Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Reading in regional languages - Madhuri Purandare shows us how!

Madhuri Purandare, author and illustrator of two of our sweetest little books for little readers, was featured in an article in the Pune Mirror. She spoke about the importance of having good literature for children in Marathi, about how she started out as an author and illustrator and what makes her books work.

Here is an excerpt from the article: (via Pune Mirror)

It is no mean feat to make a profound impression on young minds. Madhuri Purandare, a Marathi children’s book writer and illustrator of repute, has been striving hard to create a love for Marathi literature among children and she is coming up with two more books English translation with non-profit organisation Pratham Books.

These simple books can also be found in English, Hindi, Kannada and Telugu. The Marathi originals are for making children learn to appreciate their native tounge. The books are Babachya Mishya (Daddy’s Mo) and Kakuche Bal (Aunty Jui’s Baby).

With her efforts to put forth children-friendly topics, it is but obvious that reactions to it will be positive. “The topics I pick are different. They can connect with the topics. As the children connect to the books, they talk to their families better. The second most important thing in my book is the illustrations and many are able to connect to the stories better through them.”

To read the complete article click here.

To buy the book "Daddy's Mo" click here. To buy the book "Aunty Jui's Baby" click here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Storytelling Sessions, Mumbai

This event listing is a little late, but your kids can still attend 2 more sessions! More details on the poster below.

Via an email sent by British Council (via Chintan Girish Modi)

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Things to Do While Reading to Your Child

25 - Little Reader
Reading daily with your child is critical to their development in many ways. There is no better way to increase vocabulary, teach literacy fundamentals, and expose your child to images and words to which they would otherwise not be exposed.
However, just saying the words on the page, while giving some benefits to your child, will not make the experience as productive as possible. By adding just a few small changes to your read-aloud time, you will be greatly increasing your child’s reading preparedness. Here are seven suggestions to make read-alouds the best learning experience possible every time you read together:

Read the Title, Author’s Name, and Illustrator’s Name - It’s important for children to become familiar with what these three things mean. Explain what author and illustrator mean. It’s also great for them to understand that every book is written and illustrated by real people.
Ask Your Child to Make Predictions - Read the title and look at the cover, then ask your child to tell you what they think might happen in the book. Most children will be quite uncomfortable with this in the beginning since they don’t know the answer, and they want to please you by saying only correct answers. Encourage them by saying that there is no wrong answer, but rather you just want them to take a guess. Ask them again in the middle of the book to make a prediction about how the story will end, and you could even make your own prediction and sometimes model that it’s okay to make an incorrect prediction.

Ask Your Child What Is Happening In the Pictures - It may not seem like pictures are as significant of a learning tool as the words, but when your child examines what is happening in a picture and explains it, it develops their inference skills. Just make sure not to do it with EVERY picture. Once or twice during a book will give them a chance to practice without completely interrupting the flow of the book.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : Holtsman / Melanie Holtsman

Writing with a Sense of Joy

Children create their own world of stories from the illustrations provided to them
Image Source : Pratham Books

(This is a guest post by Chintan Girish Modi. Chintan works with Shishuvan School in Mumbai and manages an online group called People in Education).

Earlier this month while conducting a workshop with children at Mumbai’s National Centre for Performing Arts, an argument I have often made about writing reaffirmed itself. I believe  that children write with a sense of joy only when they are truly engaged with the subject of their writing. And this experience becomes more enjoyable for them when they are in a supportive 
community of writers.

What was the workshop about? It was called ‘Dear Diary’ and was offered from May 2 to 4, 2012 as part of NCPA’s Summer Fiesta.

Here is a brief concept note I wrote: "Are diaries only for wimpy kids? Can diaries become friends who listen without advising, who understand without asking all the embarrassing details, who can hold secrets without spilling them? This hands-on workshop will get participants to explore how they think and feel about themselves through games, activities, music and stories. Participants will be encouraged to express themselves in inventive ways, with and without words. What if a secret diary is found? We`ll learn about code language too."

The 11-and-a-half to 14-year olds I worked with wrote about various things – the stories behind their names, places they want to visit, what they love about themselves, secret spaces of their own, things that scare them, things they wished they could do, what they feel like doing when they are angry, and much more. I got to know them as writers, and as people. That helped create a bond.

It was great to read what they came up with, and I also wrote along with them. I have done this before with other groups of students, and I think this is really useful. Children get to see that adults face similar hurdles while trying to express their thoughts. Adults get to step into the shoes of the children they are working with, and learn to empathize with their struggles. There is a feeling of equality that comes from this. And it gets even better when a workshop of this nature, and classrooms in schools, make time and space for children to share their work with each other. Just this simple act of sharing can be powerful in spaces where adults alone get to determine the ‘worth’ and ‘value’ of something a child has created.

Where does one begin? How does one get children truly engaged with the subject of their writing? That’s simple! One needs to find out what excites them, moves them, bothers them, makes them think. The most reluctant of writers might feel like writing if it’s going to be personally meaningful for them in some way, beyond pleasing the teacher and getting a good grade. Anyone who has sincerely worked with children even for the shortest period of time will vouch for the gems of creative brilliance and insight they can come up with. And this, I feel, is remarkable when their creative urges have to battle with thousands of mass-produced images coming at them from everywhere.

Make Reading Time Family Time

Reading Free Fall

Creating a daily reading routine with your child is more than just fun; it helps build vocabulary and listening skills, develops your child’s imagination and encourages a love of reading. It also creates quality time between reader and listener and can be a wonderful conversation starter.

Here are some ideas to get you and your kids reading together throughout the day:

• Let your kids pick the books they want you to read to them, or that they would like to read themselves. If it’s a topic they are interested in, they will have more fun listening or reading about it.

• Read a chapter a day. Choose a time of day that works best for your family. For many it may be bedtime, like it is for us, but for others it may be over the breakfast table or winding down after dinner.

Read one chapter aloud, or for younger kids, choose one book to read aloud. Setting aside a special time of day to read encourages kids to look forward to reading each day and helps create a reading routine.

• Some days parents may just feel too tired to read. If that’s the case, why not listen to an audio book together? Find picture books on CD that are accompanied by the book and younger readers can read right along with you, while older children can enjoy listening to chapter books while helping you with the dishes.

The story is the same; the time together is still happening and the discussion that follows can be just as meaningful.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source : evilpeacock/ Eric Peacock

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Launches, Reading and More ...

Mid Day carried an article about the book launch of our books 'Daddy's Mo' and Aunty Jui's Baby' and the importance of cultivating a reading habit amongst children. Please click on the article below for a larger view or click here to read the article.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Creative Writing Workshop : Writing in Different Wor(l)ds

Our friend, Tulika Bathija, is conducting a creative writing workshop for 9-12 year olds. Click on the poster below for more details.

The Comic Con Express is Coming to Bangalore

Via NH7

Unlike the complete event, Comic Con Express is a sort of mini-comic con that will feature more local artists and publishers and allow fans to get a feel of what the New Delhi-based Comic Con India is like (read our reports on Comic Con India here). This year’s event has moved to Bangalore and will be held on September 8 and 9 at the Kormangala Stadium in Bangalore.

Comic Con Express is the traveling version of the Indian Comic Con, the annual Comics Convention at Delhi. Comic Con Express was started with the aim of taking Comic Con to cities throughout India to support and boost the comics industry by increasing local interaction and participation.

Our prime motive is to bolster the nascent comic culture throughout India, by taking the best the Indian comics industry has to offer to people who would otherwise never get a chance to have the Comic Con experience.

Comic Con Express also seeks to promote local artists and writers from various cities, by giving them an opportunity to interact with established artists, writers and publishers and a space to bring their work to the attention of people from the industry.

Participant registration is already open. Visit the website for more details.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Writers' Routines

Writer's Routines is a 'blog about the daily work schedules of writers'.


An example of Vladimir Nabokov writing schedule notes that ...
Vladimir Nabokov wrote most of his novels, including Lolita and Pale Fire, on index cards. His novel Ada, for example, wound up taking over 2000 cards.  
In a 1967 Paris Review interview, Nabokov says, “The pattern of the thing precedes the thing. I fill in the gaps of the crossword at any spot I happen to choose. These bits I write on index cards until the novel is done. My schedule is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.”  
Index cards were like his laptop and text editor: portable, in that he could write in the car while his wife drove him across the Western US on butterfly expeditions, and easily editable, because their order could be reshuffled. They also allowed him to write his novels non-linearly, middle last. Nabokov also preferred to write standing up. -wikipedia
(Source: piecesofreiss)
Visit the blog to read up on your favourite writers.

Image Source :  pantagrapher / Mike Innocenzi

Atta Galatta : A Bookstore for Regional Language Books

Bang in the middle of Koramangala, Subodh and Lakshmi have their two-storeyed, beautiful heritage home. “We moved into an apartment a couple of years ago. Both of us were averse to the idea of converting this place into a PG accommodation or a service apartment. When we set out thinking, we felt it has to be a bookstore,” the couple recall. Certainly not a run-of-the-mill bookstore. Why not a regional languages bookstore? “On so many occasions, when we were looking for a Tamil book, we've had to really go hunting for it. A bookstore selling regional language books in a cosmopolitan city makes a lot of sense,” says Subodh.

But it's a minority that reads and speaks in their mother tongue. “Making perfect business sense was not our sole idea. We are fortunate to have enough to live on and don't want to get rich through this bookstore. Having said that I am also not willing to jump into conclusions about shrinking interest in the mother tongue. Let's keep it open,” says Lakshmi positively. Subodh takes the opportunity to narrate a recent happening. “It was just the other day, I was lounging in my easy chair, and this rather young chap comes on a macho bike asking for books. I was so sure he had made the wrong stop. And to my surprise, he bought Kannada books worth Rs. 1200! Someone even came up asking for the complete collection of Poornachandra Tejaswi. ” In fact, when Subodh had insisted that they get a market survey done to find out if there would be takers for their bookstore, Lakshmi was staunchly against the idea. It was an uphill effort and it took them 13 months to put the store together. “We don't want to be a Landmark or a Crossword. In a way defining our store has helped,” adds Lakshmi.

It's important to enlarge the community of readers, and to get them interested in writings of other languages. Subodh and Lakshmi have planned a series of readings, poetry and story telling sessions, which will not only make possible an interaction with a diverse group of readers, but also culturally sensitise a reader to other languages. “I am a Tamilian, but I would certainly want to be in the audience of a Kannada reading,” says Subodh. Books are not about reading alone, it's about an experience, enjoying the sounds and textures of other languages, feel the couple. “Our space is available to others who share our views. It could be visual arts, performing arts… anything. We will charge them a registration fee, and once the event is over, the money can be redeemed for books,” they explain.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source: Atta Galatta Facebook Page

Book-ed Tales

Neatly stacked books on the shelf sit patiently, waiting to tell their stories. They embrace within their covers childhood tales that go beyond regional, linguistic, and social-economic boundaries.

Welcome to the world of stories, weaved specially for children. On Wednesday evening, as the book 'Aunty Jui’s Baby', written by Madhuri Purandare, was released in five languages, one could see how tales can grip any audience. Over 70 kids sat listening to the story, and later indulged in an interactive drawing session. Organised by Pratham Books, this was just one in a series of book-related activities that this not- for-profit organisation has been undertaking.

Established in 2004, the organisation works with the sole purpose of ensuring that there's a book in every child’s hand. “Stories are integral to growing up,” says Sandhya Taksale, editor, Pratham Books, Pune. “We believe that though there are provisions and systems to ensure education to kids, story books do not really reach every child. They are expensive or there is a language issue. Pratham Books was founded to bridge this gap. Our sole aim is to make story books affordable and easy to access.”

The organisation's head office is in Bengaluru. In Pune, Taksale and a few volunteers run the organisation. On their portfolio are more than 215 titles in English. But Taksale believes it’s their regional language books that really make a difference. "A sense of identity is ensured if a child can read a story in his own mother tongue. More often than not, regional language books do not cater to children’s books, and if they do, they are difficult to procure. When translated books are wrapped in catchy book covers, illustrations and elaborate drawings, a child feels like reading them."

Purvi Shah, brand manager, Pratham Books is quick to furnish the organisation’s reach with numbers. “Most of our books are priced below Rs 25. We have printed over 8.5 million books, 10 million story cards and touched a readership of 25 million. But there's still a long way to go – 200 million children in India still grow up without stories.” 

Availability of story books in regional languages has also made sure that story -telling in languages like Urdu gets a face lift. “Often the only material in Urdu is based on religion. Apart from that, nothing else is available. If you look at the language, it is so liberal. We have introduced several translations in Urdu too.” 

An interesting initiative of Pratham is the 'Creative Commons'. Under this project, translated books are put up on the Internet for free access to all. “It's amazing, once we made our resources available online, the distance they traveled. We've had books translated into languages we didn't know, our audio books have been used as teaching tools by volunteers teaching underprivileged children in their neighbourhood, and our books are being converted into Braille,” says a proud Shah.

NOTE : The article states 'An interesting initiative of Pratham is the 'Creative Commons''. 
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. We (Pratham Books) license some of our books under Creative Commons licenses. We haven't started an initiative called 'Creative Commons'. For more information on Creative Commons, visit http://creativecommons.org.

Akshay Pathak on Storytelling Festivals That Aren't Quite What They Seem...

Akshay Pathak talks about a recent storytelling festival that took place in Dantewada ...

Via Open
The scorching sun was no deterrent for the hundreds of children gathered together for the first-ever Essar Kahani Utsav, organised from 17 to 19 April in Dantewada (a district in Chhattisgarh where the media and government celebrate their own attempts at storytelling). They were used to the heat and this was their day out—a fantastic picnic party that the rich sponsors had thrown for them. Set aside the fact that the children had never been on a bus before and many were throwing up or fainting, this was a rare moment in history. They were going to be part of a celebration, a novel idea for cultural upliftment, a feather in the cap of the district administration and of the Essar Group, which claims to provide the children with ‘a better future’.  
Long pieces of cloth in different colours hanging outside the venue— in classic Teamwork Productions style (the event management company organising this festival)—conjured a sense of celebration.  
The mood inside, though, didn’t match. That is, if you set aside the sight of visibly uninterested festival organisers and district administrators finding ways to pat their backs. And there was certainly no festive air around the 600-odd Adivasi children who had travelled hours on foot and buses to hear stories on an empty stomach—“the district administration miscalculated the numbers”, the organisers explained to me later, and so they had run out of food for the children.  
What makes us fawn over this idea of cultural intervention, of celebrating the arts, of spawning one festival after another? Why can’t we pause to see if there is a need at all? What makes these corporations—almost all of them by now ‘socially responsible’—so convinced they are ‘making a difference’? The presumably deliberate omission on Teamwork’s part to mention to me that Essar was a sponsor was a vile tactic, leaving the likes of me divided over whether to walk out or stick around for the sake of the barefoot children, who, though completely overwhelmed, were there and expectant. That most of them did not comprehend Hindi, the language I was supposed to tell them stories in and get them to tell stories in too, didn’t seem to bother the organisers. There was enough tokenism by way of a few local artistes and some dance and song. Their apology to me, ambiguously stated that they themselves had no idea that Hindi would be “such a stumbling block”. Obviously, no one had bothered to figure out the reality on the ground. That no one thought it necessary to understand and respect the need illustrates how little they actually care about people in such a ‘remote’ place. Anything you throw their way is supposed to help them ‘develop’. The money is there to be used, to signify that someone at least ‘cares’. 
We lamented the complete lack of purpose in what we were there for. A Kahani Utsav to make children laugh? A festival to pay lip service to ‘culture’? To become another photograph in a brochure for Essar Foundation? To join the growing list of the festival mafia? To become the local administration’s trophy for villagers? To tell poor children to clap their hands every five minutes so that noise may drown out the murmurs of our conscience? Why do we need a story-telling festival in Dantewada? And if we do, should we not at least understand or appreciate the sensitive nature of the place?
Read the entire article here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Amazon gets rights to borrow Harry Potter ebooks

Via AFP 
Amazon said Thursday it has signed a deal for the electronic books rights to all seven Harry Potter titles in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish for its Kindle lending library. 
The deal allows subscribers of the Amazon Prime service, which requires an annual subscription, to borrow the electronic versions of best-selling JK Rowling books. 
Amazon said it inked the exclusive license with J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website to make the titles available to its customers via the Kindle e-reader. 
But the deal only allows for borrowing of the ebooks, with Pottermore remaining the only place to buy the electronic versions.
"We're absolutely delighted to have reached this agreement with Pottermore. This is the kind of significant investment in the Kindle ecosystem that we'll continue to make on behalf of Kindle owners," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive.
Read the entire article here.

“It’s a commercial deal that makes sense even with a level of cannibalization of my sales,” Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne tells paidContent, “but I believe it will actually drive greater sales.” 
“The way the deal is structured means that any lost sales are more than made up for,” Redmayne says. “Yes, some people will borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and therefore not buy, but Amazon is paying us a large amount of money for that right, and I believe it’s a commercial deal that makes sense.”
Moreover, Redmayne says the deal “enables people to discover Harry Potter” and thinks that most of the time, readers who “kind of wanted to [buy Harry Potter books] but haven’t…will go to KOLL, discover the brilliance of Jo Rowling’s writing and want to buy the rest and own the set.” Redmayne pointed to some statistics Amazon previously released: The company said that in the case of the Hunger Games trilogy, which is available through KOLL, nineteen percent of customers who borrowed the first book in the trilogy went on to purchase one of the later books instead of waiting another thirty days to borrow it.
Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Training Course In Book Publishing

The Publishing Industry of India is one of the largest in the world. An industry that is at once strong and vibrant, both in English and other Indian languages. The phenomenal growth of publishing in the last few decades, the coming up of more and more new publishing houses catering to specialised areas and the increasing global visibility of Indian writings have combined to create a need to produce and market books more professionally, offering a wide array of lucrative employment opportunities. Today there is a clear need for trained professionals in different areas of publishing editing, production, design, sales and marketing. 

In order to meet this demand, National Book Trust, India (NBT) has been organising courses in publishing throughout the country. 

The 4-week training course in Book Publishing aims to give the participants an overview of publishing. Hands-on experience and interactive sessions form an important segment of the course. Effective and participatory interaction is ensured through case studies, group discussions, project work and visits to publishing houses.The course is designed suitably, keeping in view the needs of the industry in the Indian context. Besides strengthening the knowledge in different aspects of publishing, the course also helps the participants to take up publishing as a career.

Click here for more details on the course. The last date for submitting applications is 10th June, 2012. 

Book Making Workshop - Chennai

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

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.

On Censorship

Image Source : Issac Mao

An excerpt from Salman Rushdie's PEN speech on censorship ...

Via The New Yorker (via @nilanjanroy)
No writer ever really wants to talk about censorship. Writers want to talk about creation, and censorship is anti-creation, negative energy, uncreation, the bringing into being of non-being, or, to use Tom Stoppard’s description of death, “the absence of presence.” Censorship is the thing that stops you doing what you want to do, and what writers want to talk about is what they do, not what stops them doing it. 
The creative act requires not only freedom but also this assumption of freedom. If the creative artist worries if he will still be free tomorrow, then he will not be free today. If he is afraid of the consequences of his choice of subject or of his manner of treatment of it, then his choices will not be determined by his talent, but by fear. If we are not confident of our freedom, then we are not free. 
And, even worse than that, when censorship intrudes on art, it becomes the subject; the art becomes “censored art,” and that is how the world sees and understands it. The censor labels the work immoral, or blasphemous, or pornographic, or controversial, and those words are forever hung like albatrosses around the necks of those cursed mariners, the censored works. 
At its most effective, the censor’s lie actually succeeds in replacing the artist’s truth. That which is censored is thought to have deserved censorship. Boat-rocking is deplored. 
This is the final victory of the censor: When people, even people who know they are routinely lied to, cease to be able to imagine what is really the case.
Read the entire article here.

2 New Books. 2 Cities. Double the Fun!

Pratham Books is launching two delightful children's stories - 'Babachya Mishya' (Daddy's Mo) and 'Kakuche Bal' (Aunty Jui's Baby), authored and illustrated by well-known children's author, Madhuri Purandare. Written originally in Marathi, it has been translated into English, Hindi, Kannada and Telugu.

The launch will be followed by an exciting storytelling session and an engaging activity for the little ones.

Pune event:
Venue: Akshardhara Book Gallery, Sanas Plaza, Bajirao Road. Pune 30.
Date and Time: Thursday, May 17th at 6 pm
Book launch by: Author Ms Madhuri Purandare and well known educationist Ms Meena Chandawakar.
Ideal for: 4 – 8 years

Bangalore Event:
Venue: Reliance Timeout, Mantri Mall, Malleswaram
Date and Time: Sunday May 20th at 5 pm
Storytelling session: Kathalaya trained storyteller, Radhika
Ideal for: 4 – 8 years

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cool Summer Reading for Kids (And Special Discounts Too!)

Wouldn’t you love your children to spend their holidays immersed in books that are fun to read and educative too?

Browse through our summer book deals and avail special discounts. We have book packs for all reading levels and the packs are available in English, Hindi and Marathi.

So, go on, encourage your child to read, not one, but many, many stories. Not just in English, but also in a language the child is learning or one that is spoken at home. And do consider spreading the joy of reading to all children you come across.

Click here to view the deals. 

Do forward this to your friends and family and help us spread the happy summer sunshine!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Few More Days to Submit Your Entries for the 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest'

We have some gooooooooood news.

We've decided to extend the deadline for the 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest' to 21st May, 2012! 

10 more days to work on the story you've started or were planning to start. 

Here are the details : 

Take the images available here, weave your own story 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 story....how cool is that!

Having starting trouble? 
Browse through our editor's remixed versions of the original story.We have one in English 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 contest@prathambooks.orgalong 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 web@prathambooks.org
  • 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.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Colonial Ebook Bazaar

Nilanjana Roy writes about the DRM effect on ebooks ...

Via Business Standard

The market for Kindles and dedicated ebook readers is tiny in India — but the market for tablets such as the iPad and the Galaxy Tab, which double as excellent reading devices, is both sizeable and growing. The problem for the Indian reader is different: buying ebooks is an exercise in frustration, a return to the bad old days of socialism when everything you really wanted was tantalisingly displayed in the window of a shop to which you had no entry.

Most Indian publishers haven’t yet digitised their books – or haven’t digitised a significant percentage of their books, or don’t have an Amazon account – so most of the lost classics, drama, poetry, rare histories and biographies that you might want in ebook form are not available. Indian books in translation – which would make up the bulk of great Indian literature – are only sparsely available in ebook form from online retailers.

The global publishing industry’s insistence on DRM – digital rights management systems, which allow readers to access ebooks only in specific territory – has little impact on readers in the US or the UK. With large ebookstores and an ample selection, most US or UK readers have access to a far wider variety of books than do their counterparts in other territories, creating a kind of unofficial but deep-rooted system of digital inequality.

One might also argue that DRM functions as an unfair reminder of the colonial era. For readers and writers in many countries outside the US, UK and Canada, the promise of ebooks was the promise of equal access — our writers could travel elsewhere, theirs could be read across borders. Instead, DRM sets up bristling electronic fences, dividing the world into territories of more and less privileged readers. Until these fences come down, the ebook market in India will remain a shrivelled, bonsai version of what it could be.

Read the entire article here.

A Story, a Book and a Living Museum

Vaiju Naravane takes a tour of Orhan Pamuk's Masumiyet Muzesi (Museum of Innocence) - the museum based on the book.

“It's not as if I wrote a successful novel and then said, ‘let me turn it into a museum.' No, I conceived both the novel and the museum together,” the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish writer, Orhan Pamuk, told The Hindu in an exclusive interview on the eve of the opening of his Museum of Innocence or Masumiyet Muzesi in Istanbul.

The museum is housed in the very building described in the novel, a building Pamuk bought before he began writing his book and which he slowly peopled with his imaginary characters and the objects he kept collecting as the characters grew. This is where the novel's heroine Fusun lives with her parents, where Kemal catches up with her after a long separation.

Although he bought the house as early as 1999, it took him until 2008 to finish his novel, the story of star-crossed lovers — a rich boy and his poor, distant, but stunningly beautiful cousin. The novel was a runaway success translated into some 60 languages. “I began thinking of this novel in the mid-1990s, when I said to myself, I'll buy a house and imagine a family living there and then chronicle their stories, their daily lives from the kitchen to the street, what they do or say and how they live. So I thought I would collect the objects of their ordinary lives and weave these into my story — place them in the hands of the family. I wrote the novel as I bought the objects and I also wanted to write about the making of the museum as part of the novel. I don't know why I did this. But as always, a djinn entered me and I followed my inner footsteps.”

Going through the door is like walking through the looking glass, hurtling back in time. Arranged on three floors are the 83 chapters of his novel starting with a wall display of the “4,213 cigarette butts left behind by Fusun and carefully hoarded by Kemal, her desperate lover.” A small black and white video installation that recreates smoking gestures provides a commentary on social communication in the 1970s — how the cigarette is held, carried to the mouth, and how ash is tapped into the ashtray. Hundreds of objects, including photos, clothes, cutlery, home appliances, bibelots, paintings, jewellery and other bric-a-brac are lovingly composed into stunning tableaux contained in elegant wooden vitrines or cabinets, each one bearing the number of a chapter from the book.

Read the entire article here. You can also view pictures of the museum on The Guardian. Also, take a look at the list of 10 beautiful buildings inspired by famous books.

Image Source : The Guardian

Little Free Libraries!

When Todd Bol wanted to do something in memory of his mother, a librarian and book lover who passed away a decade ago, he came up with the idea of little free libraries - he built a miniature version of a library, filled it with books and left it on his lawn for anyone to take! What started on this one man's lawn soon became a movement and now these little free libraries can be found in 24 states in the US and eight countries world wide!

Picture Source: Official Little Free Libraries site
Via USA Today

"Take a book, leave a book," says Bol, explaining in a nutshell, the basic concept of these tiny libraries.

After building the first library, Bol thought the idea had potential to spread. He contacted his friend Rick Brooks, who is an outreach program manager for the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of Wisconsin.

Together, they have helped launch a small, but growing movement.

The men provide logistical assistance and support to people who want to become mini-librarians. They have a website, littlefreelibrary.org, that provides drawings people can use to construct the boxes. It also has a map that tracks the location of Little Libraries.

In Wisconsin, Brooks says prison inmates recently started building the libraries, which will soon be posted in several Wisconsin communities.

He says a project is in the works in New Orleans to create libraries out of Hurricane Katrina debris.

People who use the libraries don't have to have a library card, or follow any formal checkout procedure. The libraries have signs that simply ask users to return a book — there are no fines if they don't.

Read the complete article here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Children and Creative Writing

Via livemint.com
But today’s generation of parents are all for supplementing single-minded curricula in schools with the newly minted pedagogy of creative writing. Today, a fleet of independent creative writing courses seek to emphasize writing and communication as essential skills for young people who want to succeed. Last month, a children’s literature festival in Mumbai extended off The Writer’s Bug, a reading and writing forum which organizes fortnightly writing activities in Mumbai. From 17 May, Young Zubaan, the children’s imprint of independent publisher Zubaan, will host a workshop for aspiring young writers, collaborating with The Pomegranate Workshop (TPW), an experience-oriented arts venture, at The Attic, New Delhi. In Bangalore this summer, in addition to sports camps, art and theatre workshops, children can take creative writing courses organized by programmes such as iLeap, a comprehensive after-school children’s curriculum, and small businesses like MyMitra Children’s Library. 
Creative writing education has arrived, in a surprisingly big way. 
“It’s important for my child to break away from her syllabus and observe the world around her,” says Mumbai-based Vrinda Khattar, who is registering her seven-year-old daughter for a writing course this summer. “An academic curriculum can extinguish creativity. I would want my child to develop the other kinds of intelligence—Howard Gardner speaks of eight different types of intelligence—not addressed by a syllabus.” Khattar realized her daughter, Nitika, would benefit from creative writing classes when she was asked to write for the school magazine; the proud mother says Nitika’s first piece, on her dance practice, was published recently. 
Education professionals agree. “Children step out of pre-packaged, pre-defined scripts through creative writing,” says American educator Steven Rudolph, co-founder of the Jiva Public School in Faridabad, Haryana, an ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education)-recognized school with its own curriculum based on Rudolph’s multiple intelligences and multiple natures framework. 
Read the entire article here.

And while we are on the subject of creative writing, get your kids to take a shot at our 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest.' (P.S.- Adults can participate in the contest too :))

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why the Death of DRM Would be Good News

At the end of April, Tor Books, the world's largest science fiction publisher, and its UK sister company, Tor UK, announced that they would be eliminating digital rights management (DRM) from all of their ebooks by the summer. It was a seismic event in the history of the publishing industry. It's the beginning of the end for DRM, which are used by hardware manufacturers and publishers to limit the use of digital content after sale. That's good news, whether you're a publisher, a writer, a dedicated reader, or someone who picks up a book every year or two. 
Like all DRM systems, ebook DRM presumes that you can distribute a program that only opens up ebooks under approved circumstances, and that none of the people you send this program to will figure out how to fix it so that it opens ebooks no matter what the circumstances. Once one user manages that, the game is up, because that clever person can either distribute ebooks that have had their DRM removed, or programs to remove DRM (or both). And since there's no legitimate market for DRM – no readers are actively shopping for books that only open under special approved circumstances – and since the pirated ebooks are more convenient and flexible than the ones that people pay for, the DRM-free pirate editions drive out the DRM-locked commercial editions. 
Most people don't really read books. A typical book buyer can be expected to buy a single book every year or so. On the other hand, a small minority are avid readers, the sort who'll buy 100-150 books a year. This market is one that publishers are eager to protect, and it's likely that anyone who spends $100 or more on an ebook reading device is an avid book reader already. That's why publishers spent so much time worrying about whether Amazon was discounting new ebook releases too deeply. Kindle owners overlap with avid readers, and avid readers are the target market for new, full-price hardcovers. 
Discounting ebooks when the hardcover is just out is likely to cannibalise one of the critical profit-centres for the industry. 
However, these readers are also the ones most likely to run up against the limits of DRM. They're the customers who amass large libraries from lots of suppliers, and who value their books as long-term assets that they expect to access until they die. They may have the chance to change their ebook reading platform every year or two (the most common platform being a mobile phone, and many people get a new phone with each contract renewal). They want to be sure that their books travel with them. When their books don't, they'll be alienated, frustrated and will likely seek out unauthorised ways to get books in future. No one wants to be punished for their honesty.
Read the entire article here.

Storytelling Session in Pune

Sandhya Taksale, Editor, Pratham Books, writes about a storytelling session that took place in Pune ...

The storytelling event at Pune, based on Milind Gunaji's book (My Unforgettable Trip) on Forts received a good response. Around 30 kids and 12- 15 parents attended the event. 10 children were from Pratham, Pune, were also able to join this event.  As children like storytelling better than a book reading, we decided to narrate the story in the book.

I told the 'Fort' story and it was accompanied by visuals of forts in the Sahyadri ranges. The visuals of these grand forts created a sense of awe amongst the children. 

The best part of the session was when the session became interactive. Children eagerly shared information and stories about forts. There is just a reference to 'Hirkani Buruj' on fort Rajgad in the original story. I asked if anybody knew the 'Hirkani' story. Sanika, a third-grader, stood up and narrated the story to the audience. Her narration was similar to the narration in the book and the little storyteller received a big round of applause from the audience.

Later, one of our translators, Shruti narrated two stories from Gijubhai Badheka. We used these stories as it was a varied audience and folk tales work well with all age groups.


This storytelling was conducted as the part of Heritage Week that was being celebrated by Maratha Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, Pune.

Monday, May 7, 2012

When I Grow Up

A lovely animation about a girl who doesn't know what she wants to be.

Book Review : Narmada

Charlotte Richardson reviews our book 'Narmada' on the PaperTigers blog :
In Narmada: A pictorial journey down the river, Vidya Shah uses a naming game played by two children and their grandmother as a segue to a wealth of ecological information. Nine-year-old Avni knows many more words than Aadi, age 5, and enjoys feeling superior. However, when the children realize how much Daadi knows about the Narmada river, their river-naming game turns into a story. 
The Narmada is the third largest river in India and one of only three that flow east to west. Along its 300-kilometer route through a rift valley, many tribal cultures still endure deep poverty. The route is a popular pilgrimage path as well, with some ascetics taking two years to complete the round trip, up one side and down the other. Parthiv Shah’s appealing photographs–of temple steps down into the water, of brightly painted sails on narrow flat-bottomed boats, of long-boned, skinny boys leaping joyfully from a riverside cliff–bring the river culture beautifully alive. 
Daadi tells Avni and Aadi about the damage sand mining does to the ground water table but also explains how mining sustains impoverished tribal villagers. Text boxes provide additional details, including regional trees and foods, a folk song about the river, and water-saving tips. One photograph depicting a farm is captioned “Domkhedi, now submerged under water following the construction of the Sardar Sarovan dam.” The book doesn’t explain that Domkhedi villagers became famous in 2000 for protesting the controversial dam construction, but mention of the village may stimulate young readers’ further investigation. 
A map of the river and a fact sheet review are also provided. Non-Indian readers will find many challenging terms (samadhis, dargahs, ghats) in the story as well as a daunting number of Indian geographical names, but the photographs provide a bridge between the simple narrative structure and the sophisticated factual information. As an introduction to riparian culture in India and as an environmental research source for older children, text and images present an important ecological story.
Click here to buy the book.

The Bibliomulas of Venezuela

Ever had a noble mission but found that sometimes the people you want to help live in places too remote for you to effectively reach? Well, the students at a university in Venezuela know what that feels like, but they didn't let it stop them! When they found that children living in remote villages would hardly have any material to read, they started this ingenious venture to help them out - Project Bibliomula. Using mules as mobile libraries, they take the joy of reading to kids in places that are otherwise totally disconnected from the world. As the following report by the BBC clearly shows, this venture was a phenomenal success.

Via The BBC

Anyone who was not out working the fields - tending the celery that is the main crop here - was waiting for our arrival. The 23 children at the little school were very excited.

"Bibilomu-u-u-u-las," they shouted as the bags of books were unstrapped. They dived in eagerly, keen to grab the best titles and within minutes were being read to by Christina and Juana, two of the project leaders.

"Spreading the joy of reading is our main aim," Christina Vieras told me.

"But it's more than that. We're helping educate people about other important things like the environment. All the children are planting trees. Anything to improve the quality of life and connect these communities."

You can read the complete article here:

This is their official blog:
(The blog is completely in Spanish, but if you open it with the Chrome browser, it does a pretty good job of translating the whole thing!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Reminder : Extended Deadline for the 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest'

While we are on the topic of celebrating imagination (watch this amazing video which celebrates a little boy's creative and entrepreneurial spirit), here's a small reminder that we've extended the deadline for the 'Retell. Remix and Rejoice contest'. The new deadline is 25th May, 2012.

Get your kids to put on their creative hats, look at the assorted images available and pick the ones they want. Once they've decided, they just have to put the pictures together and weave a story and send it to us. Simple!

We didn't want to leave the adults out, so we've even created a category for people above the age of 16 years. So, send in your lovely stories this weekend.

The details :
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 story....how cool is that!

Having starting trouble? 
Browse through our editor's remixed versions of the original story.We have one in English 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 contest@prathambooks.orgalong 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 web@prathambooks.org
  • Last date for entries is May 25th, 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.

Caine's Arcade

This video made my day! A perfect reason to celebrate the beauty of children's imaginations.

Caine's Arcade is about 'a 9 year old boy - who built an elaborate cardboard arcade inside his dad's used auto part store - is about to have the best day of his life'.

A seventeen-year veteran of “The Simpsons,” one among legions of recent pilgrims to Caine’s Arcade, broke down weeping at the sight of the real thing. He told Mullick that the moment recalled for him the scene in “Ratatouille” when the cynical food critic eats a bowl of soup, evoking visceral memories of his own mother’s cooking. “That’s what happened to me when Caine crawled into the box for the first time to push tickets out of a hole,” said Mullick. “It brought me back to when I was a kid, and reminded me of why I used to make things, why I wanted to make films, for the pure joy of creativity.”
As a philosophy student at New College, Mullick had been intrigued by the notion of the “perfect moment,” which Sartre explores in his novel “Nausea.” What are perfect moments? Do they exist? Can you create them? “I distinctly remember putting the book down and thinking about ‘perfect moments’ and how I’d lose myself when I do a drawing, and all track of time.” Mullick said the other day. “What if you could look into a stranger and know what it was that they wanted more than anything else in the world, and figure out a way to choreograph, and make that perfect moment happen for them in their life,” he continued. “When I ran into Caine, I knew how to create a perfect moment for this boy. I knew what he wanted more than anything: customers.”

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pratham Books Champion : Ritika Bajaj

As part of Litworld's World Read Aloud Day celebrations, 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 Ritika Bajaj who helped coordinate storytelling sessions across 6 centres run by the NGO VIDYA. Ritika has been a part of VIDYA since the past two and a half years in different strengths. She started volunteering to teach English and then went onto develop the English curriculum for different levels. She am now part of the core management team and helps with communications, special projects and fundraising.

World Read Aloud Day was a brilliant concept introduced to students of Bhavishya-Yaan, a programme by the NGO VIDYA India. Bhavishya-Yaan aims at building the confidence and employability opportunities of students of regional language municipal schools by aiding them with computers, life skills and spoken English. A select 120 children, from each of the six schools it is affiliated with, benefit from this programme.

Bhavishya-Yaan was already sourcing books for different levels and reading them out to students in their English sessions. This initiative by Pratham Books gave us instant access to books that perfectly matched the language levels of the students. Moreover, the chosen stories were just the right length for one class session.

World Read Aloud Day was a huge success at each of our six centres. The children enjoyed the fact that the day was dedicated purely to reading. They all took turns in reading aloud and comprehending the story. They played role play games, drawing games that described the story through pictures, spotted nouns and verbs and even did a Q&A generated from the stories. They enjoyed the characters and plot in each of the stories and were greatly amused by the dialogues in them.

We are happy to have participated in this initiative and will look forward to it each year. 

Thank you Ritika 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.