Friday, May 31, 2013

A fun way for kids to learn all about 'Rupaiya Paisa'

When should children start learning about money? Should children get pocket money? Is it okay to pay a child for doing a simple chore? Does that amount to child labour. Journalist, author and Pratham Books editor Mala Kumar says she thinks so much about all these things that she finally decided to learn about these things - and hence, wrote the four books in the Rupaiya Paisa Series. Manisha Chaudhry caught up with the author who confesses she used to find writing out a bank slip stressful!

The author, Mala Kumar reading the 'Rupaiya Paisa' series to children in Hoskote, Bangalore

1) How did the idea of a series on financial literacy for children germinate?
As Pratham Books evolved and saw more of its readers, one of the areas that we wanted to touch was financial literacy. We were very keen to create books to engage children in understanding the world of finance. Schools do touch upon this, but finance is such an intrinsic part of the child's life that we felt they needed to be empowered with knowledge as early as possible. There are more than 200 million children in the country who need good and joyful books to get them reading more, and to empower them as future citizens. The 'Rupaiya Paisa' series is a small, and hopefully, a  significant attempt in that direction.

2) Share the process of developing these books. How long did it take you to write them? What changed along the way?

The first thing we decided was to involve the experts. Vijay Mahajan of BASIX, an organization involved with microfinance and training at the grassroots readily agreed to work with us, and to the credit of Basix, a senior team engaged with us in a two day write-shop.Since I attended the workshop, it seemed appropriate that I write the books - as an editor and Pratham Books I knew the audience well. And as a freelance journalist, I could compile the large chunks of information generated at the workshop and through my research into easily digestible books.

We started planning the books as fictional stories with characters and a plot. After just one chapter my team and I knew that this was not working. The fiction was coming in the way of the facts and concepts. Hence we decided to do it in the non-fiction mode, with many little stories and situations to explain the concepts. The writing took two years, since I did this after working hours. We went through several drafts and worked on suggestions from many people.

Once the illustrations started, there was a constant back and forth on the text too. If a part had been illustrated and was thus self-explanatory, I would cut or edit the text. These changes continued almost till the end. 

We are very proud of the four books that have come out of that, and hope to use this model to create much more gap-filling content for children. There are more than 200 million children in the country who need good and joyful books to get them reading more, and to empower them as future citizens. The 'Rupaiya Paisa' series is a small, but we hope significant attempt in that direction.

3) What role did the illustrators play?
Deepa Balsavar, the illustrator, and Priti Rajwade the designer, were in constant touch with me. We had several rounds of phone calls where we decided what needed to be illustrated. Since the subject is tough we relied heavily on the illustrations to lighten the matter.

4) Was it difficult to choose what to keep and what to leave out?
Yes, it was quite a challenge. Like in most subjects, there is always more information that an author wants to share with her readers. But in this case, the challenge was to make the books easy to read, and we had to keep our own finances in would have been counter productive to write longer books and price them higher! At the same time, the greed was to pack in as much value into the series as possible so that the children -  and through them, their families - could be better informed about finance.

5) What did you learn from writing these books?
Well, honestly I can now say I am finally financially literate! You see, finance is not my subject, nor has it interested me till I started writing these books. As a daughter of an accounts officer, and the wife of a banking professional, I've never had to make financial decisions! The other thing I learnt is that we need such books for children, rooted in their reality.

6) Something funny that happened while you were working on them...?
Confession time - till we all moved to Internet banking, writing out a challan in my friendly neighbourhood bank used to be a  stressful thing for me - I always felt I would make mistakes that would somehow make banks crash, and that my incompetency in all things financial was evident to all the people at the bank. Words like Payee used to confuse me. And then recently, an old bank officer met me and said, "Nice to hear that you have written books on finance!"

The other thing that made us all laugh was when we started suggesting names for the series. I can't share the names now, but we came up with some awful ones and some great ones!

The set of four books in this series cost Rs. 160 only. They can be bought from the Pratham Books eStore.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Teach for India Internship in Kolkata

From our friends at Teach for India:

Teach for India is currently in 5 cities - Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai. We wish to expand our operations to 10 cities by 2015-16 cities. For this purpose we are conducting a feasibility research on several cities in India, one out of which is Kolkata. To expand in any site, we would would like to understand the demographics of the site, the state of education in the site and the probability of getting funds to run the Teach For India fellowship program at the site.

The Expansion Intern's responsibilities will be to gather information and recommend an action plan for expansion in Kolkata. We would need to invest and collect information from three important stakeholders:

  1. The Municipal Education department 
  2. Private school leaders 
  3. Corporates/High net worth Individuals. 

The internship duration is three weeks. The internship is a part-time unpaid internship ( 4-5 hours per day). However, all expenses incurred for the internship (Travel within city, telephone calls made and internet usage charges for the project) will be reimbursed. Please note that Teach For India will be unable to reimburse the expenses incurred for accommodation within the city. The intern will also receive an Internship Experience letter on successful completion of the internship.

Please contact John Mathai to apply or for more information.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What on Earth were these dancers doing?


Creativity knows no boundaries. So when Delhi-based dance group Kinkini Dhvani decided to do a show based on The What on Earth? Wallbook published by Pratham Books , we should not have been surprised with what Swagata Sen Pillai and her girls came up with. My colleague Manisha Chaudhry, Head of Content Development, had the pleasure of being at the performance and came back spellbound. “This is a THANK YOU as big as the Wallbook... As Loud as the BIG BANG..........As long as the TIMELINE.........And as WARM as tawa-baked roti,” she told the twinkling star-dancers.
“The Wallbook dance production showed how art and learning are on the most natural were all fabulous and your enthusiasm for the idea was contagious. I've not seen so many women having so much fun pretending to be planets, trees, dinosaurs, birds,elephants, monkeys...and yet not losing the finer elements of dance. The music was simple but effective because of the rhythms,” she told them.

With the brilliant Tillana still playing in her mind, Manisha caught up with
Swagata Sen Pillai, Bharatnatyam dancer, choreographer and social development, communication & documentation consultant, for an interview. Excerpts:
How was the experience of dancing the Wallbook?
In one word? INCREDIBLE! In several, one of the most satisfactory ventures we have undertaken!
How long did it take you to put it together?
This was a surprise because we managed to identify the pieces, write the script, sit with the musicians, record the piece, edit and fine-tune it and then choreograph and learn it in-----7 DAYS!
Describe the process to us. Did all your students contribute? Any amusing insights/asides?
The selection was primarily done by Rajesh Khar (from Pratham Books' Editorial team) and myself since the children wanted to do EVERYTHING!!! The students contributed by offering to show who would do what in what manner.....hugely entertaining, and sometimes the cue to an actual piece of choreography. However their greatest contribution lay in their unadulterated enthusiasm! Of course, their simple amazement at some piece of information that they did not previously know was an eye opener at how much we take for granted is part of the knowledge bank of our children - Uuuughhhhhh they were going to eat that meat uncooked?! Trees came from the water? Horses and zebras and giraffes are not MODERN animal? The FOX was the original specimen? There was no oxygen to begin with? Even that came from the water? Questions galore!

Do you think your production bears out Chris's idea of everybody learning in their own unique way?
Most certainly! Considering the fact that even I at almost fifty found the information fascinating and in many that for me it meant different things while to each of the children the input opened up a different trend of thought or that they remembered it in a different manner - sometimes just by connecting to the movement.

Anything you'd like to tell Chris?
I am amazed at the depth of information that has gone into this! Is it really possible for ONE person to have that sort of vision? I would love to sit through one of his sessions and steal shamelessly from his presentations and put them into a full fledged rendition of the Wall Book....civilizations et al! The children loved it, the parents loved it, we had the most gorgeous time and are now already receiving requests from schools to perform for them! Could we please sit together and design something even stronger in visual content? And a heartfelt 'Thank You' for producing such an amazing piece of inspiration!

Thank you, Swagata, I think a longer multimedia production using the phad technique of highlighting certain portions is very much in order. It will be a valuable addition to the many spin-offs that The What on Earth Wallbook has generated and add to the sum total of happiness on the earth!
You can see the video of the performance here.
To get your own copy of The What on Earth? Wallbook, shop online here.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Learning with Lego in Hosakote Taluk

The children at Hasigala Government School were building fast. Lego blocks became big walls, and walls became colourful houses at the community school programme conducted by Akshara Foundation in Hosakote Taluk, outside Bangalore.

“No windows?” I asked one high school student-builder. Soon, not only did the walls have windows gaps, but also had a tree up on the terrace. Talk of terrace gardens!

We know that children are amazingly creative, that they can create wonderful things from almost anything – sticks, stones, leaves, waste paper - but when they are given Lego blocks, their enthusiasm is infectious. So infectious that we spotted three generations of a family concentrating on trying to piece together little bits of plastic that they were seeing for the first time in their lives.

All learning happens in an amazing way. At Hasigala, children came to have fun. They sang, they played with blocks, and they even volunteered to read. My colleagues and I observed the young readers to assess their strengths and challenges.The younger ones struggled to read, some read but did not comprehend, and finally, a few read, understood and explained what they had undertood to the children around them. Later, while I struggled to read the list of Jnanpith Award winners painted in Kannada on a wall, some out-of-school boys who had come to see the fun (literally standing outside the school building and peering inside through a grill) saw my plight – and helped me finish reading!

Truly, the power of what a community can achieve if given the right stimulus, and the opportunity to learn from one another!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

You Read, They Learn : Vasundhara Bahuguna

On 1st May, Hindustan Times invited us to be part of their 'You Read, They Learn' campaign. Thousand of copies of our books got printed and were circulated in the Delhi, Gurgaon and NCR region. The stories could be read out to children who cannot read, are learning to read or given to children who cannot afford books.

Vasundhara Bahuguna sent us her story of how she gave wings to several 'newspaper books'. Vasundhara is a self-confessed eternal optimist. A writer, creative, she is a lover of art, literature, music, and nature. She scribbles her thoughts on her blog: and adores the company of children and books.

In her first post on her blog, she writes ...

On a sleepy afternoon, I was running through my Twitter timeline, when I caught sight of something very interesting. A book-in-every-hand initiative by Pratham Books.

As someone who feels fortunate to be introduced to books as a child-and who always saw her parents and most in the family reading, it came to me, almost like second nature- this initaitive had me hooked.

I have taught children from several strata of our society; children who have not had it fair, and so on. So books and children, two creations of the Maker, very dear to me...and "what can I do", it had me thinking.

And as they say, it is not the magnitude, but the very act of having done the deed that matters the most. Each one of us can make a difference, in our own small ways.

So here I was, with four books (cut out from today's edition of Hindustan Times) is what they looked like- after i added a cover to each.

While I have three books with me, here is what the first one (Book 1- for ease of ref.) achieved. 
Planning to share what becomes of the other three books. If you have that copy of HT lying somewhere in your house, may be you too want to do something about it.

Book1: Given to my maid. Narrated the story to her. In her late teens, she is a class 4 drop out.

Her reaction: Smiling all through. Responsive to colour names. She speaks we were talking about different names for colours.. example: brown or bhoora (in Hindi) or maatiya (mitti ka rang) //translation: colour of mud-the Earth// ...when it ended she said, "acha hai, bahut acha hai". //translation: nice, very nice//
Big smile flashing upon her face. eyes gleaming.
And said, "ye tou bilkul kitab lag rahi hai" //translation: this looks exactly like a book//. She did ask me why was I getting four copies of the same paper...and said "oh tou aapne isliye liya tha". //translation: oh, so this is why you bought it//

Spreading the joy: She will hand them over to her bua's (father's sister) children. this, after she narates it to the children in her locality--- her cousins go to school and she says she will in turn get them to narrate it to other children in their school, and with whom they play in the park!

I so do Hope, this happens...she said it like she means it.

... of Life's simple joys...


In her second post, Vasundhara tells us about what happened to the second and third book :

I am extremely happy to share with you what became of the other 2 books: Book2 and Book 3.

10 rolls of chart paper under my arm, boxes of coloured crayons in my bag, and thoughts in my head, I walked today morning, my way to the local Govt. School- Higher Secondary; the class that would receive me with exuberance that defies all definition, class 7 (a & b). Read 80 children, noisy, mischievous, brimming with zest and willing to spare none with their fast ones!

The first thing that such spirited children do is, surround you, the minute you step into their class; and this lot followed the norm. Imagine 80.Now imagine 80, talkative, vociferous children.

Out came Book 2 and 3, 4, and the story telling session started. While I held 2 in my hand, they held 3 and 4.

As this was a “big” class- in more ways than one, they read it aloud too, and translated for their classmates- Hindi to English.

I told them, we are doing this for a bigger purpose. So after the story telling, they create their own stories. In groups of 8, they draw and write. They narrate theirs to the entire class.

What becomes of their work? They put up an exhibition (on May 18-11th being a holiday for them). Other classes, and their teachers see their work of art- and hear them narrate their stories.

It does not stop there, I told them. So they will tell it to their youngsters and siblings. Finally these stories make it to their school library.

And then they began- to draw, to think, to write…innocent squabbles over colours, stories, team mates…
We are all like these children, always trying to be heard; hoping we find like-minded people for many such collective works.

A glimpse of the topics (they christened their stories): “friendship”, “the greedy dog”, “the thirsty crow”, “rain”, “the lion and the mouse”, “to cheat is bad”---to name a few. Each story had a moral that they read aloud. And their narration, breathtaking...and soul stirring.

Take a look at their work here

They made their storybooks ,Pratham Books style. 

Oh one should have seen and heard them draw, create and tell their stories;
And thus, Book 2 and 3 were put to good use. They have found their way to this school’s primary section library and that of another. 

Also, they have served as idea givers for such activities in the respective primary sections.

Book 4 lies with me. What will become of it, will share with you.

The big picture: Once this kicks in, the idea is to visit this school once a month, or via other volunteers, get them to create books for exhibition and /or their library for the primary section. So, they are teaching---and helping their youngsters.

A word on children: They will always mean it when they walk up to you before you be in to leave for the day, and say, “we had great fun, and you will come again, will you not?”

Monday, May 20, 2013

You Read, They Learn : Stories from Protsahan

On 1st May, Hindustan Times invited us to be part of their 'You Read, They Learn' campaign. Thousand of copies of our books got printed and were circulated in the Delhi, Gurgaon and NCR region. The stories could be read out to children who cannot read, are learning to read or given to children who cannot afford books.

Vartika Gupta from Protsahan sent us a short note about their storytelling session. Vartika Gupta is a Psychologist and an Arts Based Therapy Practitioner, working with Protsahan India Foundation as the Chief CSR Operations. She was in Pune working with chemically afflicted populations when Sonal, Founder Director of Protsahan called her to Delhi to work for/with the kids. Travelling, photography, music and her work are the four things she is passionate about. Her twitter account is @_blindmind

A bangle in her hand, the wheel of his car, my mom’s bindi, that chapatti in your lunch box, the sun on top, those donuts and these burgers. Every Circle has its own story and a story that can be fun too. We read together a story of GoloO with our children at Protsahan, who is a very useful circle in our everyday life, everywhere and all-around. Our children learned and explored that they should also study well and not get a circle in their report cards. A very sweet and short fun storytelling session inspired by Pratham Books made our children happieee to the core.


Protsahan India Foundation is a youth based international non-profit organization located in Delhi NCR that uses the innovative approaches of Design, Art, Digital Storytelling, Photography, Theater and Cinema to foster creative Education and Sustainable Livelihoods. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Would You Like a Funded Library for Your School/ Organization?

Libraries are precious places! 

This is where a child learns on his own, grows on his own.In India, there would be only be a few lakh children in the country with an access to this magical place. Most government run schools and other low income schools lack a Library and hence many children miss out on what necessarily is an essential part of education. This is where, Pratham Books has the privilege to step in and make this magical world a little more accessible. 

Pratham Books invites applications from NGOs interested in receiving a unique product called 'Library-in-a-classroom'.

Teacher and student reading our books at Hosahudya govt. primary school, Ugadi gifts. - by zenrainman
Photo by Zenrainman

At Pratham Books, we believe that every child has the right to enjoy good books in a language he/she understands and in a familiar context. Pratham Books is a brand of story books as Indian as the children who read them. As a not-for-profit publisher, our dream is to see a country where every child wants to read, is able to read and has something good to read. 

In keeping with our mission of putting a book in every child's hand, Pratham Books is willing to donate approximately 200 numbers of the 'Library-in-a-classroom'. This product of Pratham Books is a wall-mounted library that can be put up in any classroom. The Library has a set of 125 books in languages and levels of your choice. 

The 'Library-in-a-classroom' comes with its own storage unit with a lock and key facility. This ensures the safety of the books, not only from dust and other damages, but also solves the problem of 'where' and 'how' to store books.This child friendly unit is a compact treasure trove of stories and fables taking the children on magical journeys.

If you wish to apply for this grant, kindly go through the Application Guidelines listed below and if you fulfill the criteria, do fill out the Application Form. 

Guidelines for Application : 
  •  The Applicant should be a Non Profit Organization registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 or Section 25 of Companies Act of 1956 or any other legal entity under regulations of Government of India.
  • The Non Profit Organization should be serving children from low income communities. 
  • The Non Profit Organization should have a functioning reading program/library for children with fixed reading hours outside curriculum (at least 6 hours per week). This reading program must give children access and opportunities to read book, which are not a part of the set curriculum and are read for the pleasure of reading.  
  • The reading program that the NGO runs should impact at least 150-200 children of the community.
  •  The 'Library-in-a-classroom' kit from Pratham Books is available with books in the following languages only : Telugu/Kannada /Marathi / Urdu / Hindi and can be chosen in the ratio of 70 : 30 for primary language (mother tongue) to secondary language.
  • The Non Profit Organization would be required to give regular updates and feedback on the outcomes of the library received from Pratham Books. We would like to know how our libraries are helping your program and feedback from you would be helpful. Format for giving feedback will be shared with you. 
  • Important Dates : 
    Last day of application

    June 30th

    List of final beneficiaries to be announced by

    August 8th
    Despatch of libraries to start by
    August 20th

There are 2 ways to file your application. 
1. Fill in the google form and submit your application online.
2. Download the application form and email or post it to us.

We also have a link where you can download the application form from and email or post it to us. Please note that a duly filled from is imperative for us to consider your application. You may email the form on or post it to : 
Pratham Books,
House No. 621,
Second Floor, 5th Main,
OMBR Layout, Banaswadi,
Bangalore - 560043. Karnataka, India. 

As the applications start pouring in, we promise to read and consider every application we receive but ,sadly,cannot honour each one of them. We are also looking for new partners in this journey, so NGOs who have not being benefited from any grant by Pratham Books before will get preference. 

 25,000 colourful books are waiting. Hurry up !

Getting Books Into the Hands of Children Through Disruptive Innovation

Rohini Nilekani (Founder-Chairperson of Pratham Books) talks about the different ways in which we've been trying to put our books in children's hands. She invites you to join our mission and share the joy of reading with children across the country.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Meet the Author : Subhadra Sen Gupta

Inline image 1
Image Source : Mussoorie Writers

In our joyful world of Pratham Books, there are many endearing characters who are our best buddies, stories that we tell and retell and values that we learn and imbibe. But how much do we know about the people who create this make believe world for us ?

We resolved to put this right, and decided to interview and bring forth few of our favourite authors and illustrators.

Here is the first in the series, an interview of Subhadra Sengupta, author of titles like 'BISHNU, THE DHOBHI SINGER', 'KALLU'S WORLD 1&2' and many in our History series including 'A MAN CALLED BAPU' and 'A ROYAL PROCESSION'.

Read on, she has much to say :)

When did you first start writing ?
In college for newspapers and magazines

What inspired you to take up writing ?
I loved books and dreamed of writing them. Also I was lousy in science and maths, words was the only thing I was good at. In those days it was not possible to make enough money as a writer so I became a copywriter.

Did you always wanted to become a writer ?
Pretty much.

Which was your first book as a writer ? For whom did you write it ?
Good Times at Islamgunj. I wrote it for India Book House and it came out in 1982. In those days I was working as a copywriter in an advertising agency.
Pratham Books

Where do you get the ideas for your stories from?
Ideas are everywhere – in something you read, hear or see. I am a very good listener and people tell me things. I’m always looking for interesting ghost stories!

Do you always start from the beginning and then proceed to the middle and end or do you think of an end first and then build your story around it ?
Both happen. I have a diary in which I jot down any idea that pops up in my head. Then sometimes it’s the end that comes in first. I don’t analyze the process much, just let it happen. You have to build up a plot slowly, they don’t come in a flash with a light bulb going on over your head! It also means I never get bored in traffic jams because I’m looking around or brooding over a plot that’s got stuck, which they always do.

What's your favourite genre of writing ?
Historical fiction with a touch mystery. Also I write a lot about food J

How do you think of so many different words that you use in your books?
Read a lot, rewrite many times and use a Thesaurus. The more you write the better your vocabulary becomes. Writing is 98% sweat and hard labour.

How do you think of your characters ? Their names , their characteristics, their professions ?
Watch people, catch odd names and most of all I look for unusual personalities - odd characters, the eccentrics and people who have the courage to be different. A character like that makes a story interesting.

Are all your characters imaginary ? Or based on real life people ?
I never use a full character from anyone I know, just bits and pieces – a gesture or a voice, or a way of walking. If people recognise themselves in my books I’m in trouble!

How do you come up with the book titles ?
It comes while I’m writing the story.

Do you get nervous close to the release of your book ? Do you feel anxious that it will not be
liked ?

I used to in the beginning but not anymore. My real pleasure comes from the process of writing and being able to vanish into a world I create in my head. Then when children like what I write then it is the jam.

Pratham Books

How many days does it take for you to write a book / a story ?
Very hard to tell. I get stuck often.

Which is your favourite book ? And Why ?
No favourites.

Who is your favourite author ? Why ?
Many writers and they keep changing. Right now I am reading a lot of non-fiction and history. Among children’s writers the ones I still love are Bengali writers like Lila Majumdar, Sharadindu Bandopadhya and Satyajit Ray. I learnt a lot from the way they wrote. Among writers in English – Roald Dahl, RK Narayan, Ruskin Bond, Gerald Durrell, PG Wodehouse...

How do you feel while you are writing the book ? Do you like to write in isolation or do you
discuss with your friends and family ?

I need a quiet room and I don’t talk about it at all.

What advice would you give to kids who want to become writers ?Read a LOT. Experiment in your reading with fiction and non-fiction. Then write regularly, work on your language. You don’t have to write fiction, write about things that interest you – sports, space travel, adventure, trekking, computers whatever... If you enjoy the process of writing then continue and not because you want to become rich and famous. Most of us are neither.

Can you share with us any funny incident that you remember related to any of your books ?
I really shocked this little girl because I forgot the names of the characters in a story that she loved and knew by heart. “But you wrote it!” she said very loudly and then looked sort of doubtful and asked “You really
wrote it right?” In apology I bought her some books.

ha ha :) Thanks Subhadra - it was delightful reading you. Keep sharing the plots and ideas and your
choice of eccentric characters with us.

Books written by Subhadra:
A Royal Procession
Marching to Freedom
Sailing Home
Raza Meets the King
A Man called Bapu
Bishnu, the Dhobi Singer
Kallu's World 1 - In Big Trouble Again!
Kallu's World 2 - Monkey Business on Stage

The questions for this interview come straight from the little readers of Payoshni's class who had
this and so much more to ask their authors:)

(Payoshni Saraf is a Teach for India 2012 Fellow, teaching a bunch of teenagers in a low income school in Warje. Her class of 21 is hooked to books and reads and learns together.Prior to TFI, Payoshni was a corporate slave in the field of Marketing who quit the money and chose the matter.)

Read more interviews with Pratham Books authors and illustrators.

Changing Perceptions of School

PBS Newshour featured our friends at Pratham and the wonderful work they do.
In India, an educational group called Pratham aims to change the perception of school as a solemn enterprise and to offer instead a love of learning to the youngest -- and poorest -- students. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on what is possibly the world's largest campaign to improve remedial education.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Award for translator, Mukund Taksale

When we heard that Marathi writer Mukund Taksale had won an award, it did make us smile a lot. Not just because he is a humorist, but because he is also the translator of many of our books. The Maharashtra State Govt recently announced its literary awards and Mukund got the award in the 'Humour' category. The award consists of a cash prize, a memento and a citation. Mukund has to his credit 15 books published in Marathi, and several translations for Pratham Books and NBT.

The Pratham Books store seems to have run out of stock of the books Mukund has translated into Marathi: A King Cobra's Summer , Here Comes the Camel, and Bheema, the Sleepyhead.

To make up for that,  Marathi readers can read at least a part of one of his well known books, Anakhi Gamtigamtit.  Please click here for some preview pages. 

We wish Mukund continues to make a lot of people smile with his writings! Congratulations on the award, Mukund!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Every Kid Needs a Champion

To all the awesome educators and teachers we know - thank you for what you do!

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, "They don't pay me to like the kids." Her response: "Kids don't learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The History of Typography

Crossword Book Award 2013

The Crossword Book Award is one of the most prestigious and popular literary prizes in India. It recognises and rewards the best of Indian writing and ensures that works of merit reach a wider audience. 


Crossword is committed to promoting books and the reading habit. We have observed that the institution of international book awards - The Booker Prize, The Commonwealth Prize or The Pulitzer Prize has gone a long way in promoting the awareness and the reading of good books. The authors gain recognition and are rewarded handsomely.

While several Indian writers have won awards abroad, we had observed that there was no equivalent award in India. We therefore decided to take on the role of encouraging and promoting good Indian writing and instituted the Book Awards, in 1998. It is the only Indian award that not only recognizes and rewards good writing but also actively promotes the authors and their books.


The Crossword Book Awards in its 12th year will be given out in the following categories:
  • Crossword Fiction Award.
  • Crossword Non-Fiction Award.
  • Crossword Translation Award.
  • Crossword Children’s Award.
  • Crossword Popular Award.
The Crossword awards for Fiction, Non-Fiction, Translation & Children’s writing will each carry a cash prize of Rs. 3 lakhs, a trophy and a citation. The Popular Award entitles the winning author to a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh and a certificate.

In the case of a translated book, The Author and The Translator share the prize money equally.

In the case of a Children’s illustrated book, The Author, The Translator & The Illustrator share the prize money equally.

Visit the website for more details. The last date for receiving the entry forms is 20th May 2013.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Literary Corner of the Internet

C.S. Bhagya writes about how 'a number of literary journals have moved online to save on printing and distribution costs, and now flourish like never before'
Via The Sunday Guardian

But it's also true that an interested reader now would be hard-pressed to find magazines which dedicatedly tap into the pulse of contemporary writing in India – definitely not with ease – browsing through magazine stalls or the shelves of a neighborhood bookstore. Is the literary journal dying a slow but inevitable death? Hardly, scoff the growing number of journals that have been leading almost secret lives on the Internet: they have merely shifted locations. A simple Google search for names like Pratilipi, Muse India, Kritya, Pyrta, Out of Print, Almost Island,Coldnoon and The Four Quarters Magazine – all online literary journals steadily publishing new voices for several years now – reveals a profusion of multi-genre contemporary writing from across the country, just one click away.

While their print counterparts may be weighed down by restrictions placed by availability of investments, financial viability, limits of geography, marketing and distribution, online journals are more cost-effective and resolve the question of accessibility, at least, instantly.

Muse India and most other e-journals try to publish a balance of fiction, poetry, criticism and translations, indulging an occasional theme-based issue, but for journals like Kritya and Coldnoon, theme is all-pervasive. 

Editors from publishing firms scouting for talent find literary journals an obvious place to look for interesting writing precisely for their editing standards – editors from these journals are looking for good work too, and the first process of selection has already taken place.

Online Archive of Tagore's Works

Rabindranath Tagore

The variorum edition of Tagore’s writings, which includes all manuscripts and all editions of his works, has just been completed in the city. It also happens to be the largest database in the world of original texts by a single author.

The project boasts of 47,520 pages of manuscripts and 91,637 pages of materials from printed texts. A young team worked on a tight schedule under the supervision of Sukanta Chaudhuri, Professor Emeritus, Jadavpur University, at the university’s School of Cultural Texts and Records, to complete the project in two years.

How Tagore could write all that he did in one lifetime is a question that still begs an answer. So the task of bringing all that he wrote and their several versions — Tagore’s works often had many versions as he kept working on a piece through the years — into one website was, even as an idea, mindboggling.

Bichitra can help one locate on one page of the well-designed, bright, user-friendly website, all the versions of a text, and narrow down the choice to comparing corresponding chapters and paragraphs of different versions of a text. The reader can even look for a particular word in the various versions. A paragraph, highlighted in different colours, will show if a word is common to all versions; if it has a comparable counterpart in the other versions; if it’s only present in the version that’s being checked; or if it is not there in this version but present in the other versions.

Bichitra also says, adds Chaudhuri, that there is no definitive version of a work. The poet keeps visiting a work from time to time, changing it, adding to it. The vastness and the changefulness of the variorum come close to reflecting the vastness and changefulness of Tagore’s mind. It is the living work.

Read the entire article.

Image Source : Cea. / Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bookalore: A travelling book carnival for kids

Lakshmi Datta Arun writes about Bangalore's newest book club.

... we take a look at the recently launched kids book club – Bookalore – an independent forum that strives to introduce contemporary Indian books and Indian authors to children and young adults through fun-packed monthly events and workshops. 
Based out of Bangalore, Bookalore was conceived when a group of children’s writers, illustrators, editors, librarians, teachers and filmmakers questioned the reason Indian children stuck with reading the usual bestselling books when there is a world of fantastic Indian books to be explored. This enterprising group then came together to fill a huge lacuna in the way children’s books are displayed, sold and marketed in India by making them more visible to their young readers and their parents. Within a short period of three months, Bookalore has already received a tremendous response from parents with many signing up for events much in advance. 
Initially, Bookalore plans to be similar to a travelling book carnival, which will take its activities and events to every corner of Bangalore. The aim will be to reach a large number of children across the city by hosting events in different kinds of public and private spaces such as libraries, schools, bookshops, art galleries, museums and theatres. Also every Bookalore event will also have stalls selling children’s books from Indian publishers such as Tulika, Pratham books etc. These books are not easily available and Booklore aims to make them available and accessible to little readers.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Turn the Newspaper into a Book Today!

Today is an extremely special day for all of us at Pratham Books. Thousand of  copies of our books got printed today and are in circulation in the Delhi, Gurgaon and NCR region. This story can be read out to children who cannot read, are learning to read or given to children who cannot afford books.

We are thrilled that Hindustan Times invited us to be part of their 'You Read, They Learn' intiative. This initiative was launched last year through which Hindustan Times channels a portion of the cover price to fund NGOs working to educate under-served children.

Three of our books have been printed in different editions of the paper (different regions will get different stories in their version of the paper).

This is the first time sooooooo many copies of our books have been printed and circulated on a single day. In our mission to get 'a book in every child's hand', we are constantly thinking of ways to collaborate with other organizations and make this happen. In this context, the Hindustan Times 'You Read, They Learn' initiative fits well with our mission. The storybooks have been provided free of cost as Pratham Books has an open and inclusive policy on content.

For the price of a newspaper, you get the opportunity to participate in a campaign to improve literacy. All copies of Hindustan Times and select copies of Mint and HT Mini will carry these joyful books. You can also download the books and print it :

Step 1 : Pull out the cover page

Step 2 : Take a look at the back and fold and cut according to the instructions given
Step 3 : Voila! Your newspaper is now a book that you can share

 So don't forget to get your copy!

 Happy reading and happy sharing!

Ways in which to use the cut-out book:
  • Get school children to collect the cut-out books from Hindustan Times readers who have finished reading the newspaper and share them with children who cannot afford to buy books.
  • Get children who can read to read out the story to children who cannot read.
  • Inspire youngsters on vacation to take the book and read it at a place where out-of-school kids gather to play.
  • Ask children to ‘extend’ the story and help them write it.
  • Talk about this initiative to spread the joy of reading so that more people join you to make India a reading nation.
  • Buy multiple copies of the paper if you want to gift more books to kids.

Share your story :

All stories that we receive will feature on the Pratham Books blog. You can read about the Pratham Books Reading Champions initiative and our Champions' experiences of reading out to children here.

UPDATE : You can find all the pictures related to this campaign on our Facebook page.