Friday, June 28, 2013

AHA! International Theatre Festival

AHA International Theatre Festival for Children

Via Bookmyshow

AHA! an expression of wonder, excitement and fulfillment that has no language barriers. That's what we call our children's theatre program because those are all the emotions that theatre brings to us, whether as an audience or as performers.

AHA! is Ranga Shankara's most ambitious program to date and brings theatre in all its aspects to younger people. A sustained program that reaches out to over 1500 children from all backgrounds every month, AHA! believes in giving children the theatre that they want, with their concerns, their hopes and ambitions.

Click here to view the schedule and book your tickets.

You can also visit our events calendar to look for literary or children's events happening in your city.

Bangalore and New Bookstores

Ooooh! Bangalore is getting a new bookstore. And you can go for the opening too! Fantastic!!

 Via Rangashankara's newsletter

We also heard that there is a new bookstore in Frazer Town. The new store is called Lightroom Bookstore.


 ... there is chai instead of tea; simple white bookshelves and an airy feeling as light streams through the large windows; cushions on the floor where little people sit and play; a balcony with a wicker sofa perfect for browsing through a book; and most importantly a perfectly curated selection of children’s books.

Read the entire article on this blog. Learn more about the bookstore by following their Facebook page.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Libraries of the Present and the Future

Chrystie Hill works with libraries around the world and shares her knowledge to help make libraries great places.At TEDxRrainier, Chrystie Hill talks about libraries of the present and the future.

At TEDxSomerville, Lis Pardi talks about librarians of the future.
As the sale of eBook readers rise many people assume the library is dying -- that it has no place in our device obsessed future world. But librarians are re-inventing what a library is and sometimes removing it from the big building full of books. Future libraries will be portable and located where researchers need them. Traditional library buildings will house new items for check out, like tools, cake pans or even people. 
Lis is a strong advocate for libraries and has spoken at local events about the ways libraries will remain relevant in a paper-less future.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pratham Books at Giving Back - NGO India 2013

Earlier this month, we participated in Giving Back - NGO India 2013. Giving Back - NGO India is a large scale exhibition supported by a high-content led conference designed to bring together NGOs in India to share best practices and engage with key stakeholders including local and international corporates, foundations, government and the general public.

Would You Like to Have a Children's Book Fair in Your Office?

(Please click on the image above for a larger view)

We've been conducting book fairs at offices occasionally. The most recent one was the bookfair at SAP Labs, Bangalore. Read all about our experience in this blog post

If you love our books and want to share this joy with many more people, get in touch with us by filling out this form.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pratham Books at SAP Labs

As part of Diversity Week, SAP Labs (Bangalore) organized a retail experience for their employees on their  campus and Pratham Books was their CSR partner.

With a team of 3 people, we were very excited to spread the joy of reading. We reached around 10 am and the main canteen was almost empty. It was a very windy day and we were having trouble setting the standee up. But a few employees who were present helped us get a few bricks and fix our standee. Once the stall was up, a lot of employees were checking out our books and most of them said, “Please keep these aside,. We will come around lunch time and collect it”.

The clock struck noon and within no time all the seats in the empty canteen were filled. Slowly people started gathering around us and enquiring and checking out our books in huge numbers. The response was absolutely overwhelming and we loved their eagerness to buy books for their kids and other kids whom they knew . Our team was working on full throttle - taking enquiries, making bills and handing out necessary change. At one point of time there was a huge queue at the billing centre. People waiting in the line were getting impatient and telling their colleagues  -“yaar jaldi kar na”.

The highlight of the day was when a couple walked in around 4pm and bought books from every level and language that was available  and said - "we are going to distribute all these books to under-served kids in our neighborhood".

We would like to thank everyone who came to our stall and bought our books. Also a special mention to the SAP labs organizing team & volunteers, without whom this activity wouldn't have been possible.

If you would like to have a book fair at your organization, click here and fill in the form.. We will get back to you shortly.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Workshop in Kilkari

Rajesh Khar writes about a recently conducted workshop on reading and writing in Kilkari, Bihar Bal Bhawan in Patna.

A very low-rise building, coloured in brick red and yellow with plenty of air and sun and spread like a fan in a semicircular design in Rajendra Nagar area of Patna is dedicated to children. They call it Kilkari. It is always filled with children of different sizes and ages who engage in all sorts of creative pursuits here. A good number of children come here everyday and more so during festivals. Kilkari is run by the Govt. of Bihar under the Women and Child Development ministry. It is headed by Ms. Jyoti Parihar who is very keen on making Kilkari into a model of happiness for the children in Patna. Kilkari was set up in 2008 and during its first year and a half, they had thatched huts in place of this new building. As soon as you reach here, you can feel that the people in Kilkari are oriented towards children and enjoy their work. They are very helpful by nature and can be seen running around in Kilkari. It is run like an autonomous body and is quite unlike a usual govt-run institution. One of the best things is that children enjoy coming here very much. The days we were there, about 500 children came to Kilkari every day.

We were invited by Kilkari to participate in their 'Greeshmotsav', the Summer Fest, and were asked to conduct a 5-day story reading and writing workshop for children. Poonam, our Urdu Coordinator and I along with Swagata, our well-wisher and friend conducted the workshop from 4th to 8th of June. The participants were children between ages of 8 and 18. With such a wide range of children, it was not easy to hold common class activities and exercises, however, we found that the children irrespective of their ages were attracted towards the stories we had chosen for storytelling. Once, a connection was established, it was not very difficult to hold the group together most of the time.

About 50 children participated but the number changed marginally every day according to the time that children had at their disposal. Although, schools were closed, children had tuition and coaching classes on besides taking part in some other activities going on in Kilkari. A host of activities were going on and those included 'sky watching', photography, classical dance, theater, music, clay modelling, sand art and drawing & painting. Kilkari is now the first place in Bihar to have a telescope! They just bought it and an 'astronomy club' has been formed there.

Day-1: Understanding essential elements of a story

We began our 5-day workshop with preparing ground for reading and writing. We had an ice-breaking session on what what everyone liked to read and then what everyone thought would be termed as a piece of good writing. The children came out with a large number of attributes they associated with good piece of writing. We then automatically held a long discussion on should stories have morals, teaching, something good to learn etc. and through various examples we arrived at the conclusion that a good enjoyable piece of writing doesn't need any of this. It can be a joyful read and make us think about things, other people like us or not like us and show us things that we did not know. We gave them exercises to elaborate upon a word at the end of the day.

Day-2: The longest story ever

With discussions of Day one as a background, we moved on to the second day - we did a recap of the discussions of the first day very briefly and moved on to a session based on 'What on Earth?' Wallbook.As June 5th was the World Environment Day, it was a very apt story. Continuing with the attributes of a good story and what is enjoyable to read for children, in our group-work we were lead to fantasies, magical stories giving me the preface that 'what happens in the real world, especially in nature, is far more amazing and awe inspiring than the fantasies'. We progressed into the Wallbook. Children understood that this probably was the longest story ever - the evolution of the universe! I had put a number of articles e.g. grains of wheat, rice, boiled egg, milk, empty bottle, spices, piece of wood, paper, match box, balloon etc in a cloth bag and children took out one item voluntarily out of the bag and we wove stories linking to them to the evolution of the universe. Children and a few adults who were present liked the session very much although it was a very long session. The session would have been more intense and interesting if the participant children came from a uniform background or were at least of a narrower age-band. I must still say that these children were very bright and knew most of the concepts that we touched upon during this session. At the end of the session, Swagata helped the children to identify major themes on which they would like to read more or write stories. 

Day-3: Pride of Bihar - linking with common background & known characters

Next day, our title, Talaabs of Darbhanga was read out by Swagata. She helped children link it with their common history. A discussion on folktales and legends followed. The story was liked by children very much. Swagata had read it out with full expressions. After the story finished, they discussed its characters, use of simple and apt language, the powerful illustrations etc. There was a lot of discussion on the use of simple yet effective language. The group discussed tonal variations and changes in the meaning conveyed and thus importance of punctuation in a piece. We then discussed appropriateness of words and concepts for various age/level groups. We proceeded to an exercise of mind mapping using simple words like water, mother, salt, hot, day, holiday etc. It was amazing to see how children came out with interesting words, concepts, themes, experiences linked to the given words. This also helped the Kilkari mentor Madhurima in understanding their diverse backgrounds and the equally diverse knowledge banks and vocabulary. Children also wrote down words that could describe Kilkari best and in the process a large number of qualities, notions about Kilkari came out After a brief discussion, they also enumerated things they would like to change in Kilkari and this list was shared with the Kilkari officials then and there.

We ended the day with a discussion on water, its uses, conservation, traditional methods of harvesting and importance of water conservation.

Day-4: Story and its characterisation

Day four began with an exercise of writing using a few words the group had discussed the previous day. Children wrote small pieces of 5 sentences on those words. Each one read out his/her story and the group discussed the pieces. This was followed by another story-telling session in which Poonam read 'The Man Who Thought He Was Smarter Then His Wife'. The children enjoyed the story thoroughly. A discussion on the characters and setting of the story followed. A comparison on a typical day in a woman's life was discussed and then a brief session of translation followed. The group also learned about publishing, its various elements, its process and difference between printing and publishing.

Day-5: Summary and practice

Day five, the last day,began with a discussion on the role of an editor, author and translator. After that, children read out a piece each which they had written as class work the previous day. A few children had written beautiful poems and pieces as per their capacities. We ended the session and the workshop by summing up the whole 5-day experiences and giving the children a number of reading and writing exercises. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Reminder : Send Us Your Applications for the 'Library-in-a-classroom' Grant

Illustration : Jasjyot Singh Hans

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

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.

Read the application guidelines here.

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.
  • 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

 25,000 colourful books are waiting. Hurry up !

(P.S - this poster was done pro-bono by Jasjyot Singh Hans. Thanks Jasjyot! Check out his work at

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Meet the Author : Ramendra Kumar

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.

The first in this series was an interview of Subhadra Sengupta. The next in our series is a heart to heart chat with Ramendra Kumar, the author behind the adorable PAPLU ,THE GAINT. Ramendra has travelled the world with his stories for children,always delighting with the bagful of tales he carries in his invisible cloak. Let's get to know what makes Ramendra what he is :)

Did you always want to be a writer?  When did you first start writing?  
Yes, ever since I can remember I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first poem when I was in class III. A few more poems and stories followed. I took up writing quite seriously in college. I started by writing satire, adult fiction and poetry.

How did you switch to children's writing? 
There is an interesting incident  behind how I started writing for kids:

When my daughter Ankita was five, I was invited to her school to address the students. I thought instead of giving a speech let me tell a story. I didn’t want to tell a tale, borrowed from somewhere. I thought about it quite a bit and wrote a story called ‘Just A Second’. It was about seven brothers, the youngest named Second and the eldest Year. It stressed on the value of time. 

I told the story in the school assembly. The response from the kids was just fantastic. They simply loved it. In fact when my wife and I went to a teacher’s house six months later she told me something which left a deep impression on me. 
 "Mr. Kumar, the story you told that day had a great impact on the kids. Just the other day I was telling my students how important hygiene was.

‘Is it as important as the second, ma’am?’ asked one of my students. I looked at him with a puzzled expression on my face, not comprehending.
‘That day  an  Uncle had come and talked about the importance of  Second’, he explained and only then I understood. I had forgotten, but your story seems to have left an indelible impression on the young minds.”
Needless to say, I was thrilled.  

During that time part of  my responsibility, as a parent, was to put  Ankita  to sleep by telling her stories.  Egged on by the response in the school, I  created  little tales for her. I found she lapped them all up. I  wrote  them down and sent them to children’s magazines. The stories started getting published and thus began my journey into the idyllic world of children.

After my son Aniket was born and reached the right age he became an even more ardent member of my exclusive two member fan club. He would insist that I tell him a new story every day and he and Ankita would fight over the themes. While Ankita wanted the fairy tale, happy ending types of tales, my in-house Rambo wanted action and sports. So naturally  Papa Scheherazade ended up telling both types of stories and thereby enriched his repertoire.

 Our daily tryst with tales created indelible memories. Sitting on the bed, on long summer nights, cold winter evenings and rain drenched twilights we used to laugh, jump, sing, dance and yes sometimes shed a tear or two as we explored the world of magic and mystery, action and   adventure, sentiment and values. The tales created a gossamer fabric of trust and togetherness which, I am sure, we shall always cherish.

What is your favourite genre of writing?
I have dabbled in different types of  genres such as fairy tales, fantasies, folk tales, fables and realistic fiction. However, my favourite    is realistic fiction which I call the  ‘Here and Now’  genre.   This is the writing which is set in the present not in the ‘once upon a time’. Kids   today   face problems, get opportunities and counter predicaments which their earlier generations never did.  Young readers can easily identify themselves with the characters in my stories.  I write about kids who are  ordinary  but have to  counter  situations, which are abnormal. How they go about fighting adversity not with wands but with will power, not with spells but with intelligence, not with potions but with pragmatism is what  my stories are  all about. I have written about  children who are victims of  war, terrorism, riots as well as those who have to face the realities of  a handicap, a broken family, alcoholic parents and marginalization of every kind. Then again my stories are not all about agony and angst, pain and perseverance – they are also about the fun, the joy, the pranks and the sheer unadulterated  bliss of being young.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
I get ideas from anywhere and everywhere. By watching  people, from everyday incidents, from stray conversations and above all from being with and observing children. A few of my most popular stories are based on remarks made by my kids. Then again, a large chunk of my work owes its existence to my imagination alone.

Pratham Books

Are all your characters imaginary or are they based on real life people?
I rely on both experience and imagination with imagination getting a larger chunk of the credit!

Which languages have your stories been translated into? 
 My work has been translated into several Indian languages, as well as Mongolian, Japanese, Spanish, Sinhala, French and Chinese.

I've read that your stories have been included in text books and anthologies. Can you give the details?
One of my stories has been included in the text book for class nine students of Norway and another fable has been adapted as Kamishibai, the traditional form of storytelling in Japan. Tales penned by me have also found a place in the school text books in India as well as abroad. My stories, poems and satires have been included in several national and international anthologies including the popular 'Chicken Soup for the Soul Series'. My latest book for young adults 'Now or Never’ and  a read-aloud  book ‘Paplu the Giant’ have been recommended by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), India, as  Supplementary Readers for classes 7 & 8 and 3 & 4 respectively.  My  books have also  been showcased in several international trade fairs including Frankfurt, Bologna, Moscow, South Korea,  Pakistan et al.

How do you divide time between your job at the steel plant, home and writing books? 
I firmly that time is a function of your PQ or Passion Quotient. If you have the passion for a thing, 
you’ll find the time for it.

I am really, really passionate about writing.   I hardly socialize nor do I go for booze sessions with colleagues or friends. I go to the club only for swimming in summers. My tryst with the idiot box is limited to the news or the odd sports event.   So it is basically me, my family and my writing.

Madhavi, my wife, has been a big support since she handles many of the daily chores leaving me to my obsession. 

A writer, someone said, is never unemployed. Even when he/she is looking out of the window he/she  is ‘on the job’.  The same thing holds true for me.   In meetings and social gatherings where I am forced to go, I simply switch off. I have cultivated the art of sporting the right expression on my face during dull conversations so that the speaker gets the impression that I am all ears, whereas actually I am miles away in my own sanctuary of plots and characters, settings and milieus…….

I haven’t tried this with Madhavi, when she extols the virtues of her mother, for fear of getting beaten up!

Another aspect which helps me is my ability to ‘file’ stories in my head.  Once an idea comes to my mind I keep nurturing and nourishing it till a complete story is formed. Many times the story stays with me for days, weeks, sometimes even months.  This helps me a lot since I can plot when I am otherwise occupied and key in the stuff when I have the time and access to my laptop.

How do you write? Do you need a perfect setting/place to write or you can do it anywhere, anytime?
I know I cannot have the luxury to choose the time and place and create the right kind of ambience. I have cultivated the habit of writing quite comfortably in chaos, shutting out the world to create my own universe of creativity. And in this haven I write for as often as I want and as long as I want.

Who are your favourite children's authors? Are there any you have been influenced by? 
My favourite children’s writers are Enid Blyton and Frank Richards. And though Charles Dickens would not   qualify as a children’s writer, I love  his books such as Great Expectations and Oliver Twist whose protagonists are kids.    I don’t think I have been influenced by any writer. If any one has influenced or inspired me it is my kids who are my greatest fans and sternest critics.

What is the best part about writing for kids? What have been the benefits and learning along the way? 
Writing for children and being with kids has taught me that the only way to be happy is to be like them.  

If we carefully look at a four year old child we can learn a lot about living in the present. Whether the little one is drawing on a sheet of paper, or sailing a paper boat in a puddle  or simply watching a bird in flight – she  is giving  her hundred percent to  the present moment.  I believe adults  should  strive to adopt the natural, unselfconscious behavior of the child. That is a far more effective way of seeking happiness than looking for packaged mokshas and branded nirvanas. 

When I’m in the company of kids I feel much younger and far more vibrant. Even a few minutes with little hearts and souls is like an injection of elixir. Will it be too immodest to say that I look much younger than my age because I spend so much time in the pure and pristine world of children?

Are there any other children related ventures you have been involved in?
 I am also an inspirational   speaker for children and I am frequently invited by schools to address students as well as to  speak at seminars and workshops. I have been conducting Creative Writing Workshops for kids both in India and abroad and participating in leading children’s literature festivals.

The response of the young has been fantastic to my initiatives. In some of my workshops the strength has been nearly 400 while the ideal  number for this kind of an event is considered to be around 50.  After the workshops the children have often mobbed me with their slam books, class copies and even pieces of paper, asking for autographs. On each of these occasions I have felt like a rock star and prayed that time would stand still....  In one school a ten year old boy  came up and told me, "Uncle, this was the happiest day of my life!" On another day, another place a little girl unleashed an affectionate instruction, "Sir, you have to come to our school once every month!"

What is the advice you would like to give to the children who want to become writers?
My advice would be simple – Read and Write. I would like them to read as much as possible, books 
in as many genres as possible. Secondly, I would want them to make writing a habit. They should 
write on a regular basis, not keep waiting for inspiration to strike and then reach for their laptops. To 
put it simply I would wish them to make writing their passion.

Is there any significant incident connected to your writing which you would like to relate?
 A few years ago I had the opportunity of  presenting a  paper at the Asian Conference of Story Telling in New Delhi. During one of the sessions a lady with very impressive credentials in the field of Library Science and an equally impressive personality   was giving tips to children’s writers on how to write for children.

“All writers attempting to write for children should keep in mind that they have to go down to the level of children,” she concluded with a  flourish, waiting for the applause which naturally followed.

During the interaction session I raised my hand to ask a question. She transferred her imperious gaze to me and lifted her left  eyebrow.

“Ma’am, thanks for your very illuminating discourse, but I have a small point to make.”

She nodded impatiently. Obviously she didn’t have time to waste on a ‘non-pedigree’ writer like me.

“Ma’am, I think you got the direction wrong. We children’s writers don’t have to go down to the level of children, rather we have to rise up to the level of the young and vibrant minds. For ma’am, children are the closest that you can get to God and God lives up there, not down below.”  

The auditorium in the India Habitat Centre erupted with applause. This encouraged me to speak against the patronising attitude which many publishers, critics and writers have towards children.

Buy Ramendra's book Paplu, the Giant

Read more interviews with Pratham Books authors and illustrators.

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.)

The Beauty of Books

The Beauty of Books: Part 4 - Paperback Writer from The BDB on Vimeo.

Originally shown by the BBC, this short documentary looks at the aesthetic beauty of books, derived from their cover designs and artwork, particularly those from the Penguin range.

It also features a look at the diverse range of covers for George Orwell's '1984', and an interview with David Pelham, discussing his now iconic design for 'A Clockwork Orange'.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Seattle Public Library Puts Books on Bikes

Seattle Public Library is taking its books to the people through bikes. How innovative! Would be a great idea to try something like this in India.

A small group of Seattle Public Library (SPL) staff will be pedaling—and peddling—books on the pavement this summer, thanks to the new Books on Bikes pilot program.

Librarians on bicycles are traveling to several outdoor events across the city with a custom-built book trailer that can carry 500 pounds of materials and display 75 books at a time. The bicycling librarians will hold book talks, pop-up story times, and information sessions at venues large and small in public parks, farmers markets, and at other community events, such as the Pride Parade and PrideFest, Cyclefest, Umoja Fest, and Fiesta Patrias.

This roaming library also has a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, which the librarians will use with tablet computers to show visitors how to access ebooks and other digital services, help answer reference and research questions, and even check out books and activate library cards for new patrons.

Almost all of the books the librarians brought on the trailer ended being checked out by the students and new library cards were distributed to six students who never had one before, said Montlake Branch librarian Jared Mills, who created the program with help from librarian Linda Johns. The students also provided a number of suggestions for other locations to visit with Books on Bikes, such as a homeless shelter or the Seattle waterfront, Mills said.

“Books on Bikes is green, sustainable, and represents the unique Seattle bike culture that people really love here,” Mills said. “The program shows how the library is really active, and really a part of the community, a part of the neighborhood, and we want to be where people are.”

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Meet us at NGO India 2013

If you live in Mumbai, here's a chance to come meet us and several other awesome NGOs at the NGO India 2013 event.

About NGO India 2013

Giving Back - NGO India is the CSR initiative of UBM India. As part of its commitment to sustainable business, UBM globally, has developed an exciting initiative, UBM’s Community Engagement Series that aims to provide a platform for the sharing of knowledge, skills, experiences and good governance across the voluntary sector.

Giving Back - NGO India is a large scale exhibition supported by a high-content led conference designed to bring together NGOs in India to share best practices and engage with key stakeholders including local and international corporates, foundations, government and the general public.

Learn more about the event by visiting the website.

Dates and Time:  June 14th and 15th, 10.00am to 6.00pm.
Venue: Bombay Exhibition Centre, Hall 5, Goregaon East, Mumbai 400063
Landmark : Bombay Exhibition Centre is in Goregaon East on the Western Express Highway. The campus is also popularly known as NESCO.

Directions: NESCO Gate no. 2 to Hall 5

Stall number: D4

See you at the event!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Longest Book Domino Chain

The weekend is almost here. What crazy/fun bookish activities will you be upto? Take a look at the longest book domino chain created by The Seattle Public Library to launch their 2013 Summer Reading Program.

Amar Chitra Katha compiles 300 titles into collector's edition

Via The Times of India

Forty-five years ago Uncle Pai launched Amar Chitra Katha comics to acquaint children with India's folklore and heritage in a lucid, charming manner. The series went on to break records and became an informal learning aid for three or four generations before modern media took over. Its brilliant team of illustrators became household names.

Realising the priceless value of their inheritance, the new publishers of Amar Chitra Katha have now launched a collector's edition of 300 titles priced at Rs 15,000. The collection is divided into three volumes, each costing Rs 5,000.

Every volume is packed into a handy 11-kg box containing 100 titles. Online support is available at

How Many Books is Your Child Reading?

Just wondering ... how many books is your child reading? Is he/she a reluctant reader or a voracious one? Came across this video of a 5 year old who read 875 books in one year!!!!


Sophia Moss is 5 years old, and she loves to read.

"A lot of the days I read books. It's just a couple days I don't read," Sophia said. "I just like reading!"

Sophia read so much, she finished reading most of the books in the kindergarten and first grade section of the T.S. Cooley Elementary library.

"I told Sophia, I said we're going to have to order more books for T.S. Cooley Library because she's read so many of them and enjoys so many of them," said Librarian Mary Lanier.

WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Disruptive Learning in 45 Days: Rukmini Banerji

Rukmini Banerji talks about the state of education in India, why reading needs to be encouraged and the part that all of us can play in bringing about change.

Via Akshara Foundation

Dr.Rukmini Banerji has been an active member of the core team of ASER, the Pratham-facilitated Annual Status of Education Report, since 2005 and currently heads ASER Centre. Her talk, Disruptive Learning in 45 Days, was illuminating,engaging and thought provoking. In an anecdotal way she made telling, hard-hitting points on the state of learning in India. The genesis of ASER lies in a small experiment Pratham began many years ago with children who were left behind and could not read - in school maybe, but nowhere on par. Dr.Banerji and hundreds of people like her wrought a miracle with village children, turning those who stuttered and stumbled over letters into confident, fluent readers of sentences. All in 45 days, using a specially designed tool, a simple reading expedient that went on to become a rallying point not just to teach children how to read but to engage communities. It moved to the next dimension of a village report card and a learning survey of children, and ASER had begun, in embryo form. Its reading and Mathematics statistics are always cause for dismay and concern. Dr. Banerji called education one of India’s biggest problem areas and urged people to engage groups of children in reading, using appropriate material. Two hours a day for thirty or forty days. If hundreds and thousands of us can do it India will change forever, she said.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Snuggling with Picture Books

HONDURAS: Children Reading on Step

Parshathy. J. Nath interviews Richa Jha about her website that reviews picture books.

Her passion for picture books began when she started reading out stories to her children. Richa Jha, an Indian author and publisher, who is based in Nigeria, says how she leaves no picture book unturned! 
Richa also spent a few years working with a publishing house for picture books and, inevitably, she decided to author one too. But she was unhappy with the book when it came out. “I could see many shortcomings,” she admits. So, she decided to start a website in which she would not only review picture books for others like her but would also try and list out the possible reasons that made a picture book a huge hit with the kids, or not. And so,, a website that reviews picture books from all over the world, came into being in June last year. Richa speaks of the snuggle-quotient of a picture book. “There are certain set parameters that make a picture book good. It should be the kind that could be read again and again, it should have humour and visual appeal,” explains Richa. These are the qualities she keeps in mind before she gives her final rating on the book out of 10. Another parameter is, “Thank God, it is not moral science!” In her website, she provides a one-line synopsis of the story and then the detailed review along with other information such as the name of the publisher, author and illustrator, and the price. The website also provides links to the authors and their respective sites. 
Richa explains the difference between illustrated books and picture books. “They are based on two different concepts altogether. In illustrated works, pictures support the narrative, but in picture books images constitute the narrative. Half of the story is told through pictures.” That is why a picture book should always be read to children, she says. “So, when you read it to the child, you can ask him to guess what will happen next before you show him the picture.”

Richa has also reviewed four of our books on her site. Head to the site to read what Richa thinks of these books - Can and Can't, Annual Haircut Day, My Colourful Pencils and Found it at last!

Image Source : GlobalPartnership for Education/Paul Martinez