Friday, April 27, 2012

Natasha Sharma at Junior Writer's Bug Literary Festival

Natasha Sharma, the author and illustrator of our book 'Kaka and Munni' conducted a book reading and activity at the Junior Writer's Bug Literary Festival. She wrote to us to tell us about her experience :

Writing in about my fun morning at the Junior Writer's Bug Literary festival held this Sunday in Chembur in Mumbai. The festival was a first of its kind particularly in that part of suburban Mumbai and I was thrilled to be invited by the Writers Bug team to be a part of it.

I held a reading of Kaka and Munni for 35-40 children in the age range of 4 - 7 years. 

To the surprise of the children, once they settled in, I played a music track of dhol bhangra music. The quizzical looks soon gave way to excited answers when I asked them if they recognised which part of India this music was from. With many yelling "Punjab", the scene was set to introduce them to Kaka and Munni, the folk tale from Punjab. 

With the help of a crow puppet and a tambourine to tap to the verse, it was a delightful morning spent in a very interactive reading of Kaka and Munni. Midway through the reading, children were being able to help me complete the verse as the repetition of the chain had them happy to fill in. 

After the reading, I brought their attention to the illustration style using collage and explained the technique. We then spent a few minutes talking about Earth Day since it happened to be on that day. Linking the need for us to take care of Earth, to protect trees and the cover the book with its trees, we set out to create our own collages. 

I had kept the various bits of the collage ready already cut due to time constraints and the children armed with glue sticks, pasted the background sky and ground before "growing" their tree with its trunk, branches and leaves. I used paper from old magazines and greeting cards for the tree to again tie in with Earth Day and the need to recycle. Some decided to make their trees lush with leaves, another had bare branches and two leaves falling off for an "autumn tree" and yet another had a lovely "wind blown tree". All in all a fun musical and sticky morning.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

India's Growing Book Market

With the printed word considered an endangered species in much of a rapidly digitizing world, India now represents one of the best English-language book markets in the world. 
“There has definitely been a huge jump in the size of the industry in terms of book sales and the number of books being published,” said Mita Kapur, the founder of Siyahi, a literary agency, who says the number of books published in English is growing by 30 percent a year. 
Vikrant Mathur, associate director of Nielsen Book, India, said the volume of book sales grew by 45 percent during the first half of 2011. For the entire year, Nielsen, a global information provider, documented English-language book sales of 3.28 billion rupees – about $62 million – from more than 12 million books sold. And that is probably only a fraction of true total sales, since Nielsen only measures about 35 percent of the total market. 
“Where physical books are concerned India right now is a very, very big market,” said Priyanka Malhotra, director of Full Circle Publications. “There is a whole younger generation coming up from BPOs who are starting to read in English, which is where a lot of new demand is coming from.” Online retail outfits such as Flipkart and InfiBeam have also spurred growth in the industry.  
“I don’t think I could have started this anywhere else,” Mr. Davidar said. “India is the only country currently where the English-language market is growing in double digits. Everywhere else is it either flat or registering a negative growth. Unlike North America, eBooks have not penetrated to a large extent. Here they make up less than 1 percent of sales, compared to nearly 25 percent in the United States.”

Read the entire article here.

Pratham Books Champion : Emma Lovell

As part of Litworld's World Read Aloud Daycelebrations, we decided to ask our community if they would conduct storytelling sessions in their cities. 50 awesome champions decided to take part and 'celebrate the power of words'. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

Today's story comes from Emma Lovell who conducted a storytelling session in Dharamshala. Emma Lovell is an avid traveller and freelance writer. Emma also runs her PR and marketing business Lovelly Communications and has a passion for not-for-profit organisations. You can follow Emma on twitter at @Lovellyinc or visit her blog.

Emma writes about her storytelling session on her blog :

March 7th is World Read Aloud Day! I was honoured to be invited to take part and read aloud to children whilst I travelled. It just so happened I was in the beautiful city of Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India.

The lovely bookshop where I picked up my books

This beautiful backdrop is also home to some very sweet and very eager young children. I managed to find two places where I would be able to read to them.

Yong LLng Kindergarten

I was approached by the great people at Pratham books who I met through Twitter and saw one of their great stalls at the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai. When I tweeted saying i’d seen them and I was in India, they invited me to take part in this great day and of course, I jumped at the chance.

Generally the lovely team at Pratham Books would send you a book that you could read on the day. Of course mine would have to be in English as my Hindi is very basic and Tibetan is most certainly a foreign language to me. Unfortunately due to my constant moving around the place in India we couldn’t arrange to get the book to me. No dramas though. I found a lovely little book shop and found two great books, one about Australia and one about animals. Both with lots of pictures and not too many words.

I had no introductions there in Dharamsala so it was just trying to find a place there were children, or any age people, who wanted to read aloud with me. Obviously kids would appreciate it more so that was the best option. I was informed there was the Yong LLang Kindergarten and the Tibetan Childrens Village. So off I went.

Yong Llang Tibetan Kindergarten was beautiful. I asked the office if I could read to the children and they quickly organised for approximately 40 bright and smiling little faces to come into a room so I could read to them. They were aged 3-5 and they sat patiently waiting for me to start my story. I read the Lion and the Mouse as it was easy to translate and understand. There assistant teacher helped me and we had a super fun time making animal noises together. Rah for the lion and squeak squeak for the mouse. They got so into the story and loved reading along. They all clapped and cheered when I finished and it warmed my heart.

She broke my heart, so cute and she just loved holding this book!

As I thought we were over the assistant teacher said to me “They’re asking for another one.” So I read them the second book. It took longer to translate but they still enjoyed it and liked having me and the teacher tell them what was happening. The teacher said to me at the end that they really had fun and enjoyed it. The kids grasping on to my clothes and not letting me walk out the door was a testament to this. They just loved looking at the books and trying to read it for themselves.

Don't go!!!

I then went on to the Tibetan Childrens Village and loved seeing again all the children in this great learning environment. The school has a policy of not interrupting the children's schooling and program so I wasn’t able to read to them. I think this a great policy and I completely respect their focus on the children and their future. We did visit the library and got to see some of the children in a lesson which was lovely. I donated the 2 books to the library so that many children can enjoy reading them for many years to come.


Thank you Emma 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)or

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pratham Books Champion : Lara Velho

As part of Litworld's World Read Aloud Daycelebrations, we decided to ask our community if they would conduct storytelling sessions in their cities. 50 awesome champions decided to take part and 'celebrate the power of words'. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

Today's story comes from Lara Velho who conducted a storytelling session in Mumbai. Lara writes about her session :

The moment I heard about World Read Aloud Day, I knew it was something I wanted to involve my kids in.   My name is Lara Velho and I am a fellow with Teach for India. Teach for India is a movement with a vision that 'One day ALL children will attain an excellent education'. I teach in a Municipal school in Goregaon,  Mumbai. I contacted Maya from Pratham Books, asking for my copy so that my kids and I could enjoy a special read aloud. And boy, was it special! When I told my children that others like them all over the world were also reading that same book, on that same day, they were so thrilled and completely engaged in the story! We read a book called Laxman's Questions and then had a short reflection session. My children came up with the most brilliant reflections when I asked them what the story was trying to teach them. One of my kids said he wanted to spend lots of time like Laxman, asking intelligent questions, because asking questions really is more important than just getting answers. My kids spent the rest of the day being little Laxmans, questioning each other and me about the world around them. It was a wonderful experience.


Thank you Lara 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)or

Gautam John talks about the 'Future of Content'

Earlier this month, Gautam John was talking about 'The Future of Content' at the IndiaSocial Summit 2012. Click on the video below to hear Gautam's talk (You can also read the transcript of Gautam's talk here.)

Gautam's presentation is embedded below:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Retell, Remix, Rejoice Contest : Deadline Extended

At last, the summer holidays are finally here! So, if you missed trying out our Retell, Remix, Rejoice contest this year, here is your chance to get started. We’ve just extended the deadline to 21st May. 

Take the images available here, weave your ownstory and email us the remixed version. We've added a few more images to the pool of images so that you have more content to play around with. You may use how many ever images you want from the pool of images. This year's theme is “Trees”, so be sure to include them on your story. Pssstt......Stories that are drastically different from the original have a better chance to win and yes the first prize winner for each category gets a printed, laid-out version of the winning cool is that!

Having starting trouble? 
Browse through our editor's remixed versions of the original story.We have one inEnglish and one in Hindi.

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

Contest details:

  • Contest will be for two categories: Above 16 years and below 16 years.
  • You can send in your entries in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada or Urdu.
  • Please send your entries in PDF, Word or Power Point format to along with your name, age, language of entry with the email subject line as “The Retell, Remix, Rejoice contest”
  • Results will be announced on our blog and website on or before May 30, 2012.
  • Got any queries? Email us at
  • Last date for entries is May 21st, 2012.

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

Open-Source Book Creation Tools for All

Launched by Sourcefabric in February at the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference, Booktype is an open-source platform for writing, publishing, and printing books that can create different kinds of files and can format a book for Kindle, iBooks, or various other devices, and for print. While Booktype as an independent platform is new, it has a long history as the underlying software ofBooki and FLOSS Manuals, which gives it a noticeable maturity. 
One of its most exciting features is that multiple people can work on a book. That can mean collaborators simultaneously writing various chapters; several readers suggesting changes to a draft; an author, editor, and translator working within one unified system…the sky is pretty much the limit. Collaborators can communicate via an internal chat system, or leave comments. Changes are tracked and various versions (translations, updates, special editions) can be saved. Probably one of Booktype’s most impressive qualities is that even though it’s a powerful tool, it isn’t a complicated one.  
As it becomes easier to produce well-made books, and as companies become more aggressive about proprietary formats and restricting sales channels, questions about control, profit-making, and ownership are becoming more urgent. It makes sense to pay special attention to open-source, non-profit solutions like those offered by Sourcefabric. Its open, collaborative character pushes those same questions in a rather different direction. Flor cites an example from Umberto Eco’s most recent book, The Prague Cemetery: a nineteenth-century forger comes into contact with photographic reproduction and realizes that one day there will be no original to forge. “This is something that Umberto Eco writes today because that’s where we are. Today there is no original which you can forge. What you have is a copy, and that’s where Booktype starts…The idea of ‘my book’ in ten years time will mean something different and I think Booktype plays a big role in opening this idea of ownership.” (Though it should be emphasized that Booktype can be used with any kind of copyright.)

Riener elaborates, “We’re freeing people from worrying about the formatting and the not-so-nice things and allowing them to focus on the content, which means really getting the ownership back…because by opening it up that doesn’t mean you’re losing control, you’re controlling the control over it.
Read the entire article here.

‘You Read, They Learn’ Campaign by Hindustan Times

As a part of the ‘You Read, They Learn’ (YRTL) initiative launched on 18th April, Hindustan Times has committed to contributing 5 paise from every Metro Copy in Delhi-NCR. To build on that initiative, Hindustan Times printed a beginner’s textbook in every copy of the newspaper in Delhi-NCR today.

In line with the initiative’s mission to help educate underprivileged children, every page of the newspaper includes a page of a textbook. Following three simple steps, readers can cut out these pages, staple them together to form a textbook and then share it with an underprivileged child.

In addition, there will be textbooks inserted in copies of Mint and Hindustan circulated in Delhi-NCR. Through this simple and powerful idea, readers will be able to reach out to over 1 million children in Delhi-NCR on a single day and help them take their first step towards an education.

Read the entire article here.

Via afaqs!

Talking about the initiative, Shantanu Bhanja, vice-president, marketing, HT Media, says, "We wanted to enable each of our readers to take their own first step towards helping someone get an education. And, we wanted to make a tangible impact in the shortest span of time. We decided that doing something in the paper could achieve both and hence the idea of a beginner textbook which could be cut out and given. But for us, it's just the beginning of a movement to bring about positive change."

To start with, the initiative has been planned for one year. The money collected from the sales of the copies in Delhi-NCR will be handed over to its partnering NGOs including Pratham Delhi Education Initiative and Child Rights and You (CRY), to be put towards their primary education initiatives. Going forward, the company plans to engage with other NGO partners working in this space.

In an official communiqué, Sanjoy Narayan, editor-in-chief, Hindustan Times, says, "The text book is one of our initiatives to help readers join the 'You Read, They Learn' campaign by sharing it with needy children or even using it to help someone learn the alphabet."

Read the entire article here

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Art

Via PBS Arts

Books are in a conflicted state. Should they still exist in a digital era? Will they all be replaced by Kindles and Nooks? These questions dominate the discussion of books in our time. A select group of artists, who use books as their medium, engage this discussion from another angle. From pop culture pop-ups, to surreal sculptural stories, to reformations of antique sacred texts, these creators re-envision what the experience of a book can be. At times playful, and other times profound, this episode explores the boundaries of one of the most important human creations.

Book Making Workshop

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Via Babel Books

Aditi Babel is an independent book artist and graphic designer based out of city of lakes Udaipur. .

She graduated from IIT Bombay in 2007 completing her master’s in Visual Communication after which she went to Italy to professionally learn the craft of traditional book making and print making. 

She practises graphic designing, book binding, creating artist books and print making in her studio in Udaipur now.

Since her return from Italy she has been taking workshops on traditional book making at different places for children, adults and design students. She teaches as a visiting faculty in IIT Bombay for the same.

You can view Aditi's work here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What is Y.A., Exactly?

Young Adult hardbacks attract attention.

The Altantic Wire attempts to explain the category of Young Adult literature.
We conferred with librarians, agents, publishing world executives, and the experts of the Internet to put together a primer of sorts. They don't all agree, either—nor is this current-day definition one that will remain so forever. As author Michael Cartwriting for YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association, for which he is a former president, explains, "The term 'young adult literature' is inherently amorphous, for its constituent terms 'young adult' and 'literature' are dynamic, changing as culture and society — which provide their context — change."
 Essentially, it’s just literature for and about teens, there to bridge the gap between children’s and adult’s books. It can be subdivided into the same genres as adult books—romance, paranormal, mystery, horror, literary fiction. 
As Tracy van Straaten, VP at Scholastic, reminded us, "Something people tend to forget is that YA is a category not a genre, and within it is every possible genre: fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, non-fiction. There's so much richness within the category."
What's the history of the category?
Cart writes,
When the term first found common usage in the late 1960’s, it referred to realistic fiction that was set in the real (as opposed to imagined), contemporary world and addressed problems, issues, and life circumstances of interest to young readers aged approximately 12-18. Such titles were issued by the children’s book divisions of American publishers and were marketed to institutions – libraries and schools – that served such populations.

While some of this remains true today, much else has changed. In recent years, for example, the size of this population group has changed dramatically. Between 1990 and 2000 the number of persons between 12 and 19 soared to 32 million, a growth rate of seventeen percent that significantly outpaced the growth of the rest of the population. The size of this population segment has also increased as the conventional definition of “young adult” has expanded to include those as young as ten and, since the late 1990s, as old as twenty-five. 

"Fast forward to Catcher in the Rye in 1950," says Marcus. "Salinger did not have teens in mind as his audience, but that's who ended up reading the book." (McCarthy agrees, "Certain classics would be categorized as Y.A. if they were published today. Catcher in the Rye comes to mind. 
McCarthy cites Harry Potter and Twilight as "the real game changers in the category. They became monstrous forces because they had rabid teen fan bases, but they also bridged over to adult readers in big ways. Because Y.A. isn’t as subdivided on bookshelves, authors don’t need to worry about blending elements of different genres. If someone writes a fantasy romance, they don’t have to be concerned about whether they’re filed under fantasy or romance and whether the readers of the other genre will seek them out. There’s great power in that, and authors have an easier time of working outside of genre constraints this way." 
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Newton Free Library

Junior Writer's Bug Literary Festival for Children

(Click on the image above for a larger view)

The festival will be held at St Anthony’s School, Chembur on 21st-22nd April. Click here to visit the website for more details about the schedule.

Natasha Sharma, the author and illustrator of our book 'Kaka and Munni' will also at the festival. Natasha's reading of 'Kaka and Munni' followed by a collage activity for children (4-7 years) is on Sunday, April 22nd at 10am at the St. Anthonys girls high school, Chembur, Mumbai. See you there!

Tara Books Book Building

For our friends in Chennai, here's a review about the Tara Books Book Building - a place you must visit!

Via Live Mint

In the alley behind a seventh century Shiva temple in south Chennai, amid a cacophonous stream of cycles, cars, trucks and bullock carts squeezing past banana vendors and jasmine garland sellers, Tara Books has culled its own plot. 

But this creation of the nearly two-decade-old, Chennai-based independent publishing house which specializes in handmade books is no page-turner. It’s an eye-popper. 

The Tara Books Book Building—a three-storeyed, ecologically friendly architectural masterpiece inaugurated on 25 February—is a labour of love of Tara Books’ founder Gita Wolf and her team, which outgrew several rented office spaces, pining for a dedicated display for their books and artist sketches.

“It was getting harder to display our books in book stores, and so when we were on the lookout for our own office space, we planned to make it multifunctional,” says 55-year-old Wolf, a former academic who used to teach comparative literature at the University of Erlangen in Germany. Wolf launched Tara Books in 1994.

The airy, sunlit, minimalist building which will soon be 80% solar-powered currently houses a book store and a gallery of its book art. Work is on on the ground floor to create a children’s reading nook and a small refreshments area, where visitors can make their own coffee or tea. These are expected to be completed by the end of the month.

The Book Building’s gallery area doesn’t have the conventional heavy frames. The artwork of tribal artists, who have illustrated the publisher’s books, dangle from clips on a wire line.

Currently, two walls of a pillar on the ground-floor public space host bright-coloured murals by patua artists from West Bengal, interpreting the story of the Italian wooden puppet Pinocchio and that of African-American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. The remaining two walls of the four-sided pillar are a staid white, an invitation for visiting artists to leave their mark.

The pièce de résistance, revealed only when one steps away from the wall display of Tara Books into the open gallery, is Gond artist Bhajju Shyam’s approximately 25x15ft tree. The grey-coloured tree winding up to the first floor, and dotted with imaginary birds, insects and animals in yellow, green, red and blue, is simply spectacular.

 Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Tara Books Facebook page

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Can I Get a Recycled Book, Please?

Came across this article about how some publishers are using recycled paper to reduce their environmental impact. Do you know of any 'green books' that have been published in India? Our book Cauvery was printed on recycled paper and printed with vegetable ink. 

Would it surprise you if you were told that Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, the fifth in the Harry Potter series. that you read in India may have been different from what a friend of yours read at the same time in Canada? And the same for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? 
Yes, there was a difference for sure, but it was not with the story that JK Rowling wrote. The stories were the same; the difference was in the way the books was produced. The 2003 “Order of the Phoenix” and the 2005 “Half-Blood Prince” were both printed in Canada on 100 per cent recycled paper in an explicit move to make the publishing industry more environment and forest friendly. Just this one act helped save 67,000 trees from the axe. 
At the source of the initiative was a Greenpeace International Campaign to ‘green' the book publishing industry — a campaign that was supported by a number of well known authors such as JK Rowling, Ian Rankin, Günter Grass, and Isabel Allende. 
While this might be a snapshot of what is happening in other parts of the world, little is known of the situation in India. A quick visit to the book store or even the street corner magazine vendor is good enough to give an idea of this boom that has taken place in publishing here. Analysts of the publishing industry estimate that there are nearly 20,000 publishers in India and we produce almost one lakh (yes, one lakh) titles every year. India today stands as the third largest publishing country in the English-speaking world and seventh largest in the world. 
The impact that this will have on the demand for paper, and for the trees and bamboo that paper is made from can well be imagined. According to the Indian Paper Manufacturers Association nearly 1,000,000 tons of waste paper are being currently recovered annually for the paper industry. While this is a huge quantity it turns out this recovery rate is about 20 per cent and much lower than the 65 per cent recovery achieved by many global players. There is huge potential for improvement here and in many other big and small ways.
Read the entire article here

A Note From Our Friend at TFI

We always love hearing what people think about our books. We were thrilled to receive the following note from a Teach for India Fellow : Pavithra VS
“ The kids love the books. They are simple , readable and enjoyable. Even a beginning level child loves spending time over the illustrations. The Indianization of stories has been the greatest advantage of Pratham Books. This allows our kids to relate to the characters and the context easily. The colour coded reading levels make the teachers’ lives convenient and the children found the system easy as well ! They could choose the books they could read on their own . Thanks to Pratham Books in contributing to create the love for reading in our kids. ”
Thank you Pavithra for bringing a big smile to our faces... and thank you for the awesome work you do!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Guardian and Hot Key Books Launch New Children's Fiction Prize

Via The Guardian

The quest is on to find the JK Rowlings, Anthony Horowitzes and Roald Dahls of the future as the Guardian and publisher Hot Key Books launch a new writing prize looking for the next generation of children's fiction writers. 
Hot Key Books, which will release its first titles this August, is on the hunt for two "passionate young writers" between the ages of 18 and 25, and will provide its winners with editorial support and the chance to be published. Contestants, who must be previously unpublished, can enter one of two categories in the competition: writing for pre-teens (nine to 12-year-olds), or for young adults (13 to 19-year-olds). 
According to Claire Armitstead, books editor of the Guardian and Observer, the project builds on the new children's books site
"We wanted a special project to celebrate the first anniversary of our children's books website," she said, "and what could be better than helping to find the next generation of children's writers. 
"We've got some extremely talented teen members reviewing and contributing their own stories. But the site only accepts writing from children aged 17 and under, which set us wondering what they might go on to do once they had graduated from the site. In China, teen-to-teen writing is hugely popular, so why not in the UK? It's young people who know best what young readers want." 
The two winners will be picked by a panel of judges, including representatives from the Guardian, Hot Key Books, authors, booksellers and school children. The competition opens on 30 April ...

For details of how to enter the Guardian/ Hot Key competition, go to
Read the entire article here.

Pottermore: My First Weekend in Hogwarts Heaven

More user created Harry Potter in Pottermore - Coming in October 2011

Shoshana Kessler shares some insights from her visit to the newly opened site : Pottermore.

Via the guardian
More than anything, I'm interested to see if anything has changed from my previous foray into the mysterious 'Pottermore Beta'. My last article on Pottermore published various complaints from members about the site, mainly complaints of a lack of interaction between the members and also that of insufficient content to keep the site interesting. 
I move past the introductory purple bulletin (emblazoned with the motifs; 'Explore', 'Discover', 'Experience' and 'Join In') and am taken to the familiar purple gateway, the seven adorned circles representing each book. Again, and far more excited than I should be for the second time around, I click on the first circle for 'Chapter 1'. 
Aesthetically, it is identical to 'Pottermore Beta', same Privet Drive graphics (though there is sound now, which compliments the graphics nicely), and the same hidden information. The difference lies in the comments from other members underneath the "exclusive content", each one being posted less than a minute ago. For the first time it feels that there are other members, and it's not just me exploring the magic alone. However, this sensation is fleeting as I move on to Chapter 2. Pottermore so far feels like being in a maze, running into another member every so often but quickly losing them again. This, I'm sure, will be remedied as soon as I'm "sorted", and can begin to focus on the interactive aspects, such as getting House Points and dueling. 
I'm sure millions of fans will agree, the idea of being properly sorted on the official Harry Potter website is thrilling. The sorting takes place in Chapter 7, but I'm in no hurry to get there – there are too many other exciting moments, such as purchasing my pet (a tawny owl), and being given a wand (beech and phoenix, ten inches, bendy). Finally I reach the sorting, and taking it more seriously than any other quiz I've done, I answer each question slowly and truthfully. 
The results are in…and I'm a Gryffindor! After reading my celebratory letter from prefect Percy Weasley (one of the greatest sentences I've ever written), I do instantly feel more a part of the community. I can earn House Points, and duel with other witches and wizards. The dueling game was initially in Beta, but was later taken down for editing. On the side of the Gryffindor profile I can see the high house-point scoring members of Gryffindor. Already the interaction in the website feels a step up from 'Beta'.
Read the entire article here.

Have any of you visited the site? What did you think of it?

Image Source :  k-ideas / Kempton

Time for Another Taranauts Contest

Via an email sent by Roopa Pai :

Yo earthkins!

It’s time for yet ANOTHER mastastic Taranauts contest!

The good stuff remains the same as always –

  • If you win the contest or are a runner-up, you get your name into Book 6 – Taranauts: The Key to the Shimr Citrines – due out in July 2012. 
  • All participants get a little something too.
But this time, there is more than just good stuff, there is even better stuff! Like -
  • Three top winners also get mastastic Taranauts ZapWrap 2 GB pendrives that you can wear! Runners-up getbook hampers from Hachette India.
  •  For the first time, the contest isn’t about words – it’s about drawing, drawing something from your imagination, drawing something called… a… KOLAVEROBOT!

Okay, that’s it. We’re zipping our lippings and not telling you any more! For all other contest details, watch the contest video here (we recommend doing at this first!) or read all about it here.

Hey, but you’d better click on those links quick – because the extended last date for entries is 26th April 2012!!! Winners will be announced on the website – two weeks after that.

Hurry Burry, earthkins!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Harry Potter Encyclopedia in Progress

Harry Potter

Via the guardian
Her first novel for adults is due in September, but JK Rowling isn't ready to leave behind the world of her most famous creation. The author has confirmed she is hard at work on her long-promised encyclopedia of theHarry Potter world. 
In the "frequently asked questions" section on her new author site, Rowling said that "for a long time I have been promising an encyclopedia of Harry's world, and I have started work on this now – some of it forms the new content in Pottermore. It is likely to be a time-consuming job, but when finished I shall donate all royalties to charity." 
Four years ago Rowling took small American publisher RDR Books to court over its plans to publish the Harry Potter Lexicon, an unauthorised A to Z of the Potter stories. Rowling called the book "wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work", and won the case
When Rowling published the Harry Potter fairytale spin-off The Tales of Beedle the Bard for charity in 2008, she sold 368,000 copies in just three days.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Halle Stoutzenberger

Friday, April 13, 2012

Publishers Hustle to Make E-Books More Immersive

Via Wired
And now, with tablets selling at mind-boggling rates, book publishers are scrambling to figure out how to bring their ancient medium into the digital realm.

Bookmakers must become multimedia companies — creating audio, video and interactive components for their immersive, built-for-tablets offerings.  
They also face a dizzying array of decisions brought on by evolving standards and platforms: Should a certain book come to life as a dedicated app, an approach that, until iBooks 2 was released, offered more flexibility in terms of features like video and audio on the iPad? Or should it be turned into an “enhanced e-book,” which will work on Apple’s tablet as well as Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and other devices, but must be re-created several times over to meet each device’s specs? 
A few years ago, author Amanda Havard wasn’t able to find a publisher that could bring her book The Survivors to electronic life the way she wanted. So she and her father, L.C. Havard, a former executive for a company that developed technologies for the health insurance industry, formed a company called Chafie Pressto publish her books and create digital offerings. The app version of The Survivors, the first in a series of five books, integrates audio files of the music her characters are listening to (some of it produced by Chafie), pictures of the designer clothes they’re wearing, links to the characters’ Twitter accounts (Havard mostly runs them herself) and Google Maps of the places they visit. 
“Our tagline is ‘reinventing storytelling’ and it’s the idea that we’re at this place where that’s really what we’re capable of doing,” the author said in an interview with Wired. “If you use the technology in the right way — so that it isn’t doing it just because you can — and it’s thoughtful and it’s high-quality content and it’s an approach that’s truly about creating a better story experience, then that’s totally what we should do.” 
What could end up being a game changer in the e-book world is the ever-blossoming world of young-adult fiction like Havard’s. It’s a market that practically incubates early adopters, and with the rate YA literature is crossing over into mediums like film, the genre provides interesting opportunities for multimedia storytelling. In fact, new publisher Backlit Fiction seems to have been created almost entirely for that purpose. Backlit releases books, largely penned by television and film writers, as episodic apps and e-books. For Backlit co-founder and publisher Panio Gianopoulos, using digital books as a way to engage teenagers seems obvious since, as he notes, young adults spend tons of time reading — they’re just devouring text messages, Facebook updates and blogs.

“Multimedia is more than a tie-in — done right it becomes a new kind of product entirely, a hybrid of book and film, or Facebook page and TV show, or something no one else has even thought of yet,” Giarraputo said in an e-mail to Wired. 
As publishers and authors become accustomed to creating with e-books in mind, the immersive offerings should become more vital. It’s a scary and exciting time for book publishers, as the ink-and-paper industry reinvents itself to take advantage of new opportunities blossoming in the digital era.
Read the entire article here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kannada Folklore Dictionary

Via The Hindu

Nearly one and a half years of hard work by a team of 20 folklore experts and linguists — including G. Venkatasubbaiah, M.M. Kalburgi, H.J. Lakkappa Gowda, N. Basavaradhya, D. Lingaiah and C. Veeranna — finally bore fruit in the form of a three-volume Kannada folk dictionary. The project was supported by the Kannada Development Authority (KDA). 
Over 430 reference books were consulted and 14 field editors and 34 field assistants visited every part of the State to collect more than two lakh folk words. 
The dictionary, Mr. Sadananda Gowda said, was an invaluable contribution to the cultural spectrum of Karnataka and would go a long way in protecting the Kannada culture. 
The folk dictionary project would be transferred to the Karnataka Janapada University (KJU), which would take up the work of further revising and re-editing it. An allocation of Rs. 7.5 crore made in the budget for the university would help in improving the dictionary, he said. 
Dr. Channabasappa said that work on the dictionary was completed six months before its two-year deadline. “KDA had released Rs. 70 lakh for the work of which the academy utilised only Rs. 42 lakh and returned the balance,” he said. 
Read the entire article here.

Taming the Wild Text

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

The truth is, we're all struggling readers. At some time today or tomorrow, you'll be reading something and you'll feel the print sliding away from you, your sense of power over the page slipping, your comprehension becoming murkier as you press on. It doesn't feel good. There are children who feel this every day, whether looking at a street sign or a simple picture book. When the world of print lacks deep meaning for a child, the reading experience becomes like wandering in an unfamiliar universe. 
Unlike Max inWhere the Wild Things Are, who stands with his sword ready to fight the wild things, these students avoid encounters with text at all costs. 
For language is a wild thing. Whether the words are unfamiliar, the story unusual, or the text about complex and layered information, the wild elements of language present one challenge after another to a struggling reader.

Pam Allyn shares 'a top-10 list for how teachers can create a classroom culture that ensures that all students fall in love with reading'. 

1. Don't judge the reader.
Environments that offer many reading materials at different levels and in different forms—without judging any form as superior—enable students to find the materials that work best for them. Today's reader is exposed to more media, in all forms, than any reader before. Avid readers, and some budding readers, will read anything: cereal boxes, magazines, posters, video game instructions, graphic novels. It's essential that teachers acknowledge these forms of reading as "real" and not simply validate and praise award-winning chapter books, for example.
Ask students to describe times when reading felt good to them, what they were reading at the time, and why it felt good. Don't dismiss their descriptions of the sports page, a great website, or a manual for how to build a castle. Embrace all these as signs of an inspired reading life.
Today's readers use different forms of media—e-mails, text messages, blog posts, and so on—to communicate. Name these communications as reading, too, and celebrate any minutes a child spends absorbing print. Using these methods of communication in the classroom can make the reader more aware of his or her ability as a literate person and spur confidence to read more.
Finally, never judge the older reader who needs to read books at lower levels to build stamina and fluency. Too often we fixate on titles read, when in fact the key to lifelong literacy is reading frequently and ingesting a high number of words.

3. Provide time for dialogue.

Just because students appear to be reading independently doesn't mean teachers can forsake the social aspect of reading.
Often, reluctant readers are given less time than fluent readers to be social and interactive about reading because they're thought to need more practice time. The absence of this vital dialogue only contributes to struggling readers' feeling of isolation and rarely inspires them to pursue more challenging texts.
Dialogue is a window into another person's reading experience and is an effective way to get people excited about reading. And dialogue doesn't always mean traditional discussion about comprehension or plot summaries. It can also mean asking students what they're wondering about or what they're hoping will surprise them as they read on. Or encouraging students to use Twitter or text messaging to share ideas from their reading. Rather than a dry Q and A with the teacher having the "right" answer and students guessing at it, dialogue should accomplish some genuine purpose.
With boys at the Children's Village, I led a unit of study on social issues and debate. Boys met in small groups and read articles on subjects that interested them; then each of them developed a question to pursue together, incorporating their different points of view.
When a teacher and student read together or talk one-on-one about a reading selection, they can enter into a safe, nurturing dialogue that builds a literacy bond. And one way to create dialogue among peers is to create text clubs. Talking about graphic novels, comics, short stories, or poems offers struggling readers a chance to explore big ideas in depth through text that's not necessarily "big."
We can model how we delve into text of all sorts and develop our own complex thinking through reading a few pages in a comic book or a one-page blog post. Read aloud from easier texts and celebrate the genius of Dr. Seuss or Arnold Lobel, valuing their sophisticated approach to language even in texts that are easier to read. 

10. Remember, joy matters.
Most reluctant readers have experienced a great deal of anxiety and stress around reading in their lives. What will it take for such readers to experience the joy of reading? Getting to joy is important, because the prize of reading competence comes at great cost. What too many challenged readers remember, even once they read well, is the hardship and loneliness of that long trek uphill.
Let's create a world for all readers that's full of the joy of discovery, imagination, and information. The only way to do this is to make the world come alive with stories students will love and texts that connect to their passions. Let's hand reluctant readers the sword with which to conquer the wild things of language—and learn to love reading.
Read the entire list here.

Image Source : Pratham Books

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Leaping Windows Cafe and Comic Library

“How do you kill two hours in Andheri without involving a mall, Barista or traffic?” 
Enter Leaping Windows Café and Comic Library, a caped crusader saving Versova from boredom, and us from having to make up suitably exciting answers each time we are asked the above question. 
Started as an online and doorstep delivery comic book rental in 2010, Leaping Windows has finally opened its own space (they were supposed to launch in December), complete with a graphic novel library, kick-ass reading room and café to match. Marvel indeed! 
With well over 2,000 comic book titles on the shelves, you’ll be spotting more than a bird and a plane here. There are the usual suspects like Tin-Tin, Asterix, Calvin and Hobbes; a bunch of rare Alan Moore (of Watchmen fame) graphic novels; Marvel Comics’ superhero series and an impressive Manga range which gets updated frequently. Co-owner Bidisha’s favourites include her two Mad magazines she found at a Fort second-hand book stall and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics which are now out of print. Bidisha loves them so and she’ll be damned if they leave the library. Flip through these at Leaping Window premises, using the comfortable floor mats and cushioned seats at a pocket-friendly Rs 30 per hour. Now that’s a (comic) relief!
Read the entire article here.

Pratham Books Champion : Abhinav Agarwal

As part of Litworld's World Read Aloud Daycelebrations, we decided to ask our community if they would conduct storytelling sessions in their cities. 50 awesome champions decided to take part and 'celebrate the power of words'. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

Today's story comes from Abhinav Agarwal who conducted a storytelling session in Bangalore. Abhinav is a software engineer by profession and works atOracle India. He is a post-graduate from IIM Bangalore. Bangalore has been his home for close to 10 years now. When not reading stories to his children, he reads books, takes photos, and puts them all on his blog at His other likes are Hindi music and retro Hindi movies.

The book Abhinav received was 'Laxman's Questions. Abhinav writes about his storytelling experience on his blog ...

A small and cute book about a young boy's questions.
Laxman has questions. For birds and trees. About animals and nature. He wonders. And he learns that questions are as important as answers. His grandmother is always encouraging, while his mother is secretly proud of her son's inquisitiveness.

As part of Pratham Book's initiative to have volunteers conduct reading sessions, I contacted Maya and offered to conduct a reading, or two. She agreed, and a few days later I had the book in my hands. A few days later I was able to conduct a reading at, an amazing school for pre-schoolers, run by Ravi and Viji.

There were about twenty toddlers in the room - Magic Puddles follows somewhat of a Montessori model, where children different ages are mixed together to provide for a more enrichening learning experience.

Having children between two-and-a-half and four-five years of age meant reading out the story page-by-page would be a challenge.

What I instead decided to follow was to not read out the story, but rather use the rich, full-page and double-paged color spreads to tell the story.

Holding up the book, spread open, and then asking the children to guess what was happening turned out to be a winning strategy, and injecting humour in-between kept the kids' attention.

There was one child who had read the story earlier - rather, her father had read the story out to her, and she was super-super-excited to participate in the story telling session! I can imagine the excitement she would have felt - I was taken back more than thirty years back to my own childhood - as best as I can remember it now :-)

One thing that I realized was that the kids were too young to quite understand the importance of speaking to plants and animals, in a metaphorical sense. They understood the importance of asking questions. And were very willing to demonstrate it in practice too! 

I shot this too soon... the little fella had not yet finished putting the book up.

And now he has. And now seeing the photos again, I sure hope the little angel in the brown t-shirt got his turn, because in the photo below, he is looking very hopefully, but still without the book in his hands.

And did I tell you the book is priced at Rs 30!! I think all of Pratham Books' books are priced at below Rs 50 - that is simply amazing!


Thank you Abhinav 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)or