Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some Lines about Children's Books

"The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries," said Rene Deccartes, French mathematician, philosopher and scinetist, born this day in 1596.

American actress Rhea Jo Perlman was also born on March 31, and I know her best for the role as the crazy mother in 'Matilda', the movie made from the book by the same name by my favourite author Roald Dahl. Rhea's books for children included the illustrated children's book series, Otto Undercover. The fifth book in the series, The Brink of the Ex-Stink-Tion, was chosen by Child magazine as one of the best books of the year 2007. Otto Undercover is a series about a boy named Otto, whose parents are working undercover. His race car is the fastest in the world. The mystery of his parents is not revealed until the final book, Brain Freeze.

On March 31, many many years ago, the then 24-year-old writer Charles Dickens published his first monthly installment of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, under the pseudonym Boz.

And there is someone celebrating a birthday today in the Pratham Books office too! For all those born on March 31, and for all those born on any other day, here is a lovely little book from a wonderful site called International Children's Digital Library.

Happy Birthday! And Happy Reading!

Image source: Pratham Books Photostream on

TEDxUniversity of delhi

We are happy to hear that one of our authors Paro Anand is speaking at the TEDxUniversityofdelhi being held on 1st April, 2011 at the Vallabhbhai Patel Chest, North Campus.

Welcome to TEDxUniversityofDelhi, where x=independently organized TED event.
We honor people who have created a dent in the universe by not following conventional norms and have dared to be different and who have converted their passion to profession.
We’ve brought together inspiring entrepreneurs, forward thinkers, change agents of society and astounding performers who are the trailblazers and role models for today’s youth.

You’ll hear new ways of thinking, what it means to be different and take the first step to launching your own business and being comppletely ignorant to the outside forces who prevent you from doing so. You shall be motivated by their inspiring stories which shall compel you to rethink what were you born to accomplish in your lifetime.
You can see the list of speakers here. Paro Anand is the author of our book 'Bhabhloo Bear's Adventure' and has conducted several storytelling workshops with us.
Paro Anand is the author of 18 books for children and young adults, including plays, short stories, novellas and novels. She is also published in several anthologies and has written extensively on children’s literature in the country. She headed the National Centre for Children’s Literature, The National Book Trust, India, the apex body for children’s literature in India. As a part of her work here, she set up libraries and Readers’ Clubs in rural India and conducted training programs on the use of literature.

She is a World Record Holder, for helping over 3000 children make the World’s Longest Newspaper (850 meters long) in 11 Indian states in 13 languages. The concept behind the project was to give a voice to those children who do not have a platform and to empower young people to create their own literature.
Paro Anand has been awarded for her contribution to children’s literature by The Russian Centre for Science and Culture. Dr. Kalam, the President of India, honored her for her writings on Republic Day, 2007. She has represented the country at various forums internationally, including in the UK and France. She is a performance storyteller and has performed her stories in many parts of India, UK, France and Switzerland. She runs a program, Literature in Action on the use of stories in the holistic development of young people. She was part of an Indo-Swedish workshop and has co-authored a book for teenagers with special needs, with a Swedish writer.

She has been a resource person with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, working with children impacted by terrorist, separatist violence in Kashmir. Coming out of her experiences, she has written No Guns At My Son’s Funeral, a book that has had extensive critical acclaim. The book was nominated onto the IBBY Honor List, 2006, as the best book for young people from India. It is currently being translated into Spanish and German and talks are on for basing a film on the book. The book is about a young boy, seduced into becoming a terrorist. A follow up novel, also based in Kashmir, entitled Weed is the story of the son of a terrorist and his struggle to find an alternate life to sustain himself and his family.She was a writer-in-residence at the Woodstock School, Mussoorie, India where she worked on writing her first novel for adults.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011



Via an email sent by Chintan Girish Modi (via American Center, Mumbai)

Thursday, March 31, 2011
Time: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Venue: The American Center auditorium, 4, New Marine Lines, Mumbai 400 020

The discussion is based on articles published in the U.S. Embassy bi-monthly publication “Article & Web Alert,” March-April 2010. The articles can be accessed at:

Ms. Vasumathi Sriganesh, CEO, QMed Knowledge Foundation - Moderator
Ms. Devika Fernandes, Senior Vice President, Knowledge Management, IDFC
Dr. Medha Joshi, Head, Department of Library Science, Tata Memorial Hospital
Ms. Meghana Sanjeev, Librarian, Vivekanand College of Arts, Science & Commerce

Please confirm your attendance to Ms. Irene Fernandez on 22624590 ext.2202 or send us an e-mail at



Via Poetry Across Borders
Date : Saturday, April 2
Time : 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Location : Jaaga Screening Room, Jaaga, Bangalore
Haiku love poetry, kite flying, photo-poetry, music and the spoken word...
Poetry Across Borders is back! Join us as we kick-start April with a special session of poetry and art at Jaaga.

Featuring: Abhimanyu S, Aurora Masum-Javed, Khushrav J Writer, Amith Seshagiri, Avanish Tiwari, Raghuram R, Aditya V, and Devang Singh.
Read more information about the event here.



Please click on the image below for more information or visit the Facebook page here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sabha 2011 - Creating Joyful and Accessible Content for New Readers

The month of March was a fantastic one for us. We held two literary conferences called Sabha in Bangalore in Delhi. The Bangalore conference was about 'The Joys and Challenges of Creating Multi-lingual Content for Children' while the Delhi conference was about 'Creating Joyful and Accessible Content for New Readers'.

Manisha Chaudhry, Head of content development- Pratham Books, writes about the meet held in Delhi.

On the morning of 14th March, all roads led to the first Pratham Books Sabha in Delhi!

Or so we felt as we rushed to IHC to welcome our authors and illustrators, buyers and well wishers. It was a busy busy monday morning with heavy traffic but the basanti breeze was kind and the silk cotton trees in full bloom.

The venue was humming with last minute arranging of books, going over the event flow and waiting for our guests to arrive. It was so wonderful to have more than 70 of our authors, illustrators, translators and other well wishers together for the first time.

Over steaming cups of coffee and tea, many introductions were made, many friendships revisted and many new conversations begun.

After a brief welcome to the Sabha,our chairperson, Rohini Nilekani spoke eloquently and passionately about the genesis of Pratham Books. The book as a medium is portable, cost effective and a great vehicle for ideas.She spoke about the need to invest in our children and their educational journey, if we wanted a truly functioning democracy.She spoke about the need to see the kind of work that Pratham Books was doing as a societal mission and more people needed to join in to see that last child has a book to read, a book to call her own.

Suzanne Singh, Managing Trustee Pratham Books spoke about the size and scale of Pratham Books' goals and the gratifying journey so far. She spoke about our low cost, high quality books in many Indian languages for children across the country.The innovative and collaborative nature of our work had led to the creation of new products and platforms, so that we can reach the greatest number of children.For many people in the audience, this was perhaps the first time that they became aware of the scope and reach of Pratham Books and the breadth of its mission.

A lively panel discussion on Creating Joyful and Accessible Content for New Readers followed with a four very distinguished panelists -Rukmini Banerji, Director ASER Centre and Pratham, Shuddhsatwa Basu, artist-illustrator-animation film maker and teacher, Anushka Ravishankar, highly acclaimed author and Paro Anand, well loved author for children and young adults and literary activist. Each of them brought in very different yet intersecting perspectives on creating books for children and their personal experiences kept the discussion rooted in the here and now.

Rukmini Banerji's effervescent presentation on why she thought it was important to create books for children was informed by the depth of her field experience where she enjoys meeting thousands of children who study in government schools across the country. She shared several amusing anecdotes that underlined the importance of reading and how it builds self-confidence and opens up a window to newer worlds. Her presentation also displayed the scale of Pratham's work and the number of children who need support.

Shuddhsatwa Basu's visual presentation of his growth as an artist was a delightful example of different styles of visual communication. The role of an illustrator in making children's books joyful could not have been underscored in a better way.It was evident how the interplay between the words and illustrations make each book a dynamic site for stimulating the mind.

Anushka Ravishankar shared her journey as an author within the context of joyful and accessible content creation. She made a strong case for the subjectivity of the author. She felt that a joyful creative process imbues the book with joy. Her presentation made a strong point about a sense of comfort with being open-ended. She had written a script after looking at a set of vibrant illustrations, and she was also open to an illustrator having complete freedom to interpret a text she had written. She read out from two of her delightful books-both fine examples of joy and accessibility. She also said that overly didactic books turn off young readers.

Paro Anand spoke about the power of stories. Referring to her work with children impacted by terrorist violence, she said that stories are a powerful medium to begin a conversation on difficult issues of death and pain. As a part of her Literature in Action program, she had come across many children with personal traumas who could begin healing through the sharing of their stories. She also made a strong case for demystifying the act of writing stories as she said that anybody could write as everybody had a story.

A full house engaged in a freewheeling discussion on the many ideas thrown up by our wonderful panelists. Illustrations, suitable books for libraries, the role of an editor, the tension between didactic ideas and joyful content were all thrown up as stories about creating stories were told.

The conversation was animated and it set the mood for Gautam John's presentation on Creative Commons. He made a short and pithy presentation explaining the basis and the benefits of this new way of looking at content. He illustrated the ways in which CC licensing options made Pratham Books more accessible and took it a step closer to its mission of a book in every child's hand.

As time was short and stomachs were heard rumbling, we broke for lunch but Gautam happily held several mini-sessions for various authors and illustrators who were intrigued by the possibilities of CC licensing.

The first Sabha created a great sense of community between all the authors, illustrators and supporters of Pratham Books. There was such a feeling of warmth and sharing between everybody that we can truly say that we have a LARGE extended family! Thank you for being there and here's to many more Sabhas! Cheers!
Also read :

Sabha 2011 - Why We Held This Literary Meet
Sabha 2011- Books in many Indian languages
Sabha 2011 - Writing Bilingual Books
Sabha 2011 - The Joys and Challenges of Creating Multi-lingual Content

Sabha 2011 - The Joys and Challenges of Creating Multi-lingual Content

The month of March was a fantastic one for us. We held two literary conferences called Sabha in Bangalore in Delhi. The Bangalore conference was about 'The Joys and Challenges of Creating Multi-lingual Content for Children' while the Delhi conference was about 'Creating Joyful and Accessible Content for New Readers'.

Sandhya Taksale, Editor-Pratham Books, talks about the challenges as well as the importance of creating multi-lingual content for children.

Creating multi-lingual, quality books at affordable prices for children is always a joy. Ensuring that the content is as accessible and relevant for a priviledged child in an English medium school, for a first generation learner and for a child with special needs is another aspect of spreading the joy of reading.

All books are a source of fun, joy, enjoyment and many other things. Multi-lingual books, have some other advantages also. The sharing of ideas helps improve the status of literature in vernacular languages and a positive reading attitude can be encouraged. Quality and engaging books in one's mother tongue help stimulate the reluctant reader. Translations help build bridges which allows children in one region learn about the culture and characters from other parts of India. In this day and age where regional and cultural identities are used as political tools to create hatred towards other languages and cultures, books act as sensitizing agents and could encourage readers to question the basis of such hatred.

The challenges in publishing anything for children begins with the fact that children's literature is on the periphery in many regions. Some people are also of the opinion that if you are not able to write for adults, then write for children. Translation (and especially translating for children) is not considered prestigious.

Actually, translation is a systematic and methodical effort. It needs a special kind of sensitivity and intuition. Translating for children means that the language should be simple, informal, natural and still dramatic. Many translators are carried away by the construction and clauses of original language. Incorporating the rhythm and flow of the target language is essential.

Multi-lingual production, means publishing the same book in 8 or 10 languages. It is a lengthy, complicated and energy consuming process and publication delays are a constraint.

But how do these challenges turn into joys?

A wonderful team of authors, illustrators and translators is a great asset. We will have to join hands and build bridges with many other institutions to see a book in every child's hand. It also requires non conventional ways and ideas of distribution to reach out to children. Book fairs, workshops, story telling events, approaching schools are some of the ways.

Good quality, powerful visuals, many languages, affordable price, passion to reach out.. each and every thing helps to see a book in every child's hand regardless of her class, culture, region or language. The journey of turning challenges into joys itself is very exciting.

Do share your thoughts about multi-lingual publishing at the end of this post. Also, if you are interested in translating our books, please read this post for more information.

Also read :

Sabha 2011 - Why We Held This Literary Meet

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sabha 2011 - Writing Bilingual Books

The month of March was a fantastic one for us. We held two literary conferences called Sabha in Bangalore in Delhi. The Bangalore conference was about 'The Joys and Challenges of Creating Multi-lingual Content for Children' while the Delhi conference was about 'Creating Joyful and Accessible Content for New Readers'.

Kanchan Bannerjee, Trustee-Pratham Books, talks about her experience of writing bilingual books for children.

Pratham Books: Bihar Reading Improvement Program

During all my visits to Akshara foundation Balwadis run by Akshara Foundation, over the years, the disparity between a ‘Nursery school’ and our Balwadi was apparent. Not just in the physical aspects, but also the aspirations of both the stakeholders – the little ones as well as the Balwadi Volunteer.. Many a times I have been asked , “We want to teach English also to the children, how do we go about it?” The obvious first choice is teaching children rhymes, which was happening already. This is when I thought of writing bi-lingual books for beginning readers.

I have written a set of four books, with just one line of text in English on each page, in large font size; and the translation in the local language is at the bottom of the same page. The characters (Munna, Raju, Suma, etc) run common through the four books. Very simple English words and sentence structures have been used, so that the child as well as the care-giver find it easy to understand. The story should first be read out completely in the language in which the child is familiar, then the English version of the story should be read out. It is possible that the child will need help even to read the vernacular text.

There has been encouraging response from the field people and I think bilingual books work best with young readers. And finally it is two books for the price of one!
Also read :

Sabha 2011 - Why We Held This Literary Meet

Sabha 2011- Books in many Indian languages

What a lovely gathering we had at Sabha 2011 in Bangalore! And what a wonderful feeling it was to be actually hugging or shaking hands with people who have helped create all our books! The beautiful grounds of the National Gallery of Modern Art was perfect to meet our guests as we sipped on hot coffee and tea.

In this wired or wireless world, many of our authors, illustrators, translators and reviewers work independent of each other, and hardly ever get to meet each other. "Oh my, did HE do the illustrations for my book?" asked an author as she rushed to the illustrator who had complemented her words with colourful pictures.

"I never thought a story I wrote would be read by so many millions of children!" said an author after she saw a presentation about Pratham Books.

For all our friends who could not attend, and for all those interested in the creation of books for children, here is a short report of the proceedings at Sabha 2011.

After the introduction and welcome address, Chairperson Rohini Nilekani made the keynote address. Talking about how book lovers were able to get transported into brilliant private worlds, she said passionately that every child deserved to have her own private world. She added that in a country such as ours, the only way to reach most of the children was to have books in many, many Indian languages and in as low a price as possible.

This was followed by a presentation about Pratham Books by Managing Trustee Suzanne Singh. The facts and figures, the places that our books have gone, and the people who are using them in different ways was an eye-opener to many in the audience.

The panel discussion was on the topic 'The Joys and Challenges of Creating Multi-lingual Content for Children'. Poet and playwright Mamta Sagar talked about how we need to enter a new world to be able to write for children. One has to listen to children when they talk and when they play, to catch the flavour of their voice. It is only when we observe children that we can create books that they will like. Author and Managing Trustee of Akshara Foundation, Kanchan Bannerjee spoke about how children learnt a language. Journalist and my fellow-editor Sandhya Taksale showed how our books were being read by children in different parts of the country. Later, New Projects Manager Gautam John talked about our philosophy of creating content that was free to be used and reused in many innovative ways so as to reach a larger readership.

There were many questions and stories from our guests. "It was fun to see my son reading a book while his grandmother translated the same simultaneously into his mother tongue, while the grandfather enacted the story," said Kavitha. Should the word 'Goodnight' in an English book be translated into 'Shubh ratri' in the Hindi translation? What about 'well, well' and Hi? Why can't we have picture books without any words? The language of pictures! Can people download our books on, print them and sell them for a higher price? What kind of fonts are best for children? The questions were many.

The afternoon was rounded off with an interesting lunch under the huge trees at NGMA. The talk here was as enlightening and stimulating as the ones inside the auditorium.

We'd like to thank all our friends who sent in their messages with best wishes, a few of which are included here:

Via Sonali Pota: I would like to keep my self up dated on the happenings in this field and some day find my path to add my little bit to this monumental challenge.

Dr.Hemant Kumar: मुझे लगता है कि हर बच्चे के हाथों तक रंग बिरंगी किताबें पहुंचनी उतनी ही जरूरी हैं जितना कि रंगीन गुब्बारे और सुन्दर खिलौने।

Melinda, Hon Director, : You are encouraging a movement that is necessary and as I oversee two schools primarily for underprivileged kids with impossible budgets and great challenges I see that what you are doing is very significant for our goals...a big THANKS to all your team!!!!

The views and suggestions shared at Sabha are going into a manual on multi-lingual publishing that we are compiling. Thanks to all those who made it to Sabha! And to all those who could not, we hope you'll be there at Sabha 2012.

Register for Rangashankara's Summer Express '11

Registration for Rangashankara's Summer Express '11 begins on 26th March 2011. Please click on the image below for a larger view.

The iPad Catches them Young

Via The Hindu

Even before stepping out of home, or diapers, way before the first day of kindergarten, or pre-school where they are introduced to the shape of the English alphabet, babies have started using computers.

That's what Steve Jobs has done. He's caught the fancy of a generation that's started to play with the iPad even before they have learned to talk or walk. Well, they can touch and that's all they need to turn on sounds and videos.

Scott - one of the first iPad toddler fans

As a techie friend Ravicharan Mydur says: “My three-year-old Riya's favourite toy these days is the iPad. I'm constantly surprised by how much she learns from it. Just by going through the apps, she has learned to count by herself in at least two languages, she can identify most animals, navigate pages for her favourite nursery rhymes and memorise words and actions in the process. She's also learning to draw and colour and getting in touch with her creative side... If the iPad could change diapers, it would be my hero!”

My first encounter with babies using iPads was when I was visiting a geek friend in Bangalore who has his hands full babysitting his two-year-old son Siddharth and three-year-old daughter Anjali. All he needed to do was take out the iPad and hand it to his daughter and occasionally mediate between the babies as they began to fight to use it.

It was the most incredible sight. Anjali went to the Toy Story read-along app and the app read out the story for her, highlighting the text along with sound and visual so that she knew exactly what the sound looked like and meant.

“I have found that it is the ultimate toy — since it can do so many different things, they don't get bored with it. Other cool toys lose their lure after a few hours of play. For example, my parents bought Sid a battery operated motorcycle that he can actually ride. Sure he was excited for the first few days, but now it sits in a corner of the playroom. The iPad on the other hand, gets played with everyday,” Arvind explains.

“But there is a fine line there that I guess we'd like to hit. Give kids just enough time, put more educational apps on it than games, use it to our advantage when we need them to be distracted but don't do it to the extent that the kid prefers to stay indoors and play on the iPad when he could be playing outside with other kids and physical toys,” he adds.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Scott & Elaine van der Chijs

Friday, March 25, 2011

Top Secret Job of Being the Editor of the Harry Potter Books

Complete Harry Potter series

Via The State Journal-Register
There are certain jobs that are so memorable that they supply a lifetime’s worth of stories to tell...

Susan Jeffers had a job like that. She was the copy editor for a few books you may have heard of: “Order of the Phoenix,” “Half-Blood Prince,” and “Deathly Hallows.” Each title, in case you just got back from Mars, begins with the words “Harry Potter and the ...”

“It was an incredible honor for me,” says Susan, who lives in Riverton. “I love these books so much.”

Actually, the only book in the series Susan had nothing to do with was book four, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” For books one through three, she was a proofreader. The copy editor works on the manuscript before the proofreader gets it.

She remembers that when the first Potter book arrived, nobody foresaw what it would become. The printing for the book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” was only 50,000.

The print run for the final book, “Deathly Hallows,” was about 13 million.

As the magnitude of the series grew, Scholastic began instituting greater security measures for the books. About the time Susan got the job of copy-editing book five, things had gotten very tight.

“We had a secret location in which we would work on the book,” she says. “Several people had access to that room. Nobody else knew where we were or who was involved.”

Did people who knew that she worked for Scholastic bug her about plot details? “You have no idea,” she says.

But she couldn’t talk to anyone about what she was doing. When people asked the inevitable questions her answer was along the lines of “Harry who?” It had to be.

None of the people at Scholastic who handled a Potter manuscript kept it in their possession very long. Each manuscript was more than 1,000 pages long. It had to be copy-edited in two weeks and moved on to the next step. The editing and proofreading was never done by computer – it would be too easy to copy or forward an electronic version.

There were many who would have loved to leak the plot before the book was published. Some websites even made up the plot of the next books and tried to pass them off as authentic. Susan says she felt an obligation to kids all over the world to keep things quiet.

“The kids were waiting so anxiously for each one,” she says. “I just felt that there was no way this could be spoiled for them.”
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : alvarezperea

Sabha 2011 - Why We Held This Literary Meet

The month of March was a fantastic one for us. We held two literary conferences called Sabha in Bangalore in Delhi. The Bangalore conference was about 'The Joys and Challenges of Creating Multi-lingual Content for Children' while the Delhi conference was about 'Creating Joyful and Accessible Content for New Readers'.

Suzanne Singh, Managing Trustee of Pratham Books, writes about why we conducted these conferences this year.
Pratham Books turned seven recently. It was a time for us to reflect on all that we had achieved in these seven years. The statistics were impressive. 200 original titles in 11 languages. 1300 books - read about 25 million times. We believed that had significantly contributed to the landscape of children and reading in India.
All of this had been possible because we have a wonderful community of authors, illustrators, translators who create books for us. So we thought it would be good idea to organize literary meets in Delhi and Bangalore where we could collectively discuss the challenges and joys of creating multilingual content for children.
There were stimulating discussions and debates at both our Sabha sessions. We hope to carry on the tradition of bringing together like minded people who believe so strongly that books provide joy. And we can all put our collective strength to spread this joy to every child.
Via The Hindu
Speaking at the event, Chairperson of Pratham Books Rohini Nilekani, said: “This meet is one more step towards nurturing the ecosystem for better children's books. There are 350 million children in India, and when we believe so strongly that books provide joy, we must all put our collective strength to spread this joy to every child.”

On their commitment to developing open content, Suzanne Singh, Managing Trustee of Pratham, said: “In a country with so many children in need of reading material, we need quick, clean, legal, and harmonious ways of developing content. In our effort to share content and be more inclusive, we have adopted the Creative Commons framework widely, and we have begun to see success with this.” Over 80 stories and illustrations are available under an open license model.
You can read the entire article here. You can also view pictures from Sabha 2011 here.

We will post a few more Sabha-related blog posts for those of you who missed the conference and for those who were interested in knowing what happened at the conferences. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Storytelling Sessions in Bangkok

Vijaylakshmi Nagaraj, the author of our book 'Rhino Charge', sent us pictures from a storytelling session she held for kids in a school in Bangkok.

Vijaylakshmi was in Bangkok in the month of February to celebrate her grandson's 5th birthday. Her grandson informed his teacher that his grandmother was a storyteller and had also written books for children. As a special treat for his classmates, Vijaylakshmi was invited to conduct a storytelling session in his classroom. Her grandson chose the book 'Rhino Charge' which was written by Vijaylakshmi and published by Pratham Books.

Vijaylakshmi says :
"The ELC school where he studies has children from all over the world .
The children were excited and all ears as I narrated the story. The illustrations also appealed to them. I narrated the story with a lot of action and voice modulation.
At the end of it, they all wanted to visit India and go to Kaziranga. It was also the first time has come face to face with the author of a book. They asked questions like - "How did you get the idea to write about a baby Rhino?" " Who made the drawings?' " What do you think Rhinos eat?"
I was delighted to see the happy faces asking for more stories and have promised to present "Rhino Charge " and a few other books for their school library."

Lighting Up Lives of First Generation Learners with Books

Suzanne Singh, Managing Trustee of Pratham Books, shares this lovely incident where she met a bunch of kids recently and how that experience reaffirmed the purpose of Pratham Books for her.

I would see a large contingent of kids coming in and out of a gated community called Palm Meadows in Bangalore every evening and discovered that they were attending English classes being run by a teacher, Purnima Hindia. So I dropped off a bunch of Pratham Books at her house. She invited me to class today when she was planning to distribute the books. I walked into her airy garage this evening and saw about 25 kids poring over our books. All the kids attended the neighbourhood government schools and were reading the books with great concentration. Some of them had dictionaries at hand and were referring to it to decode an unfamiliar word. Purnima insists that the kids not only read but understand what they read. As they finished reading their books, they came and read them out to the “teachers” – Purnima, Vidya and myself.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear them read confidently. Little Hanumantha read out – “Where is my bat” and after every line, he would explain the meaning in Kannada. He told me what an “attic” was and at the end of the story I asked him – “So where was the bat?” And he replied, “The girl had it”

Bright eyed, 7th grader Sangeeta read out “City of Stories” with ease and fluency and it was a perfect story for her because the “didi” in the story was reminiscent of her older sister, Vijayalakshmi, a PU student who was one of Purnima’s early students and now helped at the classes with the younger children. She was given “Asian Folk Tales” as her reward with the instruction that she should identify all the countries mentioned in the
book in an atlas.
All these kids were first generation learners and were very engaged with all the bright, colourful books. The characters and settings were familiar and they were gently drawn into the narrative. The sight of all those little heads bent over the books made me feel that we sure are doing something right!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blog for a Cause

It is that time of the year ... Twestival time!

Twestival (24th March) is a single day, global movement which uses the power of social media to organize offline events that mobilize communities in support of local causes.

Here's your chance to use your blogging skills to help donate money to a cause.

Via Twestival India 2011
Have an opinion on the state of Giving in India? Do you think India needs more philanthrophists? Are the rich and famous of India giving away enough? Do you think that the middle class might be the most giving in terms of the percentage of their income?

Or do you simply have ideas on how to make people give more and better?

Then you can blog for a cause!

We are glad to announce this blogging campaign where you can express your opinion while at the same time contributing to a cause. We are happy to share that for every original blog that you write on the topic of "Giving", GiveIndia has agreed to donate a sum of INR 250 as grant to your favorite charity (from the Twestival India 2011 list of cities participating in online donations).

All you need to do is select the city/NGO you want to support from the list, and write a blog post on "Giving" with specific reference to the Indian scenario. Do alert us about your participation by leaving a comment below.

In the broad topic of "Giving", you have a wide choice to cover including:
1. Online Giving - Is it a fad? Will it work in India?
2. Is donating the only 'Giving'?
3. Are Indian charities doing enough to attract donors and helping them give?
4. Your ideas for making Giving easier and simpler
5. Volunteering as an option of Giving - Giving time, energy and efforts

Or you can write on any other topic under the subject of Giving in India.
Click here to read more and write your posts soon as the campaign ends on 25th March.

Click here to see where the Twestival events are happening in your city tomorrow.

The Garrulous Gastronaut's Summer Workshop (Bangalore)

Earlier this month, we blogged about Pushpi Bagchi's book (A Garrulous Gastronaut’s Guide) which aims at getting kids to think about the food they eat. The good news is that Pushpi is conducting The Garrulous Gastronaut's Summer Workshop in the month of April.

Via Pushpi's blog
I will be holding a Gastronaut Workshop at iLeap Academy in Bangalore in April. The 4 day workshop is open for all children who are interested and in the age group of 7-10 years. For details please contact Shruti Singhal at or you can call her at +91 9945804444.
Please click on the poster below for more details:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Latest Book Haven in Bangalore

Decorative Spines

Via Deccan Herald
Bookstop! in Koramangala is owned and run by Jayanti and Venkat, two bibliophiles adventurous and gutsy, and passionate enough to put their faith in the printed word and its readers. amachandra Guha inaugurated the store a few weeks ago and noticed with relief that Bookstop! was strictly books, no chainstore merchandising, and just earnest browsers. Bookstop! is a modest-sized, cozy bookshop and it aims to remain this way. Bangalore, at last, has what it had always lacked: a community bookstore.

Browsing wasn’t possible anymore if you’ll recall, while Bookstop! makes this familiar bibliophile-pleasure seductive again. It’s telling that Bookstop! is not another used bookstore (which there is more of in Bangalore suddenly than ever before) which are relatively simpler to start-up, and involves fewer risks. Bookstop! is stocked with not just new books but carefully handpicked titles that lean towards the literary more than the popular.

Coming back to what McClelland observes so insightfully: as the printed book itself becomes a niche pleasure, seekers of the printed book will become a niche constituency and it will be those passionately and idiosyncratically curated walls of books in such community bookstores that will serve their needs more knowledgeably, accurately and with easy camaraderie.

Each time I visited Bookstop! (which has become rather often) I saw patrons either deep in conversation with Jayanti about books or browsing intently. They have no plans to go online because — like all good independent bookshops — they want to see the people they are selling books to. The couple has plans to soon make this even more of a speciality bookstore by devoting shelves to author-signed copies, out-of-print editions, books about books, and showcase more titles from smaller, independent publishers.

What gave them the business confidence that Bookstop! will succeed when other larger chain bookstores have failed? Venkat said he had faith in Jayanti’s vision for the bookshop as also a community — not only commercial — bookstore. When she once expressed doubts about what they were doing, he had reminded her: “it will be a success because you are passionate about books, because you love talking about books to others, because you are not doing this like a business person, so it will have a different atmosphere, a different energy that will drive it.”
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : maratinhisbath

Monday, March 21, 2011

Our Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest is Back

Listen.....the 'Retell, Remix, Rejoice Contest with Pratham Books' is back!

20th March was World Storytelling Day. The Remix contest was such a hit last year, that we decided to make this contest an annual treat - not just for our whacky 'mixers', but also for us and for all the people waiting for more and more stories to read!

Read our book “Listen to my body” in English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. And if you are feeling more adventurous, dive right into our remix contest.

Forgot how it works? Here's a refresher course: Take the images available here, weave your own story and email us the remixed version. Pssstt......Stories that are drastically different from the original have a better chance to win and yes the first prize winner for each category gets a printed, laid-out version of the winning cool is that!

Having starting trouble? Read our editor's remixed version at the end of this post (Click here to read it on Scribd)

Click here to download the illustrations and read the original book, all at one go!

Contest details:

• Contest will be for two categories: Above 16 years and below 16 years.
• You can send in your entries in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada or Urdu.
• Please send your entries in PDF, Word or Power Point format to
along with your name, age, language of entry with the email subject line as “The Retell,
Remix, Rejoice contest”
• Results will be announced on our blog and website on or before May 20, 2011.
• Got any queries? Email us at
Last date for entries is April 20, 2011.

*By submitting your work you agree to a “Creative Commons – Attribution – Share Alike license” being applied to it. While we encourage participation from all countries, prizes shall be couriered only within India. In case winning entry is not from India, we will lay out the book and send you a high res pdf to print locally.

Ranju Meets Puchee

Thursday, March 17, 2011

RedditGifts Launches Book Exchange

Oooops! Saw this link a little late, but today seems to be the last date to sign up for this book exchange being organized by Reddit. Hurry!

Via GalleyCat
Starting this month, Reddit users can swap print books with other readers. Follow this link to sign up for the new gift program.

The sign-up deadline is March 17th and the book swap begins on March 31st. The site listed a few rules, but you can swap new or used books with other readers. The popular site intends to expand these swaps into a larger gift exchange platform.

Here’s more about the program: “For this r/books exchange, we ask that you tell us your favorite kind of books. This has a few benefits, first off it helps your match (the person sending the gift to you) figure out the best possible gift for you. Second, in the long run it will help us match you with the best possible person to send you a gift, and vice-versa. Basically, we are evolving redditgifts to be a gift exchange platform where we try to maximize happiness and minimize the shaft. We think our gift exchanges are so much fun that people would enjoy doing them year round. Imagine getting a gift from a stranger every month!”

Image Source

Vodafone Crossword Book Award 2010

Via Crossword
The Vodafone Crossword Book Award recognises and rewards the best of Indian writing and ensures that works of merit reach a wider audience.

Crossword and Vodafone are committed to promoting books and the reading habit. We have observed that the institution of international book awards - The Booker Prize, The Commonwealth Prize or The Pulitzer Prize has gone a long way in promoting the awareness and the reading of good books. The authors gain recognition and are rewarded handsomely.

While several Indian writers have won awards abroad, we had observed that there was no equivalent award in India. We therefore decided to take on the role of encouraging and promoting good Indian writing and instituted the Book Awards in 1998. It is the only Indian award that not only recognizes and rewards good writing but also actively promotes the authors and their books.

The Vodafone Crossword Book Awards for 2010 will be given out in the following categories:

1. Vodafone Crossword Fiction Award

2. Vodafone Crossword Non-Fiction Award

3. Vodafone Crossword Translation Award

4. Vodafone Crossword Children’s Award

5. Vodafone Crossword Popular Award

The Vodafone Crossword awards for Fiction, Non-Fiction, Translation & Children’s writing will each carry a cash prize of Rs. 3 lakhs, a trophy and a citation. The Popular Award entitles the winning author to a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh and a certificate. In the case of a translated book, the author and the translator share the prize money equally.

The valid entries consisting of books published between the period 1st January 2010 to 31st December 2010 will be assessed by five independent panels of judges consisting of academics, critics and authors, whose books are not eligible for the Awards. A shortlist of 5 books in each category will be announced at a press conference in June 2011. The final prizes would be distributed at an Award function in July 2011 in Mumbai.

Vodafone Crossword Children's Award

* Entries must be works of children and teenage prose fiction or non-fiction.
* Entries can be illustrated books / poems / full-length novels or collections of short stories by one author.
* Entries can be original works in English or translated into English from any Indian language.
* If the submitted work is an original work in English, the author must be an Indian citizen* and must be alive on the date of submission.
* If the submitted work is a translation from any Indian language into English, the translator must be an Indian citizen and must be alive on the date of submission.
* In the case of illustrated works, the illustrator must be an Indian citizen and must be alive on the date of submission.
* Entries must be English translations of works in any Indian language written after 1947.
* The publisher must verify the author / translator / illustrator's citizenship before entering the book.
* All entries must be published in India within the period 1st January 2010 to 31st December 2010.
* The author, translator & illustrator must be alive on the closing date for the entries.
* If the winning entry is a translated or / and illustrated work, the author, translator and illustrator will share the prize money equally.
* The last date for receiving the entry forms is 31th March 2011.
Read the guidelines for the other categories here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Call for Submissions - New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan

Via booksthathelp

On March 11, 2011 a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the north of Japan. In the wake of one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in the history of Japan, a state of nuclear emergency was declared, forcing the evacuation of thousands more.

We wanted to help. Just giving money didn’t seem like enough.

The idea for New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan was born.

What we need:
your stories, poems, and artwork (see our submission page)
your tweets and blogs and vlogs and facebooks (see our helping out page)
your eyeballs and discerning literary and artistic judgement (see our helping out page)

What we’re going to do with it:
Put together a beautiful collection of stories, poems, and art honoring and celebrating Japan.
And we’re going to give one hundred percent of the proceeds to a charity* currently working on the relief effort in Japan.

About submitting your work for this compilation :
New Sun Rising needs your stories, poems, and artwork celebrating Japan. They can be about Japanese people and culture, set in Japan, or executed in traditional Japanese forms. But those are just suggestions. Don’t feel limited—as long as the work is relevant to or evocative of Japan, that’s what we want.

Stories should be no longer than 5000 words, and please only send one, because we are going to have a lot of reading to do in a very short time.

Flash (under 1000 words) and micro-fiction are awesome. (I’d love to get a cell phone story. - Frankie) Please submit no more than 3 of these.

Poems should be no longer than 40 lines, and please no more than 3. (Unless it’s haiku. Then you can send us 5—and it’s still only 15 lines!)

We are also in need of some black and white artwork and photography. It should, again, be relevant to Japan. Please remember, we are putting together an ebook, so art submissions should be scalable to look good on all the devices people use for reading these days, plus print.

And we can’t have a book celebrating Japan without being open to manga, right? Please follow the submission guidelines for artwork, and no more than 5 pages.

This is a volunteer project for charity. We can’t afford to pay for your contributions; we’re asking for your work as a donation. There won’t be any royalties. All money from the book will go to a charity1 providing relief efforts in Japan. (Probably the Red Cross, but that’s not certain at this moment. The other options on the table are Doctors Without Borders or Save the Children.)
Click here for more details.

Can you read Telugu? Volunteer or work NOW!

The bane of multilingual publishing is to get the language right when stories are translated. Translation is a creative, difficult and time-consuming task in itself. To get the translations reviewed and to get the final copy proof-read and sent to the printing press is an even more daunting job.

If you have the time, inclination and expertise to proof-read hard copies or pdf in Tamil, Telugu or Kannada, do write to with the subject line Telugu Proof-reader, Tamil Proof-reader or Kannada Proof-reader.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Seussical Sweets

Last year we posted a few images of Dr.Seuss inspired cakes. Cake Wrecks is back with more Seussical sweets. Take a look...

Image Source : And Everything Sweet

Image Source : Creative Cake Designs

Click here
to see more pictures of Dr.Seuss inspired sweets.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Your Chance to Participate in the Pratham Books Sabha 2011 (Delhi)

Last weekend, we conducted our first literary meet, Sabha 2011, in Bangalore. On 14th March, the second edition of this literary meet is being conducted in Delhi.

We've invited our authors, illustrators and translators and we do hope we haven't missed out anyone! (Addresses change, phone numbers ditto, and computers crash! So if you are one of our authors, illustrators or translators, and you haven't got an invitation, we apologise. Please call the number on the poster below to receive an invitation.)

We also want to invite a few friends from our online community! If you would like to participate, please call the number on the invite and tell us about yourself and why you want to attend this meet.

The meet will explore the challenges facing the children's publishing world, especially while reaching out to the under-served child. How can we help children become life-long readers? How can we get more books into every child's hands? How can we publish well-illustrated books in many Indian languages so that every child gets to read a story in her own language? Pratham Books believes that in a country with so many children in need of reading material, we need quick, clean, legal, and harmonious ways of developing content.

Pssst: Entry is by invite only. Please call the number on the poster to book your spot.

Young Adult Literature Comes of Age

The Book Thief

Via Los Angeles Times
It used to be that the only adults who read young adult literature were those who had a vested interest -- teachers or librarians or parents who either needed or wanted to keep an eye on developing readers' tastes.

But increasingly, adults are reading YA books with no ulterior motives. Attracted by well-written, fast-paced and engaging stories that span the gamut of genres and subjects, such readers have mainstreamed a niche long derided as just for kids.

Thanks to huge crossover hits like Stephenie Meyer's bloodsucking "Twilight" saga, Suzanne Collins' fight-to-the-death "The Hunger Games" trilogy, Rick Riordan's "The Lightning Thief" and Markus Zusak's Nazi-era "The Book Thief," YA is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak publishing market. Where adult hardcover sales were down 17.8% for the first half of 2009 versus the same period in 2008, children's/young adult hardcovers were up 30.7%.

"You go on the subway and see 40-year-old stockbrokers reading 'Twilight,' " said Levithan, himself a YA author. "That wouldn't have happened five years ago."

Levithan added that passing "the mother test" is an indication that a title could go wide. "If a lot of us on staff are sending a book to our mothers because it's really engaging literature, that's a good sign."

Often, word of mouth will bring a teen title to an adult's attention, Vreeland said.

Other times, it's an award.

"One strong writer leads to exploring that area more, so you've got several now who are leading people into all kinds of directions," Vreeland noted. "You can go the whole gamut: sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, romance, realistic fiction, humor. There's a lot of good stuff going on."
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Jon at NDHU

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Manga Farming

Via Pink Tentacle

Tokyo-based artist Koshi Kawachi recently demonstrated his "Manga Farming" technique -- which uses old manga as a growing medium for vegetables -- by cultivating a crop of radish sprouts in an installation at the Matsuzakaya department store in Nagoya.
Click here to view more images.

A Book to Get Kids to Think About Food

Via Time Out Bengaluru

Mahua Mukherjee still remembers the first time her five-year-old son Antariksh saw potatoes growing in the ground. The family was at a resort in Hessarghatta when they came across a vegetable patch, and from Antariksh’s reaction, Mukherjee realised that the idea of a potato in its natural environment was utterly alien to her son. “He kept telling us that potatoes come from supermarkets and not the ground,” she said. “He was really confused, and was not able to make the connection between food, its source and agriculture.”

Not long after this incident, Mukherjee was sought out by Pushpi Bagchi, then a student at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, who was working on a thesis project about children and their relationship with the food they eat. As part of her research, Bagchi was meeting and talking to parents like Mukherjee, who were concerned about the lack of such a relationship. Bagchi’s thesis finally took the form of a book titled A Garrulous Gastronaut’s Guide, which attempts to educate kids about a food culture outside urban consumerist lifestyles. “I wanted to design a product that would get kids and their parents to re-evaluate their food choices, food habits and consumption patterns,” Bagchi said.

Bagchi first began thinking about the project when she noticed that her young cousins, aged between four and six years, had very little respect for food, and that they usually got whatever they demanded, which was usually processed food. She soon began to develop her idea for a book which would aim to encourage both parents and children to appreciate food more holistically.

The book’s protagonist is six-year-old Cheeku, who starts off wanting to be an explorer. Since he loves eating, he is guided by his grandfather into an exploration of food. As a first step, they go out into their garden, where Cheeku learns how to plant seeds. The narrative that follows is a lively mix of storytelling and information with each section attempting to deepen the reader’s understanding of food. In the course of his explorations, Cheeku encounters concepts such as recycling, farmers’ markets and food miles, and by the end of it, he and his friends set up a Gastronaut’s Club, dedicated to the understanding of food. “I wanted to introduce ideas like food sustainability through a character who is a child, who is also learning these things for the first time, as opposed to somebody older teaching the principles,” Bagchi said.
Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Comics Café , Bangalore

Via my bangalore
We’ve all grown up reading them and have a great passion for them and now there’s a café specially dedicated to comics in Bangalore. Comics Café located in Gopalan Mall is the first and only kind of cafe in India which stocks an exhaustive range of comics from all over the world. Established in 2009, they have a collection of American comics, Indian comics and Japanese Manga in English and Japanese.

Some of the popular titles at Comics Café include Bramstroker's Dracula, Deadpool Suicide Kings, Doremon, Astro Boy and dark comedies like V for Vendetta, Dark Wolverine and the ever fascinating 100 Bullets.

Meibo Ono who moved to Bangalore in 2004 saw youngsters taking a keen interest in reading Japanese comics and graphic novels; this encouraged her to open a Comics cafe along the lines of existing ones in Japan and Canada. “Comics act as a great stress-buster for today’s youngsters. The library has a huge collection of more than 1500 comics and you can even find the latest comics released in America on our shelves. Since individually buying comics can be an expensive affair, we stock up on all the latest titles as soon as they are released,” Says Dayal Thomas, Manager, Comics Café.

He adds, “Reading comics is a most popular culture in western countries and we wanted to establish this culture in India for the first time through our outlet, we have the largest and latest collection of American comic and Japanese manga in English version. All our comics and mangas are imported from America, Japan and Singapore. Off late we’ve also started stocking Indian comics as there is a huge demand for it. We add new titles to the collection every six - eight months and we also have a database of visitors and they are intimated the moment latest titles are added to the collection.
Read the entire article here.

Making a Book

Found these two videos via Neatorama
Printing a book was different in 1947. The process required quite a few skilled workers performing tasks you won’t see anymore, outside of historical videos like this. Contrast this process with a more modern method of publishing

Printing a book in 1947

A modern method of printing a book

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Share a Story - Shape a Future 2011 : Unwrapping the Gift of Literacy

It is that time of the year when the 'Share a Story - Shape a Future' blogathon happens and this year's theme is 'Unwrapping the Gift of Literacy'.

Via Share a Story - Shape a Future
For 5 days in March, we harness the power of the Worldwide web to share ideas about ways to engage kids as readers.

Within the kidlitosphere, the children's literature bloggers comprise and reach a very broad audience. One of the group's greatest assets is its collective, community-minded approach to sharing information and ideas.

Voila! Welcome to our literacy blog tour. This is an ensemble effort not only to celebrate reading among those of us who already love books, but to encourage each other to reach beyond ourselves and do it in a way that we are neither judging nor instructing others. This is a venue for communicating practical, usable, everyday ideas.

This year's event is from 7th-11th March, 2011. The themes for this year's event are:

  • The Power of a Book - From the literal power of owning a book and a good story to the intangible power that comes with knowing how to read.
  • The Gift of Reading - Whether you're looking for a book to excite a reader, want to help someone learn to read or celebrate the "gift" ... it's covered.
  • Unwrapping Literacy 2.0 - With all of the talk of digital literacy, e-readers, etc. What does "literacy" look like in this new century?
  • Love of Reading v. Homework - Do they have to be at odds? We'll talk about ways to help readers at home and at school.
  • The Gift that Keeps on Giving - To wrap up the week we'll be remembering "that moment" when we realized we were a reader or writer and how to celebrate it with others. Lots(!) of interviews this day.
Read more here.

Visit Share a Story - Shape a Future for more information.

ABComics Print

Love this print by Lucy Knisley! How many characters can you identify?

Image Source

Illustration Love

More reading and book-related illustrations we've come across on the web:

Source : Anja Klauss

Monday, March 7, 2011

Alternative Book Stores for Children in Mumbai

Via Time Out Mumbai

The last few years have seen a glut of children’s books in city stores with fantasy, mythology, thrillers and vampire books even topping bestseller lists. But if you’re looking for an offbeat title – a Tara book or a Robert Sabuda popup book, for instance – there’s a good chance you won’t find it at a chain bookstore. But you don’t have to scour the city for them anymore. Here are some shops that are most likely to stock those elusive or unusual children’s books.

The ACK Store
Stepping inside the ACK Store is like walking into the pages of an Amar Chitra Katha omnibus. The store is packed with staggering piles of comics – the range includes mythology, history, fables and folk tales. For younger children, there’s a sizeable collection of Karadi Tales audiobooks, mythology DVDs such as Young Hanuman and Krishna’s Conquests and Indian rhyme VCDs. Other books include the Tinkle Treasure series, which introduces children to iconic figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Charlie Chaplin and the Tinkle Junior Animated Series that acquaints them with animals.

Learning Ladder
The Comet Media Foundation’s Learning Ladder Resource Centre is known for its traditional wooden toys such as wooden cars and jigsaw puzzles. But the Learning Ladder also keeps books by publishers such as Tulika, Tara, Children’s Book Trust, Katha, Young Zubaan, National Book Trust and DC Books. It is also one of the places where you can find bilingual books as well as Pratham Books, an affordable range of books for kids aged three to 14 . “These are books from alternative publishers, not readily available in the market,” said Chandita Mukherjee, the foundation’s director. “Since we liked them and appreciated the efforts put in by the publishers, we thought we would help in disseminating them further.”
Read the entire article and find the entire list of alternative bookstores here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Would you like to be at Pratham Books Sabha 2011?

We're having our first big literary meet, Sabha 2011 in Bangalore on March 5, and in New Delhi on March 14, 2011. We've invited our authors, illustrators and translators and we do hope we haven't missed out anyone! (Addresses change, phone numbers ditto, and computers crash! So if you are one of our authors, illustrators or translators, and you haven't got an invitation, we apologise. Please send us an email to receive your invite. )

We also want to invite a few friends from our online community! If you would like to participate, do send us a small note about yourself, and why you want to attend this meet, and do mention which one you want to attend.

The meet will explore the challenges facing the children's publishing world, especially while reaching out to the under-served child. How can we help children become life-long readers? How can we get more books into every child's hands? How can we publish well-illustrated books in many Indian languages so that every child gets to read a story in her own language? Pratham Books believes that in a country with so many children in need of reading material, we need quick, clean, legal, and harmonious ways of developing content.

We have a few spots at both venues. Write to me now, at