Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Since we've been posting a lot of hard hitting stuff lately, I thought it'd be a nice change to watch this. Take a break of work, sip on some chai and click on the play button!

Roshni Academy : Empowering and Transforming the Lives of Young Women

Via TechCrunch

Meena wants to become a computer engineer. She believes that if she works hard enough, she can build her own “big business”—maybe a Google. So she is determined to complete her schooling and earn an engineering degree. Young girls like Meena, just 16 years old but with the ambition and confidence to enter the tech world, are a rare commodity even in Silicon Valley; but Meena lives in a slum in New Delhi. Her father works as a day laborer. He used to spend half his income on alcohol, and would come home drunk every night and make so much noise that Meena could not do her homework. He considered Meena a liability, saw no value in her education, and had nothing to be optimistic about.

Meena’s father has now stopped drinking and is working long hours to save money for her education. He considers Meena to be the pride of the family, and is hopeful that she will lift the family out of poverty.

How did these transformations happen? Through a non-profit group called Roshni Academy, which identifies, trains, and mentors brilliant girls from socioeconomically underprivileged communities. Founded by Saima Hasan when she was a junior at Stanford in 2007, and funded by Silicon Valley business leaders and philanthropists, Roshni has already transformed the lives of more than 500 underprivileged girls, in seven districts of Delhi.

The Roshni formula is simple: empower smart girls with self confidence, critical thinking skills, basic social skills, and life skills—and make them realize that they can succeed by working hard and taking risks. Roshni girls, all of whom live below the poverty line yet maintain top academic standing, undergo intensive education through three training modules over a six-month period. The curriculum covers 25 subjects, ranging from public speaking to conflict management to hygiene. Students are also taught computer and internet basics. At the end of each training season, 60 top-performing students are granted scholarships by the Nurul Hasan Foundation to pursue their secondary and higher education.

Read the entire article here and visit the Roshni Academy website for more information.

Roshni Academy Documentary - Full Subtitles from JahanuFilms on Vimeo.

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.

Fast Phonics

Phonics is a method of teaching speakers of English to read and write the language by connecting sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters.

ABC Fast Phonics is a free online tutorial that uses cartoons and sounds with audio narration and clickable words to teach phonics to students of English, both children as well as adults. The site provides the reader with a lot of words with similar phonic sounds, which enables them to differentiate between spellings, helps with pronunciation and also teaches them new words. Check out the ABC Fast Phonics site here.

Image Source: writedemandstudios

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spreading the word - A copyright workshop

(This blogpost is part of a series of blogposts we are doing on 'Spreading the Word : Copyright, Dissemination and Independent Publishing' - a workshop that was organized by ALF and IPDA.)

Maya and I went for the copyright workshop on Thursday morning (and Maya went again on Friday), where we got to listen to a very erudite crowd of lawyers, publishers and authors express their views on copyright. We thought we’d share some of the talks with you as well. These will be posted over the week in no particular order.
Thursday morning, Panel 1:
Lawrence Liang from the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore, began with a brief history of copyright, with the kind of labour that went into creating a book, when the access to the book was privileged. Then, with the coming of the printing press, more and more books got published and the need for copyright was established. Liang likened the copyright laws to a big gaping hole. It is almost as if people are interested in it simply because it is not clearly explainable and all the loopholes need to be sorted out. At the time when copyright was first established, there was little clarity as to what the problems were, with regard to intellectual property. Now, though people have a better idea as to what the problems are, no one knows how to fill the void. Liang provided an introduction of sorts to the problems faced while copyrighting, the change in culture of creativity, and about the new age of piracy.
The expansion of intellectual property results in “the erosion of commons of creativity”. What is the alternative of expansionist regime? Is it the public domain? The free open-source movement consists of open content and open access movement. And when copyright is used in a creative manner, some and not all rights are reserved. With respect to the copyright laws, how does creativity figure in the “one size fit all” rule? And with respect to the copyleft movement, what about different kinds of knowledge?
Next, Liang mentioned the shift in the famous 80:20 rule (as discussed by Chris Anderson in Wired Magazine), where 20% of the commodity = 80% of the sales = 100% of the profit. Now, the longtail is not necessarily a mass market, which means that there is more space for a niche market, as there is a move from a blockbuster culture to a ‘micro hit’ culture. There is now a space for smaller, unknown voices. Where the book used to be sacred, now chapters are used as stand alones. So, how do you shift the idea of value to deal with piracy and digital anxiety?
Piracy has now reached a different level. In China, where only 20 Hollywood films are allowed to be released in a year, every pirated DVD is stamped with the pirate’s details. Also, these DVDs are more expensive, and also provide you with value for money. When people download the movies by themselves, the quality goes down. There are people to advise the pirates on what to do, on the seasonal trends and so on. These people do not pirate themselves, but merely advise other pirates. (Watch “Pirated Copy” (2004), a movie by He Jianjun, if you want to know more about piracy in China.) Of course, movies and books are two of the many creative things in the world that need copyrighting and these two alone don’t even begin to describe the range of creative ideas around the world that need to be protected from piracy.
The point that Liang was trying to make was pretty clear: though the book has something that the digital age doesn’t have – a 300 year advantage as an object of knowledge or authority – it does not take away from the role of the intermediaries in the creative world, the ones who deal with the product as it moves from the creator to the audience. And the accepted fact of the matter is that since the digital age is here albeit less in the book publishing world, piracy is, nevertheless, here as well.
This was followed by Gautam’s talk on why open licenses build a participatory culture, using Pratham Books as a case study. Stay logged in – Maya will post soon!
Image Source: rosefirerising

Sensitizing through Stories : Story Revolution

(This is a guest post by Chintan Girish Modi. He is pursuing an M.Phil. in English Language Education. 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.)

Shalini Sekhar and Angela Jain, both teachers at Shibumi, a school in Bangalore, run a unique online bookstore devoted exclusively to children's literature sourced from second hand bookshops in their own city, and from wherever else they happen to travel to.

As Angela puts it, Story Revolution is not just a bookstore, it is a “selection service.” Each of these books have been read by either Shalini or Angela. They offer books that are much celebrated, but difficult to come by in India. Most of their titles are Newbery medal or honour books. The Newbery Medal is a prestigious award given by the American Library Association to the most distinguished American children's book published every year. Others in the Story Revolution collection are “books that are handpicked for their spirit and excellence,” their website ( would tell you.

“Children should get good literature, not just about anything. We scrutinize each book carefully. The writing
style is good, and also the fact that these are stories coming from a sensitivity to things around. There are no rigid ideas about teaching morals attached to these stories,” says Angela.

She agrees that some of the books might be difficult because of the specific historical background they deal
with, but is quick to point out that books are a good way of getting children exposed to different cultures, and that all the Story Revolution books deal with human emotions we all share wherever we are.

Shibumi, the school they helped co-found, is one and a half years old. It was around the time they were looking
for resources for the Shibumi library that the idea of Story Revolution started taking shape.

“We were collecting lots of books, and some were really good ones. We came across second and third copies of these books. It seemed amazing; sort of like a treasure. We wanted to share these with as many people as we could but we didn't have big money, so we started to think of other ways,” shares Shalini.

The name 'Story Revolution' has an interesting history behind it. The online bookstore happened later; the initial idea had to do with 'revolving' books across libraries. On their visits to local circulating libraries, they found that Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Enid Blytons, and Sweet Valley were the most popular books around. There seemed to be little space for other kinds of books for children.

Shalini and Angela interacted with two libraries, and it was agreed that the Story Revolution books would be kept as an experiment. Each library would get a different set of books every month, and the previous month's books would be passed on to the other library. This experiment did not take off very well. They put in a lot of effort (covering the books, making labels, pasting stickers on how to take care of the books), but stood disappointed at what came of it. A lady at one of the libraries said that the books were not being picked because parents don't let their kids read them; they think these books distract children from their studies.

There's another reason behind the name 'Story Revolution'. Shalini says, “One thought those books were quite a revolution. At that point of time, I felt that any child brought up on these books would turn out to be a really
sensitive and compassionate kid. Of course, now I wouldn't say something like that. There are so many other factors.”

The good thing that came from the 'revolving' experiment though was a phone call from a parent who had relocated to Bangalore from the United States, and was thrilled to find these books in Bangalore. The parent wanted to know if Shalini and Angela sold those books. Around the same time, Parveen Sikand, librarian at the Valley School asked them to put together a collection of books for students. Through Parveen, they met the librarian at St. Joseph's Boys School, and put together another collection for school children.

The online bookstore grew out of this. Keeping it online seemed simple, convenient and manageable. There are pick-up points in various parts of Bangalore, and books are also shipped to other cities at additional cost.

Before it took an identify of its own, Story Revolution was launched under the wings of Community Animal
Welfare Society (CAWS), a neighbourhood initiative that Shalini and Angela started with Aditya Pandya, a close friend, now colleague at Shibumi. “CAWS was formed when a child in Bangalore got killed by a stray dog.

The atmosphere was very tense, and people wanted to do away with all stray dogs. We wanted to research the whole matter, so we spoke to lots of people, roamed around at night, and even made a film,” says Shalini. They started what they called 'the guardianship programme', based on the idea that many people look after stray dogs and feed them anyway; these people will be happy to do a little more if it doesn't require too much of them and their time – things like taking dogs for vaccination and sterilisation.”

CAWS was an intermediary connecting individuals and NGOs. The acronym CAWS was chosen for the interesting word play it conjures up -- because it sounds like CAUSE, and rhymes with PAWS. “At the same time, we started looking for books for Story Revolution – another way to make people sensitive,” says Shalini.

The love of books, and an enthusiasm to share it, was accompanied by a slightly unsettling question: How do we finance this?

Angela shares, “Shalini is the kind who jumps into things. I am the careful one. I had doubts and questions – should we invest? What if nobody buys them? My family members were concerned. They were hoping I wasn't investing too much. But on the whole, they were very encouraging, also happy that we were taking charge of things. But within the first couple of months, we got a very good response.”

Raising funds to buy books for Story Revolution also involved selling fruit juice! Shalini's family has a starfruit
tree in their home compound, so Shalini and Angela moonlighted as vendors outside a shopping complex to
sell what they called “organic, homegrown starfruit”, along with starfruit juice, concentrate and candy that they themselves made. Shalini was 21 then, and Angela was 23. It was an exciting thing to do, and they had never earned prior to this experience. Making a collection of 200 rupees every evening felt great. Some people called it a silly idea, and advised them to apply for funding, but as Shalini says, “That was so much fun!”

Story Revolution is doing quite well now. Shalini and Angela want to try out new things, but they are taking it
slow, since teaching at Shibumi requires them to commit a lot of their time. For one, they are working on creating an English module based entirely on these books, also involving a few art-related activities. They are also trying to get Indian books into their collection, and have made a small beginning with titles from Children's Book Trust and National Book Trust.

Here’s the link to their Facebook page and here’s the link to their blog.

Visit the Story Revolution website.

Image Source : Aditya Pandya

Call for translation of all Tamil Literary Treasures

Via: The Hindu

Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday gave a call for translating all the literary treasures of Tamil into other Indian and world languages.

Inaugurating the Tamil Internet Conference (TIC) and the seminar of the World Classical Tamil Conference here, Mr. Karunanidhi also said the writings on Tamilology and Tamil race in Greek, French, German and other languages should be translated into Tamil.

Books and documents on Tamilology available in any part of the world should be converted into electronic format and arrangements should be made to provide universal access to the treasures. Emphasising that Tamil should be used in every field, the Chief Minister said dictionaries of different kinds and encyclopaedias of different fields should be produced.

He appealed to scholars and other participants of the seminar and TIC to advise the State government on the future course of action to be taken in this regard.

Read the full article here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ritu's Letter - The Community Version

We loved the response we got from all of you for the 'Help Make Ritu's Letter Longer' Blogathon. But we love you even more for the continued love and support we receive from all of you. When we announced the winners of the blogathon, we asked if anyone would help us with the layout the book. Soon enough, Smitha Jacob and Sweta Lal replied and took the job upon themselves and the final result is here... *ta daaaa*.

Ritu's Letter - The Community Version

Thank you Smitha and Sweta!

You can also buy the original book by Mala Kumar here.

Update: We've uploaded the latest version and our apologies to everyone whose name we missed out in the previous version

S.N. Lakshmanan : The Book Collector

Via The Hindu

Among the bibliophiles of the country, he could be one of the top collectors of classical Tamil works.

The 54-year-old S.N. Lakshmanan of Pandukudi near Thiruvadanai has a huge collection of books which are around 200-years-old.

The first edition of “Sathurakarathi” (Tamil dictionary), written by Veeramamunivar and published in 1824, is the oldest of his collection. As many as 55 old dictionaries published in the first half of 18th century are among his collection.

Also adorning his private library are the second edition of “Aththisudi”, written by Saravana Perumal Aiyar in 1832, “Tholkappiam” published by Malavai Mahalingaiyar and “Thandalayansathagam' published in 1838 by the same author.

He also has a collection of English rhymes that were printed in 1810 in London.

“A visit to Colombo in Sri Lanka in 1982 has inspired me to collect old books. I bought a “Kalithogai' written by C.V. Damodaran Pillai. The book was published in 1887. The author in his introduction had stated that Tamil is more than 15000 years old. It has not only ignited my love for the language but also made me scout for the oldest Tamil books,” says Mr. Lakshmanan.

He says he has a collection of 55000 books.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : lungstruck

Monday Update


This Monday we have quite a long list of events happening in the country. Take a look:

Book reviewers needed for a publishing house.

Cinnamonteal is a print-on-demand publishing house based in Goa and is on the
lookout for voracious readers who will also review their books. You will be
sent a book depending upon the genre you prefer and you will be asked to review the book
for them. The review will be ours to use in any manner we see fit. You are not
expected to return the book after reviewing.

If this interests you (or someone you know), please reply personally. We are
still trying to figure out an appropriate compensation model so let me know
your thoughts on that too.

If you are interested, email Leonard Fernandes at

Further contact details: Tel: +91 98503 98530 | skype: leonardjensan (online store for used and hard-to-find books) (print-on-demand publishing service) ("own-it-yourself" bookstore)


Trees have been the source of memory, inspiration and identity for old Bangaloreans but with massive changes in the infrastructure of Bangalore, a severe loss of the urban majestic greenwood is being experienced and grieved. Maraa and 1shanthiroad collaboratively bring to the city AROUND A TREE, an urban tree festival to revive the spirit of trees and the role they played in the lives of the city’s inhabitants.

The festival is unique and participative, involving local artist, academic and activist groups, art & media forms, communities of children and talks in Indian languages. Amongst activities proposed for the festival, some interesting activities include

1. Travelling mobile poster gallery (26th June, 2010, Citywide)
Since the city has seen an outpouring of concerned citizens’ activity around tree felling and loss of green in the city, it made sense to call for creative posters from various quarters, artists to activists, from adults to children.
The response has been overwhelming, with a lot of artists sending in posters to the event. A set of curated posters will travel the city in a mobile van and be hoisted at different public places like street corners and public parks that will work as instant open gallery spaces.

2. Experimental visual protest:
public art installation (June 26, 10am, Sampige road, Bangalore)
video art screening (June 26, 6.30pm, 1Shanthiroad, Bangalore)

3.On the evening of 3rd July come over to Cubbon Park’s Bandstand for soul stirring strains of Kabir, the 16th century saint’s dwellings on the natural world. Performed by filmmaker and artist, Shabnam Virmani.
4th of July evening will see a jamming session of various bands at Jaaga as a tribute to the strong and solid image and spirit of the tree.

Check attached poster for complete schedule. And do circulate!

Volunteers needed by Toybank

Toybank Delhi continues the journey of providing toys to children with its maiden toy distribution event!

Toybank Delhi kick-started it's activities with a toy collection drive in MPS - A Macmillan Company based in Gurgoan. MPS organized a week long drive in the organization and managed to collect and wrap around 100 toys!

Toybank volunteers and employee volunteers from MPS will distribute these toys to around 65 children who go to Mobile Creches at their Vipul World Construction Site in Gurgoan.

Venue: Vipul World Construction
Tatvam Village, Sector-48, Opp. Omaxe Gugaon Mall
Sohna Road, Gurgaon, Harayana.

Date and Time: 3rd July, 9 30 AM - 12 PM

If you are interested to volunteer for the event on 3rd of July, please confirm your presence by sending an email to


Punarnavaha Open Learning Space is happy to announce an intensive workshop for parents , teachers and interested adults centered on the process of learning called

The wholistic way of being in the world

The workshop is an attempt
-To identify and overcome the psychological, physiological and cognitive damages done by modern institutions (schools, market and hospital) and culture.
-To prompt the adults to re-look at certain fundamental issues related to ‘How’ learning takes place. Knowing, is an integrated act, not separated by language, science and art nor is it fragmented as learning, working, playing etc. Children engage in the world without fragmentation but modern education damages the cognition and fragments the being
-To address the alienation caused by schooling where we keep learning about what others have thought and done, thus turning us in to second hand people.
-To consciously reawaken our intuitive abilities of knowing and learning and to address the block created by the ‘reasoning’ / rational mind.
-To initiate awakening of senses so that we become more observant and attentive which will make us to strive for becoming first hand and awaken our aesthetic sensibilities.
-To help blossom our child like qualities that enables us to be creative, to learn to observe children, to understand what children need to retain their creativity, to see their real potential and to learn from children.

WORKSHOP DATES: 14th July to 17th July (Wednesday to Saturday), 3pm to 6pm.
FEES: Rs 1700.00 per person
VENUE: Punarnavaha Open Learning Space, Aushudagiri,Plot no: 24, Vigyan Nagar Hsg Soc,Bavdhan &nb sp; Pune 21

This will be followed by a presentation and open discussion about learning from children on 18th July by Jinan KB.

DATE: Sunday,18TH July, 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. This is open for all.

ENTRY FEE : Rs.200 per person ( For workshop participants there are no entry fees)

Off SenapatiBapat Road, Patrakar Nagar, opp Vikhe Patil School, PatrakarNagar Pune

For registrations please send an email to or call

Shefali: 9822023265
Saraswati: 9096022070

To access Jinan's links, click here, here or here.

That's it for now. Have a fun week! :)

Tongue Twisters

How do you entertain yourself and your kids when there’s no electricity or internet??? Simple, really! Do what we did in the Pratham Books office this morning, when we had no choice but to not work. (The was no electricity or net - as dependent on technology as we are...) Try it with tongue twisters! If you’re bored of the old “red lorry, yellow lorry” routine, or of sending poor Betty Botter out to buy butter each time, take a look at these random twisters that blew their way into our midst this afternoon.

If Stu chews shoes, should Stu choose the shoes he chews?

A noisy noise annoys an oyster but a noisy oyster annoys an oyster most.

If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch?

And a few in Hindi as well. These are from the first international collection of Hindi tongue twisters . The first one, is probably the only one I know already, on account of it having drilled into my head night after night by my friends.

Chandu ke chacha ne Chandu ke chachi ko chandni-chowk mein chaandi ki chammach se chutney chackaee.

Rakshi shaktishali shasak.

Khadak Singh ke khadakane se khadakati hain khidkiyan, khidkiyon ke khadakanese khadakata hai Khadak Singh.

Aha! The electricity is back! I ought to get back to work, though this has been fun! And feel free to add to the tongue twister collection in any language you want!

Image Source

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sports for the sake of sports

I am aware that this does not come strictly under the category of 'education', but a few things that happened over the last week or so made me want to write about it. After all, sports does contribute to a child's education, doesn't it?

Gone are those days, when we learnt to play tennis just to beat Dad at a game, or learnt to swim because we like water. Children are now made to compete in the sports arena, as they are in school, in tuition, during fetes and shows... A very good example of this is the Complan/Bournvita that comes on TV. There are around 8 kids, standing in a line, as though on a race track, and as the day goes by, their energies come down except for that one kid who drinks Complan/Bournvita, keeping his “battery” fully charged. Come on! You don’t have kids just to put them in a rat race!

Yes, agreed, sports builds character. It keeps your child healthy, it cultivates team spirit and confidence, it helps them cope with failure and makes them learn that they need to try and try again to succeed. Sports helps a child surpass his or her limitations, and the last thing he/she needs is a parent standing by, checking to see whether they have clocked the national time. This, I speak from personal experience. I have seen parents, standing with their stopwatches in front of the coach, waiting for their children to reach the finish line. And if they (the kids) have not clocked the time they are supposed to have, they’ll never hear the end of it. It has become a common thing, these days, to push kids into sports and expect them to do well. Of course, there is the advantage of getting into a good school or college if your kid has broken the national record or if he or she is the youngest TT champion in the state. But what is more important is sport for sports sake. Not always to win, not always to be the best, but to have fun, to learn, to grow.

While introducing your child to sports, it helps to start early. Look at your child’s aptitude and choose the sport accordingly. Also, make sure your child likes what he or she is playing. If they don’t like it, your forcing them might put them off sports for good. This also means you need a coach who will respect that, and make the learning experience fun for your child. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So what’s the point in making play seem like work? Oh, and of course, the last and most important point – if your children want to do something other than sports, like say art or theatre or dance, let them. In the long run, it’ll definitely help make them balanced, independent individuals as much as sports will.

Image source:

A Historical Change in Education

Recently, there has been consistent debate and discussion on television and newspapers about the huge, impending change to textbooks in America. Bemused? This might explain a little

Basically a group of people who are on the Texas Board of Education have decided that major changes must be made to history and social studies textbooks. These people are ultra-conservative Republicans and some of the changes they made included a right-wing conservative outlook at history.

Members of the Texas Board of Education are everyday people. Parents, who have day jobs and also happen to be part of the board. There are lawyers and real-estate professionals determining what the country will study, how minds will be shaped and just how the next generation will think.

According to the New York Times, the changed curriculum will put a ''conservative stamp on history and economics, stressing the superiority of American Capitalism, questioning the Founding Father's commitment to secularism and presenting Republican philosophies in a positive light.'' For instance the Board decided to remove Thomas Jefferson and replace him with a more right-wing icon, John Calvin. Or that textbooks will now call the US government a ''constitutional republic'' and not a ''democratic'' one anymore. Henceforth, there will be a stronger focus on biblical and Christian traditions.

Which led me to think, if as students we were governed by a board that decided that Darwin and his theories were completely baseless or that including Gandhi and his efforts for our independence was just a waste of space, what kind of people would we have grown up to be? Or an even scarier thought, what if the CBSE, ICSE, NCERT have eliminated certain crucial parts of history and highlighted the rest?

Isn't education about presenting all possible points of view to students so that they can discern right from wrong? Isn't education about making the student capable enough to choose one point of view and be able to explain his choice when opposed? How is it fair for a small group of people to decide that this is the gospel truth and this is what will be studied from now on.

The changes to the textbooks will be effective from August 2011, through to the next decade. Which means a whole generation of students growing up on a myopic view of social studies. Scary thought isn't it?

(Rati Ramadas has worked as a journalist for 4 years and covered education for the greater part of that. Education and new methods of schooling has always intrigued her. She loves writing short stories and hope to publish some someday.She blogs and rants about day to day life and travels at Odds and Mi)

Image Source : azrasta

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Events : Book Launches, Workshops and More


Penguin Books India and Crossword cordially invite you to celebrate the publication of The Monochrome Madonna on Thursday 1 July 2010 at 7.00 p.m at Crossword Bookstore, Mohammed Bhai Mansion, Kemps Corner (below the flyover), N.S.P. Marg, Mumbai.

The author will read from the book. This will be followed by a conversation with journalist and writer Chandrahas Choudhury

RSVP: Harish Shenoy (Penguin) 98210 14546
Virat Chandok (Crossword) 98208 33086


The Monochrome Madonna by Kalpana Swaminathan

‘Sitara said, with awful distinctness, “I think I’m going to die.”
And that’s how I got stuck with the annual corpse.
Half an hour later I stood in an empty flat, alone with a stranger who was very recently, and very violently, dead.’
Rushing to Sitara’s aid, Lalli’s niece Sita is distracted by Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Why is it monochrome? And what does it have to do with the body on the living-room floor?

Such questions are hardly relevant to the police in their hunt for the murderer. But Lalli is a detective who revels in curiosities, and she thinks otherwise.

A brisk thriller of deceit and intrigue, The Monochrome Madonna has Lalli at her most astute as she interprets the nuances of a murder without motive.
More information here.


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

"Pyrta" is a Khasi word for "call out". It's also a journal of poetry and things. a little bit local, mostly universal.

Check out

Pyrta is seeking submissions for their Monsoon issue:

Poetry: broad range of quality work including traditional and free verse.
Photo Essays: broad range of themes and issues. it could be
provocative, hilarious, moving or just plain beautiful.
Prose: Short stories, book reviews, interviews, essays of 1500-2000 words.
Local: a space for something, anything from the place you live in. A song, an overheard conversation, an old shop, your cigarette-wala's love story. Accompanied, if necessary, by an image/mp3 file/video.

We're looking for fresh, new voices, insights, points of view, worldviews, opinions...something small, something big. local. universal.

Send submissions to

Getting your kids to read

Via Parentree

Parentree is an online parenting community, where parents from all over the country come together to clear their doubts, share their wisdom and sometimes, vent through blogs. Recently, Bhim, a parent, brought up a very valid issue that most parents with growing children face – how to get their kids to read. Bhim says that his son is a TV addict and that though he buys plenty of books from Sapna Book House every week, his son does not like to read them. Parents from all over the country have responded giving him comments and sharing their own experiences of getting their kids to read.

Quite a few parents including Madhuu and Rukmini insist that reading for kids is not for kids alone. When you go book shopping, take your son or daughter with you so that you can get them the books they want to read, rather than the books you want them to read. Sit with your child when he’s reading. You don’t need to explain everything, clarifies Rukmini, for then, the child will stop reading and will wait for your explanations. Rukmini takes it one step further – disconnecting the cable for about 10 days. When there is no other form of entertainment, she says, the child will look to books for entertainment. This also means that you, as a parent setting an example, should not watch too much TV. Let your child watch TV if he or she wants to, but make sure they turn it off as soon as the program they want to watch is over.

Roses suggests you take your child to places where there are kids with books. “Kids are pack followers,” she says, adding that she takes her children to libraries, story reading sessions and book stores, and gets them to interact and make friends with other kids who love to read. Gayathrisury had another good suggestion – her daughter’s school (in Chennai) had an exchange program with the British Council, where each child within the 5 – 8 age group had to finish 6 books in 2 months. None of the children (except some of the 8 year olds) finished, says Gayathrisury, but it instilled the reading habit in the children. She claims she sees a difference in her own daughter, who now picks up books to read, as well as newspapers.

If you want to know more about what each parent said, or if you want to add your suggestions to the list of how to get kids to read, click here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our Content is Now Available on Android Devices

After developing iPad applications with our content, the lovely folks at Fliplog have gone ahead and made our content available for Android devices.

Click here to access one of our popular books - Annual Haircut Day. We hope you can check out this book developed by Fliplog and give us and them your feedback on it.

If you don't have an android device, you can check out the books on your iPhones or iPads here.

Fractured Fairytales

We have all read fairy tales, everything from Disney's happily ever afters to James Finn Garner's "Politically Correct Bedtime Stories" to Anderson's and the Grimm brothers' original works, or even Roald Dahl's parody of these stories in his Revolting Rhymes. Each one of them are authentic fairytales... in their own far fetched way. If you enjoyed those, you'll be sure to enjoy Fractured Fairytales, as told by Edward Everett Horton. Check it out!

P.S.: Cartoon Network used to air these at one point.

The Moksha Comic Series

Via The Hindu

What happens to Hanuman after Ramayana? What was he doing in that period between Ramayana and the time he resurfaces in Mahabaratha? What if he lived in the mountains, meditating and also interacted with two mortal kids?

'What if…' is the liberty taken by the Moksha comic series brought out by Vimanika comics, which presents Indian mythology to the present generation in comics and graphic novel formats.

Moksha deals with the stories of the mythological characters Hanuman and Parashuram and their interactions in settings that we can relate to. That is the uniqueness of Vimanika comics — contemporizing Indian mythology. The Sixth: Legend of Karna for instance, narrates the tale of the mythical character Karna that runs a parallel story that deals with Karna's reincarnation in the present times as a business tycoon.

“It is important for us to understand the value of our culture and get back to our roots,” says KaranVir Arora, Managing Director and Editor in Chief Vimanika. “The values and philosophy that our mythological stories teach are relevant even today and hence its importance in present times,” he adds. In fact, Vimanika's latest release in the Moksha series The White Tiger and the Gift is mainly intended to make the youth aware about the Tiger conservation in India and around the world.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Brain Gym

For the teachers and parents out there,

"Learning", contrary to popular belief, is not an isolated brain function. Our entire body is involved, with every nerve and cell contributing to our learning capability. Here is a compilation of a series of movements called PACE to help both teacher and student to become positive, active, clear and energetic for learning.

Click here to learn about these activities that will help make both you and your children or students able and open to acquiring and processing information easily.

Paper Engineering : Creating a Pop-Up Book

Chuck Fischer and Bruce Foster take us through the process of creating a pop-up book.

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.

The Impact of Being Raised in a Bookless Home

Via ScienceDaily
Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics.

For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.

Evans said, "Even a little bit goes a long way," in terms of the number of books in a home. Having as few as 20 books in the home still has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education, and the more books you add, the greater the benefit.

In some countries, such as China, having 500 or more books in the home propels children 6.6 years further in their education. In the United States, the effect is less, 2.4 years, than the 3.2-year average advantage experienced across all 27 countries in the study. But, Evans points out that 2.4 years is still a significant advantage in terms of educational attainment.

The study by Evans and her colleagues at Nevada, UCLA and Australian National University is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever conducted on what influences the level of education a child will attain.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : alshain49

Of music and musings

Are you one of those people who can't study/work unless there is something playing in the background? Ever been busted (by parents/teacher/ whoever) for working with your ipod on because its a distraction and you make mistakes when you multitask? It has been proven that music helps students concentrate, make associations, help them with vocabulary and so on. It has also been proven that music helps students in acquiring a new language! Click here to find out how you can use music at home or in the classroom to help you study better.

So get those CDs and ipods out, people! Its time to do some serious studying!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Enjoy the Ride

Recently, several nice things have been happening in the world of Pratham Books. Our editor Mala Kumar says, "In our dash to get that file uploaded, or finish that Excel sheet, or edit that book or get the sales figures out, or get the board meeting presentation right........or whatever each of us do, it's those little connections that happen that make it all so much more than just another job."

Thank you all for joining our journey and making our work meaningful. Enjoy the ride...and have a great weekend :)

Paper Plane from Margherita Premuroso on Vimeo.

Growth Economy Venture Challenge


Is Your Biggest Idea Worth $1 Million? Find out now. Act quickly – submissions are due by 31 July 2010.

Nokia's Calling All Innovators competition has always been designed to inspire creativity and change. This year, Nokia's CEO is taking the competition to a whole new level with the Growth Economy Venture Challenge.

The challenge:

Submit your best idea for a new mobile product or solution designed to improve the lives of people in the developing world.

The payoff:

The winner of Nokia’s Growth Economy Venture Challenge will receive a $1 million (USD) venture capital investment and support from Nokia to help turn the idea into reality.

"We've seen what the tech community can do when it focuses on problems that are also opportunities. We want to channel that energy toward improving lives in the deveoping world." said Nokia's CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. Bear in mind, this is not a gift, grant or prize. It's an investment aimed at creating a strong, vibrant business that will also improve people's lives.

We're looking for one idea that stands above the rest:

  • An idea that could truly change the way people use Nokia mobile devices.
  • An idea that demonstrates how mobility can dramatically improve the lives of people who live in areas where the average income is under US$5/day.
  • An idea that recognizes a good business opportunity can also contribute to "doing good."
There can only be one winner in this competition, but the winning idea will make people stand up and take notice.

And let’s be clear, this Venture Challenge is about more than just mobile apps. The winning idea might be hardware, software, or a new service opportunity.

Read more here.

Image Source

Making Learning Fun

If there's something you need to know about our author Mala Kumar, then you must know that she is a lot of fun. So, it is no surprise that the books she writes always have an element of fun in them. Mala talks to Deccan Herald 'about why it is important for parents, teachers and students to make a ‘mind-shift’ when it comes to books and learning'.

Via Deccan Herald
How did you begin writing content for school kids?
As a consultant engaged in non-formal education, I had the freedom to teach the way I wanted to, with no restrictions whatsoever and no expertise on pedagogy either! My aids to developing content for my workshops were the daily newspapers with their rich mix of information.

Storytelling seems to be the core of your content-writing process, even for Maths and Science. Why is that?
As a journalist, I am fascinated with stories, especially true stories that have the capacity to teach without weighing heavily on the reader’s mind. What better way to teach children the basics of Science and Maths? There is nothing innovative about using stories to teach, since in India the oral storytelling tradition has always been a method of teaching.

What about the classroom experience? Did it take a lot of convincing to get teachers to teach differently?
Good teachers are always open to new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. Pratham Book’s Happy Maths series has been downloaded by lots of people. Schools can encourage teachers to adopt more progressive ways of teaching. All of us — teachers, parents and students — have to realise that learning happens in many ways and through different media. Textbooks are small toolkits. Supplementary reading material, like newspapers, magazines, story books, make great teachers.

What are the long-term benefits of learning ‘core’ subjects the fun way?
Having an appetite to learn is the most important aspect of learning. If the fun way of learning helps children to start appreciating a subject, then the chances of them continuing to read and learn more are high. The converse is equally true. Once a student dislikes a subject because it has been introduced in a boring way, it is difficult to make him like the subject later.
You can read and download Mala's Happy Maths series : 1 , 2 , 3 ,4 . You can also order Mala's latest book 'Ritu's Letter Gets Longer' from our website.

CitID : A (Type)Face for Every City in the World

Philadelphia by Dustin Kemper


We recently stumbled upon CitID, a project that “aims to gain global consciousness by giving a (type)face to every city worldwide.” The project invites creatives across the world to submit a logo or visual interpretation of the city closest to their heart, with an ultimate aim of giving every city their own CitID. The project also looks to give exposure to the individuals that developed its CitID, to serve as a source of creative inspiration, and to help educate people about the cities and world around us – and what makes each area so unique and a destination in its own right.

We look forward to seeing this collection of visual identities expand – and to add to our sense of wanderlust.

Visit the CitID website.

Portland by Santiago Uceda

Berlin by Axel Raidt

Thursday, June 17, 2010

careful letterings

Writing in your second language can be difficult, especially if you’re not used to it. And just because you can read doesn’t necessarily mean you can write as well. I should know! While some people don’t think twice about it, some of us ponder long and hard over which alphabet to use, the sequence of words in a sentence, and most important of all, after a particularly taxing one hour at your desk with some three sentences to show for it and the ever present question, “Does this even make sense???”, looming over your head.
The letter writing activity for kids on Saturday prodded at my subconscious and reminded me of something. If you can write letters in English, then why not in another language? Of course, this would be an exercise as much for the parents as it is for the writers. Just make sure you (and/or your kids) write to someone who’s fluent and who will be able to write back, telling you where you have gone wrong. I’ve been doing this for a couple of months now, and it’s not only fun(ny), but you won’t believe how much I’ve learnt. I’ve been writing to my friends in Hindi (since the group I’m writing to don’t know any Tamil) and when they reply, they send me a list of the mistakes I’ve made, the words I have spelt wrong and so on. And since everythings been written down, its easier to cross reference, to remember new words and form new sentences. One thing I must warn you about though – don’t use the Gmail language option (it’s the button on the far left) ESPECIALLY if you are a beginner. Google generally works phonetically, and it’s not a good idea to confuse yourself with spellings, trying to make English sound like an Indian language. Rarely works. It gets worse when the person writing back to you makes similar mistakes, in which case, you won’t even be able to make out what is a typo and what is not.
What you could do instead, is hand write your letter (as opposed to type), and dedicate maybe the last page to writing in your second language. This way you can practice writing in both. I recently discovered that such writing exercises make you think in the language you are writing in. At one point, you stop making literal translations and begin constructing sentences according to what you think makes sense. Turns out, the sooner you venture out of the safety net that is English (assuming that that’s your first language), the sooner you’ll learn your second language.
Here’s to your letter writing endeavours in a language you’re not so fluent in! Good luck!

PS: For all my lovely friends who are stuck reading my ink splattered scratched out attempts at hindi, many thanks!



Via Hippocampus

Shankara Hippocampus welcomes you all to a ‘Think tank ‘ Saturday – Weekend activity by butterfly fields.

Yep Science club demo activities for anyone above 6 years (yes papa’s and mama’s too).This is in context of starting this year’s science club at the centre so your participation and feedback is important.

This 19th see you all at the centre @ 4:30,wear your thinking caps.

Please mail and confirm your participation by 18.06.10.
More information here.

Independent Publishers Distribution Alternatives (IPDA), in association with Alternate Law Forum (Bangalore), is organizing a workshop at Bengaluru on 24th and 25th of June.

Spreading The Word
Copyright, Dissemination and Independent Publishing

Date: 24th & 25th June 2010
Time: 10 am to 5.30 pm both days

Venue: United Theological College, Benson Town, Bengaluru

The details of the themes and speakers are to be found in the attached note on the workshop.

We invite you to participate in this workshop -- or to forward this invitation to anyone else in your organisation who may be be interested.

Thursday, 24th June, 10 am to 1 pm
Theme 1: Copyright, Dissemination and Independent Book Publishing

As independent publishers we want to share our discomfort with the creation of monopolistic empires based on aggressive, opaque and closed IPR regimes. We feel that these regimes are not be conducive to the free spread of knowledge and ideas, and may actually be creating private property from out of the commons. With the consolidation of publishing operations within a few global corporate media conglomerates, there is an attempt to recast copyright contracts to fall in line with more stringent IPR regimes. It is thus important for us to revisit the legal frameworks within which publishing operates and reaffirm our basic commitment to ‘spreading the word’.

Thursday, 24th June, 2.30 to 5.30 pm
Theme 2: Emerging Copyright Regimes – The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2010 and its Implications for Book Publishing

A bill amending the copyright act has been introduced in the parliament in April 2010. The Alternative Law Forum has submitted a detailed critique of an earlier draft of the bill to the Registrar of Copyrights. We need to educate ourselves on these developments and its implications.

Friday, 25th June, 10 am to 1 pm
Theme 3: Rights, Licenses and Contracts – Obligations and Responsibilities

Copyright will vesting naturally with the author gets defined in the agreement/contract that the author enters into with the publisher. The publisher consequently enters into further contracts with other parties to carry the book or its contents across different territories and across different media forms. An understanding of the legal frameworks will enable us to think of ways and means to spread our books further and acquire more content to publish.

Friday, 25th June, 2.30 to 5.30 pm
Theme 4: E-Publishing, E-Bookstores and Digital Rights

Independent publishers do need to learn how new technologies and new media our impacting our work processes. In a context where technology is speeding up both knowledge creation and dissemination and IPR regimes are being created to control these processes, we need to explore and forge new ways of dealing with knowledge processes that go beyond its reduction to property and its manifestation as a commodity.


Twenty-eight years. From letterpress to direct-to-plate. From ‘setting in metal’ to digital technology. The craft of making books.

What makes book design ‘work’ across cultures ?

The Art of the Book celebrates Seagull’s passion for good design through a recent series of digital collages and book covers created by our designer Sunandini Banerjee.

Celebrating 28 years in publishing, Seagull Books cordially invites you to the opening of

The Art of the Book:Digital Collages by Sunandini Banerjee

on Saturday, 19 June 2010, at 6.30 pm
at the Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre
36C S. P. Mukherjee Road,Calcutta 700 025.
Find more details here.

Haiku at The Madras Terrace House by Kala Ramesh

POETRY READING on Sat 26 June, 7pm
HAIKU WORKSHOP on Sun 27 June, 10.30 am - 5pm

To register, email:

The most compressed poetry in the world, haiku has more than a four hundred year old Japanese tradition behind it.

A season’s poetry or nature poetry, one can say or running on the lines of Zen, calling the mind to the "isness of life” another might say, all the same it’s addictive and you’ll find yourself being rooted to the moment!

This haiku workshop would be presented in simple and easy steps — on how best to write one and get published too, if you are passionate enough about it!
In short you’d come to experience The Joy of Haiku and what it is to share this joy with others!!
More details here.


(Please click on the image for more details or visit

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Announcing the results of the Make Ritu's Letter Longer Blogathon!

I think it's fair to say that the participation in the Make Ritu's Letter Longer Blogathon fair blew us away. In all, we received 53 entries that ran around 2500 words, including Mala's opening and closing lines. That's on an average 250 lines, which Ritu could just not have fit onto a postcard! So she used a postal envelop by the way and put a 5 rupee stamp... :)

We asked little Bheema and Bhimanthi help pick winners for the Blogathon and they picked as follows:
  1. Anu Shankarn
  2. Nanda Ramesh
  3. Renu
  4. Sandhya (Sandhyaryal)
  5. Smitha Jacob
  6. Sonali Pota
  7. Stian Haklev
  8. Sweta Lal
  9. Vibha Sharma
  10. Vibhor Malik
Could the ten of you listed above please email Balkrishna (balkrishna at prathambooks dot org) with your postal address so that we can send you each a copy of the book signed by the author?

You can download the letter as a Word document from here. Would anyone be interested in volunteering to lay this out such that we can share it with everyone please? Feel free to use illustrations from our Flickr archive or your own doodles too.

Thank you *ALL* so very much for participating - our only pity is that we could not give all of you something.

P.S.: The Bangalore Mirror carried a small feature on this Blogathon.

Monday, June 14, 2010

"i SeNt a leTTeR TO..."

Saturday morning dawned bright and early. Well, not really, but the rain and clouds outside did little to deter the enthusiasm of the children in the Crossword building. They had come to listen to Mala read from “Ritu’s Letter Gets Longer” and participate in the letter writing activity planned for them later. They eyed the bright pink post box excitedly, itching to put something (even their fingers) inside.

Mala started off by asking the kids if they had received letters. Naina looked a bit puzzled. Pooja said that her grandfather had written her an email. No, not an email, Mala explained, but a letter. Handwritten, enveloped and posted so that it goes all the way from one city to another. No, the children shook their heads. None of them had received any letters by snail mail. Mala told the kids about how letters used to be delivered by runners in the olden days, as they ran from one village to another to deliver messages. A modern runner (in a bright red tshirt) was promptly sent off to run around the room with a post card, finally coming back to deliver it. Then, we started the reading.

Crowded around Mala, they listened attentively. Pooja volunteered to play Ritu, jumping up and down and hugging grandfather (Mala) as and when the Ritu in the story did. When we got to the part where Ritu stood on tip-toe to post the letter, Mala got out the post cards and made the kids write to each other. After a little confusion, (what with the children running to their parents to write their addresses and so on), they settled down to write to each other. “I will write it myself!” Nangai told me, even as I walked over and sat down next to her. After clarifying with Mala as to whom they were writing to (the cards were shuffled – they were all writing to each other) and writing whatever they wanted to say, they stood in line to post the letter. They each reached up and, like Ritu, posted their letters in the tiny post box Mala held up.

It was fun to see a whole new world open up for these kids, after the event. It was almost as if they had discovered a new possibility, to make and keep friends through the letters they wrote. Don’t worry, kids, the letters have been posted and are on their way! You’ll be able to keep up your cross city correspondence sooner than you think!

Here is the link to the pictures of both the Bangalore and Delhi events:

Update: Sandhya points us to a wonderful story on an international family post card swap. Most certainly worth a read.