Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Launch (Pune) : Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth

Meet Magical Muchkund !

Pratham Books launches its newest title 'Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth' with a magical storytelling session at Balkumar Sahitya Sammelan, Pune. It is written by eminent scientist Dr Madhav Gadgil and beautifully illustrated by Maya Ramaswamy.

The book is about a fictional bear called Muchkund and his bright gang of ghosts who negotiate with bees and come up with a clever way to live in ecological harmony.

The book will be launched by Mr Anil Awchat, well author who recently received the 'Sahitya Academy Award' for children's literature.

Date - 30th November, 2013
Time - 10 am
Venue - Balgandharv Rangmandir, J.M. Road, Pune.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Bol Story Bol with Radio Mirchi

Earlier this year, our friends at Radio Mirchi approached us to ask us if we could be a part of their 11th Anniversary Celebrations. We were delighted to be part of the initiative and agreed immediately. Radio Mirchi has previously collaborated with us to create lovely audio books with our CC-licensed books. This time, the books would be recorded by celebrities, RJs and volunteers for their 'Bol Story Bol' initiative.

Image source : Radio Mirchi's Facebook page
We've uploaded 9 books on our SoundCloud account and can't wait to hear what you think of the audio versions of some of your favourite books. Click on the links below to hear all the stories :

1. Everything Looks New (English) - Read by Zoya Akhtar

2. Kaka and Munni (English) - Read By Richa Chadda

3. The Koel's Song (English) -Read By Dia Mirza

4. Hot Tea and Warm Rugs (English) - Read By Meiyang Chang

5. Fat King Thin Dog (Hindi) - Read By Richa Chadda

6. The Jungle School (Hindi) - Recorded By Meera Damji 

8. The Koel's Song (Hindi)

The radio station that has continuously ruled the lives of Mumbaikars celebrated its turning 11 by spreading sunshine and smiles with their own unique ‘Bol Story Bol’ initiative in association with the National Association for the Blind (NAB). With this campaign, the station recorded 11 Mirchi Audio Books of various children’s tales.

The initiative was supported by Pratham Books, with children’s stories to be made into audio books. Bollywood industry’s renowned celebrities viz Richa Chadda, Tusshar Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Dia Mirza, Zoya Akhtar, Ayushmann Khurana and Meiyang Changthen came forward to lend their support – and voices – to these heart-warming audio stories!

Commenting on the 11th birthday initiative, Preeti Nihalani, Cluster Head – Mumbai said, “We are 11 today and we enter into yet another year of great music, excitement and lots of FUN! Over the years Radio Mirchi has become an integral part of Mumbaikars’ lives – it is because of the city’s constant support that we have grown by leaps and bounds. We think with each year we are just getting younger in terms of content and campaigns. Even today we possess the drive to provide our listeners with even more engaging and innovative programmes. BolStoryBol is one such example. Like every year we wanted to give back to the society and with this initiative we intend to spread smiles and entertainment among the visually impaired kids.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Reviews : Kaka and Munni, Gulli’s Box of Things

Two of our books were reviewed on two different sites recently. 

Savio Mascarenhas reviews Kaka and Munni on is a website that exclusively reviews, discusses and critically engages with Indian children’s books.
An age old folktale is always a joy to read. So here’s a refreshing look at a folktale from Punjab retold and illustrated by Natasha Sharma. 
The story is about a mean and hungry Kaka, a crow, who wants to eat up a sparrow's eggs. He has to fulfil some tasks to get those eggs, well…and does he get them? That’s for you to find out! 
Natasha takes you through the book with her very casual and easy use of words. Her storytelling is straightforward and the language is simple. The sentences are not too long and the dialogues sound like day to day conversation. The story is depicted with some very interesting collage work. The intricate design on the paper which looks like folk art in places lends itself perfectly to the folktale, making it complete. 
The collage art for the illustrations are well composed and so are the stylized paper cuts of animals, birds and scenery. The colors are soothing, refreshing and stand out very nicely against the white paper. The designer has used some variations in the fonts to enhance the impact of the dialogues in some places which is interesting. The simplicity in the illustrations is something that a child will easily connect to. And the textured, patterned paper art will draw the interest of children and adults alike. 
It’s a well told tale with minimum use of difficult words and makes good reading for a seven-year-old. The dialogues lend themselves to some good drama and could be interesting when read aloud. Folktales will never lose their charm and can always find their way into the hearts of children even today when storytellers like Natasha add some uniqueness to them. So here is a visual treat for kids and parents alike who like folktales. This is a harmoniously written and designed book. 
Just for the sheer novelty of its simplistic design and the casual flow in the language, Kaka and Munni by Pratham Books is a clear favorite for kids seven years and above who have started to read. And for parents who would like to read aloud a story to tuck a child to bed.

R's Mom reviews Gulli’s Box of Things on Indian Moms Connect. The Indian Moms Connect (IMC) community was created to provide an avenue for mothers to share experiences and stories on topics related to parenting, motherhood and children.
This one came with the set of 8 which we had ordered from Pratham Books for R earlier during her birthday. 
I love this book. I love it for its simplicity, I love it for its lack of a actual story line and I love it for its illustrations. I love it for the simple techniques it teaches children,I love it for its pracicality and I love it because its talks about a box which could have anything in it. 
Gulli is a little boy who has a big brown box of things. What all can be inside that box is left to your imagination. I imagined a lot of things including shoe strings and iron nails. 
Gulli helps his grand father, the uncle who cooks in his house and his grandmother with the help of things in the box. 
Simple language, lovely illustrations and more importantly, the story line which teaches you that you dont need to look far for solutions and yet giving some titbits in science! 
Loved loved loved the book. and oh R and I love to pronounce the name of the author together – Anupama Ajinkya Apte..isnt that the sweetest name  
Definitely a hit in the R household. 
Go on and get it.

Click on the links below to buy the mentioned books:

Have you reviewed any of our books on your blog? Leave a link to your post in the comments and we'll share your review with our readers.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Mention in The Book Review

Subhadra Sengupta writes about our books and the work we do in the November edition of The Book Review. Please click on the image for a larger view. You can visit our website to order the books mentioned.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mango Reader on CNBC Young Turks

MangoReader is one of the organizations who have transformed many of our Creative Commons licensed content into fabulous interactive stories. Jagdish Repaswal (founder of MangoReader) was recently featured on CNBC Young Turks. Watch the video to learn more about their work. You can also download interactive children's stories from their website.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pratham Books and Google come together for a book reading session

As a part of their CSR initiative, Google collaborated with Pratham Books to come together for a book reading session at Shishu Mandir, Bangalore on 20th November, 2013

We planned to conduct a storytelling session in the morning. Walking into the school perimeter sent us back into memory lane. The Google team quickly paired up into groups of two. When they walked into the classrooms, they were greeted by the kids who went on to sing a lovely song to welcome them. 

Overwhelmed by the welcome, the Googlers and the children walked into their respective classrooms and thus began the journey of Paplu, the Giant. The children were so engrossed in the story that they were asking questions like "If Paplu forgot his magic words after he grew into a giant, then what would happen ?"

The post-storytelling session involved getting the kids to dress up Paplu with bits of cloth. The group that created the best outfit would receive a bouquet of flowers and chocolates. 

The children were given 30 minutes to complete the task and the results were absolutely fantastic. Some dressed Paplu as a traveller in Thailand while some dressed him up as a normal guy. All the four groups were extremely creative and it was decided that all of them were winners !

One of the Googlers Somya,  also joined the children in singing a popular Hindi song.

Thank you Googlers for joining us spreading the joy of reading. If your organization would like to do the same, join the tribe of Pratham Books champions! Read more about the Champions project.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Harry Potter in Real Life

So, what is making us giggle today? This funny video by the folks at Improv Everywhere.

Via Improv Everywhere

For our latest mission, we sent an 11-year-old actor dressed as Harry Potter into New York’s Pennsylvania Station to search for Platform 9 3/4. Harry wandered the station with a caged owl and a luggage cart and asked both strangers and transit employees how to get to the Hogwarts Express.

This project is part of our new series, Movies in Real Life. Every Tuesday, we’re releasing a new video that brings an iconic movie moment to life in the real world.

Visit their blog to see more pictures of 'Harry's' visit to the train station :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Literature for Children Focus at World Book Fair 2014

Literature for children will be the focus at the upcoming edition of New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) with Poland being chosen as the Guest of Honour country. 

"The focus for Delhi World Book Fair 2014 will be literature for children and Poland will showcase children's illustrations through an exhibition and bring books for children," says Anna Tryc-Bromley, director Polish Institute here, part of the Polish diplomatic mission and responsible for promoting Polish culture in India

"We are recognised for excellent graphic design and nowadays Poland's publishing for children is blossoming. I am sure we can collaborate with Indian publishers in bringing new, mutual publications, hence we start with a book for children about one of the greatest Polish composers - Frederic Chopin," she adds. 

The Ambassador of Poland to India, Piotr Klodkowski who says this association will prove to be beneficial to both Poland and India.

The New Delhi World Book Fair will be held between 15th-23rd February, 2014. Find more details on the official website.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An Inspiring Class of Young Investors

Over the years, we've come to know many Teach for India Fellows and are always impressed by the work they do and the engaged classroom environments they create. This summer, Payoshni Saraf interned with us at our Bangalore office and through the interviews conducted by her students, we learnt more about the authors we have been working with.

Today started on an inspiring note when we found out that Payoshni's class participate in the DESIGN FOR CHANGE School Challenge 2013. Their class project 'POWER OF ONE' is one of the Top 20 winners of  the Challenge. Wooohoooo!

State the problem you chose and why did you CHOOSE it?
We got back to the class with our research and realized that the problem is really big with no easy solutions. Doling out money just like that is not going to help us fight poverty. We need to empower the people so that they themselves can carve out a way out of Poverty. We decided to hence help them in their business ventures so that they can expand, make more money and get their children educated, get better Health and Sanitation.
Payoshni's students organized themselves into groups and started saving money. After a month of saving, they were ready to make their investment. Through the Rang De website, each group chose a borrower they wanted to invest in and also got a chance to meet the borrowers to see how their investment had helped them.
This visit completed the circle of money/investment / growth for the kids and they could see how sacrificing the packet of Kurkure can actually fill colours of Joy in somebody else’s life. Through the entire process of the kids, not only did the kids grow academically (learning concepts of Microfinance, Interest ,Business etc), they learnt of a heap of Life Skills and Values. Joy of Giving if no more just a phrase but an actual feeling. They have learnt the values of Belief (in themselves) and the Social Responsibility that each one of us carries. They have learnt to handle negative reactions and criticism and mitigate it and the value of NEED vs GREED. Because, we truly believe, TOGTHER, we WILL make a Difference.
Read all about their project for change.

Thank you for sharing this inspiring project, Payoshni! And congratulations to your wonderful class of social investors :).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Contest : Spot the Book Names

This is the first of the many contests we are running to celebrate Children's Day! Spot the book names hidden in this puzzle and name the 7 books (published by us) you spot. Easy peasy!

And to make it easier, here are the hints:

  • A shy elephant who makes new friends in the jungle 
  • Story about a cheerful pair who are very resourceful
  • A river which is also called "Rewa" 
  • Children who help others are somewhere perceived as "Smart"
  • Play with paper and imagination 
  •  Everything goes Ulta Pulta
  • A baby rhino learns to say his name
Click on the image for a larger view.

Leave your answers in the comments below. The first person to name all the books correctly wins!
NOTE : This contest has been won by the commenter ZOOT.

Check our Facebook and Twitter pages during the day to participate in all the contests that will go up during the day.

The 2nd-6th contests will be up on Facebook at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm (IST).

NOTE : Book hampers can only be shipped within India

This Children's Day, Be a Child Again!

If you're aged 2 -101, and there's a child in you, Happy Children's Day to you! You are now eligible to participate in any of our contests for the day.

We are running a series of contests throughout the day and you can win gift hampers of books today. The contests will go up on our blog, Facebook and Twitter account - so keep checking on all these platforms to see what's cooking and to join the celebrations!

The first contest is already up. SPOT THE BOOK NAMES and win your first gift hamper of books. Hurry!
The 2nd-6th contests will be up on Facebook at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm (IST).

NOTE : Book hampers can only be shipped within India

Celebrating National Library Week with Hippocampus

Happy Children's Day! Today is also the first day of the National Library Week. Make your school library an exciting place by getting kids to meet the alligator maybe, or the unicorn, or the rabbit with a long tail?  Hippocampus School Library Services (HSLS) is celebrating NLW by joining hands with schools across India to inspire children to read for pleasure. Schools can get more details at   and register at

We're happy that HSLS  will be taking our friends Lenny and Tweek to all the participating schools. If you haven't read this book, do look up the review here, and get a copy of the book here - we think it makes an excellent addition to any library.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sunil Khandbahale: Breaking the language barrier

At INK2013, Sunil Khandbahale shares with us his fascinating journey from being unable to understand English as a young student, to creating a series of digital dictionaries to empower people just like him -- a tool now being used by over 100 million users in 150 countries.

Sunil’s goal is to help Indians bridge the ‘language’ and ‘digital’ divides, due to the dominance of English on the internet and in technical published texts. He has developed digital dictionaries for mobile phones and computers with a repository of 9.6 million audio and textual words in 16 domains, like Legal, Agriculture and Pharmacy, in 22 different Indian languages. Educated in Marathi-medium in a village near Nashik, Sunil believes the root of the rural inferiority complex is the linguistic divide, due to which many abandon their education. He hopes to reverse this with his free platform.

The Hindu also shares an article about Sunil's work. Read the entire article to learn about his inspiring journey.

The Ramayana : A New Seven-Volume Graphic Series

ACK Media presents The Ramayana as a seven-volume graphic series, with focus on lesser-known stories.
Image source : ACK website

ACK Media’s newest release is the first of a seven-volume graphic series based on Valmiki’s Ramayana. Bala Kand, which will be available in bookstores shortly, looks at even the smaller details and stories of the epic. 
Inspired by requests from readers after Amar Chitra Katha published its 42-volume Mahabharata series, The Ramayana began to take shape more than a year-and-a-half ago. “The Ramayana has so many stories on the side. And our original book is an abridged version in which all these stories had to be cut out. This series will have everything in detail,” says Reena Puri, editor, ACK Media. 
Staying true to the original, the series will have seven volumes, one for each Kand that Valmiki wrote. “Each book will be about 135 to 150 pages. While the format will be our usual style, the graphic novel uses semi-realistic drawings and is more contemporary than traditional,” she says. “It took us quite some time to get the first book out because we had to check the original story, get our facts right, choose what drawings to use and so on. We hope to release the rest of the books in another year-and-a-half.” 
While the graphic novel is targeted at those between the ages 10 and 15, Reena says that the book is, in its entirety, for people of all ages.

Free to enter The Reading Schools Award Contest

Schools, librarians, young readers, here's a contest for you from Young India Books, a website that reviews children's books in India. The Leading Reading Schools of India Awards, an annual award is being established to celebrate schools that believe in the power and magic of the written word and do their utmost to encourage children to read and appreciate books. The theme of this year's awards, We, the Children of India, is a reference to the book by the same name written by former Chief Justice, Leila Seth. The reading promotion is also a run-up to the Republic Day 2014 celebrations.

  • Winning schools will receive a citation from the Guest-of-Honour, 
    Ms Leila Seth, and a hamper of books for their libraries.
  • Ten best entries by the children will receive an author signed copy of the book - We, The Children of India.
  • Selected entries by children will feature on the website along with their details and that of their school.

Last date for submissions of children's work is December 20, 2013. They are accepting only the first 50 schools that register for the competition. For further details and registration please log onto

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Swedish Embassy in Delhi to celebrate 100 years of Tagore’s Nobel

Rabindranath Tagore
Image source : Eugene Kimeekim

Via The Hindu

To celebrate the centenary of Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Embassy is hosting a cultural extravaganza across the Capital from November 8 to 16.

The “Sweden India Nobel Memorial Week 2013” will also be celebrated across eight Indian cities. According to Swedish Ambassador to India Harald Sandberg, Rabindranath Tagore was a man far ahead of his times. “I was impressed by Tagore’s literary bent of mind while going through Gitanjali. His works penned almost a century ago still have relevance in today’s world. Perhaps, the central issues that moved Tagore most are the importance of open-minded reasoning and the celebration of human freedom as he effectively embraced humanism and universalism as opposed to patriotism and regionalism. Tagore’s visit to our country in 1926 attracted huge attention. His Majesty King Gustavus V. received the poet at Stockholm. In 1913, it was announced that the Nobel Prize in Literature would be presented to Tagore. He was instrumental in fostering friendly relationship between India and Sweden.” Admitting that Tagore was popular only among the intelligentsia in Sweden, the Ambassador said the Memorial Week seeks to rekindle interest in “the exceptionally gifted personality of the 20Century”.

The Growth of English to Tamil Tranlations

Olympia Shilpa Gerald writes about the vernacular publishing space which presents a goldmine of opportunities for students who are competent in English and Tamil.

Walk in to the ongoing Puducherry book fair and it’s not uncommon to see an English book sitting cheek by jowl with its Tamil translation. Be it contemporary Indian writers, literary giants from across the world or self-help books, Ramachandra Guha, Gabriel Marcia Marquez and Norman Vincent Peale are lined up in book fairs today in their Tamil avatars. Going by what booksellers say, the Tamil publishing industry is gung-ho about translating any bestseller into the vernacular.

But does the upsurge in preference for translated works create a lucrative career opportunity? For students who can claim competence in English and Tamil, a whole new world of prospects may open up if the trend continues.

Postgraduate centres like the Kanchi Mamunivar Centre for Postgraduate Studies encourage students of English literature and language to look beyond the theory of translation. Familiarising oneself with translating short stories and essays from English to Tamil or vice-versa is a good start, believe lecturers.

Students and research scholars are also encouraged to contribute to Transfire, a journal of translation from Indian languages into English, and participate in translation contests. Practice in this domain is emphasised, though no one is perfect in translation.

While Tamil publishers jump at an offer to translate an English or an internationally acclaimed book into Tamil, there is not much enthusiasm to publish an English translation of a Tamil work, as publishers are sceptical about the reader base, says Mr. Raja, currently working on a compendium of short stories, novels and literature of Puducherry, translated from Tamil, for Oxford University Press.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Reviews : Growing Up Series, Rupaiya-Paisa Series, What Does Anu See, Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth

 Some of our new books were reviewed in the Sunday supplement of Loksatta. The article reviews :

- the Growing Up Series - a set of four books which follows the lives of little ones and the excitement in their lives as they learn new things. For children who can read new words with help
- Rupaiya-Paisa series -  a set of four books which teach kids about financial literacy
-What does Anu see  - a book that introduces kids to a colourful world, beautifully created by collage art. 
- Muchkund and his Sweet Tooth - a tale about a fictional bear called Muchkund and his bright gang of ghosts who negotiate with bees and come up with a clever way to live in ecological harmony.

Read the entire review here.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Jai ho, PlanetRead!

We love the work that PlanetRead has been doing all these years. Now, we want to dance with joy with Brij Kothari and his team for having been recognised by the US Library of Congress for their work to promote reading. They have been using Hindi film songs to promote reading for long.

PlanetRead, an Indian non-profit born from IIM Ahmedabad, has been named winner of the Library of Congress' first international literacy award announced this week for its pioneering work in teaching millions to of semi-literate people to read using same language subtitling (SLS) for Indian movie songs. The award, which carries prize money of $ 50,000, supports organizations working to alleviate problems of illiteracy and aliteracy (a lack of interest in reading) both in the United States and worldwide.

"It is simple to implement and easy to replicate, reaching 200 million low-literacy TV viewers in India. SLS is notable as a highly motivational approach for getting low-literacy adults to read, particularly where access to books is difficult," the citation read.

The program has been around for a long time, said Brij Kothari, founder of PlanetRead and IIM faculty member, who came to Washington DC to receive the award on Monday. To read the full article, please click here. 

 Image source:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

We've just received confirmation that Pratham Books has been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) 2014 for being a reading promoter. ALMA is considered the largest prize for children's and young adult literature and is given to outstanding authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters in the memory of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, most known for her children's book Pippi Longstocking. Pratham Books is one out of 238 candidates from 68 countries, nominated by eminent nominating bodies. The ALMA laureate or luareates will be announced will be announced on March 25, 2014, both in Sweden.

We are also happy to announce that the other Indian organizations nominated this time are Katha, Tara Books and A & A Book Trust. It feels great to be recognized as promoters of reading among children. You can see the entire list of candidates here. Thank you friends, for being with us while we get our kids reading in every part of India!

Image source; Wikipedia, the cover of the first edition of Pippi Longstocking

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Results of the Google Impact Challenge

The results of the Google Impact Challenge in which Pratham Books was a finalist are out! Sadly, we were not one of the winners. But Google very generously offered all the non-winners a cash award of 1.5 crores each. And this money will help us kickstart the idea we have.

Thank you ALL for all the support you've given us during the campaign (through facebook shares, tweets, blog posts, voting and more) as well as throughout the years.

We can't wait to get started with the project and will keep you updated. Meanwhile, if you've read our previous posts about the project and see a synergy between the work you do and the work we want to do, get in touch with us!

Four technology-oriented Indian non-profit organizations (NGOs) were awarded Rs.3 crore each at the Global Impact Awards on Thursday in New Delhi.

Governance centre Janaagraha, which proposed an app to connect citizens with the government; agricultural training initiative Digital Green, with an online platform to help farmers gain agricultural skills they need to lower their costs and increase their productivity; and the science and technology education group Agastya, which uses a network of motorbike science labs to teach kids in rural areas and train teachers were the winners of the top cash prize as well as 10 Nexus tablets each and the promise of Google’s technical support to help them scale and amplify their efforts in India.

The Google Impact Challenge asks NGOs working on social initiatives on how they can use technology to drive social impact and “make a better world faster”.

The panel of judges, who picked the three main winners, had a surprise for the six remaining finalists. Each was awarded a gift of Rs.1.5 crore to help scale their efforts.