world and a World Heritage site) in Cambodia. As always on a trip, I carry Pratham Books to give away to children that I meet and this trip was no different.

Cambodia, like India, is a poor country and they have had their share of bad luck starting from the Vietnam days to the days of Pol Pot who is credited for having masterminded a genocide that took 2 million lives (out of 14 million). It is an incredibly horrid story - most bookshops in Siam Reap (the town that is closest to the temples) carry books that are devoted to how this genocide was done. And then you see people who have been maimed by land mines.

In the midst of all this, the bright sparks are inevitably the little children. All over the place, across three days we saw dozens of children between 3-10 years of age all imploring us to buy the stack of picture postcards - ten of them for “one dollah” so that they could use the money to go school. I asked our guide why the same story and he said they were all taught by the same people.

We got into a conversation with one of them - her name was Pot and here is a picture of little Pot who was delighted to get a book from us. Pot is about 6 years old and was selling some prayer beads. She goes to school in the mornings and does her bit selling stuff in the afternoons and she loves reading. Her eyes lit up as she saw “We are All Animals” and quietly and with dignity she was hoping I would give her the book and when I did give it to her, she was thrilled.

There were many other children who we met and gave some books. In most places they forgot they were selling and started to ask us to show the books and they got engrossed in the book. So, finally we had to give them a book each.

Finally, on the last day, we went to a primary school and on the doorway to a classroom I saw the board “ 4th Grade / 6th Grade” and I said to myself “ here’s the local form of multi-grade classrooms”. But I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the guide tell me that because of a shortage of teachers the schools run in two shifts and that is why the board shows two different grades. Each shift is for about 4 hours and apparently this works well. I spoke to the teacher (who knew very little English) and then left a handful of books for their school library. He was very grateful and also pushed to enquire if I would consider sponsoring more stuff in his school.

All in all, Pratham Books in its English language editions is now in Cambodia - think of it as the next Indian invasion after we sent our temple folklore to them in around 1000 CE.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Would You Buy With $50

Last week we linked to a video where several people were questioned about the value of Rs.500. Today, we stumbled across a similar concept.

What would you buy with $50?

We asked this question of more than 100 kids in Uganda, from rural villages to the sprawling capital city. The kids responded with drawings of what they would buy if they had $50. From school fees and banana trees to iPhones and laptops, their drawings receal so much about their aspirations and the obstacles they face.

School Fees, School Supplies, and Clothes - By Yudahya, Age 17

Clothes and Novel - By Zamu (Peace), Age 19

Find more details about the project here.

Image Source

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - A Pop-up Book

Pop-up books are just too too too good! Here is another example of a stunning pop-up book :

Shall I Give You a Good Book?

This is a guest post by Chintan Girish Modi. He is pursuing an M.Phil. in English Language Education. Based on field work with school students in a low-income neighbourhood in Dongri, Mumbai, his research has to do with encouraging children to write by building on their interests and experiences instead of responding mechanically to teacher-driven writing prompts. He is interested in poetry, travel, children's books, libraries, and alternative modes of assessment, particularly peer feedback. He writes for Teacher Plus and Young World, and manages People in Education, an online group that connects various stakeholders in education, and facilitates the sharing of resources. Some of his published work is available at and started blogging because of "a friend who says share karna chahiye".

And share he does! Chintan is a treasured member of our community who is always sending us stuff that is of interest to all of us here. We're fortunate to have friends like Chintan.


On my recent trip to Varanasi, I discovered an unassuming little treasure called क्या मैं तुम्हें एक अच्छी किताब दूं? शौकिया पुस्तक कर्मियों के लिए एक किताब (translated as Shall I Give You a Good Book? A Book for Amateur Book Activists), that was published way back in 2003.

As I savoured page after page, there was absolute admiration for the sincerity and sheer commitment on the part of the authors -- Usha Rao, T. Vijayendra, and Shailaja Kalle. As the preface will tell you, none of them are native speakers of Hindi, and have not studied the language beyond high school. While they apologise for the inaccuracies that might have crept into their use of the language, they also express a conviction that the earnestness of their intent will more than compensate.

They have put together an excellent resource for people who want to start community libraries in villages and small towns, or hold book exhibitions to create awareness about the vast amount of reading material that is available, or even run small bookshops.

The book starts off as a letter written by Usha to her friends Damayanti and Shyama, and spans the whole gamut of practical details involved in such an enterprise; from initiating contact with publishers, to filing correspondence, keeping accounts, selecting and ordering books, classifying books based on age group and genre, generating interest in reading, and sustaining a culture of reading. In addition to this, the book also offers you publisher contact information and lists of books classified under various categories.

It is a low-budget publication, in keeping with the constituency it sets out to serve. The book may not be printed on fancy and colourful paper, but the anecdotes and sketches liven it up. Priced at a modest Rs. 25, it is a collaborative venture by eight publishers from various parts of the country. I am reproducing here the address of each, so that you can pick up your copy from the one that you find most convenient.

Manchi Pustakam, 12-13-452 Street No. 1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh 500017. Tel. 040-27015295/6

Bal Sahitya Bhandar, Chaurai, Post Barginagar, Dist. Jabalpur 482056. Madhya Pradesh

Rupantar, A 26, Surya Apartments, Katora Taalaab, Raipur 492001, Chhattisgarh. Tel. 0771-2424669

Shishu Milap, 1, Shrihari Apartments, Behind Express Hotel, Alkapuri, Vadodara 390007. Gujarat. Tel. 0265-2342539

Sahitya Chayan, 91, L. I. G., Hastal, Uttamnagar, New Delhi 110059. Tel. 011-25633254

Bal Sahiti, Voluntary Health Association of Punjab, S. C. F., 18/1, Sector 10-D, Chandigarh 160011. Tel. 0172-543557

Roshnai Prakashan, 212 C.L./A., Ashok Mitra Road, Near Circus Maidan, Kanchrapada, North 24 Parganas, West Bengal.

Jeevan Mangalya, Near Telephone Exchange, Kausani, Dist. Almora 263639, Uttarakhand.

PS: Many thanks to Hema-ji for introducing me to this wonderful book

UPDATE : Someone forwarded this blog post to T.Vijayendra and he got in touch with Chintan and informed him that a few people have actually started libraries and bookshops after reading the book. He also has a few copies of the book left and if someone wants the book, they can contact him :

T. Vijayendra

Phone: 08258 205340
Mobile: 94907 05634 (No signal at the farm).

10-124, Nakre Village & P. O.
Karkala Taluk
Udipi-576 117
Karnataka, India.

Address for post
c/o Dr. Chhayalata
7-67 P, Jayadurga Compound, Temple Road,
Kannarpady, Udipi 576 103, Karnataka, India

Email : t.vijayendra at gmail dot com


As always, if you'd like to guest blog for us or if we could guest blog for you on your blog, please email us at web at prathambooks dot org.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Commonwealth Short Story Competition

Via Commonwealth Foundation

The Commonwealth Short Story Competition is an annual scheme to promote new creative writing, funded and administered by the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association. Each year around 25 winning and highly commended stories from the different regions of the Commonwealth are recorded on to CDs and broadcast on radio stations across the Commonwealth.

Anyone aged 19 or over who is a citizen of a Commonwealth country can enter, whether a professional or amateur writer. Commonwealth citizens who are 18 or under can enter the Commonwealth Essay Competition.

Stories should be original, unpublished, written in English and no more than 600 words long. Entries will be submitted in plain text via the online application form.

In addition to the first prize and four regional prizes, this year there will be special prizes for the best story for children and the best story concerning Science, Technology and Society, the Commonwealth Day theme for 2010.

There is no entry fee. Only one entry may be submitted per person. This can either be a general entry, or a story on the Commonwealth Day theme, or a story for children.
More details here.

Last date for submission of entries is 31st March 2010.

A Father-Daughter Reading Tradition

Via The New York Times

WHEN Jim Brozina’s older daughter, Kathy, was in fourth grade, he was reading Beverly Cleary’s “Dear Mr. Henshaw” to her at bedtime, when she announced she’d had enough. “She said, ‘Dad, that’s it, I’ll take over from here,’ ” Mr. Brozina recalled. “I was, ‘Oh no.’ I didn’t want to stop. We really never got back to reading together after that.”

Mr. Brozina, a single father and an elementary school librarian who reads aloud for a living, did not want the same thing to happen with his younger daughter, Kristen. So when she hit fourth grade, he proposed The Streak: to see if they could read together for 100 straight bedtimes without missing once. They were both big fans of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, and on Nov. 11, 1997, started The Streak with “The Tin Woodman of Oz.”

When The Streak reached 100, they celebrated with a pancake breakfast, and Kristen whispered, “I think we should try for 1,000 nights.”

Mr. Brozina was delighted, but what he was thinking was, a thousand nights?! “I thought, we’ll never do it,” he recalled. “And then we got to 1,000, and we said, ‘How can we stop?’ ”

For 3,218 nights (and some mornings, if Mr. Brozina was coming home too late to read), The Streak went on. It progressed from James Marshall’s picture books about George and Martha (two close friends who happen to be hippos) to middle-school classics like “When Zachary Beaver Came to Town” to the 14 Oz books (which they read four times each), to Harry Potter, Agatha Christie, Dickens and Shakespeare, continuing on, until Kristen’s first day of college.

As Kristen got older, she was active in community theater groups that would rehearse late, and a few dozen times, Mr. Brozina turned up and read to her between scenes. One night, a rehearsal for “I Remember Mama” was supposed to end at 11:30, but the director, upset with the performance, was yelling at the players. “Our rule was we had to read before midnight and it had to be at least 10 minutes,” Mr. Brozina said. “It was 11:45 and he wasn’t letting up.”

“Dad took me off the stage,” Kristen said. “I was 17.”

“We sat in the auditorium and I read to her,” said Mr. Brozina.

The Streak ended on Sept. 2, 2006. It was Kristen’s first day of college, and it was time. Her dorm room was so crowded with boxes, he read to her in a stairwell. The Streak ended as it began, with L. Frank Baum, the first chapter of his most famous “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Read the entire article here.

Image Source : teachernz

Inviting Sketches for the Book 'Puzha Malayalam'

Via Nila Foundation

What was once the life line of Kerala, is today a decaying, dying river. It is out of concern for Bharatapuzha (River Nila): the erosion of the river banks, the dilution of its culture, neglect and depletion of its resources - that the Nila Foundation was formed five years ago in Kerala. Foundation provides a platform for those who feel for the rivers and its depleting status, and for those who want to positively contribute to its conservation.

Titled, 'Puzha Malayalam', the 400-page book is looking at a participatory model where people from different spheres of life join us in the publication of the book. As a small step towards this, we are inviting interested people through a
drawing competition from across the world to sketch the introductory pages of the fourteen chapters.

'My river' is the theme of the competition. This could be a reflection of your insights or experiences associated with rivers.This could be about rivers from any parts of the world. Use your imagination to show the role of rivers played in your life. Let the river flow, from Nila to Ganges, to Thames to Danube...

Out of the sketches, we will select 14 entries in three different age categories, which will be incorporated into the individual chapters of the book.

As the awards will have three categories for ages below 10, 18 and above, we welcome people from all ages to participate in this initiative.

Last date for receiving the sketch is 25th April 2010.
Find more details here.You can read more about the book here.

((Via Chintan. Click here to go to the 'People in Education' facebook page that Chintan manages)

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Do Boys Prefer Simpler Books?

The following information is based on a study done on British children.

First the good news: boys are reading as much as girls. Now the bad: the books they choose are far less challenging and easier to comprehend than those selected by girls, and this gets worse as they grow older.

The findings of a major study of 100,000 children's reading habits coincide with national curriculum test results which show that – at all ages – girls score more highly on reading tests. "Boys are clearly reading nearly as much as girls, a finding that may surprise some onlookers," said Professor Keith Topping, of the University of Dundee's school of education, who headed the study. "But boys are tending to read easier books than girls. The general picture was of girls reading books of a consistently more difficult level than boys in the same year."

The gap in the standard of their reading habits becomes most marked between the ages of 13 and 16, the report says. The favourite girl's book in this age group is Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer, the first in the vampire romance series that has sold 85 million copies worldwide. This was ranked far more difficult to read than the boys' favourite, The Dark Never Hides, from the British novelist Peter Lancett's Dark Man series, illustrated fantasy novels aimed at reluctant teens and young adults struggling to read.

The study notes that both sexes tend to choose books that are easier to read once they reach the age of 11 and transfer to secondary school.

Read the entire article here.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reading Our Common Wealth

Our book "Freestyle" has been listed in NBT's "Reading Our Common Wealth Catalogue". The catalogue was released on 30th january 2010 during the New Delhi World Book Fair and is perhaps the first of its kind documentation of books on sports published in India.

Categorisation of Indian Books in Bookstores


A few days after my first translation, The 65 Lakh Heist by Surender Mohan Pathak, was released, I walked into a large chain bookstore to see if it was stocked there. I found it in the 'Indian Fiction' bookshelf. Its two closest neighbours were an anthology of love stories edited by Ruskin Bond, and the newest book by Salman Rushdie.

I've been browsing through bookstores all my life, but it wasn't until then that it struck me just how unfair the categorisation was for all of the books displayed in the Indian Fiction category. The Ruskin Bond book should have been under Romance, or maybe under Anthologies. Rushdie's book should have been Literary Fiction. Many of the other books felt wrong, too — Tagore's and Premchand's translations should have been under Classics.

Let's go back to that book I talked about in the beginning, Pathak’s The 65 Lakh Heist. Pathak writes crime thrillers in Hindi, and has so far written 270 of them, selling over 25 million copies. The 65 Lakh Heist alone has sold over 3 lakh copies in Hindi. Hindi Pocket Books, as they are called, are a huge industry, but no less than Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, or Bengali popular fiction. This is hardly surprising. The number of people speaking these languages in India is more than those for whom English is a first language.

But if this industry is so large, why are the books in the Indian languages not stocked in the "prestigious" chain bookstores in India?

I spoke to Krishnakumar R, of Odyssey, Bangalore, about why there weren't more regional language books in Odyssey stores, and he listed three reasons. "The publication schedules of regional publishers are not well planned and have less volume than the English publishers. Second, the distributors of these books don't do a good job of pushing these books to our stores, so we don't get the books reliably. And thirdly, economics is a factor too — our profit margin on regional language books is definitely less than that on the English books."

Most tellingly, though, he states, "And we also need to stock those products that cater to our target class of people."Perhaps that's the crux of the issue — the perception that popular fiction in regional languages is read by a different class of people from those that read English.

We know when the newest John Grisham is coming out, but we don't even know which writers are good in Hindi. How is it that we, readers of this paper, never hear of the new releases in Hindi/Marathi/Kannada? Why are there no best seller lists or reviews we can refer to?

Maybe in a few years, we'll be as informed about the latest releases in Kannada or Marathi as the English ones. And we can go to the chain book stores, and pick up our own writers from the genre shelf they belong to — and not from the ‘Indian Fiction’ bookshelf.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : quinn.anya

Retell, Remix, Rejoice with Chuskit - World Storytelling Day

NOTE : The deadline for this contest has been extended to 10th May, 2010.

To celebrate World Storytelling Day (20th March), we uploaded eight of our books (in English and other Indian languages) onto our Scribd account. To celebrate the magic of stories, we are conducting the 'Retell, Remix, Rejoice with Chuskit Contest' (Please click on the image for a larger view).

So, put on your creative cap, wave the wand and create your own magical version of this story.

  • The contest page can be seen here.
  • All the language versions of 'Chuskit Goes to School' can be downloaded here (The English version is available here)
  • Read 'Minny Wants a Ride' - The remixed version of 'Chuskit Goes to School' created by our editor, Mala Kumar
  • All the images from the book are available here.
  • OR... you could just download everything by clicking on this link.

Penguin's Book Jacket Postcards

Via Penguin Books

A collection of 100 postcards, each featuring a different and iconic Penguin book jacket. From classics to crime, here are over seventy years of quintessentially British design in one box.

In 1935 Allen Lane stood on a platform at Exeter railway station, looking for a good book for the journey to London. His disappointment at the poor range of paperbacks on offer led him to found Penguin Books. The quality paperback had arrived.

Declaring that 'good design is no more expensive than bad', Lane was adamant that his Penguin paperbacks should cost no more than a packet of cigarettes, but that they should always look distinctive.

Ever since then, from their original - now world-famous - look featuring three bold horizontal stripes, through many different stylish, inventive and iconic cover designs, Penguin's paperback jackets have been a constantly evolving part of Britain's culture. And whether they're for classics, crime, reference or prize-winning novels, they still follow Allen Lane's original design mantra.

Sometimes, you definitely should judge a book by its cover.

Image Source

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was....

On World Storytelling Day (20th March), we uploaded eight of our books (in English and other Indian languages) onto our Scribd account. To celebrate the magic of stories, we are also conducting the 'Retell, Remix, Rejoice with Chuskit Contest'

We've been posting a series of blogposts to talk about what happened at our annual meeting -Manthan 3.0. We hope that you, our community, can help us reach our goals and missions. This week's post was about the suggestions and questions our community came up with. Do you have something to add? Click here to read the entire post and see how you can help spread the joy of reading.

We also announced the winners of the contests which were part of the 'Conserve our Rivers, Save Water Campaign'.

One can't help but love this story about a father who encouraged his daughter's passion for writing in a unique way. Read this story to find learn how you can nurture your own child's passion.

Indian comic lovers will now have access to more comics on their mobile phones.

Did you know that you can sharpen your brain by learning more languages?

Watch this video on the future of publishing.

What is the value of Rs.500 for different people in today's world ?

Image Source : jeet_sen

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Value of Rs.500

Found this video on the Flipkart blog. Thanks for mentioning Pratham Books in that post Tapas.

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

More Comics on Your Mobile

If you've been following our blog for some time, you would know that we've posted information about comics being made available for the Indian mobile market many times. And that list continues to grow...

Via MediaNama

Mobile VAS company Nazara Technologies has tied up with only two operators – RCOM (GSM only) and Airtel and is in talks with other telcos to bring Archie comic strips in vernacular languages for mobiles.

Nitish Mittersain, CEO, Nazara told Medianama that comics were not viable earlier due to the lower number of GPRS users and that the situation now is better, even in small cities, towns and rural areas.

The landing page for Archies comics is on the operator deck – Airtel Live. It just shows subscription options now but will also offer options for language preference, the company said.

Mobile user can download Archie comic strips in their choice of language by using their GPRS connection at Re 1 per day, Rs 10 per week and Rs 30 for a month depending on their operator.

Read the entire article here.

In other news, Chhota comics will also be available for Vodafone users.

Via MediaNama

Vodafone Essar has launched ‘Chhota Comics’, allowing users to subscribe to comics from Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), Raj Comics, Diamond Comics, Disney and Liquid comics, among others. Comics on Suppandi, Chacha Chaudhary, Mickey & Donald, Akbar Birbal, Winnie the Pooh, Hanuman & lots more are available.

According to the release, over 35 titles are made available at a rather high Rs. 2 per comic strip, or a more reasonable Rs. 15 per full length comic. It’s unfortunate that the content is valid for a period of 1 year only from the date of purchase: as a consumer, are you licensing the content for a year, or do you think you’re buying a mobile comic for perpetuity.

“Chhota Comics” tries to provide a much richer user experience, allowing readers to pan, zoom, and interestingly enough, even incorporating background sounds and phone vibrations according for different situations in the comic; hopefully no electric shocks if a character in the comic is stuck by lightening. In a particular frame, if three characters comment, then in an animated manner, the thought bubbles are shown one by one: makes for much easier reading; sub-titles can also be added if needed.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : hexodus...

Nurturing Your Child's Passion

We came across the following story through a tweet and it was just something that brought a big smile to our faces.

A father (Kiruba Shankar) tweets and blogs about a book his daughter has written and goes on to launch the book at the community hall in his apartment.
My 8 year old daughter, Krithya, has written her first book and we are having a small launch function at our apartment’s community hall. We would like to cordially invite you to the book launch function.

Please treat this as our personal invitation and it would be our delight to have your presence and blessings. I feel its a defining moment in the young girl’s life and your presence would be great encouragement.
Kiruba also encourged people who couldn't make it for the launch to either call or leave a comment on the blog post to encourage Krithya. Cute eh? Read the entire story here.

We also liked the post on the Baby Loves Books blog which considers the above example as a good example of 'making writers out of readers and nurturing your child's passion.
I read about this 8-year old’s first Book Launch and just had to share it. Just another endearing example to show that parents and other grown-ups in a child’s life have a HUGE role to play when it comes to shaping the child’s attitudes, beliefs and personality.

Now, there’s nothing unusual about an 8-year old writing a story. (Not to take away from Krithya’s talents and efforts – I’m sure she’s an amazing young lady.) But, considering how fertile children’s imaginations are and how they constantly feed their curiosity, it’s hardly a surprise that kids have the ability to weave fascinating and entertaining tales that could give best-selling authors a run for their money. But what’s remarkable about this story is how the little girl’s parents go out of their way to encourage her and give wings to her dreams.

Kiruba is considered one of India’s top bloggers. He plays a key role in organizing blogging and social media events, entrepreneur’s meet-ups and bringing people and aid together for disaster relief measures. So organizing a book launch was probably a piece of cake. But the fact that he takes his 8-year old’s book this seriously is what makes the difference. The takeaway from this story is how special and important he and his wife have made their daughter feel on the occasion of the ‘launch’ of her first book.

There are a couple of important lessons in this story for all parents -

Don’t disregard imagination.
Make a big deal out of kids’ efforts.
Read the entire post here.

Image Source

Thursday, March 18, 2010

‘Conserve Our Rivers, Save Water’ Campaign : Book Reading and Prize Distribution

(Please click on the above image for a larger view)

The winners of the contests we held as part of the the 'Conserve Our Rivers, Save Water' campaign are as follows:

Winners in the individual (student) category

1 Vinny Garg - Punjab
2 Swarandeep Kaur - Punjab
3 Daljeet Singh - Punjab
4 Sowmya K. R - Kolur
5 Rajesh - Bangalore
6 Sumati - Bangalore
7 Archana - Bangalore
8 Anita - Bangalore
9 Deepam Prajapati
10 Mehakdeep Kaur - Chandigarh
11 Aditya Parmar -Chandigarh
12 Vardaan Seth - Chandigarh
13 Tanmay Gulati - Chandigarh
14 Bisman Deu - Chandigarh
15 Purna - Bangalore
16 Anit - Bangalore
17 Vanita - Bangalore
18 Bharathi - Bangalore
19 Sherel Tendolkar - Mumbai
20 Digvi Shah - Mumbai

Winners in the individual (adults) category

1 Anita Gajjar - Mumbai
2 Anup Kaur Vilkhu - Fatehgarh Sahib
3 Anita Ahlawat - Noida
4 Kavita Singh - Noida
5 Harshavardhan V.Sheelavant - Dharwad
6 Seema Rana - Punjab
7 Ankur Gupta - Bangalore
8 Pankaj - Vellore
9 Anita Ahlawat - Noida
10 R Rajaya - Bangalore
11 Laxmi - Bangalore
12 Shivaramiya - Bangalore
13 Nagaratna - Bangalore
14 Madhuri - Bangalore
15 B V Veena - Bangalore
16 Prema - Bangalore
17 Dhanyalaxmi - Bangalore
18 Shweta - Bangalore
19 Vijayamma - Bangalore
20 Shashikala - Bangalore

Winners in School category (English medium)

1 Akal Academy - Punjab
2 Lucknow Public college - Lucknow
3 Buddha Dal - Punjab
4 DPS Chandigarh - Chandigarh
5 YPS Patiala - Patiala
6 Bal Bharti Public school - Mumbai
7 DAV Shimla - Shimla
8 Vivek High School - Chandigarh
9 Apeejay School - Mumbai
10 Vishwajyot School - Mumbai

Winners in School category (Local language)

1 Akal Academy - Punjab
2 RM Education society - Bangalore
3 GUHPS, DJ Halli - Bangalore
4 GKMPS, Puttanahallil - Bangalore
5 GKMPS Elukunte - Bangalore
6 GKMPS Konanakunte - Bangalore
7 GKMPS Hebbagodi - Bangalore
8 GMKHPS, J B Nagar - Bangalore
9 GMKPS School, Byadrahalli - Bangalore
10 GHPS Berateena - Bangalore

Winners from DHNIE schools

1 N Arjun - Bangalore
2 E. Saumya - Bangalore
3 Sanshal Mathew - Bangalore

Winners in corporate/organization category

1 Infosys - Bangalore
2 School Water Portal - Bangalore
3 Better India - Bangalore
4 Arghyam - Bangalore

Winners of 'Tip a Tip' and 'Your Cauvery Story' contest

1 Talluah Dsilva
2 Sriram
3 Naga Chokkanathan
4 Bhavna
5 Preethi
6 Sapna K S
7 Test2Rocks!
8 Rohith K N
9 Juhi Gupta

Note: We haven't been able to get in touch with some of the people on this list as some of the mails are bouncing back. If you are one of the winners in this list, please mail us at bk(at)prathambooks (dot)org with your name and the category you have won a prize for.

The Future of Publishing

Via PenguinGroupUSA's YouTube channel

This video was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books. Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Manthan 3.0 - Part 2

A year has passed by... and it was time to look back, pat ourselves on the back and then decide what we could do better this year. On a hot day in February, our teams from Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai converged at what we call 'Manthan' : an annual Pratham Books meeting.

We will post a series of blogposts to talk about what happened at Manthan 3.0. We hope that you, our community, can help us reach our goals and missions.

This is the second post in this series (Read the first one here). In pur first post, we were talking about our work and the team. In this post we will examine some of the ideas that ALL OF YOU have put forward. Please feel free to comment on the post and suggest more ways in which we can reach children.

We were live-tweeting during Manthan and also posted the following message on our Facebook account :

Our big questions and ideas: * Reach 7 million children this year. Impossible? Perhaps. * What is your wishlist for Pratham Books? What would you ideally like us to see do/make happen? * How do we know what the children we serve and the channels we use want in terms of content? We really do need to hear your thoughts ...if we're going to reach 7 million children this year.

Our friends on Facebook had this to say :

1. Libraries in orphanages and Govt.schools,night schools need to be targeted. Reading rooms, mobile libraries are needed as are people who could spare an hour for kids there to read out and create magic! - Rachna Chandra

2. Use local hospitals as a contact point and gift a brand new, gender appropriate & INSCRIBED book to each newborn. - Renu Pathak Miles

3. I think reading books clubs for kids would be a great idea specially in libraries, incentive programs for reading books etc would encourage children to read more.- Anagha Kalvade

4. I think books are something that can be used over and over again, and more people should come forward and donate books to schools, libraries, etc. It is worth exploring if community libraries like in western countries can be established. - Sandhya Lovekar

5. Can we get the children from the private schools involved in sharing their books with the community schools in the same area. Specially books which the kids have outgrown and don’t know what to do with them. I think the key here is an intermediary who would take that initiative…actually I wonder if it can be done at an individual level…..I mean I can put up a notice in my kids school and then go and ask the govt schools around if they would be interested in these books… what i mean is will that be a solution? - Sonali Pota

6. Reminds me of a book sharing programme in Chennai which works around the concept of an open library, I forget who it was that has started it. It is a community based programme in which people bring books that they have already used and pick up others that they want to. The books keep circulating in this way.- Sandhya Lovekar

Our friends on twitter were saying...

SojoVarughese said :
-I see school libraries lock books away from children. Can we tell schools books are to be read and not 2 be locked away?
- I hope you guys will seek help of volunteers from within the community to spread the word of reading :)
- Please let me know if you guys need any support in Mangalore.

flip_log said:
Anything we can do to expand on new channels - smartphones and social media.

mytoystoree said:
- Easy access. Mobile libraries with efficient high grade printers. On demand paper back printing?
She also sent us the following link for us to see :

A big thank you to the following folks who retweeted our tweets to their followers : @SojoVarughese , @mytoystoree, @flip_log, @Flipkartdotcom , @anita_lobo, @tulikabooks, @dialabook, @abhaga, @induviduality, @babylovesbooks, @bharathkeshava, @shwetagk, @blaftness.

Rashmi Singh sent us an email with some of her ideas:
- I think it would help a great deal if you guys have more tie-ups with booksellers in different cities, and when I say that I specifically mean smaller cities like Pune, Nagpur, Bhopal, Indore etc.
- I have observed that people in general don't know about Pratham books. So, we also need to increase our visibility and one good place to target are schools. Now, I'm not an expert here so I can't say what will work
and what will not. But, if we had printed fliers that we can mail to schools and if these can be put on school notice boards, it might help. For a better hit ratio, we can request people to volunteer to do this job for us. So, you can design a flier and people who want to volunteer can take printout of the flier and request their kids' schools to put them up on their notice boards.

A big thank you for all those who took time out to answer our queries, make suggestions and share their ideas. And a thank you in advance to all the people who are going to comment on this post :).

(Pssst: Did you see our 'Idea Quencher' in the picture? Feel free to comment on this post with your ideas or mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org. )

Sharpen your brain by learning more languages

Hello,Salaam, Namaste, Vannakam, Namaskara dear visitor!

The brain works better if a person uses more than two languages. This is good news for Indians, since most children start life learning at least two languages. According to research, knowing two or more languages helps the brain to work differently, learn differently and stay sharp.

Our bilingual books for children have helped children two languages. Some experts do say that getting children to learn two languages simultaneously could be tough for kids. However, going by this research from the National Brain Research Centre in Manesar, India, publishers should surely be publishing in multiple languages.

Read the full article that appeared in the Times of India, here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...

Last month our teams from Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai converged at what we call 'Manthan' : an annual Pratham Books meeting. We will post a series of blogposts to talk about what happened at Manthan 3.0. We hope that you, our community, can help us reach our goals and missions. Read the first part of the series here.

At this year's Kala Ghoda Festival, Ratna Pathak Shah (well-known theatre, film and TV personality) conducted a one hour reading session from our Hindi book – Raja Nang Dhadanga.

We also had some great news to share. One of our favourite printers, Manipal Press Limited, is the 'Printing Company of the Year'. Sangeeta Velegar, who does a lot of our creative work in her spare time, won the 'Best Copywriter Of The Year Award'.

Share a Story - Shape a Future is a blog event for literacy. Throughout the week, blogging librarians, teachers, parents, authors, illustrators and people passionate about literacy offer ideas on ways to promote reading and books.

Tulika Books is holding a blogathon on varied topics. Write a blog post and win some books :).

A research conducted on 41 books has revealed that giving away an e-book seems to lead to at least a spike in sales of the print version. Watch this amazing time-lapse video of how a book cover is designed. Dolly, the dog, talks about her experiences with publishers, reviewing and agents. Does her work get published this week? Click here to find out. Watch a video of by Penguin Books on how their books would look if they were apps on the iPad. Penguin Books India and Visual Arts Gallery presents 'Spring Fever' from 13th-21st to 21 March 2010. If you are looking for a book that is similar to the last book you were reading (or that is similar to any book you like), let Book Seer recommend some books to you. is a quick way to find the online prices for a book in India.

Bhasha Research and Publication Center was founded for the study, documentation and conservation of languages not protected by the Constitution of India. Janala is a mobile service which helps people in Bangladesh learn English via mobile phones. The service has already delivered 1 million English lessons.

Rati Ramadas writes about the process (and anxiety) involved in choosing a school these days.

Take a look at this cute cutlery set (with an element of literacy).

We leave you with this incredibly cute illustration titled 'books are good for you'.

Image Source : Jared Zimmerman

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Books Are Good For You

Spotted this cute illustration on a Threadless T-shirt.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Search for Book Prices in India is a quick way to find the online prices for a book in India.
How to use
Suffix this website address with a ISBN or EAN. That's it.
Is there a way to make it more automatic to use?
Yes, there is a bookmarklet. Follow the instructions:
  1. Drag the following link to your browser's bookmarks toolbar:
    Book Prices in India
  2. Go to any random book page, for example, this page ; Note that it even works with Indian ecommerce sites.
  3. Click on the bookmarklet (in your browser's bookmarks toolbar).
  4. You will now be taken to the corresponding page on containing a sorted list of prices from different Indian online book stores.
The site currently compares book prices from the following sites :Infibeam, Flipkart, A1books, Rediff and Nbcindia.

Image Source : p@r@noid

Book Seer

If you are looking for a book that is similar to the last book you were reading (or that is similar to any book you like), let Book Seer recommend some books to you.

Celebrating Sangeeta Velegar's Win

Sangeeta Velegar reads, writes, designs, and basically plunges headlong into anything with words in it. She loves dogs, travel, and Chinese food in India. Is an Arsenal supporter. And a Beatles fan. She likes to work with friends, especially when it’s for a good cause. And why are we writing about Sangeeta? Because at the recently concluded Big Bang Awards 2010, Sangeeta Velegar won the 'Best Copywriter Of The Year Award'.
Psst : And in her spare time she does a lot of our creative work.

Congrats Sangeeta! We are so proud of you.

Tulika's Blogathon

Via Tulika Books

Blogathon 1: Writing and Speaking the Mother Tongue

A blogathon is not like a marathon at all. It's more fun, less sweat and won't help you break records. However. This is how it works:

Every fortnight, I'll post a question/issue/conversation starter here. It will relate to literacy, language, reading or writing. Write about it on your blog and leave a link in the comments section so we can come and find you. If you don't have a blog, you can leave responses in the comments section or mail them to

End of fortnight, I'll collect interesting responses and post samplings with links to original posts/publish other responses received via mail.

But I can promise you this: selected participants will win review copies of Tulika's books. How awesome is that? Three books are going to press just now and at least one of them is in need of serious review love.
Hop over to Tulika's blog to answer this week's question.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Our Raja at Kala Ghoda

The Kala Ghoda Fest is an important event in the cultural calendar of Mumbai. This year Pratham Books had a on-hour reading from a Hindi book – Raja Nang Dhadanga. Ratna Pathak Shah, the well-known theatre, film and TV personality kindly agreed to do the reading. Dressed in a dramatic outfit befitting an emperor, she was wonderful and had the audience of children and adults enthralled by her rendition. She took care to explain some of the unusual words and brought the characters to life. After the reading, Ratna spent time talking to the children about books and reading and the children participated enthusiastically in the discussions. Thereafter Ratna obliged all those who wanted her autograph and pictures with her.

Dramatized Reading with Ratna Pathak Shah at the Kala Ghoda Art Festival

Reading out from one of our Hindi books was a conscious decision in keeping with our vision of promoting books in regional languages. 'Raja Nangdhadanga Hai' is a retelling of the Emperor’s New Clothes in verse, written by Kamala Bakaya and charmingly illustrated by a French artist, Audrey Kumar.

The Kala Ghoda Festival is held in the month of February. The fest offers a plethora of workshops, films, discussions, book readings, music concerts and literary events for children at the multiple venues in the heart of south Mumbai. The place gets its name from the exquisite life size sculpture of a black horse (kala ghoda in Hindi) cast in bronze mounted on a pedestal. The architectural beauty of the surrounding buildings contributes in no mean measure to the ambience of the festival that attracts innumerable people.

As part of this annual literary fest, the children’s events are held over the weekends to ensure a good turnout of kids. Pratham Books is proud to have engaged so many children and adults at the Kala Ghoda Festival this year.

Dramatized Reading with Ratna Pathak Shah at the Kala Ghoda Art Festival

View more images here.