Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thanks for shooting a tree....and the winners are...

To mark World Environment Day on June 5, Pratham Books announced the 'Shoot a Tree' Contest and we were delighted to get 114 amazing photographs. You may have seen the pictures on our photostream on too and we know you may have your own favourites there!

Our world .....our dream....a green tomorrow! - by Ruhee

Nine-year old Ruhee of Ahmedabad who sent a picture captioned "Our world .....our dream....a green tomorrow!" captures the joy that engulfs us when we are close to nature. Ruhee, a copy of 'A King Cobra's Summer' is on the way to you!

We requested author Janaki Lenin and illustrator Maya Ramaswamy, wildlife experts both, to pick five winners. They will each get a copy of 'A King Cobra's Summer'. And here are the five photographs that they picked:

Tree of Life : Vipin C

Tree of Life by Vipin C, who says, "A tree simply represents the spread of life on this wonderful world. Let us not destroy the growth of life by destroying a tree which can symbolize life in a simple way."

Submitted by Anuradha Shankar

Anuradha Shankar's photograph, of which she says, "Its green and not just growing.. it's also helping something else grow ... two little bugs live on the leaf..." We noticed an ant there too, Anuradha!

Happiness Within - Neelam Chandra

Happiness Within by Neelam Chandra. "Amazing picture and a caption that touches the viewer immediately," says Maya Ramaswamy.

Submitted by by Jui Kulkarni

Jui Kulkarni's woody creeper had us all amazed. How old this liana must be, and how many lives it must have supported and still support!

Hide and Seek Toad! - Sowmya Srinivasan

Hide and Seek Toad, by Sowmya Srinivasan, the slightly out-of-focus photograph which inspired her to write this poem:

I hide behind my camera
To capture you,
Through curious lenses!
While you seek sustenance
We "eek" at your existence!
No one is more aware
That You and I are but the same,
Living and Natural!

Trees are Earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven! - by Kehkashan Basu

"Trees are Earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven!" wrote 11-year old Kehkashan Basu.

Submitted by Vidhi Bansal

And Vidhi Bansal of Patiala, also aged 11 wrote to say she enjoyed taking pictures for this contest. We enjoyed looking at the photographs of lovely trees, greenery, flowers and fruits. Trees, we think, are nature's endless effort to speak to and let live, they seem to say.

You can see the entire album of entries here. We'd like to thank all the participants for 'greening' our world!

Get Published in a Campfire Graphic Novel

Via Chintan:

This is your opportunity to get your artwork published in a Campfire graphic novel. 
Following on from the Campfire art workshop on Saturday 18th June, we would like to invite you to illustrate one page from the Muhammad Ali script.  
All you need to do is this:
1.    Read page 1 of the Muhammad Ali script (below).
2.    Draw the page in pencil or ink on A4 or A3 paper.
3.    Follow the panel descriptions carefully and use the visual references at the end of this document.
4.    Scan the completed page and e-mail to with the subject ‘Campfire Competition’.
5.    If you’re not able to scan the page, please send it to Campfire Competition, Kalyani Navyug Media, 101C, Shiv House, Hari Nagar Ashram, New Delhi, 110014.
6.    All entries must be received by 15th July 2011. 
It’s that simple.
Read more here.

AHA! International Theatre for Children Fest '11

Via an email sent by Rangashankara. The schedule isn't up yet, but mark your calendar so that you don't miss all the fun events.

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Power of Open

Creative Commons have just released a fantastic compilation of case studies that detail the "power of open":

The world has experienced an explosion of openness. From individual artists opening their creations for input from others, to governments requiring publicly funded works be available to the public, both the spirit and practice of sharing is gaining momentum and producing results. 
Creative Commons began providing licenses for the open sharing of content only a decade ago. Now more than 400 million CC-licensed works are available on the Internet, from music and photos, to research findings and entire college courses. Creative Commons created the legal and technical infrastructure that allows effective sharing of knowledge, art and data by individuals, organizations and governments. More importantly, millions of creators took advantage of that infrastructure to share work that enriches the global commons for all humanity. 
The Power of Open collects the stories of those creators.
You can download the PDF here from here.

We are thrilled to be featured on Page 17. (Click through for the full size)

Educating 64 Million Students

Sridhar Rajagopalan on the challenges the Indian education system faces:
Picture courtesy Teach for India
What kind of educational system will permit India to have the people skills needed to compete globally? 
The goal would be to have an educational system that allows people to reach their full academic potential. This will enable India to compete globally and to have a domestic society where people are engaging meaningfully and are able to solve the problems faced by their society. The system would need to focus on academic excellence and research, and also on developing compassionate and caring individuals.
Read the full piece over at the Huffington Post.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Celebrating Eric Carle Birthday

Over at Mommy Labs they are celebrating Eric Carle's birthday "by doing art activities that reflect his distinctive artistic style."
Eric Carle's books reflect his unique and unmistakable artistic styling and love of nature. His style - so resplendent, visually textured and dimensional - lends itself very well to varied creative activities with children. His style of art - using tissue paper and paint - is also so very process oriented that it evokes imagination and unstructured play in kids.

Head on over to see more of this lovely stuff.

(Thanks, Chintan!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book titles that have numbers

What would happen if The Three Little Pigs went Around the World in 80 Days? They'd be called The Three Musketeers? Check out a little teaser in today's Mazy's Muddle column in Open Sesame, a children's supplement of Deccan Herald. Would be interesting to list out book titles for each number...

Image: Cover of Three for Free, Pratham Books.

Easy Lessons in Indian History

Namaste!This post is about the historical bilingual influences in India. Nahi ji, we're not talking about the evolution of Hinglish or Kanglish here. As publishers working in several languages, we're always interested in the promotion of every language. Being bilingual is to be able to read or write in two different languages without mixing the two. Tough hai na these days? So it was a revelation to read in the current issue of The Week magazine that bilingual work was in vogue many centuries ago ! The credit for minting the first bilingual coins perhaps goes to Mahmud of Ghazni. Yes, yes, the same king notorious for having invaded India 17 times, rather than being famous for having promoted art and literature.

According to historian Romila Thapar, Ghazni's coins carried legends in Persian on one side, and in Sanskrit on the other. The practice started by Ghazni is supposed to have been kept alive by other rulers for several decades.

If you are a history buff, or even if you are a history duffer like me, it would be a good idea to get the current issue of the magazine and read about India's history in 50 objects. .

Image Source: Uploadalt.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Books! Gorgeous Books!

The Importance of Telling Kids Stories

Geeta Ramanujam, storyteller, explains to Priya George why she thinks it’s important to tell kids stories.

Via Time Out Bengaluru
The tales that Geeta Ramanujam tells are most gripping – most of her storytelling sessions for children see her audience hanging onto her every word, and end with them begging for more.

“In my workshops, I don’t see the difference between learning, teaching, education and storytelling,” said Ramanujam. “We are inspired by the gurukul system, where the transaction of knowledge was based on the oral tradition.” By returning to this form, she said, she intends to “deviate from the modern system of teaching, and highlight the Indian ways of thought and education, which are good systems of imparting knowledge”. Her passion for spreading storytelling is reflected in the spectrum of Kathalaya’s activities – apart from working with kids in schools, the organisation also holds sessions for underprivileged and disabled children, trains teachers in storytelling and also conducts workshops for companies to help employees improve communication skills, build teams and de-stress.

A good story, according to Ramanujam, is a multi-sensory experience, which engages the ear and eye, while also invoking associations of taste, smell and touch. And compared to the contents of textbooks, stories have the advantage of being continuous narratives, and can thus naturally hold the interest of children. In Ramanujam’s view, the levels of interest and concentration induced by storytelling can be very beneficial to children’s minds. “When you listen with interest, you naturally retain and are able to recall details,” she said. “You can then retell the story with confidence.”

While she uses a blend of styles for her storytelling sessions, Ramanujam hews close to the Steiner Waldorf method of education, which advocates the use of fantasy and imagination in storytelling, unlike, for example, the Montessori system, in which stories are all based on the real world. “We are all born with an imagination,” she said. “We immediately visualise things, and this helps the imagination to become sharper.” Harnessing the power of the imagination helps enhance the creative facilities of the brain, which in turn plays a crucial role in developing emotional intelligence, she explained.
Read the entire article here.

Robot Librarians?

If books are dying a slow death, libraries are also living on borrowed time. But that didn't stop the University of Chicago from sinking $81 million into the new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, which ironically doesn't have any books on display.

The entire book collection is stored underground in a five-story chamber that can hold some 35,000 metal bins. If you want to actually crack open a dead tree and read its paper pages, you'll have to ask a robot to fetch it for you from the vault.

The five underground robot cranes, apparently made by Dematic, retrieve the storage bins in minutes. As the vid below explains, a human librarian opens the bin and gets your bar-coded book. Then you're free to read the tome in the light-filled egg-shaped Grand Reading Room, which is otherwise devoid of books. Welcome to the automated library.
Read the entire article here and watch the video below to see how this library works.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

100 Things to Do With Books

Found an excellent list of things teachers/parents can do with books (via @playbythebook)


# Discuss how the main character is like or unlike people you know.
# Pretend you're one character and introduce the other characters to your class.
# Invite one character to dinner and write a note of explanation to your mother.
# Explain where the main character would prefer to vacation and why.
# Write to the author and explain your reaction to his book.
# Imagine that you're an eighteenth century student: How would you react to your book?
# Draw a comic strip of your book.
# Describe a field trip you would like to take because of your book.
You can view the entire list here.

Pratham Books - Not Just Books, but a Vision for Our Tomorrow…

This guest post was sent to us by Vaishali Shroff who is a freelance writer and editor who loves writing for children. You can find some of her stories at Vaishali runs 'Eik Thi Rani' which is based out of Pune You can reach her at vaishali.shroff(at)gmail(dot)com or eikthirani(at)gmail(dot)com.

Eik Thi Rani ( began its humble journey of encouraging reading among children as young as 2 years in Pune, a few months ago. Our vision was (is) simple – to empower young minds through reading, to make them think through stories and creative exercises woven aroundthe stories in an age where Google thinks for us. To encourage them to willingly pick up books overcomputers and TV remotes. To make reading a habit!

When I started approaching parents for my kids’ reading club, I met with responses ranging from normal to shocking. One parent said she was “scared” her daughter would be disinterested in books and end up wasting her time and money. Another parent did not see any visible benefits of reading compared to going to an art or craft class. Some said their children already read so much, there’s no need for someone else to read for them. There were no doubt some who did agree that reading is a building block in a child’s life.

Pratham Books has truly been an inspiration for Eik Thi Rani. Their Read India initiative only encourages us to believe in our efforts and not give up.

When read aloud, Pratham books are like an audio-visual treat in print for the kids – beautiful
illustrations, lovely concept stories that are well-defined for different age groups, innovative themes, and superior quality books at very affordable rates. Last but not the least, the picture of a sweet child at the end of each story with a book in hand saying a heart-felt thank you, makes the read completely worth it!

Reading aloud to children from a very young age has myriad benefits. Apart from improving their vocabulary and sense of sentence formation, it gives them a feel of real life situations and how to face them. It teaches them life lessons that are implicit in each story – could be about compassion, love, friendship, not aspiring to be something you are not, wit, and humour. It teaches phonics in a very natural manner. It teaches them to be patient listeners, preparing them for school.

Show the same picture to ten children and you get at least ten stories! All different! At a recent reading club session, we read Too Many Bananas, written by Noni, published by Pratham Books and the results were truly outstanding. This story is about Shringeri Shrinivas, a banana plantation owner who is unable to sell his ripe and sweet bananas. No one wants to buy the bananas from him. Worried about his harvest, he seeks advice from a Farmer’s Center. The rest of the story is about what he does with the bananas. On being asked, “What Shringeri Shrinivas did with his bananas”, one child replied that he ate them all and became a fat man and one day his stomach burst and he became a thin man again! Another child quipped that he donated them to the monkeys and elephants in a zoo far away. And I could site many such lovely examples of creative thinking.

For reading aloud, it’s best to get books that are one level higher than their age group. It’s a good
way to introduce new words, longer words, tongue twisters. Each book must fulfill a purpose too. For instance, any Dr. Seuss book, say Hop on Pop or The Cat in the Hat, is ideal for learning word families. Pratham titles such as Playtime or Too Many Bananas are all about wit and humour, their Tell me…Now series introduces concepts like Colours, Tastes, Feelings, etc. through questions and answers, or even their “Going to…” series (Going to buy a book, market, wedding) that gives more information about these places through a cute story. The idea is that with each book you can introduce something new to a child. It is one of the most important things to keep them engaged throughout the reading session.

We salute organizations such as Pratham Books that are achieving significant and critical milestones in educating the future of our country and reading clubs such as Eik Thi Rani can only bring such lovely books closer to children.

Lessons from the Asian Festival of Children's Content - by Karadi Tales

So, we couldn't attend the Asian Festival of Children's Content 2011, but our friends at Karadi Tales did get to attend the festival and we have been waiting to read all their blog posts. The blog posts were so good that we had to share what they've learnt at AFCC. They've written 4 great posts and we recommend that you read ALL of them.

In Connecting with Connected Kids, Shubhadeep Bhattacharya explores how 'technology is changing the way kids are reading, learning and socialising; and the way publishing and the media landscape are responding to these developments'.


Manasi Subramaniam writes an excellent post (Potato Chips and Arsenic) about her hopes for children's publishing in India. She says...
One really important topic that I connected very deeply with was the question of mass versus class. In the words of Liz Rosenberg, American writer and reviewer of children's books:

‘Potato chips are really popular. They’re not healthy or good in any way. But they’re still really popular. There’s a lot of junk out there and obviously people love it. But the important thing to remember is that you can’t really live on it. So what you need to ask yourself is this: Do you really want to be known as the guy who made potato chips or the guy who made beautiful wholesome meals? While you can’t completely ignore the sensational stuff like the Twilight series, you just need to be aware that it isn’t great literature. And you can’t overdo it either. Because then you’re just eating arsenic!’

It’s important for us to realise that content really is king.

The thing that really struck me about many of the publishers that I met in Singapore (from all parts of the world) was their sincerity. They all genuinely believe in creating beautiful books – and they love their books too much to ever allow them to be ruined by bad design or gimmickry. Most importantly, they believe that whatever they do it needs to be done well. No successful publisher creates books half-heartedly – everyone reiterated this at some point or the other.


In her second post, 'Asian Content for the World's Children', Manasi focuses on the tye of content we are creating for today's children.
Among several other things, I was keenly interested in trying to understand why Asian content doesn’t always work in the Western market and what we can do about it.

From these sessions and from others, I've gathered three valuable suggestions on how a book can be made more 'universal'.

Firstly, it's probably time for us to stop moralising. Asian content tends to be didactic and heavy on morals. This is something that doesn’t work for an international audience. This deep moralising is, I think, one of the remnants of our fable culture – we like to end stories with a moral.

Research has also shown that anthropomorphic characters (talking animals) are passé. Asian content tends to give animals human characteristics and often even has animals and humans interacting with each other.

Another suggestion was to stop regurgitating the same stories over and over again. Folklore and myth may have been important at some point. But in creating multicultural content, international publishers are more interested in contemporary stories than in old folktales.


In her last post, Manasi talks about picture books and early learning :
Why is it important for a child to be exposed to good picture books? Aside from the obvious factors of imagination, creativity and artistic development, Susan talked about how a child connects words with pictures and automatically starts reading between the text - that is, the child sees things in the pictures that are not a part of the text, and begins to create a world that is not just textually depicted. Each picture is certainly worth a thousand words, says Susan, and for early readers, it's better to let the artwork do the real talking.

Susan added that the two questions that a publisher should ask before choosing a story are: ‘Will this story capture the child’s imagination and interest so that she will actually want to interact with the story?’ and ‘Do the illustrations go beyond the words so that each page is a world of discovery for the child each time she reads it?’
(Please click on all the links above to read the entire posts)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

UNESCO's Photography Workshop for Children

Via Curriculum Magazine:

UNESCO NEW DELHI Office has partnered for the photo contest, 'My Country's World Heritage', for school children to create awareness about its world heritage sites. The contest is being organised by Nivesh and the Himalayan Hub for Art, Culture and Heritage (HHACH) in partnership with Canon India. 
The first in the series of workshops on photography was be held at the Qutub Minar where 50 students from MCD schools, Appejay, Pitampura, Salwant School, Tronica City and Sree Ram School attended the session conducted by noted photographer Shailesh Sharma. Children got a first hand experience in using the cameras to click the pictures of the World Heritage Site.
Read the full story on page 9.

Rare Book Feast

Rare Book Feast #1: Herbert Bayer’s Book of Maps from Nate Burgos on Vimeo.

Via swissmiss (via @culture_curate)
Now here’s a gem of a discovery that stopped me in my tracks this morning: Rare Book Feast is new short movie series about the timeless character of books. Their message and what they look like are what is celebrated here. Nate Burgos believes that as our culture becomes digital in a lot of ways, it is all the more important (not to mention inviting) to revisit and learn from the early design challenges, creative solutions and general lessons that the “old” print world keeps relevant.

Kicking off this series is the “World Geo-Graphic Atlas” (1953) designed by Herbert Bayer with Martin Rosenzweig, Henry Gardiner and Masato Nakagawa: 2,200 diagrams, graphs, charts, symbols spanning 368 pages about our planet earth. All done before computers.

New Kindle Series Uses Digital Tricks To Entice Tweens To Read The Classics

Via paidContent

A new digital-only series aims to get kids to read the classics by integrating them into modern adventure books. Booksurfers, a new adventure series created solely for the Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle and aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds, follows a group of four children who are kidnapped and forced to jump “into” classic, public domain adventure stories like Treasure Island to steal famous fictional artefacts. Readers can jump between the Booksurfers story and the classic texts using a series of hyperlinks that connect corresponding points in the stories. Booksurfers is believed to be the first digital-only series for kids.

The series is written by David Gatward and published by FourteenFiftyFour, an intellectual property development company that specializes in literary brands and is located in the UK. The first two books in the series, Booksurfers: Treasure Island and Booksurfers: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are available now in the U.S. and UK Kindle stores and are $4.79 in the U.S.

A Booksurfers Book Club is in the works “We’re really interested in getting people talking about which books they would choose to jump into themselves, and which books they’re interested in rediscovering,” said Zoe Watkins, Creative Director, FourteenFiftyFour. “Each of the individual Booksurfers characters also has likes and dislikes when it comes to reading, so we’ll be talking about those as well.”
Read the entire article here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Body Flipbook

Indu Harikumar sent us a link to this fun book. An easy and fun book to create with and for your little one(s).

Make a wacky body flipbook that doubles as a word play acitivity. Draw all kinds of interesting people and later mix and match their body parts to come up with changing characters.

Play with the body flip book you've just made. Mix and match the body parts by turning the upper, middle and bottom flaps of each page. The odd mix of body parts can create new and funny characters. By combining a cowboy's head, a clown's torso and a swimmer's legs, I've come up wtih a "swimming cowboy clown"! A princess' head, a clown's torso, and a hula dancer's body makes a "hula dancing clown princess".
Click here to learn how to create a body flipbook.

Jaipur Animation Film Festival Now Accepting Submissions

The 1st Jaipur Animation Film Festival will be held from the 12th -13th October 2011 in Jaipur.
"Promotion of animation films, young animation film makers and the industry.
The purpose of this film festival is to promote newer animators, exchange of knowledge, information, ideas & culture between India & other nations in context of their social and cultural ethos. JAFF also promotes friendship and co-operation among people of the world through the medium of animation films. 
In JAFF festival there will be a lot of Workshops and Seminars about the animation films and the field, case studies about the animation films, many sessions will be provided to the film lovers. Almost 8-10 different category awards would be distributed to the films and the film makers. JAFF is a platform for animation and VFX film makers from all around the world, to come together and showcase their work."
You can apply here.

(Thanks Chintan, for letting us know!)

And the winner of the Retell, Remix, Rejoice Contest 2011 is...

We're delighted to announce the winners of the Retell, Remix, Rejoice Contest 2011 that we started on World Storytelling Day! The competition was tough, and the finish, neck-to-neck. Judges from within the organization had to fight each other because everyone picked a different winner in the Above 16 category. And then, author Ramendra stepped in to make a studied choice.

Below 16 Category: Sruthakeerthy Sriram aged 13 years for her story Jump into Jilebi Land
Above 16 Category: Annie Besant of Chennai for her story The  Girl Who Wasn't Scared

Congratulations Sruthakeerthy and Annie! Look out for a professionally laid-out copy of your story in the coming days.

We also liked the entries of Nithila Ramesh and Shruti Jain in the Under 16 category, and those of Remya Dharmarajan, Ravi Srinivasan, Joysree Das in the Above 16 category. And a big clap-clap to the team from Protsahan India Foundation! The sweet story was written jointly by the children and volunteers of this NGO. Many of the children who contributed have never been to school, and are only now beginning to read and write. Congratulations kids! We also got one Hindi entry from Mohd.Arshad which we could not upload, and one Marathi entry. We were happy to see entries from people 6 (Keep it up, Muskaan!) to above 60!

Says Ramendra, author of 16 books for children and the editor of the website for children published from New York, "I found some of the stories, specially in the under 16 category, really good! I had to read and reread a couple of times before zeroing in on the winner. My compliments to all those who took part. In this age of gaming, SMS, Facebook, Twitter et al it is nice to see gen-next actually involved in the written word."

Ramendra is the author of our soon-to-be-released title, 'Paplu, the Giant', that is at this moment being printed in five Indian languages.

The spider was not a part of the story in Noni's original story, 'Listen to my Body', but the cute spider created by illustrators Angie and Upesh was such a hit with our contestants that we had quite a few entries featuring the little thing.

The contest has been possible largely due to the Creative Commons philosophy that we love at Pratham Books. The original book Listen to my Body, the editor's remixed sample 'Ranju Meets Poochee' and all the remixed versions that our contestants have created are now available for any one to download and read. Read all the entries here and rejoice!

Pratham Books takes this opportunity to thank the following people: our participants; the author and illustrators of 'Listen to My Body'; our guest judge Ramendra; and all who helped spread the word about the contest.

Muse India Announces National Literary Awards

Via Muse India

Muse India ( is the leading literary web journal of the country that showcases Indian Writings in English, and regional literatures of India in translation, to a global audience.

To recognize and reward excellence in Indian literature, Muse India is happy to announce institution of two National Awards to be given annually, during Hyderabad Literary Festival. These are -

Muse India Young Writer Award to be given to an outstanding original work in English or in English translation from an Indian language. Each year the award will be for a different literary genre (poetry, short fiction, play, novel etc.). For the 2011 award, the genre is poetry.

Muse India Translator Award to be given to a significant work of translation into English from any of the Indian languages. Translation should be of a classic or any other important literary work, preferably not translated earlier, and seen as an important contribution to Indian Literature.

The Reward
Each of the Awards will have a citation and a cash prize. The amount will be Rs.20,000 for the Young Writer Award and Rs.30,000 for the Translator Award.

Of the amount of Rs 20,000 for Young Writer Award, Rs 5000 will be given to the translator, in case the award goes to a translated work. Otherwise the entire amount goes to the author. The focus here will be to recognize originality and merit in a young writer’s work.

Of the amount of Rs 30,000 for the Translator Award, Rs 5000 will be given to the original author, if alive. Else, the entire sum goes to the translator. This award will recognize not only the merit of translation but also the effort involved in bringing to a wider audience, a classic or an outstanding work of a regional language, which otherwise would remain largely unknown

The 2011 awards will be given during Hyderabad Literary Festival 2012, tentatively scheduled for Jan 16-18, 2012 in Hyderabad.
Click here to read about the eligibility and submission criteria. The last date to send in your entries is 31st July, 2011.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Poets in Performance, Bangalore

Via Rangashankara

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Book Launch : Growing Up in Pandupur

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Where: Reliance TimeOut bookstore, Cunningham Road, Bangalore
When: Sunday, June 19 at 4pm

(Thanks for sending us the invite Aravinda Anantharaman!)

World Environment Day, Shoot a tree contest reminder

You may recall our World Environment Day 'Shoot a tree' contest. We have got tons and tons of beautiful shots. You can see the awesome green entries here. Feeling left out? There are still a few days left before the contest closes. So take a walk and shoot a tree!

Contest Details:
You can send pictures in jpeg format to
You can send mpeg videos too.
Last date to send entries is 20th June, 2011
Results will be announced by 30th June, 2011


1. All participants will retain the copyright for the photographs submitted by them. If you like, you can release the photographs under a CC-BY license.
2. You can also watermark the photographs, if you like.
3. All the photographs will be uploaded onto our Flickr page and credit will be given to the participants. Please include any text and URL that you would like included.
4. None of the photos will be used by us for any other purpose without your permission.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Scheme of Financial Assistance for Organising Book Fairs, Book Exhibitions and Participation in International Book Fairs and Publishing Events

The Pratham Books stall

Via Press Information Bureau
Union Ministry of Culture has announced a pilot ‘Scheme of Financial Assistance for Book Fairs, Book Exhibitions and participation in International Book Fairs and publishing Events etc’. Popularisation of Indian culture by promoting quality books is the major objective of this Scheme. Another purpose is to create a climate in which a vast number of people would buy and read books. The Scheme is meant for organizing Regional/ National Book Fairs, Exhibitions of rare publications/ manuscripts/ official documents etc. and Seminars, Conferences and other related events for promotion of books and reading habits. Participation in International Book Fairs will also be covered in this Scheme.

Under this Scheme Financial Assistance will be granted for organizing Regional/National Book Fairs, Exhibitions of rare publications/manuscripts/official documents etc., Seminars, Conferences and other related events for promotion of books and reading habits. Participation in International Book Fairs will also be covered in this Scheme. Not-for-Profit organizations, including Societies, Trusts, Universities, Publishers and Book Trade Associations are eligible to apply for grant. The Scheme is however, not meant for such organizations or institutions that are functioning as religious institutions, or as schools/colleges. Applications under the scheme can be made round the year.

The details of the Scheme and the application form are available on the website of the Ministry:

Grant for specific projects shall be restricted to 75% of the expenditure, subject to a maximum of Rs.10 lakh per event. The Grant will be released in two installments of 75% (first installment) and 25% (second installment). All payments will be made only through electronic transfers.
Update: Covered by Tehelka.  

Book Making Workshop

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Love - Illustrations by Kit Chase

While looking for reading and book-related illustrations to include in the frequent 'Illustration Love' series of blog posts, I stumbled across Trafalgar's Square's Etsy page. Spotted one illustration... and then another... and then some more. Delightful! Thus, this post shall highlight some of the adorable book and reading-related illustrations created by Kit Chase. You can view all of them here.

'Adopt an ebook' to Preserve Manuscripts

Via The Times of India

PUNE: Book lovers in the city have launched an initiative called 'Adopt an ebook' to preserve manuscripts and ancient literature by digitally converting them into ebooks. People who participate in the project will be called 'parents' as they will 'adopt' these ebooks.

"There are lots of manuscripts, so converting them into the digital format is a huge task. So we have decided to involve the public in this project," said Mandar Joglekar, founder of "Our first goal is to convert old Marathi literature texts into ebooks."

"Most of these ancient books and manuscripts are in dilapidated condition. Their maintenance is either not possible or is a very costly. So we thought of the idea of converting them into ebooks," Joglekar said. "These books will be available on various platforms," he added.

Adopting an ebook is an easy process, Joglekar said. The person who wants to adopt an ebook can select a book on his own or choose from a list available with us. The person will have to pay the cost of converting the book into ebook, which will be named after the person who has 'adopted' it. Software professionals based in Pune or the US will convert the book and make it available online. Since this is a low cost affair, people can participate in the project in large numbers.

History scholars said that there is lot of scope for conversion of ancient books into ebooks. Even if we count only Marathi books and manuscripts, the number will go beyond 40,000. If we add old books written in scripts such as Modi, the number will go into a few lakhs. Ancient letters and other official documents can also be preserved in the form of ebook.
Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Madhav Chavan on Universal Education in India: An Inside Look at Pratham

Rahim Kanani talks to Dr.Madhav Chavan, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Pratham and a 2011 recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.
“Madhav Chavan is transforming India’s approach to children’s literacy and education,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “Chavan’s unwavering insistence on universal education, and his work to engage community volunteers in the quest for literacy, has already reached more than 34 million children, offering a proven model for the entire world.”

Rahim Kanani: What makes the education sector in developing countries different from other sectors?
Madhav Chavan: I once heard someone say that no one dies of poor education or no education. By the time you realize that you have been robbed of your right and the opportunity to build a good life, it is too late in some ways. This is not so in case of health issues or water issues or livelihood issues which can be life-threatening or their effect is immediately visible to adults. In a way, education and environment are similar in that the time it takes to realize the effect of poor practice, the effect of a deteriorating environment is felt by all. Unfortunately, in education, a section of the society that gets good education does not directly feel the impact of poor or no education of a large segment of the society. These are some of the reasons why education does not become an electorally important issue. Unless there is an enlightened leader who wants major change without public pressure to do so, education does not get priority.
Rahim Kanani: Separate from more capital and manpower, or other tangible assets, what are some intangible assets you need in order to be successful on the ground?
Madhav Chavan: Social capital, the trust people place in you and your own ability to trust people is probably the greatest intangible asset. It is also important to look at one’s own actions critically and reflect so that work can be improved. There is often a tendency to glorify the leader and worse for leaders to promote themselves. I find that while they benefit in the short term, invariably they are harmful to the organization in the medium and long term.
Rahim Kanani: As Pratham continues to expand, paint for a moment a portrait of the organization’s position–as you wish it would be–five years down the road.
Madhav Chavan: Pratham’s strongest point so far is its ability to mobilize people. Our capacity to deliver high quality educational services is limited by the abilities of the very people who provide energy on a large scale. Five years from now, Pratham should be recognized not only for its ability to mobilize people, but also for its ability to build capacities to deliver a high quality of education-related services.
Read the entire article here.

Here's Your Chance to Win an Advance Copy of 'A King Cobra's Summer'

Hello hello! Did you miss our post about the 'World Environment Day' contest we are running? Well, here are the details :

To celebrate World Environment Day on June 5th, shoot a picture of anything green and growing.......trees, shrubs, flowers, forest....yes, even slimy moss! Caption it if you like. Weave a small story if you so wish. But let's capture as much greenery as we can to remind ourselves about the need to preserve our environment today, for a greener tomorrow.

And yes you will be rewarded. Best entries will get an advance copy of our yet to be released title 'A King Cobra's Summer'. And an apt gift it would be since this year's theme for World environment Day is Forests. You can read all about the king cobra's journey through biodiversity-rich Western Ghats, one of India's most beautiful forest region.

Contest Details:
You can send pictures in jpeg format to
You can send mpeg videos too.
Last date to send entries is 20th June, 2011
Results will be announced by 30th June, 2011

Note :

1. All participants will retain the copyright for the photographs submitted by them. If you like, you can release the photographs under a CC-BY license.
2. You can also watermark the photographs, if you like.
3. All the photographs will be uploaded onto our Flickr page and credit will be given to the participants. Please include any text and URL that you would like included.
4. None of the photos will be used by us for any other purpose without your permission.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Write Anorak a Happy Story

Uh oh, we've spotted this link a little late, but the last date for entries is 15th June, 2011! So, kiddos...time to hurry up and send in your entries for this fun contest that Anorak Magazine is running.

Via Anorak
At Anorak, we love writing stories. All sorts of stories. About knees that talk, about umbrellas that get annoyed about the sunshine or even about beasts that like a rhyme. We know our little editors write great stories because we have featured a few of them in the past and they have been fantabulous!

With this in mind, we are extremely excited to launch a very special Anorak Writing Competition, in collaboration with our lovely friends at Tate and Bic Pens and Boys & Girls. and Nintendo DS .

Open to all kids aged 13 and under from around the world, your submissions need to include the word HAPPY (once is enough), should be a minimum of 30 words but a maximum of 350 words, need to have for theme either FOOD or TOYS and can be as whacky, funny, witty, cruel, touching, silly, quirky as you wish. Anything else, we leave up to your imagination and undoubtedly fantabulous writing skills. Get scribbling!

What do you win? We will pick two overall winners: one per category (food/toys). The winning stories will then be part of another competition aimed at art students from around the world to illustrate it. Details of that competition will come later. Once illustrated these stories will be published in Anorak magazine and will also be included in our iPhone App. And if that wasn't enough, Tate are giving away £50 to spend on their online story, Bic plenty of wonderful pens, Boys & Girls a bright and colourful outfit and Nintendo DS a copy of Art Academy.
Click here for more details.

Scholastic Asian Book Award

Have you written a children’s story that is INSPIRED BY ASIA?

The National Book Development Council of Singapore and Scholastic Asia are jointly launching the Asian children’s book prize. The award, called the Scholastic Asian Book Award (SABA), will recognise Asians and children’s writers of Asian origin who are taking the experiences of life, spirit and thinking in different parts of Asia to the world at large. The award would also promote the understanding of the Asian experience and its expression in innovative and creative forms.

The objectives of the SABA are as follows:
• To recognise excellence in fiction in Asian stories for children
• To showcase the diversity of literary talent within Asia
• To encourage and inspire more Asian-themed books and stories

The closing date for the 2012 SABA is 17th October 2011, 5pm (Singapore time). The organisers shall not be responsible for any manuscripts lost or damaged in transit. Result will be declared in May 2012, at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.
The best manuscript will be awarded the Scholastic Asian Book Award (SABA), and win a prize of S$10,000 and a plaque. The winning manuscript will be considered by Scholastic Asia for publication.

The first and second runners-up will be awarded a plaque and will be offered advice by Scholastic Asia on editing their manuscripts to submit for publication.
Click here for more details.

Moving Towards a Physical Archive of the World's Books

Public library in Prague

Via The Atlantic
The Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library with the Wikipedian mission of "universal access to all knowledge," has offered free storage and access to digitized music, movies, websites and nearly three million public domain books since 1996. In May, the Archive turned its focus offline, towards the preservation of physical reading materials. The aptly-named Physical Archive to the Internet Archive, a prototype facility devoted to the long-term preservation of physical records, launched last Sunday in Richmond, California. Materials are stored in 40-foot shipping containers, modified for secure and individually controllable environments of 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 30 percent relative humidity and designed to keep out undesirable pests.

On the Internet Archive's blog, founder Brewster Kahle compares the Physical Archive to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as "an authoritative and safe version of crops we are growing." Saving physical copies of digitized books might at least be seen in a similar light as an authoritative and safe copy that may be called upon in the future:

Digital technologies are changing both how library materials are accessed and increasingly how library materials are preserved. After the Internet Archive digitizes a book from a library in order to provide free public access to people world-wide, these books go back on the shelves of the library. We noticed an increasing number of books from these libraries moving books to "off site repositories" (1 2 3 4) to make space in central buildings for more meeting spaces and work spaces. These repositories have filled quickly and sometimes prompt the de-accessioning of books. A library that would prefer to not be named was found to be thinning their collections and throwing out books based on what had been digitized by Google. While we understand the need to manage physical holdings, we believe this should be done thoughtfully and well.

Two of the corporations involved in major book scanning have sawed off the bindings of modern books to speed the digitizing process. Many have a negative visceral reaction to the "butchering" of books, but is this a reasonable reaction?

Kahle's comparison to the Svalbard Seed Bank may be more indicative of the Physical Archive's real utility. While concentrated server farms may be better homes to the digitized sum of the world's cultural and literary knowledge than libraries to their physical counterparts, a single phenomenon -- an electromagnetic surge in the earth's atmosphere, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or even a spilt coffee cup -- could instantly hasten the evaporation of our literary cloud.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : _Sanja_

Friday, June 10, 2011

Event : Geronimo Stilton Comes to Delhi

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Scholastic India, the exclusive distributor of Geronimo Stilton book series, is sending
the titular character on a five-city promotional tour across the country. Geronimo Stilton comes to Delhi on 11th June, 2011 and you can meet him at Landmark (Ambience Mall) at 5:30pm.

(Via an email sent by Scholastic India)
Who is Geronimo Stilton?

Geronimo Stilton- the famous editor of ‘The Rodent’s Gazette newspaper.” Geronimo’s
books are all bestsellers and his stories are fa-mouse-ly funny. They are whisker-licking-
good tales for the kids.

That’s me! I run a newspaper, but my true passion is writing tales of adventure. Here is
New Mouse City, the capital of Mouse Island, My books are all bestsellers!! My stories
are full of fun – tastier than Swiss cheese and tangier than extra- sharp cheddar. They
are whisker-licking good stories, and that’s a promise!

Get ready to be Ratomised!

Free iPad/iPhone Application to Learn the Alphabet

If you are looking at trying out a few apps with your kids this weekend, try the free apps created by MPS which teach you how to learn the alphabet.

MPS Alphabetz—the Alphabet Cards are the fastest way to learn the alphabet. It’s suitable for children of all ages. With lively, colorful, cartoon pictures of animals, your child will learn about animals and the alphabet all at one go. A focused and even spread of ideas ensure that the child is not overloaded with information and enjoys every minute of learning. Children can gain a better understanding of the animal world and learn how to pronounce the names of animals correctly. The added special sound effects for each animal introduce your child to the environment in an entertaining way.
You can download this free app for the iPad and the iPhone.

Books vs. E-Books : Does One Have to Win?

An interesting infographic on books and e-books.
(Please click on the image for a larger view - via Newsweek)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Use of Our Books for Early Childhood Learning Programmes

We received a lovely email from Neena Nambiar who is a teacher trainer and educator at Sadhana Village School at Kule near Pune. She has been using our books and wrote to tell us about her experience:
Pratham books are an affordable and attractive resource for Story Telling for our Early Childhood (3-6 years) group in rural areas. Teachers find the stories easy to relate with and easy to share with young children. The beautiful illustrations fire the sense of imagination in the teachers and children. Themes of the stories are wide to choose from according to lesson plans and topics. Length of stories are of right size for young children to revise and to learn by heart. We have tried to enact these stories and have been successful. We also use the books to introduce our children to different languages. For example : we read out stories in Hindi for our Marathi speaking children to enhance their language skills. Also the vocabulary used in the stories is of high order.
Thank you for your feedback Neena! If you have a story to share about how you use our books in your school/NGO, please email us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

The Changing Landscape of Children's Publishing in India

Via FindArticles (original article 'From Red Riding Hood to Radha' in DNA - by Anindita Mitra)

Gone are the days when the only Indian connect in the children's section of a bookstore was to be found in Amar Chitra Katha and regional language books. Children's literature in India is seeing a gradual change.

Written by Indian authors and set in distinctly Indian scenarios, these are simple books that speak of the realities that an Indian child finds easier to relate to. From elephants to autorickshaws, there's a whole host of topics that are keeping the kids entranced.

The trend had been well established by the end of the Noughties, which saw publishing outfits like Tulika Books, Tara Books or Pratham Books get pro-active about publishing children's books with Indian characters in Indian settings.

Suzanne Singh, managing trustee, Pratham Books, explains: "Our major buyers are governments and non-profit organisations who are promoting literacy and encouraging children to inculcate a reading habit. And they do prefer original content by Indian authors as it is more relevant for our children. India has a rich diverse culture and tradition and as publishers we find that there is a wealth of material to draw upon. In the last few years, we have also seen an increasing interest by NRI parents in our books - both in English and Indian languages."

Pratham Books is bringing out such books set in the Indian context. "For our youngest readers we have a set of four, boldly coloured books that they can read for themselves. Lenny and Tweek, Cookie Wookie and A Butterfly that Sat on a Rainbow are all books about different kinds of friends for our Level 2 readers. For older readers, we have a delightfully illustrated Laxman's Questions, and a luxuriously photographed book about the river Narmada, and a heady book called Jungle Brew. Indian traditional crafts like 'chikankari' and 'sanjhi' come alive in a set of books that spin tales about children with dreams," says Singh. All these books are available in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and Telugu.

Though major publishing houses are making an effort, there are two problems. First, a lot of the books by Indian authors are very verbose. The language is beautiful, the descriptions rich and yet, they are not exactly reaching out to the children because they run out of patience cutting through the dense language. On the other hand, many of the picture books for smaller children, somewhat an easier route, can't strike a balance between telling a story and preaching. They need to be more creative," she says.
Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Bookseller of Chennai


Via The Brooklyn Rail (via @karaditales)
The tiniest bookshop in Chennai, India’s fourth-largest city, is located on the edge of the Taj Connemara Hotel, in the congested downtown. To get to the shop, you must first inquire at the hotel’s front desk, where a clerk tells you to exit the lobby and make a left. At the far end of the parking lot, past a majestic peepal tree and within a few feet of roaring traffic, is a narrow strip of shops, one of which displays a small yellow and red sign: “Giggles, Biggest Little Bookshop.” 

Behind the glass window are teetering stacks of books, some of them 10 feet high. The door is ajar, and there is just enough space to stick your neck in. “How do you enter the shop?” I muttered on my first visit to Giggles a year ago. “This is the shop,” a voice rang out from beneath me. I looked down to see a sharp-faced woman sitting on a tiny wooden stool, surrounded by plastic bags and buzzing mosquitoes. Next to her, on the cement pavement, was a purple mat containing a dozen or so books, both new and used. “Welcome to Giggles,” the woman announced.

The voice belonged to Nalini Chettur, a pillar of Chennai’s English-language literary scene, who opened Giggles with a thousand-rupee investment in 1974. “The main reason I started this bookshop was to educate myself,” Chettur remarked. “My generation was sent to very British types of schools, so we didn’t know much about India. We knew more about the West. So when I started this bookshop I thought I would focus on India.”

While Giggles is chock full of popular and scholarly books on India, one is also likely to find titles by Kazuo Ishiguro, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Chettur notes with pride that her favorite author—the late R. K. Narayan—used to say: “If you want a real good bookshop, go to Giggles.” Over the years, many writers have visited her shop, including V. S. Naipaul, Jan Morris, and William Golding. Contemporary figures such as Amit Chauduri, Amitav Ghosh, Pankaj Mishra, and Ramachandra Guha have also stopped by the place that Guha refers to as a “crazy/lovely shop.”

“Books are piled in precarious stacks and towers, like castles built of sand,” Hebrew University Professor David Shulman wrote in his 2009 book, Spring, Heat, Rains: A South Indian Diary. “You ask for a title and she sends her gofer burrowing through the stacks, hoping he will emerge alive.”

Her bookselling formula is built on personal intimacy. “You may have noticed,” she says, “that I work without a computer.” (She does not own a computer or a TV.) “So when you come and ask me for a book, I don’t rush to tap the keys. I tell you immediately whether I have it, or whether I can get it. That’s an advantage over the other bookshops, you see. I know my stock. They don’t, unfortunately.”
Click here to read the entire article.

Image Source : ascendent/Pete Young

Social Media for Social Change


Via The Alternative
Non-profit organizations, by their very nature, work on wafer thin budgets. They do not have viable access to traditional channels of financing, unless they can demonstrate value and unfortunately demonstrating value via normal media channels – television, newsprint, radio, requires money. It’s the classic conumdrum, chicken or the egg, which came first? So, how does such an organization build its brand and reach out to more people to act on its behalf and support activities?

Many enterprising NGOs are using the power of the internet remarkably effectively to spread their word, build campaigns and raise funds. But is it really that simple? Engaging millions in the vapour world towards tangible on-ground action?

Social Media is based primarily on The “word-of-mouth” philosophy. To take advantage of the viral culture, any NGO starting to build a brand online, needs to build a strong community of individuals who feel strongly enough about the cause to be spokespeople for the said brand. When individuals engage in conversation with an organisation and are exposed to experiences and stories that move them, they form bonds with each other and effectively self-organise into a community. It is the job of an NGO seeking to leverage social media to encourage the right sort of conversations and effectively curate the information out there.

Pratham Books, a publishing house that provides children in India with quality books at affordable prices, whose primary aim is “to see a book in every child’s hand”, is a case in point. It has used all manner of social media to build a network of supporters. According to Gautam John, New Projects, Pratham Books “one must be patient, authentic and transparent to see the results of social media. It takes time for people to listen, trust and engage with your cause. But, once you manage to gain their trust, they are willing to be your spokesperson, recommend you to other people, help with initiatives you start.”
Read the entire article here.