Thursday, December 29, 2011

Azim Premji Foundation Fellowship Programme

The Opportunity

Are you someone who has been disturbed about the status of education and society in India and always wanted to do something about it? Do you really want to make a difference to the world around you?

The 2 year Azim Premji Foundation Fellowship program seeks to build rich perspectives on educational issues through a well designed combination of theoretical inputs and experiential learning. The program is intended to develop a strong social orientation and competencies required in the education and development sectors.

This rigorous 2 year program comprises of:
  • 45 day classroom module to strengthen conceptual understanding of education and development issues
  • 22 months of intense field engagement at the grass roots level in the District Institutes of the Foundation.
  • Working on a live project that has significant purpose of improving quality at practice level 
During the period of Fellowship you will be based in some of the most underdeveloped districts of India.

You should be a professional with at least 2 years of experience and at least a graduate degree. We welcome people from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds as long as they are passionate about making a difference. Prior experience in the education or development sector would be an added advantage.

How to Apply

Comic Con India Awards

Via Hindustan Times
After two successful outings in Delhi and Mumbai this year, the organisers of Comic Con are gearing up to host an awards ceremony honouring comic talent in the country. The first ever Comic Con India Awards is set to be held in the Capital in February next year, a day before the second edition of the event takes off.
“The purpose is simple to honour and showcase the great talent that exists in this country. There really aren’t any awards for the Indian comics industry and hopefully these will serve as a catalyst to push more people into the industry,” says Jatin Varma, founder, Comic Con India. 
Best Graphic Novel/Comic Book of the Year, Best Cover, Best Artist and Best Writer are some of the tentative categories listed. The deadline for submission of entries is January 10, 2012
The jury consisting of Orijit Sen (graphic artist and designer), Vaibhav Kumaresh (animation filmmaker) and the Comic Con India Core Team will go through the entries submitted and eventually shortlist them.
Read the entire article here. You can find more details about the awards here.

Herminder Ohri's Inspiration : Writing to her Grandchildren

Herminder Ohri has published several books with us. Hindustan Times carried an article about her inspirations and how he started writing. 

Via Hindustan Times
For Herminder Ohri, a children's book writer, the inspiration for her characters, such as Kato, Sniffles, Saboo, Spincy and Mini, has come from her grandchildren and the letters she would write to them when they were small. “Every time I would sit down to write a letter to my grandchildren, I would always add a short story with a doodle alongside,“ says Ohri, whose book of stories for children in the age group of four to eight, will be released by the National Book Trust next year. And many more books are in the pipeline for Pratham. 
Sketching was always fun for this Masters in Zoology from BITS Pilani and Ohri would draw her own characters along with the story, giving them eyes, ears, ideas and conversational skills. 
“The first story that I put together as a book, with text and illustrations, was called Spincy Spider. 
I showed it to a friend for feedback. She immediately took me to Pratham, a non-profit organisation working for children's education. And Spincy, my first character, was published,“ says Ohri. Her excitement is like that of a child when she points towards the squirrel, giraffe, dolphin or lion she has given a name and an identity in her books. She remembers every story and also the reason for writing that story. 
“Children like adventure but it is also important to weave a moral or information in a creative form,“ says Ohri. But in trying to make reading fun for children, Ohri never muddles with facts. “Being a zoology student, I know many facets of animals and their anatomy. Hence, I like to give the facts for children to understand and not have any superficial knowledge,“ says Ohri.

Read the entire article here.

Pratham Books Champion : Sandhya Sharma

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the 'Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign. We asked our AWESOME community if they would be volunteer to become a Pratham Books Champion and conduct storytelling sessions based on the book "A King Cobra's Summer'. And again, our friends volunteered eagerly. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.
Today's story comes from Sandhya Sharma who conducted a storytelling session in Delhi. Sandhya is doing an MA from IGNOU and is also working as a Hindi teacher in a private school in Delhi. Sandhya has already conducted a storytelling session previously. You can read about her previous experience here. This time, the bookreached Sandhya a little late. But Sandhya conducted the session at a later date and will be conducting another one too. We love our champions!Sandhya wrote to us about her session and said ...
 मैंने सोमवार शाम 5.30  बजे को  कहानी सुनाने के लिए बच्चों को इकट्ठा किया I अभी तो सिर्फ 8 बच्चे ही आये I खैर शनिवार को वे अपने और भी दोस्तों को लेकर आएंगे I

पहले मैं यह सेशन  सिर्फ अपने स्कूल के बच्चों के लिए ही रखना चाह रही थी I पर हमारे स्कूल में बाल साहित्य का काफी अच्छा भण्डार है  और हाथ में कोई अच्छी कहानी आते ही मैं अपनी हर कक्षा को मौका मिलते ही सुना ही देती हूँ I

बच्चे 4 -8 वर्ष तक की आयु तक के थे I पहले हमने चित्रों को देखकर कहानी बनाई I उसके बाद मैंने उन्हें कहानी सुनाईI
बीच बीच में बच्चे अपने अनुभव (कुछ सच्चे, कुछ झूठे ) भी जोड़ते चले I जैसे -मैं जब खो गई थी तो मुझे कैसा लगा था, काला भी वैसे ही डर रहा होगा, मैंने भी सांप को देखा है, मैं बिलकुल नहीं डरा आदि- आदि I  साथ साथ वे कहानी के बारे में अपने पूर्वानुमान भी जाँच रहे थे (मैंने कहा था न ये डांस नहीं लड़ाई कर रहे हैं; देखा,सांप  सच्ची में टोइलेट  कर रहा है )I गप्पें मारने वाले भी पीछे नहीं थेI एक ने कहा -"मेरा एक  दोस्त तो सांप  से बिलकुल नहीं डरता Iवह तो सांपो के साथ ही सोता है I"

जैसा कि कहानी ख़त्म होने के बाद भी ख़त्म नहीं होती ,अब बच्चों को दोबारा कहानी सुननी थी I इस बार सुनाने वाले वे खुद थे और सुनने वालों में मैं भी शामिल थी I

फिर मैंने उन्हें किताब के साथ छोड़ दिया I वे चित्र देखते रहे और कहानी के बारे में बात करते रहे और एक दूसरे को सुनाते  भी रहे I और अंत में जैसा होता ही है उन्हें पुरानी कुछ कहानियां दोबारा सुनानी होती हैं I तो एक -दो पुरानी कहानियां सुनी- सुनाई गईं (नीचे से ऊपर,निराली पोशाक,बुढ़िया की रोटी-हालाँकि सुनाने वाले वे खुद ही होते हैं ) और शनिवार को फिर से आने का वादा करके बच्चे चले गए I

Thank you Sandhya for spreading the joy of reading!

Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

How Technology Can Benefit Children's Books

Boy's version of lounging

Via Guardian
So should we be worried that the generation of tots growing up as digital natives, who as yet have no emotional attachment to Mog the Forgetful Cat, will never learn to love books?
Well, yes and no. Children's books are simultaneously the most resistant to digitalisation and the most ripe for its many benefits. That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn't. In the first place, the materiality of the average book is far more important to a baby or a toddler than an adult. Adults don't much mind if they get their 80,000 words of continuous prose on a screen or a printed page. But what iPad app can replicate a pop-up book, or a book with crinkly pages, or a rubbery cow's nose and the soft suede pad of a puppy's ears, or a finger-puppet going all the way through the middle? How many digital readers, as yet, have the sort of screen-space that lets text and illustration breathe together as Emily Gravett, Maurice Sendak or Judith Kerr intended? On the other hand, new tech can deliver excitements to children that paper can't: a book with moving pictures, or pictures that talk to you when you press them, or – for older children, learning to read – a book that allows you to touch a tricky word and hear it read aloud.

But words, if you let them, can and do grab children, and this generation especially so. The huge prevalence of texting, the internet, instant messaging and social networking means – however much dame-school grumps may deplore the fractured grammar and emoticons – the generation emerging is more engaged with the written word than any in living memory.

The internet is putting young readers in touch with each other, too. Some playground crazes are literary, and they can go global.The explosion of fan fiction – much of it by children and young teens – is a vitally encouraging instance of the way creative reading and creative writing can become the centre of an online community. JK Rowling's Pottermore site, which opens to the public this month, looks like is offering a model of how a children's author might engage with readers without compromising the texts

 So perhaps we should stop predicting the emergence of an illiterate, story-less generation whose only evolutionary advantage will be double-jointed Xbox thumbs. Perhaps instead we should be predicting a wonderful expansion of different ways of engaging with stories and words.
 Read the entire article here.

Image Source :  lovelihood / Kim Love

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Results of the 'Art for Children, by Children' Contest

As part of our “Awareness today for a greener tomorrow" campaign, we organised an exciting relay of events throughout December to spread awareness for a greener world. One of the events was a drawing contest called 'Art for Children, by Children'.

And the results are finally out ... 

Abhivarna (Bangalore)
Rachana Jain (Bangalore)
S Prajwala (Bangalore)
Shravan Kumar (Bangalore)
Srushti Kottai (Bangalore)
Rizwana R (Bangalore)
Ruhail (Bangalore)
Shafiya (Bangalore)
Suraksha K (Bangalore)
Shobha (Delhi)
Mrinaliny S. Kurup (Online)
Pragati Sampath Khandare (Mumbai)

The results were judged by Pencil Jam, a drawing academy that teaches visual and creative thinking and problem solving through artistic techniques.

If you or your child's name has been included in the list, please send us a mail to info@prathambooks.orgwith your name and address to which we can post our special 2012 calendar! Or call us on +91 80 25420925 between 10am and 6pm on weekdays. We will be dispatching all the prizes next week.

Congratulations to all the winners!

This Year, Put a Book on Every Bed

Came across Amy Dickinson's article on The Washington Post and loved the idea of 'a book on very bed'.

This very simple idea spread out from this column to parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, writers, readers — and those who love them.

Introducing books and reading very early in life will write indelibly on a child’s future. Here’s how it works:

Take a book.

Wrap it.

Place it on a child’s bed so it’s the first thing the child sees on Christmas morning (or whatever holiday you celebrate).

That’s it.

This is not a fundraising appeal. This is not about selling or buying books (the book you give can be passed down).

“A Book on Every Bed” is an appeal to spread the love of reading from parents to children. We also want to encourage families to share books by reading aloud.

This idea was inspired by one of the country’s favorite writers. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough (author of “John Adams” and many other histories) says that every Christmas morning during his childhood, he woke up to a wrapped book at the foot of his bed, left by Santa.
 Read the entire article here.

With most publishers offering discounts during the holiday season, there are enough reasons for you to execute this simple and brilliant idea.

At Pratham Books, you can choose to pledge books online and gift a child the joy of reading or buy books for yourself at special discounts. And what are our other publisher friends doing during the holiday season? Karadi Tales has a special offer on their five new picture books, Tulika Books also has delightful offers on some of their books and Tara Books is celebrating the release of ‘The Great Race’ by offering the three books as a set at a specially discounted rate.

Happy reading!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pratham Books Champion : Nithya Sivashankar

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the 'Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign. We asked our AWESOME community if they would be volunteer to become a Pratham Books Champion and conduct storytelling sessions based on the book "A King Cobra's Summer'. And again, our friends volunteered eagerly. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

Today's story comes from Nithya Sivashankar who conducted a storytelling session in Coimbatore. Nithya Sivashankar is a journalist from Coimbatore. She enjoys reading, writing, music, and being with children. She thinks she reads more amount of children's books at this age than she used to when she was a child. She has always loved listening to and narrating stories. As a young girl, she would read out a lot of stories from children's magazines to her younger cousins. Now that they have all grown up, she has stopped storytelling for lack of an audience. But thanks to Pratham Books, she has found her audience!

Why I offered to be a Pratham Books Champion

Having tasted the sweet joy of storytelling once, I only craved for more of it. When I wrote to Pratham Books about my ‘International Girl Child Day’ storytelling experience, I had also mentioned that I’d love it if they organised such programmes more frequently. And the team did keep up its promise! There are a lot of kids in our country, who are waiting to listen to stories. I wouldn’t have thought of reaching out to these children to tell them a story and spend an hour or two with them, on a normal day. It’s only when prodded by people such as those from Pratham Books do we take time off to think about simple pleasures like sharing stories. Thank you, Pratham Books, for this delightful opportunity. I can’t wait to be part of more such events organised by you in the future!

Nithya writes about her storytelling session ...

I met the kids at Ashirwaad Special School for the first time on a Thursday morning (well ahead of the day of the launch). However, it never felt like we were meeting for the first time. The kids welcomed me with broad smiles and asked me to sit down with them. When I asked them whether they knew why I was in their school, none of them replied. They continued smiling at me. There were about 15 children in the room, from five-year-old Dinakar (who wanted a story with a fox in it) to girls as old as 18 years.

The children squeezed in to the small space allotted for the storytelling session and prodded me to begin. I started narrating Kaala’s story, when a little boy tugged at my kurta and told me that his uncle was a snake charmer. He proudly told the others that his uncle could make snakes dance. One girl did not want me to tell a story with a snake in it because she was scared of snakes! I reassured her and told her that at the end of the story, she’d get to know why snakes are lovable creatures too. As we slithered along with Kaala, there were many interruptions – kids fighting with each other, a small girl wanting me to go back to the page with the little girl in it so that she could plant kisses on that page, a boy wanting to narrate his own story, bigger children shushing the smaller ones so that they could listen to the story and so on. We managed to cross the river, climb trees, fight with Ketu and finally return home and meet Lila. The kids joyously clapped their hands when they came to know Kaala had won in his fight with Ketu.

After an hour of storytelling, I distributed crayon boxes and print-outs bearing outlines of snakes. The children were extremely thrilled. They asked me if their snakes should be black too. The teachers in the school assisted some of the kids in filling the page with colour. Once the children at Ashirwaad finished colouring the snakes on their respective print-outs, they asked me to draw more snakes for them so that they could do some extra colouring! I rewarded the kids with stars, ‘V.good’s and chocolates, and bade them goodbye for the day. But not before promising Dinakar that I’d come back soon to narrate a fox’s story.

Thank you Nithya for spreading the joy of reading!

Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Pratham Books Champions : Neha Sahu, Darshana Bhogale and Pukhraj Ranjan

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the 'Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign. We asked our AWESOME community if they would be volunteer to become a Pratham Books Champion and conduct storytelling sessions based on the book "A King Cobra's Summer'. And again, our friends volunteered eagerly. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

I had asked Fiona Vaz, a Teach for India Fellow, if she would be interested in conducting a storytelling session. Previously, Fiona has shared lovely posts on her teaching experiences on our blog and I was very happy when Fiona agreed to conduct the session. But, the other day I got a wonderful surprise. Fiona sent in three stories about the sessions conducted by three lovely women! Thanks for coordinating these sessions Fiona. 

Today's stories comes from Neha Sahu, Darshana Bhogale and Pukhraj Ranjan. It is lovely to see how one book can be used in so many different ways!

1. Neha Sahu

Neha Sahu is a Fellow with Teach For India. She teaches class three kids in the Shindewadi Mumbai Public School, a government school that is run by the Akanksha Foundation as part of its School Project. When Neha heard of Pratham’s Story Telling Champion’s initiative, she was thrilled that her 47 kids were having an opportunity to do something new and exciting.

On Saturday, 17 December, the students gathered for a regular English class but there was a flurry of excitement when the banner was put up in class and the book was taken out. As the eagerness increased, expectations were set and the story began.

Neha began asking her 47 third graders what a cover page, back page, title, author and illustrator meant. The kids answered in a hurry so as to reach the story reading part as quickly as possible. The students gathered that the book was about a snake and what he did in the summer season. Neha read the story slowly and stopped occasionally to ask questions. There were peals of laughter when the students discovered that Kala’s friend’s name was the same as a student’s mother’s name! They learnt some new words like ‘glossy’, ‘famished’ ‘serpent’ and ‘shedding’- a word that they will use even more now that there is a chill in the air and their skin is changing- just like Kala’s!

(Neha Sahu is currently a Fellow from the 2010 cohort at Teach For India. She serves as the 3rd grade class teacher at Shindewadi Mumbai Public School. She teaches all subjects, but Literacy (English) is her primary focus this academic year. She pursues academic, social and emotional competency for all her 47 kids, at par with any other child their age in the world. Together, Neha and her kids believe in dreaming larger than life and giving it their very best to do whatever they choose to do. Neha joined Teach For India right after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology and a minor in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. Neha is passionate about global music, authentic cuisines and adventure travel. She is a strong proponent of change, nevertheless she is confident that her love for children is one thing that has and will remain constant all her life.)


2.  Darshana Bhogale

Darshana Bhogale is a teacher who is known for her calm demeanor and her immense patience with her kids. Primarily a Mathematics teacher, Darshana can take on any subject with the sole aim of making the subject come alive for her students. Reading the book A King Cobra’s Summer was one more chance to make a book come alive.

Darshana began by reading the book to her 31 first graders and then realized the need to paraphrase it for her little ones. Once the book was read, Darshana asked the kids a few questions which the children answered with much enthusiasm. But the excitement shot up when they had to volunteer to act out parts of the book. Darshana wrapped a student in a blanket and slowly pulled it out to explain what Kala did. Students scampered around for a turn to play the different characters in the story.

As the session ended, the students asked Darshana to read the book once again.

(Darshana Bhogale is working as teacher at Akanksha since 7years and would like to continue many years ahead. She is currently working at Shindewadi MPS as Grade 1 teacher. She has a specialization in computers networking and a Masters in Animation and Multimedia. She likes to teach lower level grades, hence she always taught first grade since she joined. She had taught computers in her earlier years with Akanksha. Mathematics is her passion and she always tries to innovate and search new methods and tricks to teach her students. She learns using practical methods so she creates many opportunities for kids to learn through hands on and by doing.)


3. Pukhraj Ranjan

Pukhraj Ranjan teaches 40 Fifth Graders in Shindewadi Mumbai Public School, a government school that is a part of The Akanksha Foundation’s School Project. A strong believer of promoting the love for reading and imagination among children she saw this as an opportunity to expose her children to a new experience.

Before Pukhraj could begin reading the story she handed out stick puppets of the characters in the story to her kids. All the kids had to do was flash the puppets to the class when the character that they were allotted made an appearance in the story. The class has never been so silent and as interested in anything as they were in the story today. The kids waited for their turn to wave the puppets. As Pukhraj read the story, the students began to fill in the lines and ask questions.

Once the story was read, the students were divided in groups to create a short presentation on one character in the story. The children made colourful posters on the characters. Pukhraj strongly believes that in order to make kids understand reading for pleasure, caring adults need to model it for them through various means. Reading of the book and the activities were just some of them!

(Pukhraj Ranjan is currently the class teacher of 5th grade at the Shindewadi Mumbai Public School, a government school working in partnership with the Akanksha Foundation. She is a fellow with the Teach For India Program and is pursuing her second year educating forty students across subjects like Math, English, Social Studies and Science. She is a recent graduate from the Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies, Pune and holds a degree in Business Administration. Pukhraj loves kids, traveling and meeting new people and firmly believes that every child has the potential to shine if given the right opportunity and guidance)


 It is lovely to see how one book can be used in so many different ways! Thank you Neha, Darshana  and Pukhraj for spreading the joy of reading!

Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Friday, December 23, 2011

This Christmas, Gift the Joy of Reading!

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a gift that you can enjoy all year round - a book. At Pratham Books, we’re trying to get more and more children to fall in love with books. This holiday season, we have put together special Christmas pledge packs. Pledge a book set online now and gift a child the joy of reading! Your book sets will be donated to Pratham Books' Champions all across the country and our stories will reach hundreds of children through these passionate storytellers. Click here to pledge a Christmas book set now!

You can also buy our delightful Christmas book packs with special offers for your own children. Click here to see our special Christmas offers.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Katha's Winter Carnival

Via Katha

As the grass gets dewy and fog settles in, the people who won’t be hibernating at home are all of us at Katha!

From the 26th to the 30th of December, the Katha StoryShop will be coming alive to celebrate the magnificent winter, and the even more magnificent holiday season – and celebrate 150 years of the most magnificent poet – Rabindranath Tagore! Also avail WINTER DISCOUNT ON BOOKS! – 50% OFF on Selected Titles!

Venue: StoryShop A3 – Sarvodaya Enclave, Sri Aurobindo Marg , New Delhi-110017

Last date for registration – 23rd December, 2011.

Seats are limited and pre-registration for all workshops/events is necessary! Call +918800797612 or mail for further details and registrations.

Snakes and Tree-ladders

"A king cobra can climb up trees to a height of a three-storied building," said Gerry Martin, wildlife adventurer and educator, while talking to children at the launch of the book 'A King Cobra's Summer' in Crossword, Bangalore. We didn't know this fact when we were looking at huge trees in the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens a week earlier!

The Pratham Books team was tagging behind a group of kids lead by Roopa Pai of 'Bangalore Walks'. The pleasant walk was a happy lesson in art (children traced out bark patterns), geography (the trees here are from different parts of the world), history (the garden was laid out by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan), and spirituality (we sat under the trees and soaked in the serenity). The event was our way of launching the book 'A Walk Among Trees', written and illustrated by Nimret Handa. The setting for the book launch was the foothills of Kempegowda Watch Tower on the rocky hill of peninsular gneiss. These are among the oldest rocks of the earth dating back to 3000 million years! The kids took a vow to respect nature and try to follow the rules of eco-sensitive living.

Roopa showed the children some of the trees that are featured in the book - the tamarind and mango trees. Like Lalbagh, the book too has a king and prince story. Hundreds of years ago Emperor Hyder Ali showed off the trees to his little son Tipu, and the book too has a king taking his son through the royal fruit orchard. We also learnt about funny trees like the elephant tree, and candle tree, and a ficus whose leaves have pockets where Krishna is supposed to have kept stolen butter. The tree has the scientific name Ficus krishnae!

The book launch and walk were part of the Pratham Books Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow campaign. And then on 17th, we launched 'A King Cobra's Summer', a book written by Janaki Lenin and illustrated by Maya Ramaswamy. Conservation and wildlife expert Gerry Martin and Pratham Books Managing Trustee Suzanne Singh launched the book.

Apart from the fact that king cobras use trees as ladders to go get their prey, Gerry shared many intriguing facts about these snakes. "The king cobra requires a lot of energy to produce venom, so it does not want to waste it on humans," he said, explaining why very few snakes are dangerous or harmful to humans. Live and let live is his message to human beings.After Gerry's audio-visual session, children were treated to the story of Kaala the king cobra by architect and storyteller Arathi Parigi. Using clever props, Arathi had childrenawe-struck as she showed them how Kaala took off his snake skin.

Read the review of the book here and about The Gerry Martin Project which he runs to focus on enabling conservation through education here. And hope you will join the over two lakh children who have made a pledge to conserve nature - let's act wisely today for a greener tomorrow.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Help Your Child Become a Storyteller

Prasoon Joshi talks about helping your child become a storyteller.

young writers 

Via livemint
When I was first published at age 17, it gave a tremendous boost to my confidence to know that someone else imagined my work to be of value. Most often we don’t allow children to finish their sentences, “Shut up, kya bakwaas kar raha hai (what nonsense!)”.

Our education is becoming cut and dried and transactional. Everything is about “What am I getting out of it?” We need to get out of that mindset. What makes things worse is the onslaught of technology. I’m a huge tech geek, but I recognize what it’s doing to creativity. When I first started taking the workshops I noticed that some children would finish a story in 10-15 minutes. Sure, we live in a Twitter-driven age but why should children be in a hurry to finish a story? They need time to dwell on an idea, you can’t deep-dive into your imagination at one go. The other problem with technology is that it puts things on a platter. Earlier, when I was a child, my ghost was different from your ghost. Now, because of technology, children are seeing and experiencing the same things. The image of the ghost is now standardized. 
There’s no teaching in creativity. Creativity is about recognizing the individuality of each child and letting them express themselves. 
Too many rules will make children formulaic writers. Children make stories out of things that we would never imagine to be a story. And they need to be given the confidence that the next time an outlandish idea enters their head, they should not be dismissive of it. They should pursue it. There is a story about traffic lights, where the traffic light is viewed differently by the beggar and the person who’s driving a car. To the beggar, the red light is an opportunity to make some money; to the driver it means slowing down. This is a big writer thinking; making something so profound out of an everyday thing.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : hans s / Hans Splinter

Pratham Books Champion : Subrat Goswami

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the 'Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign. We asked our AWESOME community if they would be volunteer to become a Pratham Books Champion and conduct storytelling sessions based on the book "A King Cobra's Summer'. And again, our friends volunteered eagerly. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog. 

Today's story comes from Subrat Goswami who conducted a storytelling session in Mahabadia village (district Bhopal). Subrat works with the Archaeological Survey of India. Apart from observing the wide gap that exists between different classes of society, Subrat also realized that many people have the means to contribute to society but don't know how or whom to support. Subrat decided to utilize his weekends to work with rural kids and women. Thus, Ahambhumika was started in Bhopal. Ahambhumika has received enormous support from many people they have connected to through social media and all current initiatives are being run by individual contributions only (not by government or corporate support).

This is the second time that Subrat has volunteered to conduct a storytelling session. You can read about his previous storytelling session here.
 Ahambhumika has started a new initative to educate girl child of stone crushers in a village Mahabadia. This initiative named as Mahak (Flavour) had the privilege of having a story telling session within its opening of 7 days. This education centre which opened on 11.12.2011 aims to provide basic   education to the girl child between the age group of 5-12 years of village Mahabadia from 3-5 PM every day except Monday. These girl  children look after the complete household work after their parents are off to the field.

Today we had the story telling session in this informal education centre due to the support of Pratham Books.These girl children who have just started learning and listened with immense interest and rapt attention to the story of Kaala (King Cobra’s summer ).  The session started with the briefing that what Pratham Books is and how  Pratham Books is helping thousands  of kids by providing them books on variety of topics with minimum cost. 
Then, the story telling session started. The children were involved with the story and they were questioned during the storytelling session. When asked how many of them  have seen a snake, most of the hands were raised as seeing a snake is not a new thing for these village children.
Thereafter, they were asked to show the height of the King Kobra which one of the girls showed by spreading her hands. Likewise the session went on which started at 3.15 PM and ended at 4.30 P.M. Children listened with attention and enjoyed it a lot.They also saw the book 'King Cobra’s Summer' during and after the session with  great interest and appreciated the drawings made on it. Subrat Goswami along with Asma Khan and Usma Khan told the story to the girl children   

These girl children were told that if they will learn drawing and painting, one day they too could draw illustrations like this. And tomorrow these girl children will be provided with drawing and sketching materials.

Thank you Subrat and team for spreading the joy of reading!

Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pratham Books Champion : Kailash Srinivasan

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the 'Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign. We asked our AWESOME community if they would be volunteer to become a Pratham Books Champion and conduct storytelling sessions based on the book "A King Cobra's Summer'. And again, our friends volunteered eagerly. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog. 

Today's story comes from Kailash Srinivasan who conducted a storytelling session in Pune. Kailash Srinivasan holds an MA in Writing from Macquarie University, Sydney. He’s passionate about writing, music and theater, and has dabbled in all of these fields. However, writing is and will continue to be his first love. His first book, ‘What happened to that love’, a collection of short stories was published in 2010. His second book, a novel, will be out in 2012. He has had several stories published in the Chicken Soup series of books, and literary anthologies and magazines. Presently, he manages communications for an automotive design school in Pune, and also freelances as a content writer. You can  follow Kailash on Twitter at @kailashwrites and visit his blog.

Kailash wrote about his storytelling session on his blog ...

When I heard about the Storytelling Champions initiative by Pratham Books, I knew I had to be a part of it. I’ve always believed stories are a great way of enriching children’s lives and Pratham Books was giving me that opportunity. It was also a great chance for the volunteers to introduce children to the joy of reading. Though I agreed to do this, I started getting jitters a few days before the reading session as this was the first time I was doing such a thing. Maya from Pratham Books was very helpful and quelled most of my apprehensions.

The morning of the event, which is when I usually write, was instead spent thinking about ways to conduct the session. My mind was constantly coming up with ideas to make the experience more interesting for the children. 

The hour arrived and armed with my poster and books I drove to Saraswati Ashram for Children in Dapodi that is nestled in a narrow lane with houses on either side. I pushed open the blue door and was led to a tiny office. The staff then led me to an adjacent room, where I met the kids for the first time. He briefed them in Marathi as to what was going to happen and why I was there, and I noticed the sparks in their wide, attentive eyes. 

I asked them to introduce themselves and some of them proudly showed off their English speaking skills, replacing at times, “My” with “I” and “I” with “Me”, saying things like, “I school is Saraswati Vidya Mandir School” or “Me in 5th class.” They stood with their arms folded, their eyes flitting left and right, feeling shy and uneasy about having to speak.

I picked out the book and showed them the cover. “I’m going to read you the story of King Cobra today,” I said, and immediately the eldest of them said, “He’s the king of snakes he is.” They even told me of their trip to the Katraj Snake Park and the names of the snakes they saw and how big they were.

When I began the story, they went absolutely quiet giving me their complete attention. I was still nervous, which incidentally came to fore when I reached the point in story where Kaala is lost and scared and his throat is parched. A kid with no front teeth said with concern at that precise moment: “Your throat seems dry. Are you scared, too?” 

As I read to them, I noticed they were smart and bright children, who knew a lot about the world around them. They knew about kindness and giving and sharing. They knew they were not supposed to harm animals and that if they don’t tease or prod them, they won’t bother them either. 

They were sitting in front of me when I started reading, but within a few minutes they were standing next to me, some had their hands on my shoulders, some sat close, their chins resting on my knees, while some held my arms as though they wanted to be as close to the story as possible, living and breathing every page. 

As an activity, I asked them to enact the way snakes eat their prey, fight and swim across rivers; to imitate the sounds elephants and monkeys make, the way they move, their mannerisms and they did all of that with surprising accuracy and enthusiasm. I also prepared a small quiz based on the story, which almost led to a fight as all of them had answers to the questions. They all clapped at the end of the story, saying, “Too good, too good.” 

I wrapped up the afternoon after taking some group photos, and a game of cricket. They all rushed to me as I was leaving and made me promise I will come again and said to me: “Bhaiya, when you come next week bring many, many, many books, okay?

I want to thank Pratham Books for giving me this opportunity, this experience which touched and humbled me, and made me feel so loved. I’m now considering reading to these kids on a regular basis.

Thank you Kailash for spreading the joy of reading!

Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Sanjiv Jaiswal Sanjay Honoured with the Bhartendu Harishchandra Award 2010

Sanjiv Jaiswal Sanjay has been honoured with the Bhartendu Harishchandra award for children's lietrature for the second time. This award is given by the Government of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Sanjiv is indeed a deserving candidate. He is a prolific writer and has been published widely. While he writes for both adults and children, at Pratham Books, he is the much appreciated author of our very popular titles: Pehelwaanji, Raja ka Dard, Vah Hans Diya. Many Congratulations Sanjiv!

Source : DNA (Date : 16th December 2011)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pratham Books Champion : Anitha Jebaraj

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the 'Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign. We asked our AWESOME community if they would be volunteer to become a Pratham Books Champion and conduct storytelling sessions based on the book "A King Cobra's Summer'. And again, our friends volunteered eagerly. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

Today's story comes from Anitha Jebaraj who conducted a storytelling session in Chennai. Anitha is a blogger, trainer, instructional designer, and social media enthusiast. She authors four blogs that include topics such as travel, lifestyle, photos, education, and work environments. She has been working for close to 11 years now. She is a good singer and foodie too. You can follow Anitha on Twitter at @ani_twits and visit her blog

This is the second time that Anitha has volunteered to conduct a storytelling session. You can read about her previous storytelling session here.

Anitha writes about her storytelling session at AIKYA...

Eight kids at AIKYA were eager to listen to the adventures of Kaala, the King Cobra. Storyteller Anitha told the story. As the kids were very young, a recollection of facts was helpful.

So, the kids repeated after the storyteller:

The King Cobra is 15 feet long
King Cobra does not have ears and eyelids.
King Cobra uses smell and its tongue to catch food.
The King Cobra does not eat food daily.
The King Cobra hatches from eggs.And so on.... The kids had a look at the colorful picture book. They also created a forest using crayons and sketch pens. The kids drew a tree, river, a King Cobra, and birds. Finally, they mimicked a snake dance pose.

Thank you Anitha for spreading the joy of reading!

Click here to read the stories sent in by all the Pratham Books Champions.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Monday, December 19, 2011

K.C. Sivasankaran : The Chandamama Illustrator

Via The Hindu
In fantasy land, King Vikram and Vetala may still be trying to win against each other, but in real life, they have joined hands to pull off a major victory against change. They continue to remain on the pages ofChandamama, even though the fortunes of the magazine — synonymous with childhood for several generations of Indians — have fluctuated in recent decades, from being closed down for about a year in the late 1990s to changing hands in 2010. 
What's, however, more heartening is that the man who created the theme picture for the popular series — showing the sword-wielding King Vikram carrying the corpse on his shoulder through a cremation ground — continues to do illustrations forChandamama, unmindful of the vicissitudes of his own life or that of the magazine. 
Sankar is 87 today: that not only makes him the oldest in the Chandamama team but also the only surviving member of the original team — led by none other than its founder, the legendary B. Nagi Reddi — that steered the multilingual magazine to a combined circulation of nine lakh in the mid-1980s. 
It was at the Muthialpet High School, where Nagi Reddi had also studied, that the drawing teacher discovered Sankar's talent as an artist and often made him come on Sundays — together they would correct the sketches made by the other boys. “‘Look! I asked them to draw a cat but it looks like a rat. What if the inspector of schools comes tomorrow? We will get a black mark.' In return he would give me drawing books, pencils and erasers. It was he who advised me, ‘Son, do not go for BA or MA. I know your value. You must join the arts school.'” 
Immediately after passing out, in 1946, he joined the Tamil magazine Kalaimagal on a monthly salary of Rs. 85. By 1952, he was earning Rs. 150, but that wasn't sufficient to support a large family, so he was also moonlighting for other magazines, making another Rs. 150. That year, Nagi Reddi hired him for Chandamama, on a salary of Rs. 350: on paper it was shown as Rs. 300 only because Chithra, the chief artist, was drawing Rs. 350.
He may have enriched countless childhoods, yet Sankar lives a modest life. But he has heard stories that make him feel rich: his favourite being that of a young shepherd in Orissa, who preserved his hard-earned copy of Chandamama by rolling it up and inserting it into the hollow of a bamboo. “You know, his ambition in life was to be able to draw like Sankar and Chithra,” says Sankar with the excitement of a child.
Read the entire article here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Tribe of Pratham Books Champions is Growing : Spreading the Joy of Reading

You've probably already read about what our champions did in September, 2011. In case you haven't, click here to read all the stories sent by our champions. Last time, 19 wonderful storytellers signed up to create awareness about International Girl Child Day. 

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the 'Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign. Once again, we asked our AWESOME community if they would be volunteer to conduct storytelling sessions based on the book "A King Cobra's Summer'. And again, our friends volunteered eagerly.

We are pleased to inform you that the tribe of Pratham Books Champions is growing. 28 champions will be giving wings to the story for this event. We have champions from 11 states, 1 union territory and 2 champions from abroad. Imagine the number of children all of them will be reaching out to! Many many many many more children than we could reach out to through one session. 

The following people have confirmed their participation and will be spreading the joy of reading in their cities:

1. Vaishali Shroff - Pune
2. Nithya Sivashankar - Coimbatore
3. Kailash Srinivasan - Pune
4. Shipa Krishnan - Chennai
5. Subrat Goswami - Bhopal
6. Anitha Jebaraj - Chennai
7. Neela Gupta - Vadodara
8. Abhinav Agarwal - Bangalore
9. Seema Wahi Mukherjee - Gurgaon
10. Vinita Sithapathy - Mumbai
11. Rabani Garg - Delhi
12. Anchal Taatya - Mumbai
13. Rajeshwari R - Bangalore
14. Arundhati Venkatesh - Bangalore
15. Srini Swaminathan - Mumbai
16. Harpreet Gondal - Mumbai
17. Arundhati Chattopadhyaya - Goa
18. Swagata Sen - Noida
19. Deepa Kiran - Secunderabad
20. Aruna Jadeja - Ahmedabad
21. Saroj Sachdeva - Bangalore
22. Anuraag Trivedi - Jaipur
23. Meera Sundar - Chennai
24. Sandhya Sharma - Delhi
25. Pradeep - Uttarakhand
26. Fiona Vaz - Mumbai
27. Radhika - Washington DC
28. Bijal V - Costa Rica

And our blogger friend Rashmie Jaaju helped us create a suggested activity list for all our volunteers. 

Good luck with your storytelling sessions!

Note : In case you want to be a Pratham Books Champion in the future, please email us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org. Thank you!

The Creation of Trees

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the 'Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign. As part of the campaign, we have organized an exciting relay of events throughout December to spread awareness for a greener world. But, we also wanted to get a few of our friends to partner with us for this campaign. We've asked some of our publisher friends to write about their books, we've asked one of our blogger friends to share creative activities one could do with their kids, etc.

Maegan Chadwick-Dobson from Tara Books shares a Gond folk tale about the creation of trees and also sheds light on how nature forms a big part of the Gond narrative style.

Illustrated by :  Ram Singh Urveti

When Shankar Bhagwan, the creator, made the first man, there was no tree, no leaf on earth. The man said, “Lord, what will I eat? How will I live?” The creator pulled three hairs from his own body, and from them made three great trees. Then the man said “But lord, there are no fruits on these trees. Three will remain three, and three must die one day.” Then Shankar Bhagwan took the ash coating his matted hair and sprinkled the trees with it, and they began to flower and fruit. So in the days before we knew how to grow grain, it was trees that filled our stomachs with their fruit.

From the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India, the Gonds are a community of highly visual people. They surround themselves with their art, which is traditionally painted on the mud floors and walls of their houses. Art is a form of prayer, and they believe that good fortune befalls those whose eyes meet a
good image.

Gond art is not concerned with realism, perspective, light or three-dimensionality. It signifires rather than represents, deriving its energy from flowing lines, intricate geometric patterns and the symbols that connect human beings and workings of the cosmos. And since most Gonds used to be forest dwellers, trees loom large in their imagination.

Circumstances have changed the way they paint. The Gonds now paint on paper and canvas, using a
palette of commercial colours. Yet remarkably, even though many of them no longer live in the old
way, their imagination is still linked to the forest. The tree is at the heart of it, providing not just shade,
shelter and nourishment, but also a rich imaginative universe of narratives and beliefs.

You can buy 'The Night Life of Trees' here. Each painting in the book is accompanied by its own poetic tale, myth or lore – narrated by the artists themselves recreating the familiarity and awe with which the Gond people view the cosmos.

Beautiful King Cobra - Love at first ssssight?

As we get ready for a country-wide launch of our book 'A King Cobra's Summer' on December 17, we asked the author to write a post for us. Janaki Lenin (pictured here with a beauty) wrote about her very first look at a King Cobra. After reading it you will know why she writes so extensively about snakes, crocodiles and other animals in the wild.

In August 1993, the Madras Crocodile Bank, a reptile zoo and research facility, received its first King Cobra. Soon after her arrival, the staff and I crowded around the exhibit to see her. She was nervous and remained hidden in the dark recesses of the big enclosure. It was hard to believe that this shy creature was one of the most dreaded animals in the world. Nevertheless, we continued to stare, hoping that she would grant us a glimpse of her serpentine form. No way!

I had never seen a King Cobra before (captive or wild) and what little I saw that morning intrigued me. So I returned later in the evening. She was coiled up in the back of the enclosure but there were lines in the dirt - snake tracks all over the exhibit area. She became aware of my presence and lifted her head from her coils. I didn’t want to rudely shine my flashlight directly at her, so I bounced the beam off the ceiling. To my amazement, she tilted her head up and followed the path of the light with her eyes. I wondered if she thought the circle of light was the moon. But she perhaps didn’t remember the moon having spent long years in another zoo. Nothing about the other snakes I had seen so far had prepared me for this level of engagement. When she flicked her tongue in and out of the little opening at the tip of her snout, she seemed to be saying “Oh” and gave the impression that she was perpetually surprised with the world. Although she was an adult female King Cobra she seemed innocent and helpless, like a waif. She didn’t seem aware that the rest of the world saw her as a venomous and dangerous creature. She was as ethereal as a nymph and indeed, the old name for the King Cobra was Hamadryad, Greek for ‘nymph of the woods’. Finally I shined the light on my face by way of an introduction. She watched – I couldn’t be sure if she saw me.

Every evening thereafter, I visited the King Cobra and spent quiet meditative moments gazing at her serene beauty. The fact that she was venomous was of no worry as she was safely behind glass. I was, however, increasingly concerned about her happiness. She seemed so vulnerable and caged in. My heart went out to her. This was an iconic creature of wet, misty mountains and warm, humid forests stuck in an enclosure. Getting to know her and her plight made me focus on the future of the species and its rainforest habitat.

We're hoping the book will spark off a respect for nature and wildlife among children around the world. We're delighted that 28 Pratham Books champions will be doing book readings or storytelling in different parts of India. If you are in Bangalore, do register to join us at the book launch tomorrow.