Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reading to be a Parent

Vidya B Chaudhuri writes about trying to keep up with her daughter and her reading habits ...

Bless Roald Dahl!

Thanks to my daughter Ananya, I am rediscovering him. From smiles that linger through the day to side splitting LOL afternoons, Roald Dahl has been a constant companion while I watch this little miss grow up. Last night when we were having dinner I told her that her friend Asavari has won the Pratham Books contest. The Retell, Remix and Rejoice story telling contest also had a theme around trees. Her face lit up. What a sweet victory for her friend. 

Well, I thought I should do my motherly bit and launched in to a quick trees and environment and civic responsibility bit. Hah!!! That was brave of me. Often I get foxed by her 11 going 21 attitude. Last night was no different. She hummed and hawed a few minutes about green activism and suddenly asked "Ma do you know who a dendrologist is?" Hadn't heard that one before. Ananya launched in to an explanation. And what is the source of her knowledge? Roald Dahl! Should have known. 

These times are challenging for mothers. Not the one to give up so easily, I did some homework and asked her to find out who an arborist was when I said good night to her. She is at school now. I will know her answer when she gets back home. I am reading up for another round of QandA.

P.S. - Dendrology is 'the botanical study of trees and other woody plants'

Contests and Awards!

1) SingTel Asian Picture Book Award.

Have you written a story that you think deserves to be illustrated, published and passed on to little people? This could be the platform!

The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) is delighted to announce the inaugural SingTel Asian Picture Book Award. Beginning in 2013, the award will be presented annually to an outstanding unpublished picture book with a distinctly Asian theme. The SingTel Asian Picture Book Award offers a total of S$10,000 for the First Prize consisting of $5,000 for an author and $5,000 for an illustrator. These will be individually known as the SingTel Asian Picture Book Award - Author, and the SingTel Asian Picture Book Award – Illustrator.

The closing date for the submission is December 31, 2012.


2) BICOF 2012 ICCA Online Call for Entry
(ICCA: International Children Comic Artist Awards)

Know many budding little artists? This might interest them and you!

The theme of ICCA this year is 'Village Where I live in'. What is it like in your village? Who lives there? Draw comics of your village and the selected artists get a chance to participate in the ICCA Comics Camp, South Korea, in August 2012.

All participants must be below 12.


3) Submissions for The Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2012

Contemporary Literary Review India in association with Wasafiri seeks submission for The Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2012. This is open to anyone worldwide who has not published a complete book.

The winners will receive £300 each and their work will be published in Wasafiri.

Find Our Books at the Neyveli Book Fair

The15th Annual Neyveli Book Fair starts on 29th June and is on till 8th July. Our books will be available at the Eureka Books stall. Find our books at :

Stall no: 73


Neyveli book fair, Book fair ground, 
(Near office of township administration), 
Block – 11, Neyveli - 607803 

Date: 29:06:2012 to 08:07:2012 
Timing: 11.00 A.M to 9.00 P.M. 

The organisers told The Hindu that as many 150 publishers with over 10,000 titles would participate in the fair.  
It is now branded as the South India’s second largest book fair, next only to Chennai. Timings of the fair have been extended to facilitate book lovers from far-off places to visit the venue. 
The highlight of the event is that one author and one publisher would be felicitated and one book released every day.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tinnitus Tintinnus

Manisha Chaudhry,  Head of content development- Pratham Books, writes about her visit to the Belgian Comic Strip Centre in Brussels.

Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée - 30
Image Source : Sitomon / Ramón
Brussels, cold and blustery on a summer day and we were on the fag end of a glorious holiday in Europe.

It seemed grey and drab after the sunny, pasta-filled delights of Italy. Amid the overkill of hellenistic busts, roman antiquities and renaissance art in museums and soaring churches, this was a bright squiggle that invited and intrigued- The Belgian Comic Strip Centre in Brussels. There had been enough teasers strewn all around Brussels where you could round a corner and find a wall fully painted with a comic-book frame. A lovely way to enliven a city which is otherwise placid and somewhat serious.You could be surprised anytime when out on a stroll.The one near the truly diminutive manneken pis (In India, SIZE matters:-)) actually makes the walk worthwhile!

The Comic Strip Centre is housed in an Art Nouveau building by Victor Horta which was built in 1906 and served as a textile warehouse for the longest time but had been lying neglected since 1970. Tastefully restored now, it is full of light and space for a foyer which houses Herbie, known for going bananas, and Tintin's famous lunar expedition rocket. The staircase is the model for the much loved Marlinspike Hall staircase where we have seen Captain Haddock miss a step many times.

The Centre is a wonderful exposition of the tradition of the comic strip in Europe. Belgium is said to have more than 700 comic strip artists and given its size, this would be a pretty dense population of practitioners of the Ninth Art. You can watch a utterly charming pre-disney animated cartoon of Gertie, the dinosaur done by Winsor McCay on friendly touch screens. You can read well mounted pages of comics of all vintages. If you wish to explore based on your preference of artists, you could read their potted biographies and even see some of their research materials and favoured art materials. The biographies of most of the greats are as interesting as their work. Artists such as Bob De Moor, Marten Toonder give you a real sense of the passion that they felt for this medium and how tenaciously they built it up. It is the centenary year of Marten Toonder (the creator of Tom Puss, loved by children and adults alike) and the special exhibition on him was fascinating with details of his family of artists where his seafarer father, brother, wife and son were all involved in similar work.

Tintin, of course is the superstar among a galaxy of rather distinguished heroes. You can stick your head in and get photographed in a cut out, you can see the sceptre used as a reference for King Ottokar's Sceptre, you can see the different hats used by Thomson and Thompson, you can see how Tintin's very simple face takes on different expressions with deft use of minimal lines whereas Captain Haddock's face registers excessive contortions. You can pore over the timeline of different comics and read Georges Remi biography alongside and ponder over the colonial stereotypes as well...If Tintin lives in heaven after he passed from the earth, it would probably look like this section in the Comic Strip Centre. 

Permanent and temporary exhibitions add to the variety of all that you can see. Another exhibition on British artist Posy Simmonds landed you smack in England in the liberal landscape of adult graphic novels.Her graphic novels Gemma Bovery and Tamara Drewe were presented along with hitherto unseen exhibits from her teenage years, audio recordings of her interviews of her growth as a story teller and artist. She has also done Fred for children which was adapted in 1996 as an animation short and received an Oscar nomination. Her journey exemplifies how the visual narrative has tremendous appeal in the age of television and its evolution as a sophisticated art form.

The appeal of graphics to tell a story is as old as cave paintings but it is in the comic strip museum that you appreciate the sweep of the medium across age groups, languages and themes.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Music for the mind

As I started writing this note there was soft music playing on my laptop. Soothing, energising, non-intrusive. Soon other sounds went up in the air...the sound of a car reversing to the tune of a stuccato 'Sare jahan se achchaa', mobiles going off with all strange ringtunes. But now, these irritants don't bother me much - for the mind is filled with music already from over the years: the music of my mother and mother-in-law, and other members of the family - many happy afternoons spent listening to Ranjini, Shubhapanthuvarali and Chenjuruti and other ragams; the music of our children - listening to and singing along with all kinds of music; the music of a faraway land - a young niece stunning us with a solo in a school choir; the music of the hills - an evening of kajris and thumris with a petite senior lady singing along at a dear friend's flat in Delhi - the sweetness that music brings into our lives!

Music knows no borders, they say. Or are there boundaries? For instance, can a washer-boy aspire to learn classical Hindustani music from a maestro? On the occasion of World Music Day, celebrated on June 21 every year, let me introduce a bit of music into your life - in the form of a book 'Bishnu, the Dhobi Singer'. This happy story is written by Subhadra Sen Gupta and illustrated by Tapas Guha, and at 64 pages, it is the first long book published by Pratham Books. Available in English, Hindi, Kannada and Marathi on our online store here. I enjoyed the book, and the music it brought to my mind!

And so I say, thank you for the music....

A lesson well learnt

Making learning a participatory process in schools always seems a tough task to achieve. Involving children to rake up their imagination is indeed a challenge. In this article first published in the Teacher Plus magazine, Chintan Girish Modi shares some of his ideas, inspired by reading a book called Mr. Forgetful, on how to make language lessons funner.

First, on getting the kids to reflect upon the story:

Read out the title of the story to your students – Mr Forgetful. Ask them to think about the title and guess what the story might be about. The objective is to get them to reflect on how a title can often throw light on the plot. Elicit answers and put them up on the black board in the form of a mind map. If something sounds silly or weird, do not reject it outright. You have offered students an opportunity to use their imagination, and they might want to let it run wild as they predict what lies in store. It is often great fun to hear the amazing range of things students come up with. There is a lot of scope for laughter in the classroom as they share their thoughts. And there’s just so much more material for stories of different kinds to take shape!
This is what a mind-map could look like: [A box in the middle of the blackboard saying ‘Mr Forgetful. Arrows jutting out of the box, pointing in different directions. Each arrow corresponds to a student response -- 1. forgets his house address 2. forgets to do his homework 3. forgets to switch off lights and fans 4. forgets to have a bath 5. forgets what his mother sent him to buy from the market 6. forgets to brush his teeth]

Then, on urging them to let their thoughts fly:

Ask each student to choose an adjective and create a character possessing that quality. For example: Miss Naughty, Mr Happy, Miss Kind, Mr Cruel. These are just examples. Ask students to come up with adjectives. Fill up the blackboard with all the adjectives they come up with. Each student is expected to now write a story in such a way that the quality chosen by them is embodied in the characterization, and highlighted in the events and dialogue.
* Write along with your students. It is a great way to enter their shoes, and feel what they feel like. It is also tremendous fun. You cease to be just their teacher. You become a fellow writer, a comrade of sorts. They will welcome your participation and gain confidence to write their own stories and share them freely.”

Read the full article on Adhyayan here:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Perfect Ambassadors - Kashmiri Boys Excel in Marathi

Today's newspapers carry a pleasant news about linguistic brotherhood. A Pune-based non-governmental organisation, Sarhad, adopted 11 boys from a conflict-ridden region of Kashmir in 2004. They started learning Marathi from scartch. This year, the boys have excelled in Marathi in the Class 10 exam conducted by the Maharashtra government.

via The Hindu:

“In my village, Dardpur in Kupwara, there are many children who still don’t go to school. I feel lucky that I came here and I have passed Class 10,” said Dilbar Khoja, who has scored the highest overall amongst the boys at 80 per cent, with 72 in Marathi.

Sarhad Founder Sanjay Nahar said the children make perfect ambassadors for both Pune and Kashmir. “When we got the children, the idea was to inculcate the local culture in them, without disconnecting them from their roots. We didn’t isolate anyone, and they study along with local children. We wanted to inculcate leadership qualities in them,” he said.

You can read the entire article here.

A Canticle for Libraries

State Central Library of Karnataka in Cubbon Park
Image Source : Nathan Naze
Kanchan Bannerjee writes ...

I read this piece by Anurag Behar in the Livemint paper a few days ago. It brought back nostalgic images to my mind. I would be happy to hear from our friends that there are still some oases like the libraries of yore. It is not just the presence of libraries – it is the intangible ‘jaan’ that is missing. An excerpt below.
“The heat would melt the tar on the road, as I walked back home from school with friends. None of us would notice that the stiff black leather shoes burnt the feet with concentrated heat. From home I would walk to the British Library, the melting tar would stick to the shoe. Despite all our claims of the lake-generated pleasantness, Bhopal burnt in April and May, as much as the rest of north India. 
The library was an air-conditioned oasis. I was willingly lost, hardly noticing the air conditioning. Lost in Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man. Lost in Punch. Lost in Christie, Sayers and Wodehouse. Lost gazing at the stars, in a fascinating atlas of the universe. Lost in Toynbee, Greene and Yeats. Often understanding little but so completely lost, that is how I discovered the world. 
For every book I read, I read many more back-covers. I probably learnt more from the back-covers than I did later at my four-year engineering programme. 
Last week I took my mother to a shop near the library. While she shopped I went and just stood in front of the library which was no longer there. In its place there was another library, the Vivekananda Library. This was a June evening, not a May afternoon, after 25 years. And out walked a familiar face from the past, from the different library. 
Since 25 years change a boy, more than a man, he could not have recognized me. We chatted briefly, all he needed to know was that there was a time that I used to visit the British Library. His lament (in chaste Bhopali) started with “saheb, ab jaan nahi rah gayi” (there is no life any more). He said that they buy books with no thought, often from the shop across the road. The membership has dwindled. The staff runs the place for the salary they get, not for love; it’s a travesty of the memory of the great man whose name it bears.
Both of us were blinded by the dense fog of nostalgia. For me it was the discovery of the loss of the dearest of friends. The only solace being that perhaps things were not as bad as he made it out to be. I went back to my mother, who knows what the library meant to me.
When I used to go to the British Library, I also used to visit the Hindi Bhavan, which was my gateway to Indian literature. It had a great collection in imposing glass cases and steel almirahs, but it didn’t have any jaan. I would select the books quickly and get them issued, never linger on, never get lost…..”
Read the entire article here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Publishing Next Conference

Last year, Pratham Books was given an opportunity to conduct a social media workshop at the Publishing Next conference organized by  CinnamonTeal Publishing. Leonard Fernandes wrote to us to tell us more about this year's conference ...

While we conceptualized Publishing Next, we intended to provide a free and uninhibited platform that would allow the future of books to be discussed and deliberated. In the first edition, held in September 2011, various stakeholders of the publishing industry presented before an eager audience a range of issues facing the industry – some that were obvious and stared in the face, like the advent of digital books and social media marketing and others whose impact was more difficult to gauge yet needed immediate attention, like that of the proposed copyright amendments and the changing landscape of translated literature in India.

In its second edition the conference will push the envelope a bit further by exploring issues that do not hog the headlines yet must be effectively addressed to ensure that a vibrant publishing industry is developed and sustained. The second edition of Publishing Next will depart from its earlier format to increase the level of interaction between participants and ensure that the future of publishing is better explained to an eager audience. To that end, more workshops, insight-sharing sessions and panel discussions will be scheduled. The idea behind the new format is to lift the veil off the future of publishing and make it more accessible to all its stakeholders.

Speakers who have confirmed their participation include: 

  • Shobha Viswanath, Karadi Tales
  • Sayoni Basu, Duckbill 
  • Praba Ram, Saffron Tree
  • Venetia Ansell, Rasala Books
  • Ganesh Devy, Bhasha Research Centre
  • Vivek Mehra, Sage India 

The conference will be held on the 14th and 15th of September 2012 at the Krishnadas Shama State Central Library, Panaji, Goa (India). Registration Fees are Rs. 3500/- per seat. However early bird and group discounts are being offered. For more details, contact us at contactus@

Click here to visit the website.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reward...for the winners of 'The Retell, Remix, Rejoice' Contest - 2012

Yoohoo, here are the results of 'The Retell, Remix, Rejoice Contest' that we started on World Storytelling Day! Thank you contestants, for putting in time and effort to dream up stories and sending them to us. And a big thanks to all those who spread the word about the contest, and those who arm-twisted friends and family to send in entries!

Like most creative contests, this contest too had many dimensions, and was therefore tough to judge. Since the theme was Trees, most contestants had tree-cutting as a part of their story. But were they able to bring in humour, drama, the surprise factor? Would the stories hold a reader's interest? Many did succeed. You can check out all the entries here.

Our youngest contestants were five years old. Great to see storytelling being nurtured in the young! The remixed stories had ghosts, magic, time machines, Halloween.... Some people used all the illustrations, some used just one! So finally based on factors like creativity, originality, humour, use of illustrations and writing skills, here are names of the winners:

Below 16 years: Asavari Tiku for The Missing Words
Above 16 years: Priya Narayanan for The Jungle Cinema

The two winners will receive a printed book of their story after it has been laid out by our designers. This competition has been possible because we have released the original book 'The Jungle School' and all the illustrations under a Creative Commons license.A single story has given rise to so many more stories!

We would also specially like to thank five-year old Krutarth Shah for his story in Hindi, six-year old Myrah Raj for her story in Hindi, Meena Cahudhuri for her entry in Bangla, and Vidya B for her entry in Kannada.

Congratulations winners, and a big thank you to all the participants.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Open Sesame, Close Sesame!

Another one bites the dust. Young readers of 'Open Sesame' , the children's supplement of Deccan Herald saw this announcement in today's issue : It's been a terrific ride so far and thank all of you for making it a memorable one. This will be the last issue of Open Sesame, our Friday supplement for children."

As publishers of children's books we always feel sad when something like this happens. However....we're very happy to let a cat out of the bag....the author of the column called 'Mazy's Muddle' is none other than our colleage and editor at Pratham Books, Mala Kumar. For over 60 weeks, the crazy character called Mazy has been bringing readers a concoction of fact, fiction and a bit of maths through this column. In today's column Mazy says we must go fly kites. Find out why in the 63rd and final column of Mazy's Muddle here.

In New Digital Comics, Each Tap Holds a Surprise

Imagine reading a gripping comic story and with every touch of your finger be able to see the muscles of your favourite hero twitch or the eyelashes of the heroine bat in appreciation of the gift that she got from her beau! Imagine the sword of the Savior of Earth shine in sun and sand beneath his feet shift slightly under his advancing feet just by touching the screen with your finger! Well, this is already happening in rapidly advancing world of digital comics.

“AVENGERS VS. X-MEN” by the Marvel Comics is said to be the first Infinite Comic, a digital-only 
prelude to “Avengers vs. X-Men” that was released with issue No. 1 of the print series last month.It represents another step by the comic book industry toward embracing the digital format and one that holds the potential to push traditional comic book storytelling to a new level.

Here is an excerpt of the article by George Gene Gustines (via The New York Times):

The Infinite Comic, written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Stuart Immonen, chronicles the journey of the hero Nova from outer space to Earth to warn the Avengers of an impending threat, setting up the print narrative.

When reading a traditional comic, the eye cannot help taking in the whole page at once. The digital format and the pace of the Infinite Comic can lead to more surprises. As each successive panel appears on the screen, each tap or click can reveal a new caption, subtly change an illustration or replace it entirely. Focusing and blurring effects can heighten the reading experience or simply allow one to appreciate the artwork, which is richer and more vibrantly colored than the printed page.

Like many areas of the print media, the comic book industry in recent years has struggled with reader attrition. However, sales of digital comics in the US have boomed from $1 million in 2009 to $25 million last year. As the “Avengers” experiment suggests, many in the business want the formats to complement each other. Mr. Waid, a celebrated writer for Marvel, DC Comics and small publishers, observed, “The print costs of comics have now very quickly skyrocketed to the point where it is unfeasible for small press comics.”

Digital comic business has been growing steadily over past few years. Promoters of online comics say readers will benefit greatly from digital and print working together. While Mr. Alonso, from Marvel, envisioned lower-selling print series surviving as digital-only comics, Mr. Waid believed that one medium can help the other. “Digital can be a gateway to brick-and-mortar stores for what they do well: stock deep and with a human face to give recommendations.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Something to smile about...

Besides the upcoming weekend, here are 3 things guaranteed to cheer you up!

1. Government schools are not always in shambles. Some really do well! The Ludhiana-based Government Senior Secondary School, Isewal, has achieved 100 percent result in Class XII examinations but, for more cheers, all the students of this rural school have passed in first division!
Read more here.

2. Intensely enthusiastic youths are described as “He/She has a fire in the belly”, an expression coined by N. R. Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys! And now some students in Kerala will carry “Fire in the Schoolbag”! The students of Karthika Thirunal Government Vocational and Higher Secondary School in the city have promised to pack two coconut shells everyday in their school bags. The shells will be used as fuel for a steam boiling unit that make tasty ‘idlis’ and ‘sambhar’ for the students!
Read more here.

3. And now one more Eco-Friendly thing! An Auto-Rickshaw! The eco-friendly, battery operated auto-rickshaws are on Delhi roads!
Read more here.

More cheerful news can be found here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My dear Lewis, where are you?

The last time I saw her, she was sitting on a peepal tree talking to a book. Smarika Kumar studies law at NLIU, Bhopal, and loves reading, kites and colourful things. She occasionally writes poetry and stories, much of which is deemed insensible.

A guest post by Smarika Kumar.

Last weekend, I finished reading a book called Sylvie and Bruno. One of his not so well-known books for little people, this one was written by Lewis Carroll in 1889. Though like Alice books, it is a weird book, with much apparent nonsense. But as the Red Queen would have said, “You may call it 'nonsense' if you like, but I've heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!"

Lewis Carroll remains one of the most liberating writers of children’s books. Liberating, because in his absurdity only the mind of a child, yet uninitiated into the phony ways of the world, can see sense.

He thought he saw a Banker’s Clerk
Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
A Hippopotamus.
‘If this should stay to dine,’ he said,
‘There won’t be much for us!’

Carroll manages to weave out of this absurdity, a beautiful universe where anything is possible. Literally. A child turns into a fairy and a fairy turns into a child, a dodo creates a sea and runs a caucus race, crocodiles fly and porpoises tread on whitings’ tails. This boundless reach of the imagination offers to a child an escape from the usual 'No!' which she gets to hear from the adults all around her as she grows up, and which makes her limit her thoughts to the “practicable”. Today we are too busy training children to fight “the hard reality”, be the winner in a rat-race and to give up on “too crazy” dreams. We teach them to be careful, to be scared of unknown things, and to be planned and securitized citizens of an ordered world.

Like Carroll puts it,

Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,
There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle- will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?”

and thus a world of sad, sad adults is born and thrives.

Carroll’s stories, on the other hand, almost seem to take the child by the shoulders, shake him hard and shout at him, “Helloooooooo! Not what they say! Whatever you want can happen! Whatever you dream is true! Nothing is too absurd! Not practical! Not an adult! Don’t be an adult, pleeease!” As if using all his strength to the last bit to save another child from being drained into the world of fife.

No other writer after Carroll has managed to do what he could, pull a person out of the humdrum of reality, throw him into a world of infinite possibilities and make him believe in the truth of it. Maybe Mother Goose before him, yeah, but certainly none after him.

Carroll reminds us that the world’s crooked wild. And that’s fun!

Books, Apps and Children!

Via the Hindu:

Purvi Shah, mother of two, was not comfortable with technology and e-books. She preferred reading out stories from books to her children. When an iPad arrived at the Shah household, Purvi's husband downloaded the ‘Annual Haircut Day app' for their three-year-old son. “Annual Haircut Day is one of my son's all-time favourite books. Although I was anti-gadgets, I showed the book to him on the iPad. That was his first brush with gadgets.” Purvi was taken aback at how comfortable her son was with the iPad. “He started flipping the pages and navigating the screen. He figured it all out on his own. Since it was an audio book app, he didn't need me to read out stories to him anymore.” This app, created by Fliplog, is just one among the many storybook apps created for smartphones and tablet computers based on Indian content.

Gautam John, projects manager at Pratham Books, says their content can be copied, distributed and built upon by anyone. That's how a number of their titles have been used to create apps across multiple platforms, by companies such as NineApp, MeMe Tales and Fliplog. Tulika Publishers were one of the first publishing houses to work with content developers to produce digital books and apps across digital storytelling devices and portals. Niveditha Subramaniam, assistant editor, Tulika Publishers, points out that the content for these apps have to be tailored differently. “Content is key whether in the printed or e-versions of a book. The stronger and more imaginative the content, the more nourishing it is for the child. And that is the challenge for publishers like us.”

Read the full article here.
To download our books and enjoy them on various platforms click here.

Who is going to illustrate our 'Internet Book'?

Pratham Books' search for an illustrator for our proposed book about the Internet is over. We have found the illustrator for this book,through the Internet, of course!

First of all, a big thank you to all the people who sent in entries after reading our blogpost Calling Illustrators for a Book about the Internet! We could not acknowledge each contestant individually, but we do wish to say to each of you how touched we are with your work and your enthusiasm. The quality of work that was sent was so good that we do hope to work with many of you on other books in the future. It's a pity that many contestants who first sent us their portfolios could not follow up with sending samples on time owing to other deadlines.

The world wide web is indeed wonderful for it got us entries from across the globe: from many parts of India, from Cannada, Texas, Colombia, and Argentina, and from an Irish illustrator working in Germany! We wish to specially thank the following illustrators who sent in samples. Wherever available, we have provided hyperlinks to the respective websites here so that the whole world can see their talent:
Pallavi Verma, Lavanya Karthik, Kanika Nair, Mumul Rastogi, Aruna Rangarajan, Avik Kumar Maitra, Ramya Sriram, Smitha Sudhakaran, Elena Duff, Madhurima, Prosenjit Roy, Angela Gallo, and Mollie Gates.

And the person who gets commissioned to do our book about the Internet is......... Kanika Nair from Jaipur! Congratualtions, Kanika!

We believe Kanika's style of illustration and the samples she sent suit the nature of this particular book. We do look forward to working with the other talented illustrators on other book projects. Till then, we do hope you get to illustrate many delightful children's stories. Thank you all once again.

Image: A sample of illustration sent by Kanika Nair. This may or may not be used in the book.

Bush Skills, Field Ecology and Tribal Wisdom - Workshop

You may recall that last year we celebrated a month long green campaign - "Awareness today, for a Greener Tomorrow'. One of the books that we launched was ' A King Cobra's Summer'.

This book has been written by Janaki Lenin [Herpetologist Rom Whitaker's wife]. And the book was launched in Bangalore by Gerry Martin.

If you like reptiles, especially snakes you can join Rom, Kali and Gerry for a fabulous workshop from 22 to 24 June 2012.

About the Workshop:
The Irulas of the Kanchipuram region are world famous for their snake-tracking prowess. However, what isn’t known as well is the fact that they have numerous other skills from tracking rodents, extracting termites and collecting honey to using various plant extracts and preparations as medicine and creating very tasty meals from the most unassuming plants, twigs and roots. We will combine learning from the Irulas with existing scientific field techniques to build a strong base of field skills and contexts.

June is a good time to be out looking for herpetofauna. A few rain showers would have interrupted the long dry season, bringing about a revitalization in life. Many reptiles will also be breeding at this time and its a great opportunity to learn and understand more cryptic behaviour of these creatures.

The Module:
The workshop will focus on various aspects of field herpetology from taxonomy to tracking and ecology.

Logistics and accommodation:
We will be based at Rom Whitaker’s farm, in a reforested corner which he calls Karadi Malai Camp. The campsite about 6 kms from the town of Chengalpet, South of Chennai bordering the Vallam Reserve forest. At the campsite we will be staying in tents and our meals will be in the common dining area. Bathrooms are permanent structures with running water.

The team:
Rom Whitaker and Gerry Martin will share their skills and combined experience with reptiles spanning many decades! Kali will help us learn tracking and other bush skills.

For more details, contact Conan on or 9972068300.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Are books passe?

Do you still read books? More importantly do you still read books to your children? Are children even still interested in books – or is the iPad or the Kindle the new way to read?

We came across an interesting article via Deccan Herald. Excerpts below.

Video games and mobile phones have taken their place. Kid’s favourite characters are no more Chacha Chaudhary, it’s the action heroes in the video games now. Action heroes who flaunt machine guns and have blondes along with them and are on a mission to kill the enemies are the latest idols. Bloodshed and abusive language is also part of these games. But, who cares? Kids are totally fascinated by ‘this’ world. 
Rushil Suneja, a Std VI student, cheekily shares, “I don’t like to read comics at all. I only enjoying playing computer games or games available in the phone. Even my parents don’t buy me comic books as they know I would not read them and it would be their waste of money.” 
Other arguments support this by saying that internet and television are now used for seeking information and the habit of slow and careful reading for understanding is definitely on the wane.  
The mother of a young child Vertika Singh, says, “My son doesn’t even read school books, forget comics. He is mad about toys and the latest gadgets in the market. He loves cartoons but not comics.” 

But despair not! If you want to know the value of a beautiful book, come visit any of the community libraries where our books are used and you will see children drooling away!

How do you think Pratham Books is doing?

Via Seth Godin's blog -
The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out--this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity. The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn. Compared to that, how are you doing?
I read the above blog post and it brought a smile to my face as I could not help but think how relevant it was for brand Pratham Books.

We just don't want to more affordable books than the next publisher. We just don't want to publish better books than the next publisher. Pratham Books wants to reach 300 million children in India. We want to see a book in every child's hand. And because of this, 'innovation' is at the core of the brand's DNA. We brought you 10 Rupee books. We recently re-printed many of our titles in Oriya. We even re-defined the way a story could be told and introduced story cards for Rs. 2! We are looking at bringing out 5 rupee books. We are looking at innovative ways to reach the child - Indian Post was one, railways was the other. We did a pilot where we sold story cards the sachet way!  

But we still have a long, long way before we achieve our mission of seeing “a book in every child's hand”. How do you think Pratham Books has done so far? What do you like the best about this brand? Do you have thoughts on how we can reach more children at a fraction of a cost. Or how we can look at more collaborative ways of producing content. Or how we can publish in more than 11 Indian languages and find markets to sustain the production? If you have anything to say, we want to hear. Leave a comment here or write to us at

Story cards retailed in sachet format at small newspaper vendors

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What are trees good for anyway?

Trees are very useful. Buffalows can scratch against them. Birds can set up homes in them. Millions of species can feed off trees. Tree trunks come in handy when you're playing hide-and-seek. Or street cricket. Trees inspire great thoughts - what would Sir Isaac Newton achieved without the apple tree?

Well, everyone knows we can't do without trees. Just that there is a vast chasm between knowing something...and doing something with that knowledge. Some suggestions for all of us: buy less, recycle more. Cycle more, litter less. Give more, waste less. Drive less, read more.

Celebrate every day that you see a tree.

To check out some of our books with environment as a theme, look up The Tree, Laxman's Questions, A Walk Among Trees, Forever Friends or our Environment Series. Log in to and buy books online.

Image: Cover illustration by Zainab Tambawalla for the book Laxman's Questions by Lata Mani.

Kanjoosi Karo, Insaan Bano

On World Environment Day, Rajesh Khar writes about how we can work towards conserving our environment.
Kanjoosi Karo, Insaan Bano

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kakuche Bal ani Babachya Mishya

Sandhya Taksale, Editor, Pratham Books, writes about 2 storytelling sessions that took place in Pune .
Pratham Books recently launched two delightful children's stories, Kakuche Bal (Aunty jui's Baby) and Babachya Misha (Daddy's Mo), in Pune. They were written and illustrated by well-known children's writer, Madhuri Purandare. Written originally in Marathi, the books have been translated into Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and English. The books were launched in all 5 languages.

Read Sandhya's Marathi report on the storytelling session.

The Marathi newspaper, Sakal, also wrote about the event. Read about the storytelling sessions here.

Looking for Pratham Books Champions in Delhi

Children Reading Pratham Books and Akshara

Do you know about the Pratham Books Champions initiative? No? Well, in simple words - Pratham Books Champions are a bunch of awesome people who spread the joy of reading and stories in their own towns and cities. We've conducted three events with champions and our champions have told stories to children across the country (and even abroad). Through the collective power of our champions, stories have reached hundreds of children! Read about our wonderful champions here.

We are now looking for champions in Delhi. We are extremely excited about a project and we need your help! June is turning out to be an exciting month for us and we can't wait to share these new ideas with you.

Please mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org if you are interested in becoming a Pratham Books Champion.

'Daddy's Mo' and 'Aunty Jui's Baby' comes to Bangalore!

You may recall that last month, Pratham Books launched two delightful children's stories, 'Babachya Mishya' (Daddy's Mo) and 'Kakuche Bal' (Aunty Jui's Baby) in Pune with author Madhuri Purandare. Could Bangalore be behind? So, the Bangalore team also geared up for an equally exciting story telling session around these 2 books. 

The Bangalore session was held at Reliance Timeout, Mantri Square Mall. 
We had a great turnout of 20 children (and some parents sat in too!!!). While narrating “Aunt Jui's baby”, Radhika (the storyteller) got the children involved and many tiny tots were brave enough to come and sing nursery rhymes for their younger siblings. Then came Daddy's Mo' and all the children were curious to know what the "Mo” meant. They soon  found out as they made beautiful masks with moustaches (Mos) of their choice! Thus, the hour long fun-filled session of stories, music and activities ended. 

You can read more details about the event as covered on :

At Pratham Books we believe in spreading the joy of reading to every child. With over 50% of children going to government schools, its imperative that we publish joyful reading in different Indian languages. Books such as 'Babachya Mishya' (Daddy's Mo) and 'Kakuche Bal' (Aunty Jui's Baby) are a small step in this direction. Since original language writing is fast losing its touch, books such as these help retain the nuances of the language and at the same time encourage parents to read to their children in their mother tongue. Do consider reading this book to your child in Marathi, Hindi, Kannada or Telugu. And while you are at it, do donate the English version to a lesser- privileged child.

 Click here to buy the books. 

P.S. If you are feeling left out, please do join our mailing list and get all the latest updates on events, books and more from Pratham Books. It will just take 2 seconds to sign up. Start by clicking here!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Off the Shelf - Putting the Library Back at the Heart of a School

This year, Jumpstart takes places on 23rd and 24th August, 2012. We are excited to inform you that we are collaborating with German Book Office (GBO) to organize a workshop for librarians, teachers and prinicpals. 'Off the Shelf- Putting the Library Back at the Heart of a School' takes place on 24th August, 2012 (9am-1pm). Entry is by invitation, so please write to or

Here's a short note on the workshop:

“I grew up borrowing books from my neighbourhood lending library.”
“I used to spend my entire summer holiday in the public library.”
“Our school librarian was very strict but she taught me how to choose books…”

If you have heard any of the above recently, you can be reasonably sure that the speaker was over 40! Book-love has changed over the years and the places where you found this love have been changing as well. Book shops now often look like glamorous cafes or like a page on your computer screen. Books themselves are found in different formats and can be accessed differently and e-publishing is a word that will soon be as ho-hum as email.

But what has happened to the good old library while we are learning to be bibliomaniacs with a new set of table manners? The library seems to be in a state of crisis. 

Public libraries are looking more dog-eared than anniversary issue magazines at the dentist. Local lending libraries seem to have retired shyly behind brash shop facades selling impossibly priced stationery. And school libraries seem to teeter between pious pronouncements about their importance and a benign yawn of indifference. Talk to any school teacher or librarian and you will hear an anecdote which will demonstrate the confusion around the role of the library in the school.

How often are books bought for the library? Who makes the decision for purchase and on what basis? What does the librarian do on a normal school day and where is she placed in the school hierarchy? What does the once a week library period mean to the children? Is it integrated in the school curriculum or other activities in any way that is meaningful to teachers and children? Can the library be the heart of the school where learning can be like flying kites of many colours in a very big blue sky? Or a cheerful open kitchen where you can cook with what you like…

The panel discussion and open interaction on libraries in schools will address many of these key questions from a place of sharing and hope. The lament of libraries losing ground is old and it is time to look at practices, old and new, that are making libraries what they should be. 

These best practices are like tendrils finding a new scaffolding and are transforming the library into an idea and a space that fits well in the new educational landscape.

We will look at the shape-shifting idea of libraries in different contexts. How are libraries being created, managed and used in resource-scarce situations? How can we work with governments to take some good ideas to scale? How are some schools making the library the most visited place after the canteen by aligning it with classroom teaching?

The panel discussion will present a tandoori platter of ideas. The open discussion will hopefully put many more pieces on it. This workshop will be a place to share, network and learn from each other so that our children cherish books and libraries for the joy and freedom that they bring.