Thursday, March 11, 2010

A doggone day!


Yes, that’s right baby talk. So you make unintelligible yet cute sounding noises to your baby for mutual amusement, yet how long do you intend to do it? I do agree that it serves a purpose and makes you feel like you are communicating with your little one till she or he actually starts understanding you. What about after that? When does the baby talk transform into intelligent conversation? And how is this related to a blog about reading and children’s books, you might ask?

Well, let me tell you how. A few weeks ago, I was asked by an upcoming children’s magazine to contribute a couple of stories for two age groups- pre-schoolers and tweens.  Delighted at the opportunity, I sent them two stories within the week. The one for pre-schoolers was about a four year old who learns to overcome her fear of the unknown. The one for tweens was about a ten year old who dreams of a world flooded by water and learns about conservation. Happy with my work, having tested the stories on a couple of kids, I waited to hear from the editorial team.

The response was quick.

‘We loved your writing, and we’re reading through your stories again. But next time, can we have stories that are a lot more fun, bubbly and carefree?’
I sat down right away and shot off a story about a little girl and her favourite toy. Fun, Bubby, Energetic, but with no message in particular. I didn’t mind writing it of course, but I wondered whether it would just be the kind of story that is a filler when to be read to pass time, as opposed to a story that would make you think.

Now, in my mind, a children’s magazine is where children have access to all kind of stories and its probably the best place to introduce themes that might serve a higher purpose. This is not to say that they need to be written in a boring, drab way that puts children to sleep faster than expected. But at some point shouldn’t the stories children read go beyond ‘Just fun’? 

I remember Tinkle with Suppandi and Shikari Shambu and Anwar and all the other fun comics, but there was wittiness and a certain intelligence to them. Ditto for Champak and Balarama in Malayalam! Even the simplest story was not just about a cow goes Moo or a dog goes Bow. So whence upon a time did stories become all about the good times with no need for a deeper message? Or am I over-reacting and maybe stories need not be about anything in particular at all, like time-pass movies? Or like baby talk?  Or should we be crediting the children we tell stories to, with a little more intelligence than that?

I personally believe that if they’re old enough to understand Garfield’s sarcasm and Dexter’s pomposity on television, not to mention and want the futuristic, new fangled gadgets in almost every super hero cartoon, they certainly deserve books and stories that challenge them to think as well.
What do you feel?



Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a journalist turned NGO activist turned Writer/Blogger/Author who finds bliss in traveling to places known and unknown! She blogs about life, travels and food here , here and here
And can be followed on twitter here


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