Friday, February 28, 2014

The Roving Typist

A sweet film to welcome the weekend with :)

C.D. Hermelin was broke when he decided to bring his typewriter to a park and type unique, one-of-a-kind stories for any passersby with a few dollars to spare. And people responded. Even as the project grew in notoriety, the spirit stayed the same - a writer with his typewriter, trying to come up with something good. The Roving Typist is his story.

15-year-old Creator of Braille e-reader

Via TEDx Talks 

Angad Daryani has been called a number of things: child prodigy, little genius, the inspiring teenager, but he can best be described by one word—Maker. Home schooled by teachers who focus on hands on learning, Angad has always been passionate about building things, from improvising already existing software to making custom hardware. When a guy builds a Rep Rap 3D printer at the age of 13, you know there is no stopping him.

Angad's love for aquatic animals led him to name his DIY Kits company, Shark Kits, whose open source kits are available for Indian enthusiasts at reasonable prices. This one-man-army has supplied Rep Raps to prestigious institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, where he is also currently doing research on Desktop Prototyping with Tree Labs.

His passion for building things led to the invention of Virtual Brailler, a device that converts digital text from Roman to braille in real time to give tactile braille feedback to the tracked finger of a visually challenged person. This low cost ebook reader for the blind is a revolutionary product that could make books accessible to millions of people who currently depend on time-consuming methods like getting braille books printed or unintuitive methods like text-to-speech. This project was developed in collaboration with other engineers and designers at the DIy Workshop, Hyderabad, and the team plans to take it forward, so that they could help blind people know the joy of paperless reading through open source.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gear Up For the Summer Holidays with Our Newest Books

A fresh batch of books have arrived from the press. A bat goes missing in 'The Missing Bat' and a horse goes missing in 'The Elephant Bird'. Where could they have gone? Travel through Kashmir to find the missing bat and join a brave girl to uncover the mystery of the missing horse.

Two of our new books are women-centric stories and introduce young readers to three interesting women. 'My Two Great-grandmothers' is a sensitive tale from Norway about a little girl who learns about about her two very different great-grandmothers and their two very different worlds. In ' We Call her Ba', we learn about the world of Kasturba Gandhi and the story of her strong identity, courage and tremendous will power.

Add a splash of fun to the holidays by getting your hands on these books. Click here to order.

Pratham Awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Development Cooperation

Our friends at Pratham recently won the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Development Cooperation for providing quality education to millions of disadvantaged children in India.

Via Yahoo! Finance

The sixth annual BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Development Cooperation category goes to the NGO Pratham, which for over twenty years has successfully catered to the learning needs of tens of millions of disadvantaged children. In doing so, it has designed and implemented new methods that accelerates reading learning skills, using a grassroots approach in which pupils are grouped by actual levels and needs instead of age, while providing specific training to the teachers and volunteers recruited for its programs. 

In the jury's words, "Pratham has expanded the scope of education in resource-constrained areas, going from simple schooling access to effective learning. It has done so through two significant innovations: the creation of simple, accurate and reliable tools for communities to assess learning; and a process that uses scientific evidence to develop new cost-effective programs that drastically improve learning levels."

Congrats Team Pratham!

Munshi Premchand Stories in a Comic Format

Amar Chitra Katha launched a comic book based on Munshi Premchand’s stories at the New Delhi World Book Fair.

Image source : Amar Chitra Katha

Sumita Misra, managing director of Haryana Tourism Corporation launched Amar Chitra Katha’s (ACK) 32-page comic “Do Bael - Munshi Premchand ki Kahaaniyan” last week at the World Book Fair, comprising two of Premchand’s stories — Budhi Kaki and Do Bael. The former is the story of a little girl Laadli’s love for an aged and abandoned grandaunt while the latter is about two oxen who are astonished at the cruelty of human beings towards animals.

Describing the new title as a tribute to one of the greatest writers in Hindi, Munshi Premchand, Manas Mohan, chief operating office of ACK said: “Budhi Kaki and Do Bael are two of the author’s beautiful works waiting to be shared with children, and what better way to do it than a comic book.”

The executive also added that, “We believe that the best way to connect to a wider audience base is by spreading the reach of our comics to various regional languages.

Reena Puri, editor, ACK described the comic as an “attempt to introduce a writer of Premchand’s stature to younger children who may not be very familiar with his work. Though, his stories have been present in school text books for senior classes, we felt that an introduction at a middle school level would help the child understand and enjoy the stories even more.”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Good Books Guide

The Good Books Guide was recently released at the New Delhi World Book Fair. This book is a tool to aid selection of books. It has broad guidelines which will help sift out the completely unsuitable books first and thereafter enable selection based on logical criteria.There are detailed guidelines as well as a ready reckoner against which to make an informed and quick assessment.

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose talks about the 'The Good Books Guide' on her blog.

Via Jaya's blog

But in all these years of working in the publishing industry I have rarely come across catalogues of children’s literature that could be easily recommended. Apart from compilations of titles available in English and other Indian languages, it is also crucial to understand how to select a book for a child. Introduction to literature after all is part of the nurturing and grooming process of a child into a independent, informed and literate individual. From the basic picture books, hardboard books for toddlers to picture books, chapter books and novels and non-fiction for older kids, it is not always easy to come by information. Having said that, in the last one year, there have been three titles published in India — 101 Indian Children’s Books We Love ( Young Zubaan), Children’s Books 2014 ( NBT) and The Good Books Guide: How to select a good book for children ( NBT and PAG-E) that are a beginning. They introduce titles from English, in translation and available in other Indian languages.

The Good Books Guide: How to select a good book for children is a slim manual that was created by Subir Shukla, after a national consultation between National Book Trust and PAG-E ( Publishers’ Action Group) held at Sonapani, Nainital from 26-29 September 2012. It focuses primarily on the criteria necessary for selecting a book. Details such as illustrations match the text; do the theme and contents have any bias; is the plot weak or illogical?; is the language used appropriate for children; is the typescript and type-size inappropriate; are the illustrations and design unsuitable or of poor quality?; how to identify ‘desirable’ books; does it stimulate curiosity and engagement?; if it is a non-fiction title is it correct and factual? and so on. There is a table given towards the end that helps in classifying books according to classes and ages. This manual is a beginning. It will open a debate but at least such a publication has come into existence!

All these books are useful in their own way, but for the first time with the NBT publication we have now access to titles from other Indian languages as well!

Read the entire article (also mentions  101 Indian Children’s Books We Love and Children’s Books 2014).

The Guide to Good Books is priced at Rs 130/- and can be bought from NBT.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Too Much Noise - a quick derivative, thanks to Creative Commons

Our new book, Too Much Noise, got published as a free e-book just last weekend. The book came out in several digital forms. But already we have one more version, this one in verse, written by nine-year old Nangai Chokkan of Bangalore. Thanks to dad N.Chokkan for remixing the illustrations and putting her verse together.

Too Much Noise (Remix) - English by Pratham Books

Too Much Noise has been written by Noni and illustrated by Angie and Upesh. You can access the book for FREE in the following ways:
1. Read/download the book
2. Access the Interactive Book App from Mangoreader (English, Hindi, Marathi)
3. Watch the animated story created by BookBox
4. Listen to the audio stories created by Radio Mirchi

What should one  do with free e-books? Why share it, of course! Read it out to a kid you know. Send it to people who work with children. Ask teachers and parents to read it out to children. Print out a copy or two and share it with children who may not be able to buy books. We hope volunteers who work with children will use such books to promote reading. We're sure Pratham Books Champions will be engaging children in the reading and play-acting of this book leading to Too Much Fun! Enjoy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rohini Nilekani Launches Her First Digital Children's Book in Bangalore

Roaring like a tiger and screaming in fright, is not a side of Rohini Nilekani that one gets to witness often.

But when it comes to children and books, Nilekani is ready to let her hair down. To celebrate the launch of her new children's book, Nilekani, also known by her pen name Noni, held a special book reading session for children at Bangalore's Hippocampus on Saturday.

Spending a good half an hour with the children, Nilekani enthusiastically enacted two of her own books, Annual Haircut Day which was launched in 2007 and Too Much Noise, her latest book featuring the beloved character Sringeri Srinivas. Launched by Pratham Books, a not-for-profit published which was founded by Nilekani herself, Too Much Noise is the publisher's first digital book and entry into the world of e-books.

"This is an important book for us for several reasons as it marks the beginning of our journey as a publisher into the "digital - first" world. We want to make hundreds of digital stories available for free, which can be accessed on many devices including mobile phones and helps us fulfill our mission of taking stories to every child in India," says Suzanne Singh, chairperson, Pratham Books.

"I am delighted that my new book about Sringeri Srinivas is going to be launched as a Creative Commons free eBook available across many media. This is truly the way to go if we genuinely wish to reach all children, wherever, whenever with a good story, right in their own hands. I am very proud that Pratham Books is able to pioneer such work to increase children's access to content. And of course, I hope children will love Sringeri Srinivas and the book Too Much Noise," says Nilekani.

Read the entire article here.

'Too Much Noise' has been written by Noni and illlustrated by Angie and Upesh. You can access the book for FREE in the following ways:
1. Read/download the book
2. Access the Interactive Book App from Mangoreader (English, Hindi, Marathi)
3. Watch the animated story created by BookBox
4. Listen to the audio stories created by Radio Mirchi 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sringeri Srinivas is Back - Catch All the Action!

Sringeri Srinivas is back - with a new story to tell! The beloved farmer always faces problems and this time he has to deal with too much noise. What solution will he find? Find out in the book written by Noni and illustrated by Angie and Upesh.

Storytelling Session
Bangaloreans - Noni and Sringeri are heading to celebrate Bookalore's birthday party. Join them for the storytelling session and MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

Venue : Hippocampus Children's Centre, 525, 16th Main Road, 3rd Block, Koramangala, Bangalore
Date : 22nd February, 2014
Time: 11am - 12 noon
The session is free, See you and your kiddos there!

A New Journey
Sringeri also joins Pratham Books in a new journey into the world of digital books.  'Too Much Noise' is an important book for us for several reasons as it our first digital-only book. The book is licensed under a Creative Commons -BY license. 

Multiple Languages
The 15-page story has been originally written in English and translated into 6 Indian languages.

NOTE : Some of the fonts are looking a little different on the Scribd account. Please download the book and then read it

Multiple Avataars
The story will be available for free as an app (on Android and iTunes), audio books and an animated story on YouTube. This is also the first time we have collaborated with so many different organizations for a book launch. A big thank you to Mangoreader, Radio Mirchi and BookBox for helping us give this story many different avatars.

Access the Interactive Book App from Mangoreader at:

Watch the animated story created by BookBox:

(Click on this link if you are unable to see the video)

Listen to the audio stories created by Radio Mirchi at :

P.S - Don't forget that you can download and share this book with kiddos you know (like our lovely Pratham Books Champions do)! Download the book, plan a storytelling session and spread the joy of stories. And if you do, don't forget to mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org and tell us all about your session.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review : Subbu, the Signal

R's Mom reviews our book 'Subbu, the Signal' on Indian Moms Connect.

We got this book for R from Kala Ghoda Festival from the Pratham Books stall.

Written by Prabha Ram and Meera Sriram and illustrated wonderfully by Madhuvanti Anantharajan, the story is about a traffic signal named Subbu, who is very proud of his job, but eventually gets bored of standing at one place. He starts moving from one place to another but meets up with so many other things who talk to him and finally what does he do and where does he end up is what the story is all about.

What we liked about the book

1. The super concept of a moving traffic signal. R had a lot of questions on how traffic signals can move and what would have happened if the traffic signal moved from its location, ‘Wouldn’t there be traffic jams, Amma?’ she asked

2. The illustrations. They are apt, just perfect for the text and very eye catching

3. The simple language and the way the story moves forward.

4. The cover page of the book. It’s very attractive

5. The ending of the book which brings a smile on your face

Recommended for 4 years +

Click here to read posts written by R's Mom on Indian Moms Connect.

Click here to buy the book.

Friday, February 14, 2014

An International Book Giving Day Gift

14th February is celebrated as a day of love across the world. But we are celebrating a different kind of love at Pratham Books(more on that in a bit). One initiative that has also emerged on this day is the International Book Giving Day. What better way to celebrate the love of books than by giving/sharing/donating a book?

Since 2012, we have been participating in the International Book Giving Day festivities in whatever way we can. In the first year, we asked organizations to submit the bookish needs they had and shared it with the community so that they could get in touch with them directly. The second year saw us approaching the day in a more structured manner where we chose 4 worthy organizations and fundraised on behalf of them. Our lovely supporters responded to the call for action and we were able to send about 1500 books to these organizations.

A 'Library-in-a-classroom' kit being used by Mitra Foundation
This year has been an extremely busy year with us with lots of exciting plans brewing. And while we were busy with different projects, the day almost swooshed by us. But, hey... one's got to celebrate the love of books. To do exactly that, we have decided to gift 'Library-in-a-classroom' kits to 45 Zilla Parishad schools in Andhra Pradesh. 5000+ books are going to be sent to kids in this lovely bookish month and we will share all that we hear from them over the year. This donation was made possible by a grant from Pani Foundation.

Kids at ZPHS Battuguda spending their time with books
If you want to make a donation to an organization, please mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org and we can help find an organization you can donate to. Lets make kids fall in love with books!

Click here to learn more about International Book Giving Day and how you can celebrate it.

New Delhi World Book Fair to Focus on Children's Literature

Via The Economic Times

Literature for children is the focus of the New Delhi World Book Fair, which begins here on February 15 with Poland as the guest country and participants from 25 countries aiming to promote the habit of reading. 

President Pranab Mukherjee is scheduled to inaugurate the 9-day fair themed on "Kathasagara: Celebrating Children's Literature" and organised by the National Book Trust (NBT) in association with the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) at Pragati Maidan. 

"Reading and literature for children are the main focus for the publishing industry the world over. We have a special section to commemorate birth centenary of children's writer and illustrator Shankar Pillai," A Sethumadhavan, Chairman, NBT said today. 

Author Ruskin Bond will be the guest of honour for the Fair, which is expected to see discussions, workshops and interactive sessions with authors and illustrators. 

A specially curated exhibition "A Tale of Tales" will talk about children's literature in Indian languages across six categories- "Myths, Legends and Folktales", "Storytelling tradition in India", "Epics and Classics Retold for Children" "Towards Freedom", "Tales for a new nation" and "Tales Today." 

Apart from Shankar Pillai, the founder of Children's Book Trust, the theme pavillion will also commemorate children's authors Pulak Biswas and Harikrishna Devsare. 

'Kids-Bubble' would host magic shows, film screenings and special art and craft mankind demonstrations for children from February 16-23.
Read the entire article.

We will also be at the World Book Fair. Don't forget to visit our stall and participate in all the exciting events we have planned for you. View the schedule of events

Meet us at the New Delhi World Book Fair

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

Date : 15-23rd February, 2014
Venue : Pragati Maidan
Stall number : Hall No.7, Stall No.44

We are bringing a truckload of charming books with a special emphasis on language books to this years New Delhi World Book Fair. And what is a fair without any merriment?

We will be adding to the excitement with the following events (along with NBT/NCCL (National Council for Children’s Literature)) :

Event Description
16th February
Skit based on one of our stories – enacted by kids from Pratham Centers
18th February
Bengali storytelling session with Subhadra Sen Gupta
18th February
Panel discussion - “What do our Children Read”. Session is moderated by Manisha Chaudhry and guests would be Rukmini Banerji and Subir Shukla. Ideal session for teachers, librarians, children publishers and so on.
19th February
Urdu Dastangoi storytelling session with Poonam Girdhani and Fauzia
21st February
Tamil storytelling session with Jeeva Raghunath

Hold your breath! A 8 day contest will also be run in NBT’s daily newsletter for kids. Pick up your copy and get a chance to win book hampers from Pratham Books and NBT.

Join the festivities and lets make reading fun!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pratham Books is looking for a Marketing and Outreach Manager

Always bubbling with ideas. Great at collaborating. Think of innovative strategies to scale. Want to contribute towards social good. If we just described you then Pratham Books has the role for you!

Pratham Books, a not-for-profit children's book publisher is looking for a marketing and outreach manager to lead its platform marketing efforts for their Crowd-sourcing Story Publishing Platform (SPP) and Fund Raising Platform (FRP).

About the Story Publishing and Fund Raising Platform:

Till date Pratham Books has reached millions of children but our goal is to see 'a book in every child's hand'. In-order to scale-up and achieve our objective we are working on creating a collaborative framework to create and disseminate children’s stories

The SPP, will allow readers and content creators participate collaboratively, creatively and in mutually beneficial ways to translate, remix and create entirely new books using our openly licensed illustrations and stories as a starting point and make the resultant works available in a variety of standard compliant formats for reach across both digital and print mediums while providing open access to a library of digitized stories and illustrations.

The FRP, will seek to leverage the communities we have fostered to crowd-fund libraries for children where they are needed most and for whom they are needed most.

Deliverables for the FRP:
The FRP will be ready for launch shortly. The individual will be responsible for managing the entire portal and engagement on the portal. Monthly crowd-funding targets will need to be achieved. Some of the responsibilities include:

  • Discovery of organisations that can accept donations and have access to networks to raise funds. Further, working with these organisations and individuals to build their capacity to raise funds from their networks to fulfil their library requirements
  • Map out internal processes for order fulfilment
  • Monitoring the funded projects. Documenting these stories and presenting them attractively to pitch the organization's work sto new donors

Deliverables for the SPP:

• Research & Documentation:
Identifying, collaborating and working with partner pilot sites to test the content and the usage scenarios. Hiring & managing trainees who can conduct these pilots
Be the link between the pilot sites and the internal content team.
• Content usage partnerships/ distribution pilots
Curate a list of International and national organizations that will use the content developed on SPP
Create partnerships with service providers /handset manufacturers to carry the content developed on the SPP
On-ground Distribution pilots
Understand on-ground usage scenarios
Identify possible innovative strategies. e.g. SD cards, CD etc
Test & pilot these strategies for scale-up plans
• Marketing & PR Strategy for SPP and FRP
Marketing plans to launch the platform
Sustained efforts to ensure new footfalls and recurring engagement on the platforms
• Analytics, Metrics & SEO
Work closely with the CTO to understand the platform engagement analytics and devise suitable marketing strategies to increase engagement and fill the gaps where required
Location: Position is based out of Bangalore and is full-time.

Salary: Will commensurate with experience. We are looking for a passionate individual who wants to make a difference.

Write to us: Email your resume to A short note on why this profile sounds interesting would be appreciated.

Interested? Read more about what we do and why we do what we do here


Crowd Sourced library- a healing place

Pushpendra Pandya, the founder of India’s First Crowd Sourced Library talks about bringing together book lovers from many cities including Chenna, in this article written by Priyadarshini Paitandy for The Hindu. 

Via the Hindu:

One man. A room full of books. Enthusiastic book lovers from across the country. What happens when they combine resources? India’s First Crowd Sourced Library (IFCSL) is formed. Pushpendra Pandya from Mumbai started this initiative in October last year. “I realised that words heal loneliness. There are a lot of lonely people around,” says Pandya on what made him come up with this idea. “I used to work at the Rani Baugh Zoo (Mumbai) and feed the crows, squirrel and fish. I made friends with a few elderly gentlemen by offering them my newspaper to read. A few days later I realised they waited for more reading material from me.” That made him think of spreading the joy of reading and keeping up the real book reading experience.

Read the entire article here to see how you can contribute to this endeavour. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Translating Gujarati Folktales

In the previous blog post, we shared a review of the Gijubhai Folktales series. A chance discovery also led us to an interview with Anita Vachharajani who translated Gijubhai Badheka’s Gujarati folk tales into English .
Via Time Out Mumbai

What kind of stories do children find appealing? Strong narratives, arresting visuals and irreverent ideas are crucial, according to children’s writer Anita Vachharajani. Gijubhai Badheka’s Gujarati folk tales not only meet these criteria, but like most folk tales, are also a combination of the absurd, the philosophical and the fun. A contemporary of Mahatma Gandhi, Badheka wrote a variety of children’s stories, which were later retold and illustrated in Hindi by author, painter and cartoonist Aabid Surti. Associated with children’s publishing since 1998 and author of children’s books Amazing India and Nonie’s Magic Quilt, Vachharajani has translated Badheka’s folk tales into English that include a set of two books titled The Phoo-Phoo Babaand other Stories (Volume I) and Uncle Know-All and other Stories (Volume II). She has used both Badheka’s and Surti’s texts for the English version.

What prompted you to translate Gijubhai’s Gujarati folk tales?
My husband Amit is a Gujarati, and he introduced me to these folk tales. Gijubhai was an educationist who propagated freedom and love as being central to the process of learning. I translated some of Gijubhai’s nonsense verse for The Tenth Rasa: The Penguin Book of Indian Nonsense Verse, edited by Michael Heyman. Later, the editors at Pratham Books asked me to translate Aabid Surti’s Hindi re-tellings of Gijubhai’s stories. I worked with both the Gujarati and the Hindi texts.

Which was your favourite Gijubhai story in the collection and why did you like it?
Each one was a discovery. The one I had the most fun with was Uncle Know-All. It's about an old know-it-all who lords over a village of fools and the bizarre nuggets of wisdom he doles out. It had a really weird and completely irreverent feel.

Can you always retain the subtle nuances of the original?
You do lose some nuances. It’s inevitable. But you aim to capture the spirit of the original, without becoming heavy or pedantic. Also, even as you lose one set of nuances, you create others. Since I had both the Hindi and the Gujarati texts to work with, I could see that each version was slightly different. It’s an intuitive process and every re-teller of a story – especially in the folk tradition – makes choices and decisions to suit his or her style. Gijubhai himself was re-telling some of these stories, and you can sense that the language – informal, chatty – is entirely his own.

गिजुभाई के ख़जाने से आती गुजराती लोक कथाओं की खुशबू

Navnit Nirav reviews our Gijubhai series on his blog.

Via navnitnirav

शिल्प और कथन के हिसाब से देखा जाय तो लोक-कथाएँ सम्पूर्ण जान पड़ती हैं. इन कहानियों को पहली पीढ़ी ने दूसरी पीढ़ी को, दूसरी ने तीसरी, तीसरी ने चौथी को सुनाया होगा...जो अब कितनी पीढ़ियों से गुजरती हुई, बिलकुल ही सुडौल रूप में हमारे साथ हैं. लोककथाएं हमेशा से ही लेखक या फिर सुनाने वाले को एक “स्पेस” देती हैं जिसमें वह कहानी को अपने ढंग से, परिवेश के अनुसार या फिर श्रोता के हिसाब से गढ़ता और जोड़ता-घटाता है. लोककथाएँ नदी के किनारे पड़े पत्थरों जैसी होती हैं. बिल्कुल सुडौल, चिकनी. जो कई दशकों या फिर शताब्दी पहले किसी पहाड़ी का हिस्सा रहे होंगे. जो पहाड़ी पर या फिर उससे लुढ़कते हुए न जाने कितने खण्डों में  टूटते हुए, घिसते हुए , हवा के थपेड़ों और नदी की धार से तराशे गए होंगे. कितने सारे अनुभवों और समयअन्तरालों के बीच गुजरते-टकराते-बहते  हुए, वर्त्तमान में नदी के किनारे पर आ लगे हैं. लोककथाओं की यात्रा भी तो अंतहीन होती है...सतत, अनवरत. इसलिए हमारा दायित्व बनता है कि हम इन लोक कथाओं को पढ़ें तथा अपनी आने वाली नई पीढ़ी को हस्तांतरित करें. जिससे ये कहानियों युगों-युगों तक जिंदा रहें. इसी बहाने नयी पीढ़ी, पुरानी पीढ़ी से मिलती रहे. किस्सागो का सफ़र यूँ ही चलता रहे.

शायद इसी दर्शन को समझते हुए ख्यातिलब्ध और राष्ट्रीय पुरस्कार से सम्मानित लेखक, चित्रकार और कार्टूनिस्ट आबिद सुरती ने प्रसिद्ध शिक्षाविद,गांधीवादी और बाल साहित्यकार गिजुभाई बधेका द्वारा लिखित गुजराती लोक कथाओं का पुनर्लेखन और चित्रांकन किया है. जिसे प्रथम बुक्स ने पठन स्तर -३ के बच्चों के लिए “गिजुभाई का खजाना- पहली किताब और दूसरी किताब” शीर्षक से दो खण्डों में प्रकाशित किया है. पठन स्तर-३ का मतलब उन बच्चों से है, पठन कर्म में खुद से पढ़ने के लिए तैयार किये जाते हैं. मुद्रण, संयोजन, भाषा की गुणवत्ता के लिहाज से दोनों खंड उत्कृष्ट हैं. कहानियाँ सुनी-सुनाई ही हैं, जैसी लोक-कथाएँ होती हैं. लेकिन इसके प्रस्तुतिकरण का अंदाज जुदा है. इन कहानियों को सभी उम्र वर्ग के लोग पढ़ना करेंगे. लेकिन इन्हें विशेषरूप से बच्चों को ध्यान में रखते हुए लिखा गया है. जो बेहद रोचक और चुटीली हैं. कहानियों के बीच-बीच में लोकगीतों की कुछ पंक्तियाँ भी लिखी गयी हैं जो बच्चों को आकृष्ट करेंगी.  पूरी किताब रंगीन, अच्छे कागज, शुद्ध हिज्जे और बड़े शब्द आकार (फॉण्ट) में छपी हुई है. मुख्य पृष्ठ और अन्दर के पन्नों पर बड़े-बड़े विषय आधारित कार्टून बने हुए हैं जिन्हें आबिद साहब ने ही बनाया है. किताब के अंदर अंतिम पृष्ठ पर आबिद सुरती और बाहर के अंतिम पृष्ठ पर गिजुभाई बधेका का संक्षिप्त परिचय दिया है, जो पाठकों के लिए निश्चय ही उपयोगी जानकारी है.

गिजुभाई का ख़जाना- पहली किताब” में कुल सात कहानियां हैं जो बीस पन्नों में छपी हैं- डिंग शास्त्र, मनमौजी कौआ, जो बोले सो निहाल, चबर-चबर, करते हों सो कीजिए, फू-फू बाबा और शेर के भांजे. “डिंग-शास्त्र” जय-पराजय की कहानी है जो बुद्धि के प्रयोग की बात करता है, तो “मनमौजी कौआ” आज़ादी का सन्देश देता हुआ, इसकी महत्ता को रेखांकित करता है. “जो बोले सो निहाल” चाचा-भतीजा के मूर्खता को हास्य तरीके से प्रस्तुत करता है तो “चबर-चबर” धूर्त लोगों से बचने की सीख देता है. “करते हों सो कीजिये” अकल बिना नक़ल न करने का सन्देश देता है तो फू-फू बाबा बाप-बेटे के मुसीबत से बचने के अनोखे तरीके को हल्के-फुल्के रूप में प्रस्तुत करता है. “शेर के भांजे” कहानी में एकता में शक्ति को समझाने की कोशिश की गयी है.

गिजुभाई का ख़जाना- दूसरी किताब” में भी कुल सात कहानियां हैं, जो चौबीस पृष्ठों में छपी हैं- लाल बुझक्कड़, सिरफिरा सियार, लड्डू का स्वाद, शायर का भुर्ता, पोंगा पंडित, भोला-भाला, चूहा बन गया शेर. “लाल बुझक्कड़” अनपढ़ गाँव के एक थोड़े होशियार आदमी की कहानी है. वैसे लाल बुझक्कड़ अपने आप में सम्पूर्ण मुहावरा है. “सिरफिरा सियार” किसी के मूर्खता के चरम तक पहुँच कर खुद का नुकसान कर लेने की कहानी है. “लड्डू का स्वाद” दूसरे की नक़ल न करने की सलाह देता है तो “शायर का भुर्ता” चोरी जैसी गलत आदतों से बचने का. “पोंगा पंडित” कहानी में सीधे-सीधे शब्दों में समझाती है कि अपने ज्ञान का समय और परिस्थिति के अनुसार कैसे उपयोग किया जाना चाहिए. “भोला-भाला” कहानी की सीख है कि धूर्त लोगों पर कभी विश्वास न करो. “चूहा बन गया शेर” में चूहे की निर्भीकता को बड़े ही चुटीले अंदाज में कहानी की शक्ल में पिरोया गया है.

कुल मिलकर दोनों खण्डों की चौदह कहानियां बेहद रोचक और पठनीय हैं. बच्चे इस किताब को बहुत पसंद करेंगे. प्रथम बुक्स ने एक खंड का मूल्य चालीस रूपये रखा है. जो पेज और छपाई के हिसाब से सही है पर बच्चों के हिसाब से थोड़ा अधिक है. मेरे अनुसार, मूल्य की वजह से यह एक विशेष वर्ग तक ही अपनी उपस्थिति दर्ज कर पायेगी. अगर सरकारी स्कूल के पुस्तकालय इसे अपने यहाँ रखें तो निश्चित रूप से दोनों खंड बच्चों में लोकप्रिय होंगे और बहुत ही उपयोगी साबित होंगे. आजकल अक्सर कई लोगों से एक शिकायत सुनने को मिलती रहती है कि बाल साहित्य में लेखक, पाठक और अच्छी किताबें नहीं हैं. मेरा आग्रह है कि उन्हें एक बार इन खण्डों को जरूर पढ़ना चाहिए. एक कड़वा सच यह भी है कि सूचना-संचार में आधुनिक मनोरंजन के साधनों की उपलब्धता की वजह से आज की पीढ़ी में बहुतों ने पढ़ना कम कर दिया है या फिर छोड़ दिया है. कुछ की रुचियाँ तक बदल गयी हैं, तो बाल साहित्य पढ़ना दूर की बात है. उम्मीद है कि इसे पढ़ कर आपकी शिकायतें कुछ हद तक जरूर कम हो जायेंगी.    

-नवनीत नीरव-

Visit Navnit Nirav's blog

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bangalore as a Book Capital

Via The Times of India

The IT capital has less than half the population of the Delhi National Capital Region and Mumbai. It's smaller than Kolkata. Yet, it's today the biggest market for books in India. And publishers say it has among the most sophisticated and discerning readers.

For Flipkart, India's biggest bookseller, Bangalore accounts for its biggest sales, followed by Mumbai and Delhi. For rival online retailer Amazon, Bangalore is a clear leader, followed by Hyderabad and then Mumbai. 

For Hachette India, which publishes brands like John Grisham, Asterix, Enid Blyton, Stephen King, and Robert Ludlum, Bangalore accounts for 16%-18% of its all-India business. "This would be the picture by and large for trade publishers," says Thomas Abraham, MD, Hachette India.

He says Bangalore is today what Kolkata was some decades ago.

Bangalore too has seen some stores close. But it has also seen the addition of many, despite the onslaught of online retailers. Sapna Book House has been expanding. Newer, special interest stores have emerged like The Entertainment Store on Church Street for comics and collateral, and Light Room in Cox Town and Kutoohala in Basavanagudi for children's books. Bangalore perhaps has the highest children's-only stores anywhere, and those with a big focus on children's books like Atta Galatta and Bookstop, both in Koramangala.

Abraham says he judges a city's vibrancy by the quality and depth of stock of its second-hand bookstores. "Bangalore is taking on the mantle once held by Kolkata with its Free School Street and Chennai with Moore Market. In most cities, used bookstores predominantly keep textbooks or surplus stocks. In Bangalore, Blossom, Bookworm and others around Church Street are easily the best used bookstores in India. It's not just the ubiquitous bestseller but the rarity that one will find.

Why Publishers Should be Gearing Up for Mobile

Jonny Kaldor writes that 'the piecemeal response to mobile internet consumption by publishers is reminiscent of the music industry ten years ago. If things stay as they are, the future of publishing looks bleak.' His points refer to the newspaper and magazine industry but is definitely something for all publishers to think about.

Via The Guardian

The publishing industry is struggling. We all know that. It got caught out by the digital revolution and didn't move fast enough to respond to the huge consumer behavioural shifts it engendered.
...what's really worrying is that the industry is now in danger of getting caught out once again by the next revolution: mobile. Publishers are simply not being bold enough to reinvent their core product to become fit for purpose for how their customers are increasingly consuming media on their mobile or tablet device. 
Firstly, face up to the fact their editorial teams are going to have to change. As we move from print to a digital future, it will be imperative we also move to an editorial process where structured content is delivered across multiple channels from one central source. As a publisher you need to start thinking today how this will impact your team. You need to start thinking about how skills such as HTML and CSS will become as equally important as expertise with InDesign. 
Secondly, publishers have to recognise the importance of delivering content when consumers want it.  
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, publishers need to work out how their brand can deliver additional services that help move beyond traditional print content. Mobile devices offer a plethora of capabilities that, allied with app frameworks, allow you to build fully customised apps that engage with readers in a totally different way to print.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Storytelling Session at Neralu

Bangaloreans - What are you doing this weekend? We hope you are heading to Neralu - the Bengaluru Tree Festival on 8th and 9th February.

Mala Kumar (editor, Pratham Books) will be conducting a storytelling session titled 'The sky beyond the Sampige Tree' on 9th February from 11am (at Bal Bhavan, Cubbon Park). See you at the festival!

A few tree enthusiasts have been very excited to think through and put together a much needed tree festival for Bangalore. This festival hopes to celebrate the history, culture and natural heritage of our city.
The festival has been christened “NERALU ( ನೆರಳು )”, meaning shade in Kannada and dates have been set for 8th and 9th February 2014. A green, peaceful venue in the heart of the city has been chosen as the venue – Bal Bhavan at Cubbon Park. This is going to be a not-for-profit event and a volunteer driven initiative. 
As part of this, NERALU would like to weave in a fulfilling collaboration of naturalists, ecologists, visual artists, performance artists, writers, storytellers, historians and citizens to come together to help make this festival successful.

Pratham Books at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

We were participating at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival from 1st-5th February. Did you visit our stall? What books did you pick up for your little ones?

India’s Buoyant Book Market Attracts More Foreign Deals

Via Publishing Perspectives

Historically, Indian writers have tended to go to the West to get their books published but with e-books posing an ever-increasing challenge to publications there, industry experts indicate a reverse flow may have just begun.

Indeed, there are murmurs that the big and burgeoning Indian book publishing market and the country’s effervescent literary culture have begun to attract both established and new writers from the either side of the Atlantic seeking a bigger audience and accolade.

India remains one of the few major markets said to be still experiencing growth in both print and digital publishing and home to over 19,000 publishers with around 90,000 titles published annually. It is also said to be the third largest market for English books consumption after the US and UK markets, with the children’s book sector alone reported to represent a 25% share of its licensing trade. And the space for Indian writing has also been growing rapidly with more bookstores opening up in the smaller towns and cities.

Despite threats from other forms of digital media the Indian publishing arena appears to be coping pretty well with event-based promotion of the reading culture and a sudden spurt in the national and regional literary festivals said to have bolstered the growth of the industry.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why We Need Reading Warriors

Mala Kumar writes about why the work of reading warriors is vital in a country where children are struggling to read.

According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2013 released last month, the proportion of all children nationally in Class V who can read a Class II level text remains virtually the same since 2012: 47 per cent.

Among Class V children in government schools, this percentage has decreased to 41.1 per cent.

Despite the dismal figures it throws up, there is some hope still. It comes not so much from the formal learning centres as from the work of volunteers and organisations around the country that are doing stellar work to promote reading among rural children.

Learning to read is not an instinctive act like learning to talk, run, or play. But there is no doubt that the ability to read is one of the most important skills children need for their development. 

“Are you asking about reading skills, or children’s inclination to read?” asks Neha Pradhan Arora, Head of Programmes at Swechha, which runs Pagdandi, a volunteer-driven alternative educational space for children of resettlement and slum colonies in Delhi. 

“In Arunachal Pradesh, even the government finds it difficult because of connectivity and terrain. The only hope for promoting reading is the school system. But when these schools lack even basic facilities, having a library is not easy. After coming under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, officials are unable to pay attention to teacher training and other aspects of school governance. Add to this the fact that reading is taught only as a means to teach other subjects,” says Mundayoor, who has been working in Arunachal Pradesh for over three decades. “Volunteers, mostly from tribal villages, are eager to work with reading-deprived children. Books are accessible and kept in open cupboards. Unlike the top-down approach of school librarians, where they decide what and when a child should read, here the volunteers encourage children to read whatever they choose. Volunteers return to their own villages and start similar reading rooms.”

That children love stories is universal. “Children need to be surrounded by books. When reading for pleasure is not part of the culture, there is no push to read. Children are encouraged only to read textbooks and moralistic stories. Our children need books that are colourful, exciting and in languages they can read. They need books that have humour. The only way children will learn to read is if they have books to touch and see and read,” says Suzanne Singh, chairperson, Pratham Books.

Which reading warriors do you know of? We know of many! Read about all of them on the Champions blog.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pratham Books is looking for a Content Manager

You’re reading about this position because you believe in the power of content - good content. Similarly at Pratham Books, we believe in the power of stories – good stories. And in the last decade we have strived hard to reach children across India with a variety of award-winning stories across 12 Indian languages.

It is now time to scale and explore the power of digital through our open-source Crowd-sourcing Story Publishing Platform (SPP). And it for this platform that we are looking for a dynamic Content Manager.

About the Story Publishing Platform:

Till date Pratham Books has reached millions of children but we are still very far from the goal of seeing 'a book in every child's hand'. In-order to scale-up and tackle this problem head-on a collaborative story publishing seems to be the best way forward.

SPP, will allow readers and content creators participate collaboratively, creatively and in mutually beneficial ways to translate, remix and create entirely new books using our openly licensed illustrations and stories as a starting point and make the resultant works available in a variety of standard compliant formats for reach across both digital and print mediums while providing open access to a library of digitized stories and illustrations. 

Pratham Books has been an early adopter of the Creative Commons (CC) and many derivative versions from our CC books can be seen here.

Content Manager:

We are looking for a dynamic, self-motivated individual with experience and skills in curating content, creating strategic partnerships and anchoring content on the SPP. In essence, this person will be in charge of creating and populating a digital asset repository which will ensure there is an abundance of interesting and relevant content available for all stakeholders to engage with. The role will report to the Project Lead and will work closely with different internal stakeholders.

The individual will be responsible for all the following:

Content Strategy: 
  • Create the content road-map for the SPP. Plan the number of stories, genres etc 
  • Create calendar/matrix of content delivery. Create actionable processes and workflows 
  • Have a pulse on the new types of content and delivery mechanisms and keeping an eye on international trends 
  • Creating a strategy and user-interface for display of content on the SPP
  • Creating a database of content creators, authors, illustrators, translators etc on the platform to enhance engagements 

Content Curation and Sourcing: 
  • Creating a large repository of content – Position the platform as the one-stop-source for openly licensed children's stories 
  • Curating content from the Pratham Books' catalog 
  • Briefing the internal content team for the type of new content required for the SPP 
  • Sourcing children's stories under open licences from across the globe 

Liaison with co-collaborators & internal stakeholders: 
  • Working closely with internal teams to create author /illustrator/ publisher / NGO partnerships to boost activity on the platform 
  • Work closely with the marketing team to come up with interesting promotions to promote use of content 
  • Work closely with the content, research and marketing teams on pilot sites to test the content under production 

  • Assure content and versions of remixed content are archived correctly. Work closely with the Project Manager and the CTO on this 
  • Track and report on all site metrics for the content stream 

Required Skills 
Exceptional communication and organizational skills 
Proven ability to build consensus and work effectively within a cross-departmental team 
Bachelor’s degree in English, Journalism, Technical Writing or a related field 
Passion, Integrity and Energy! 

Nice to have but not mandatory: 
Experience working with non-profits. 
Domain knowledge in the publishing industry, Indic language experience and digital publishing 

Position is based out of Bangalore/Delhi and is full-time. 

Will commensurate with experience. We are looking for a passionate individual who wants to make a difference.

Write to us: This position has been filled

Read more about what we do and why we do what we do:

Research reveals that 1 in 3 school-going children cannot read fluently. Children who are unable to read are unable to learn, as they can’t understand what is being taught to them. And that contributes to the high dropout rates in schools. Fortunately many non-profit organizations are aware of this problem, and are working towards getting children to read. However, once children do learn to read, it is critical to nurture that habit, so that they begin to enjoy it, and continue to read. To cultivate a reading habit, it is essential for children to have access to books and libraries.

In India there is a large gap for good quality affordable books in languages that our children read and learn in. Pratham Books was set up to fill this gap. 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.

Till date, Pratham Books has published over 260 titles in English and 10 other Indian languages. That's over 1600 books, most of which are priced below Rs 35. We have printed over 11 million books, over 10 million story cards and have a readership of nearly 50 million. Our vision is to reach 200 million children in India, and we hope to someday put 'a book in every child's hand'.

NOTE : This position has now been filled