Friday, July 29, 2011

Inauguration Ceremony of Ghummakkad Narain – the Travelling Children’s Literature Festival

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Inauguration of Ghummakkad Narain – The Travelling Literature Festival 2011 on 30 July, 2011
Library Auditorium, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi
Time: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

10:15 am - Welcome Tea
10:45 am - Audience to be seated in the auditorium for the Chief Guest to arrive
11:00 am - Welcome address by the organizers and introduction to the festival
11:15 am - Performance of Tagore’s plays by Imran Khan (theatre artist)
11:45 am - Inaugural Address by Dr Shashi Tharoor
12:15 pm- Q&A
12:30 pm - Musical rendition of Faiz’s poetry by Madan Gopal Singh (to be confirmed)
12:45 pm - Vote of Thanks


Ghummakkad Narain- Narain is an elderly gentleman who is extremely fond of books and travels around reading them out to children. He is fun to be with as he makes reading a whole lot of fun. He is a store house of knowledge and has a unique way of sharing it – in the form of stories. He’s loved by both children and the elderly, wherever he goes. His stories sometimes even attract animals that follow him around listening to his stories......

Thakur Vishva Narain Singh, a well known journalist and writer of Dehra Dun and the first Braille Editor(NIVH) in India who brought light to people who had no means of learning since there were very few books written for the Blind. He served the visually impaired by bringing out literature for the 10 million blind in ten regional languages in Braille script. The books included reading books, literature, reference books, epics and regular magazines and epics translated into Braille. He was popularly known as the “Father of Braille Literature in India.”

Books are extremely important tools of providing knowledge, transmitting information and introducing us to unknown worlds, enhancing our understanding of the world. In addition books play a meaningful role as psychological and emotional balances and vents that help people overcome trauma caused by a disaster and help them face challenges and look at them rationally through reading. Reading can be escape into worlds of one’s choice or an emotional cushion seeing us through tough times, bringing us back to regular everyday life. Books cannot be isolated from reading, and reading habits can be inculcated only in those who have the opportunity to read and have an access to books and reading. It is therefore our binding obligation to facilitate the collection of reading material and to bring books to those who do not have access to libraries or the privilege of owning books. Books are for everyone and we would want every child to have access to books and reading through schools or community libraries. What matters is that each book must be read and
enjoyed. It is with this purpose that we bring this festival to our children to bring them closer to books and to reading. To stimulate their imagination and foster their development by helping them understand themselves better. To make books their best friends for life. Our motive is to not just educate children but to retain their interest in studies through reading and sharing so as to make them thinkers and individuals of tomorrow.
For queries and details contact,

Ghummakkad Narain is an annual travelling literature festival for children, which takes place from 30 July to 29 September every year. This year the festival will be held in Delhi from 3 to 6 August, Dehra Dun 19, 20, 26, 27 August, Chandigarh on 2 and 3 September, Delhi Youth festival from 7 to 10 September, Naintial on 16, 17 September and Traditional Storytelling festival in Delhi from 23 to 29 September 2011.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pratham’s Education for Education Program

Rukmini Banerji talks about one of Pratham’s innovative computer literacy programs in rural India, Education for Education.


Via Kravis Prize
It was mid morning. We were in a remote area of rural Katihar district in the state of Bihar in eastern India. The village road wound through the fields and past mango orchards. We stopped outside a small house with bamboo fencing. We walked in through the little gate into the courtyard. A few bicycles were parked under a tree. The house in front had two small rooms and a small verandah. Shoes and slippers were lying neatly at the edge of the room. The floor and the walls were bare – just simple mats on the floor.

But in the center of the room we could see two laptops. Four young people sat with the computers – two to one computer – with the computer instructor right next to them. She was young – not more than 20 or 22. Her students were also probably the same age. They were learning how to make PowerPoint presentations. I sat quietly behind this group for a long time. The instructor spoke and the students did what she said. It was the best lesson on making PowerPoint presentations that I had ever witnessed. Apart from a quick welcome, neither the students nor the instructor paid any attention to me. They concentrated on the work they were doing. I later learned that the electricity supply in the village is unreliable, so while there is electricity, they don’t waste time and they maximize what they can do on the laptops.

This initiative is called Education for Education, which is working in tandem with Read India, Pratham’s flagship program that strives to have all children in school and learning basic reading and arithmetic skills.

Pratham’s Education for Education initiative attempts to introduce a value for value dimension into the large scale Read India work that is already in place. Every village volunteer who works with children in Read India is entitled to a basic computer course. This computer instruction is available to the volunteer within a 10 village radius of where he or she lives. The computer instructor (who is called an Education Entrepreneur) figures out a location that is convenient and accessible for volunteers and arranges a one and half hour class that volunteers attend for three days a week over four months. This year, a spoken English program is going to be layered on to the digital literacy platform.

The computer instructor can use the time that he or she is not teaching for his or her own purposes. Many have started small computer based service business outside of their Read India commitments. As part of the program, the computer instructor owns the laptops via deductions from her monthly stipend over the course of two years. So not only are we trying to create a large pool of young people who have computer skills, we’re also creating a core of young entrepreneurs.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : WAVA Limited

Virdhawal Qualifies for London Olympics 2012

Yay! We are happy to report that swimmer Virdhawal Khade has just qualified to take part in the swimming championships at the London Olympics. A GoSports Foundation scholar, Virdhawal Khade qualified after meeting the requirements for the 100m freestyle event at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai. He clocked 50.34s in the event. Viru is ranked 122 in the 50m butterfly event in the world. At 20, this will be his second Olympics outing. GoSports Foundation trustee and former Olympian Hakimudin S Habibula says, "This is a historic moment for India as for the first time Indian swimmers have qualified for consecutive Olympic events."

Pratham Books brought out a book about the swimmer, 'Kolhapur to Beijing - Freestyle!' in English, Hindi, Kannada, Urdu, Gujarati, Telugu, Marathi and Tamil. We would like to see more and more children participating in sports and enjoy the benefits of being healthy in body, mind and spirit.

Book Launch : Sita's Ramayana

Via Tara Books

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Artists’ Interpretations of Literary Figures/ Authors/ Characters

Character : Harry Potter, Artist : Andi Watson

Via Los Angeles Times

In 1998, a Canadian comics fan sent letters to 10 illustrators asking for them to send him a sketch of their favorite literary figure, either a fictional character or a real-life author. After getting a few back -- including one from comics legend Will Eisner -- he set up a website. Originally titled "Artistic Interpretation of Literary Figures," it got renamed "Hey Oscar Wilde! It's Clobberin' Time!!!" after the fan heard his young sons playing a game in which the Fantastic Four's The Thing was, he says, "beating the snot out of the Irish playwright."

The list of authors stretches across millennia and writing styles; a sampling includes Homer, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Leo Tolstoy, Margaret Mitchell, Mickey Spillane, J.R.R. Tolkein, Thomas Pynchon, Judy Blume and Don DeLillo.

The characters, on the other hand, tend to have clusters of popularity. There are there are nine Harry Potters, eight Sherlock Holmeses and seven Frankensteins. Maybe that's because characters, which start out as words on a page, are fun to imagine. No matter how many film versions might compete, there's still the character as seen in the reader's mind. A few readers -- these artists -- are skilled enough to get that image down on paper.
Read the entire article here.

Visit the website

Seminar on Copyright and Open licensing

WIKIMEDIA CHAPTER invites you to a seminar on Copyright and Open licensing

Date: 30 July 2011
Time: 5PM to 8PM
Venue: TERI Auditorium, Domlur, Bangalore


05:00PM – 05:05PM Welcome and Introduction of Wikimedia Chapter and today's seminar speakers .. Gautam, Secretary, Wikimedia Chapter

05:00PM - 05:45PM Copyright law and plagiarism: 101 ... Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Azim Premji University
05:45PM - 06:30PM Indian copyright law and the Commons: 101 ...Pranesh Prakash, Centre for Internet and Society

06:30PM - 06:45PM Tea break

06:45PM-07:30PM Open licensing and Creative Commons:101 ... Danish Sheikh: Alternative Law Forum

07:30PM-08:00PM Q&A

Objectives of the Seminar:

To educate attendees about Copyrights and Open licensing, Wikimedia copyright policies and how one can become a better contributor to Wikimedia projects.

About the Speakers:

Sudhir Krishnaswamy: Sudhir was a Professor of Law at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata India where he taught Constitutional Law and Jurisprudence. He studied law at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore (BA LLB 1998) and the University of Oxford (BCL 2000 and DPhil 2008). Before NUJS he taught at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and Pembroke College, University of Oxford. He has engaged with the Government at various levels including the Prime Minister’s Committee on Infrastructure and the Kasturirangan Committee on Bangalore’s Governance.

Pranesh Prakash: Pranesh Prakash is a graduate with a degree in Arts and Law from National Law School, Bangalore, with a keen interest in the law, economics, and culture of intellectual property rights. He helped found the Indian Journal of Law and Technology, and was part of its editorial board for two years. He is most interested in interdisciplinary research on IP and property law, freedom of speech, and privacy. He has worked with practicing lawyers, civil society organizations, and law firms.

Danish Sheikh: After 5 years of worrying about the ways in which law school irreversibly damaged him, the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore in their infinite wisdom has given Danish a place to work.


Free on first come first served. Pre registration recommended by signing on the event page on Wikimedia Chapter wiki events page.

For more information:

Gautam K John, Secretary, Wikimedia Chapter:

Wikimedia Chapter, No.194, 2nd C Cross, Dommaluru 2nd Stage, Bangalore-560071.

Sponsored by:
Centre for Internet and Society, Dommaluru

About Wikimedia Chapter:
Wikimedia Chapter is a not for profit Society registered on 3 Jan 2011 with Office of Registrar of Socities, Bangalore Urban District with the objective of educating Indian public about availability and use of free and open educational content and build capacity to access and contribute to such resources in various Indian languages. It has over 64 members who are passionate about Wikipedia and sister projects from all over India and representing several Indian languages. Wikimedia Chapter is an autonomous entity and works in close coordination with Wikimedia Foundation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amar Chitra Katha Scholarships

Via Deccan Herald

ACK-Media, the leading Entertainment and Education Company for children, launched ‘Amar Chitra Katha Scholarships,’ in fond memory of Anant Pai, the founding editor of the series.

The scholarship has been launched in about 70 cities and is open to children aged between 10 and 15 years. The scholarship, which will be an annual event from this year, is unique in two ways – it is designed to app
eal to a broad range of children—not just the academically inclined.

The awardees will be free to pursue their interests without restrictions. The scholarship is also designed to increase the awareness of the younger generation about Indian culture, continuing Pai’s lifelong mission.
The Amar Chitra Katha Scholarship forms will be available free in all Big Bazaar stores across India from July 14 to August 7 and online ( Participants may also send in their responses via a unique SMS platform created for this initiative. Participation in this scholarship has no restrictions other than age and nationality.

The scholarship evaluation is based on a written quiz on India. The quiz has both multiple choice and long form questions. The quiz will be evaluated by a panel of three eminent judges.

The Amar Chitra Katha Scholarship awardees will be announced in a grand finale on November 14.

The national winner will get a scholarship of Rs 11 lakh. There will be 71 city winners who will each get a scholarship of Rs 25,000.
Read the entire article here and visit the website for more information.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Playing like kids, thanks to Alex Calder!

Don't know who Mr.Calder is? Just google him please, and have fun! The best way to ensure that you spread joy is to experience joy yourself, right? And there are just so many things that you can enjoy in just a jiffy.

Thanks to Alexander Calder (July 22, 1898 – November 11, 1976), an American sculptor and artist famous for creating mobile sculptures, paintings, lithographs, toys, tapestry, jewellery and household objects, and to Google that is celebrating his 113th birth anniversary in such a creative way, and to Caldell Foundation, I've just had an amazing five minutes playing with today's Google Doodle!

Poetry Bombing


Residents of Miami have been getting a little something extra with their charity shop purchases after artist Agustina Woodgate began surreptitiously sewing tiny pieces of paper carrying lines of poetry into the city's thrift store clothes.

Describing her project as "poetry bombing", the Argentinean artist nonchalantly enters Miami's charity shops with needle, thread and scissors, and quickly sews a short quote into a piece of clothing without – she hopes – staff noticing. Skirts are targeted with the Sylvia Plath quote, "Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts", while the Li Po extract, "Life is a huge dream / why work so hard?" has been mainly sewn into trousers.

"The idea is to generate a surprise for the future buyer. Read the brand of your new suit and next to it find a little message," said Woodgate, who has sewn 500 labels into clothes so far. The clandestine project is part of the poetry festival O, Miami.

"Sewing poems in clothes is a way of bringing poetry to everyday life just by displacing it, by removing it from a paper to integrate it and fuse it with our lives. Sometimes little details are stronger when they are separated from where they are expected to be," she said. "Places and objects are alive, we make them alive, they tell our stories and tales. Sewing poems in clothes in a way is giving the garments a voice."
Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Secret Bookstore

Via Paris Review

Watch this beautiful video about Brazenhead Books, a secret bookstore that’s been tucked away in Michael Seidenberg’s apartment on the Upper East Side ever since the rent for his original retail space in Brooklyn was quadrupled. (Jonathan Lethem used to work there.) “This would have not been my ideal,” he says. “I wouldn’t have thought I want to have a bookshop in a location no one knows about.” “I find ways to survive without it making enough money to be what you would call a successful business. If it’s all about money, there’s just better things to sell.”
Watch the video to learn about this beautiful secret bookstore (and then there is also this article from 2008 that you may want to read)

There's No Place Like Here: Brazenhead Books from Etsy on Vimeo.

Award for Janaki Rani Turaga, our translator

We feel very happy when people associated with children's books anywhere in the world are felicitated for their work. The joy is greater of course, when it is someone who is associated with Pratham Books! Ms.Janaki Rani Turaga, one of our Telugu translators, was honoured with the title Balasaahitya Ratna by the Bala Sahitya Parishat in Hyderabad in June 2011.The 60-yr-old organisation had invited authors of children's books from different districts and the gathering in Hyderabad was impressive.

Dr Muktevi Bharati, author of 60 books and twice Telugu University award-winner, presided. Prof I V Chalapathi Rao, doyen of Indian literature and visiting faculty at University of Hyderabad, and editor, 'Triveni', was the chief guest and he released the three books published by Pratham Books, and translated by Janaki -- The Timid Train, Ambili, and a two-book set of Gijubhai's Gujarati Folktales.

Janaki Rani, affectionately known as Radio Akkaiyah by hundreds of old-time radio listeners, has produced many interesting programmes for All India Radio including many for children, with special emphasis on music, and for women and the aged. She has also translated some stories of J.B. Priestley and O’Henry. Her books include Erragulabeelu, Janaki Rani Kathalu, Maa Taatayya Chalam, Navvani Puvvu, Ee Desam Oka Himalayam.

We wish Janaki good health, happiness and look forward to seeing more of her work. Congratulations, Janaki!

Storytelling through Chocolate Making

Kid decorates gingerbread

Surely one form of storytelling that everyone at Pratham Books wants to be part of.

How do you get the attention of a group of children in a room full of molten chocolate, chocolate buttons, chocolate drops, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins and more? Ask theatre artist Shivani Tibrewala. Tibrewala, who has just completed a series of performing-arts-based workshops in collaboration with the National Centre for the Performing Arts, will be beginning her new craft-based creative-writing modules in July—storytelling through chocolate making—in Mumbai. The modules will be for children in the 6-10 age group.

“The reason children listen is because there is an inherent metaphor woven through the modules. I don’t believe kids learn very well through a lecture or by simply making them sit and listen to what you have to say,” she says of her methodology of teaching. The module, which extends over four sessions, with the option of either a Saturday or a Wednesday session of an hour and a half, is tailored to make storytelling enticing and bring out reading, writing and comprehension skills in children. Thus, you have segments such as ”Ingredients of storytelling” and “What makes a story tasty?” Think about it—what really are the ingredients of a story? Watching children make a joyful mess with plot and characterization, be introduced to concepts such as conflict and tie-up all the loose ends makes for quite a delicious mix.

“Children can surprise you with what they come up with. Last month, we held a similar workshop on superheroes and we asked children to list what characteristics they would lend their superheroes if they were to make one from scratch. Their inventiveness is very special,” says Tibrewala. The results with chocolate too, she says, are exciting for both adults and children. “For instance, in a segment such as ‘What makes a story tasty’, we’d probably ask them whether they liked scary, funny or superhero stories and to think about what they would do to include elements that create that kind of a story,” says Tibrewala. The approach breaks storytelling down to its basics and works to build it up like a recipe. The deconstruction helps them look at what could otherwise be a mundane understanding of the craft with a different perspective.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : InterContinental Hong Kong

My Unfinished Novels : Sharing Your Creative Failures


Via myunfinishednovels
My Unfinished Novels was started by Steve Wilson, six-time failed novelist, and the author of the nonfiction book, The Boys From Little Mexico: A Season Chasing The American Dream.

For most writers, any novel that is unpublished is a failure, since most authors don’t want their manuscripts to gather dust under the bed. But some novels never even get to the point of being unpublished. They are simply abandoned, sometimes because of material pressures (second job, third kid, fourth tour of Iraq), and sometimes because of creative illnesses, internal cracks in the author’s foundation. People change, but books remain static, and if a person changes enough, the book they were writing may no longer be their book.

My Unfinished Novels exists to explore that idea: why was this novel abandoned? The answers, hopefully, will elucidate and entertain.

Each Unfinished Novel gets its own post. Each post includes a reason for abandoning the novel, a summary of the story, and an excerpt of the book’s beginning. Rights to each of the novel excerpts on this site remain with the original authors.

So, read the stories and the stories behind them. Make up your own mind about what failure means.

Image Source : DangerPup

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Storytelling Sessions with Ken Spillman

Ken introduces children to the character Jake in his books

Last year, during Bookaroo in the City, we had the opportunity to attend an awesome storytelling session conducted by Ken Spillman (You can read all about that session here). This year we found Ken on our Twitter stream and when he showed interest in the Skype storytelling sessions we were conducting between community libraries in Bangalore and a school in Pennsylvania, we asked him if he would be interested in conducting one himself. But the answer we got was even better! Ken said that he would be coming to India soon and would love to meet the kids. A few months after that exchange, we received an email from Ken and were overjoyed that he had remembered that tweet.


Ken Spillman, author of the popular 'Jake series' of books for children and young adult novels like Blue and Love is a UFO, will be conducting a couple of exciting story-telling sessions for children at the community libraries in D.J. Halli and Rajendranagar, Bangalore.

Be a part of our community library storytelling sessions with Ken Spillman!

Join us for a fun session on reading, story-telling and the joy of imagination in life!

Time: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Date and Venue:

20th July 2011
D.J. Halli Community Library
‘A’ Block, Pariyar Nagar,
Near Govt Hospital, D.J. Halli,
Bangalore - 560045

21st July 2011
#18, 1st Main, 2nd Cross,
Govt Urdu School, Rajendranagar,
Bangalore - 560047

Please confirm your attendance by calling us on +91 99007 85835. Limited space - available on a first come, first serve basis.

A Special Bond 2 - Children's Play


Based on more stories by Ruskin Bond.

The exciting sequel filled with Ruskin Bond's stories returns... in its 4th year! Ranji is back with a whole new set of magical adventures in the hills. Take another trip up north to see some of your favourite characters return, and discover some new interesting ones including a crazy queen, a sinister gypsy and two ghost children. Ranji has some more memorable encounters this time around, ranging from crazy to magical, and from a little romantic to even a little scary. Join us, again, to watch some more of Ruskin Bond's unforgettable stories unfurl on stage.
Date : 30th Jul, 2011
Time : 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 5:00 PM
Venue : Alliance Francaise, Thimmaiah Rd, Vasanth Nagar, Bengaluru

Click here for more details and to book tickets for the show.

Black River Poets : Collaborative Poetry


“I am Neha, I steal spoons

I steal spoons from the kitchen and store them in my room”

“I am Harish, I lose spoons.

I lose ‘em from my kitchen,I lose ‘em from my rooms.”

I t was these spoons that led to the birth of Black River Poets, a site exclusively for poetry lovers. Harish Shankaran, one of its co-founders, came across the first few lines of the poem, on his cousin's friend's blog in 2008.

On an impulse he decided to respond to it. “Before we knew it, we were exchanging verses on a daily basis. So, I compiled whole thing and put it up on my own blog” This poetry exchange fetched him quite a following. And that set Harish thinking. The result was a platform for poets.

So the Black River Poets ( came about in December 2010. Along with Mumbai-based Harish is his Delhi-based co-founder Sri Prasanna. “I was tinkering about with the concept of ‘poetry duels', and was on the lookout for a developer, who could turn this fuzzy idea into something tangible.

The website, unlike any other platforms available for poetry-sharing, banks on the concept of ‘poetry duels'. Harish and Prasanna claim that the Black River Poets are all about collaborative poetry. As the site clearly points out, a user can start a duel, join a duel or silently lurk around watching others duel. A duel can be started by simply composing the first few lines of a poem and setting a time limit for the challenge. By using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, one can invite challengers to take the duel forward.

After the user chooses a suitable challenger, the two of them can continue constructing the poem. The poets exchange verses and the battle lasts until one of them fails to submit a verse within the stipulated time period. People who bear witness to these duels get to award quills to their favourite stanzas. Based on the number of quills the challengers earn, a winner is declared.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Leo Reynolds/ LEOL30

Online Pen Pals Help Kids Read

i <3 reading

Via in2books (via Publishers Weekly)
In2Books deepens students' reading and writing skills with adult mentors, a m
otivating curriculum, and technology. Students get authentic practice reading and writing by reading books with eMentors and sharing ideas about the important issues in the books via online letters.

The In2Books program enables a community of learners - students, educators, families, community organizations, corporations, and mentors - with its intriguing collaborative learning experiences and thought-provoking books. By reading, writing, and thinking about the same books and using related In2Books resources, this continuous support network develops intellectual relationships that challenge and motivate students. At the same time, students gain insight into how adults think about books and express ideas, and learn about diverse interests, points of view and career choices.

How does In2Books Work?

With In2Books, 3rd - 5th grade students:
  • Are connected with carefully screened adult pen pals
  • Select and read 5 books closely each year
  • Have engaged Adult pen pals read the same books
  • Exchange 6 online letters each year with their adult pen pals (One "Getting to Know You" letter, Five book letters - about the important issues in the books)
With In2Books, teachers:
Reinforce and extend the learning with in-class book discussions and related instruction in genre and literacy skills.
You can read more about this project here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book-quake in Kashmir

Manisha Chaudhry, Head of content development- Pratham Books,writes about her experience at Bookaroo (Kashmir).
On May 7-8, '11 DPS Srinagar Athwajan was rocked to its foundations by a book-quake!

Chubby-cheeked beautiful children raced from one venue to another trying to catch the evanescent vapour of excitement. Yes, Bookaroo, the zingy, zesty litfest for children had made its way to Srinagar, a new city thirsting for good news, a new city which welcomed Bookaroo with a hug as warm as the finest pashmina.
On the invitation of the DPS run by the DP Dhar Memorial Trust, Bookaroo travelled to Kashmir with a band of over twenty authors and illustrators for this two day festival. Other local schools also sent their children to check out what the excitement was all about and they were not disappointed.More than 6000 children attended the various sessions with authors, illustrators and storytellers. They laughed and danced with Jeeva Raghunath, the talented storyteller from Chennai and sang along with Arjun Kaul, the young rock-star with the guitar.

They got their hands all sticky as they learnt the most amazing paper craft with Sachin George Sebastian and they drew in droves on the inviting white expanse of the Doodle Wall.

Never have our authors had to sign so many autographs even though most of the children had not read their books. However, they were enthusiastic and eager to know more and this was their first exposure to the range of books and writing for children happening in India today.

In a region that has been a hot spot for conflict between Pakistan and India and a population caught between violence and a huge army presence, it is the children who are paying a huge price of the loss of 'normalcy. Even simple pleasures of reading, sports and other cultural events for children are a rarity. Bookaroo and the buzz it generated gives reason for hope as all the people who participated-the authors, the hosts and the children vowed and wowed to come back for more.
Ramendra Kumar, the author of our upcoming book 'Paplu the Giant', calls his Bookaroo experience a 'Paradise in Jannat'. You can read about his Bookaroo experience here.]

Writing for Children : Not Just Child’s Play

Via Femina (via @karaditales)

Pop over to the children's section in any bookstore and you'll be surprised at the volumes stacked there. Packed with charming tales, mysteries, and fantasies, the stories transport us to magical lands. However, as simple as children's stories look, writing for kids is anything but that.

Deepa Agarwal has written over 50 titles ranging from mystery and adventure novels, ghost stories, fantasy, picture books, biographies, and retold folk tales and myths.

"Inspiration comes from random remarks made by children. My daughters were a great source but now they've grown up," says Deepa, who looks for ideas from her grandchildren, incidents from her own childhood in the hills, and memories of boarding school life.

She understands that connecting with her audience is important. "You have to adopt the child's eye view, have in depth knowledge of their lives, and the issues important to them." And after you've crafted out the perfect story, you must ensure that it reaches the readers. "The sad fact is that children's books by indigenous authors are rarely displayed prominently in bookstores, book reviews are few and far between and media interviews rare," says Deepa, adding that it helps if the author puts up information about the book on Facebook, writes a blog and lets schools know that they're available for visits.

A prolific author, who has written and published 75 books in s
even short years, Tanya Luther Agarwal writes fantasy story books, comics, knowledge volumes and picture books. Translated in foreign and regional languages, her work has been published by Rupa & Co, Scholastic, Pratham (Read India), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), TERI, Scholars Hub, and Brijbasi Art Press.

So how does she 'think up' a book? She says, "An idea is like a viral infection! It creeps on you, consumes you and leaves you dysfunctional until you write-it off! Other times it comes from an interaction or an observation and lingers in your thoughts for days, weeks or months."

"I dabble with different genres, both fact and fiction," says Benita Sen, a well-known journalist and children's author.

"I write at two levels: for the child and the parent who often shares the reading experience with the child. So, there are puns and word plays that may seem simple to the child but can mean something more to the adult," she explains.
Read the entire article here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Publishing in India Today: Growing Imports/Exports, Territoriality, Piracy and Digital

We've featured Akshay Pathak's excellent article on the current state of Indian publishing on this blog earlier. Click here to read 'Publishing in India Today: 19,000 Publishers, 90,000 Titles, Many Opportunities'. This article talks about India’s growing exposure to the international book markets, challenges to copyright law, the continuing problem of piracy and Indian e-books.

How to talk to anyone

The presence of an Indian publisher at an international forum is not just limited to the rights to their books being bought and sold in other languages. There is also a larger assertion of what the Indian publisher has to offer to the international publishing community in terms of new ideas and innovative concepts. A classic example would be Tara Books. Gita Wolf, its founder, says, “When I first went to the Frankfurt Book Fair, 15 years ago, I was both naive and optimistic. Looking back at what I went with –- two ideas for illustrated children’s books and a couple of silk-screened sample pages –- I can’t help thinking of the old cliché about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread. And yet, I managed to sell both ideas to a Canadian publisher and with the advance they offered for the books, my newly created publishing house in India took off.” She continues: “So Tara was, in essence, a global publisher before we became a local press.” Since then, Tara has remained active in the global market, with over 100 rights to the publisher’s 85 titles sold all over the world. In total, Wolf says, 30 percent of Tara’s turnover comes from the sale of rights, and an additional 25 percent from direct sales into other English-speaking markets.

An opposing model has also grown in recent years, of publishers in the Subcontinent purchasing the English-language rights for books written in French, German and other European and African languages. The notable example in this would be Naveen Kishore of Seagull Books from Kolkata. This is a phenomenon almost unheard of in a largely West-centered and West-controlled world of territorial rights in English, where there is a tendency to club together the “post-colonial” world.

This internationalization can be something of a double-edged sword, however. Of the many issues that are currently bringing together the publishing community in India, the issue that has generated one of the most significant responses is the proposed amendments to the country’s copyright law. Though there is a clear divide between people for and against it, publishers almost unanimously oppose the amendment.

As proposed, the amendment sanctions parallel imports, which allow the import of multiple editions of books into the Indian market, rendering the whole point of territorial rights a bit useless. “If the amendment is passed,” Abraham says, “any book published anywhere in the world could be sold [in India], infringing on an exclusive Indian edition -– published or imported.” He continues: “To understand this, one needs to realize that authors own copyright to their works and then assign publishing rights to different territories, so that the book and readers are best served.

Meanwhile, publishers in the Subcontinent continue to face mounting problems with piracy, finding this increasingly difficult to tackle.

Such obstacles notwithstanding, one thing is for certain: the publishing industry in India and across the Subcontinent will have to cater to multiple audiences in the coming decades. These will have to include the upwardly mobile middle class, the passionate reader, the new reader and the yet-to-be-converted reader.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Dey

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Raising Literacy Skills in Doctor's Waiting Rooms

Remember our article on how our books were used for therapy? Here's another example of how books in doctor's clinics in Iowa are encouraging children to read.

Via Muscatine Journal
Dr. Michael Maharry knows a good diagnostic tool when he sees one, and over the lunch hour Tuesday, he saw a whole shelf full.

Maharry, medical director at Muscatine's UI Health Care at 3465 Mulberry Ave., was in the lobby with his three-year-old daughter, Sabrina, when officials with Iowa Public Television and the Reach Out and Read Iowa coalition delivered a new Raising Readers Learning Center to town.

The 100 or so children's books, a flatscreen television and DVD player are designed to raise children's literacy skills while they wait to see a doctor.

Reading a book is a good pastime for children waiting to see a doctor, but having so many developmentally appropriate books in the lobby is a good thing for physicians as well, Maharry said.

Reading with a young child "is a good way (for a doctor) to assess development," including fine motor and communication skills, said Maharry, who practices family medicine. He labeled Tuesday's donation "fantastic" because "the more literate the child, the healthier the child."

Being read to certainly builds a child's vocabulary: a child who's read to between the ages of 0-5 has heard 3 million more words by the time he or she begins kindergarten than a child who's not read to, she said.

Reach Out and Read began in 1989 when a pair of Boston pediatricians noticed that children's books were exiting their waiting room in surprising numbers.

The doctors weren't angry: they knew children were filching books because they weren't readily available at home.

Today, more than 28,000 doctors, nurse practitioners and other health professionals participate in Reach Out and Read. In Iowa, about 52,000 children are served annually, having received more than 80,000 free books.
Read the entire article here.

Kavya Tamil Poetry Competition

Via Tamil Digest (via @karaditales)

Kavya Creative Media Pvt Ltd is conducting an Online Tamil Poetry competition . This Tamil poetry contest is open to all school /college going children world wide and open category ages > 18 yrs old which will be judged by eminent Tamil Scholars with different background. Attractive prizes will be given to the winning participants. This competition will be categorized in two different groups, category 1 (ages 6 - 18 ) and category 2 (open > 18 yrs old ).

Category 1: (Ages 6 – 18) -Select One Topic under this category

Topics for Category 1:
Friends (நண்பர்கள் or நண்பன் or தோழி )
Moon (நிலா )
Flower (மலர்கள் )
Mother (தாய் )
Nature (இயற்கை )

Category 2: (Open Category ages > 18 yrs old) – Select one Topic under this category

Topics for Category 2:
Tamil Festival (தமிழ் பண்டிகை )
Rainbow (வானவில் )
Tamil Culture ( தமிழ் கலாச்சாரம் )
Peace (சமாதானம் )
Lightning (மின்னல் )

Email your entries:

Entry Deadline:

Entries should be submitted on or before August 31st, 2011 before 5:00 pm Indian Standard Time or 2:30 am EDT. Winners will be announced on or before September 20th, 2011.

Category 1 (Ages 6 – 18)

1st Prize: Wii Nintendo – Gaming console
2nd Prize: Apple iPod Touch 8 GB
3rd Prize: Canon PowerShot 12.1 MP Digital Camera

Category 2 (Open)

1st Prize: Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) – Gaming Console
2nd Prize: HP Black 10.1" Mini 210-1018cl Netbook PC
3rd Prize: Apple iPod Touch 8cGB
Many other rewarding prizes for the additional best 10 poems selected in different categories.
Click here to read about the rules and other information about the competition.

Wanted : Your Favourite Non-British Books

The Guardian's children's book site is asking people to send in recommendations of their favourite non-British books.

"Vision :"A Book in Every Child's Hand"

"Why are all good books British?" asked the latest person to question Book Doctor. "They're not," replied Book Doctor.

She went on to name some of the many brilliant books that come from outside the UK - but we spotted one thing. Most of the examples she mentions are from the United States.

Since we have so many members who live outside the United States and the UK, we thought we'd ask you to tell us about your favourite books from around the world.

Did you know, for instance, that Pippi Longstocking (pictured, in our favourite Lauren Child version) was originally a Swedish character, born Pippi Långstrump?

Were you aware that The Little Mermaid and all the other famous fairytale characters of Hans Christian Andersen swam out of Denmark, or that Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel were made in Germany by the Brothers Grimm?

You can read all the suggestions that have already popped up here.

What Indian children's books would you want the world to know about? Is there a book that Pratham Books has published and you want the world to know about it? Here's your chance to spread the word about the book that your child (or you) can't get enough of.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Call for Submissions : The 2011 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize


The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize is a cash award of one lakh rupees. We invite entries in the following genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction (travel writing, autobiography, biography, and narrative journalism) and drama.

A 2-member advisory board will shortlist 6 books published between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. This year, the board includes poet and novelist Jeet Thayil, and writer and arts consultant Sanjay Iyer. The shortlisted books will be sent to the 2011 panel of judges: graphic novelist and illustrator Sarnath Bannerjee, writer and blogger Jai Arjun Singh, and novelist Palash Mehrotra.

The deadline for publishers/authors to send their entries is July 15, 2011. The winner will be announced in the second half of November. Prize presentation will take place in December.

Authors of Indian origin whose books have been published in India are eligible for the prize. Publications must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.
Click here for more information.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Great Taranauts Contest #3

Picture Courtesy Quik Fotos

Via email:
This time around, just like the previous times, there is a fun contest, great prizes, and the chance to get your name into Taranauts 5 – The Mystery of the Syntilla Silvers. BUT. This time, there is a most mastastic twist in the tale. This time, you aren’t getting the details of the contest right here – uh-hunh. You are going to have to display great persistence, endurance, and patience before we consider you worthy. 
We aren’t going to say ANY more now – our lips are sealed. All we’re offering you as bait is a link - Take it – if you believe you are up to the challenge! 
If you don’t think you can handle it, though, you can just go straight to for contest details. But be warned – on this route, you will be missing most of the fun.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rohini Nilekani on the 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice' contest and the power of Creative Commons

On the occasion of World Storytelling day, we announced our ‘Retell, Remix and Rejoice – 2’ contest where we invited our readers to remix one of our stories, retell it in a whole new way and send it in. After going through a lot of amazing entries, we finally zeroed down on our winners!

Ms. Rohini Nilekani, the chairperson of Pratham Books, was especially excited to see all the entries. Why? Well, she authored the book ‘Listen to my Body’, which was delightfully remixed and rehashed by all our storytellers! Ms. Nilekani goes by the pen name “Noni” and has written a number of lovely storybooks for Pratham Books. Her Sringeri Srinivas stories (‘Annual Haircut Day’ and ‘Too Many Bananas’) have been very  popular as has ‘The Moon and the Cap’. We asked her what she felt about the contest and the power of Creative Commons. Here's what “Noni” had to say:

“As the author of “Listen to my Body”, I was delighted to see that we had 34 people who so creatively took an existing set of pictures and conjured up their own tales! Clearly, the spider was a big hit. In fact, I had asked the illustrators Angie and Upesh to come up with some interesting device like a small character on the side, so that the story could be enhanced. I have found that children always like to have parallel stories running in the illustrations so that they can imagine bits of the plot for themselves. Certainly I remember my own children doing that a lot, especially with the Richard Scarry books but that was years and years ago! Anyhow Angie and Upesh did a really good job with the spider. And clearly many of our contestants thought so too. 
The world of the Creative Commons is wonderful. It allows us to share and co-create so many things. I hope this new culture will evolve from the creation of stories and software to the design of new tools for living and well being, maybe home design, water saving devices, even new drugs. Imagine the power of 6 billion minds working together for something beyond personal gain alone. That is the promise of such a platform. 
In the meantime, I hope many of you will stay in touch with us at Pratham Books and find many of your own means to reach more children with good books. Especially those children who may not have had the joy of disappearing into a good book. Or of rewriting someone else’s!”

Little Angels Montessori come a Visiting

We had some visitors this week - special visitors at that! Pallavi Varma had helped arrange a visit for the kids from Little Angels Montessori to come to office and spend some time with Mala, one of our editors. We are glad they had a good time and we did too!

And such good fun it was! We learnt about the ‘lion who had a toothache’ from the editor, Mala, and saw the familiar Sringeri Srinivas on a small screen! We met many friendly people with big smiles who didn’t say “Don’t touch this! “Don’t touch that!” Instead, they allowed us to look, feel, explore, and walk, hop, and jump around!
You can read their blog post with lots and lots of lovely pictures over at their blog.  

Storytelling Festival and Playwriting Competition

Kathalaya is holding yet another grand Indo European festival  from July 23rd To August 10, 2011 in India. They re covering five cities and four states – Vishakapatnam, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai as part of the Storyfestival –Kathothsava 2011.

The aim of the festival is to create a platform for storytellers from Europe and India to meet and exchange common factors in Storytelling namely communication, Education and skills of telling. This includes:
  • Performances of Storytelling and Puppetry – 6 shows
  • Training by experts and doctorates in the field of puppetry and Education for teachers
For details on bookings contact and write to kathalaya at gmail dot com


Plays for children and young people can excite and inspire writers, performers and audiences. Now in its second year, the International Playwriting Competition encourages new writing in this field, recognising the very best with cash prizes, performances on the London stage and publication with international distribution.

Click here to enter the competition:

(Thanks Chintan!)