Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pratham Books is looking for TENTASTIC Champions

Yes, we are looking for champions once again. But this time, it isn't just for our International Literacy Day event. It is for a much larger and a much bigger storytelling drive.

Every year on International Literacy Day, our champions have shared stories across the world in multiple languages. We turned ten this year and wanted to turn the celebrations up a notch.

Join our tribe of champions and commit to conducting ten storytelling sessions for children during the year (including the main one on International Literacy Day). Imagine the number of children we will collectively reach through this massive storytelling drive. The number are boggling and the joy ... infectious!

Make reading contagious by registering to be a TENTASTIC Champion. Read about our previous champions here.

If you have any queries about the campaign, please mail champions(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Little Readers’ Nook Helps Spread the Joy of Reading

Earlier this month, we shared how popular our Library-in-a-classroom kits are getting. Rama even created a lovely Library-in-a-box model in her house to encourage kids to read. Another story that turned up on our timeline was the story of how  Little Readers’ Nook donated our library kit to an anganwadi in Mumbai.

As mothers and storytellers, we often talk about the multiple benefits of reading with young kids – developing language skills, imagination, empathy, and above all, reading for the sheer joy of reading! But are we guilty of restricting this joy to a privileged few? Ever thought of how our society would transform from within if children from all sections of society were excited about books and learning?

I had the good fortune of being introduced to a group of anganwadi teachers at Khar in Mumbai through my neighbour a few months back. Their passion for the anganwadi school and commitment to ensure a better future for the children they work with was a huge inspiration for me. We talked about the challenges they face and their only demand was – we need good books for our children. Sure, I can help here, I thought!

I went back home, researched a few options and narrowed down on a Pratham Books Library-in-a-classroom kit as the most cost-effective solution. The kit comprises 125 books and comes with a self-contained storage unit. It costs Rs. 5000, an amount I was easily able to raise, just by speaking with a few friends and family members. Pratham helps in customizing the mix of books – I asked for an even mix of English, Hindi and Marathi books across all age groups and was very happy with their selection.

Last Saturday, we visited the anganwadi to handover the kit and got a chance to interact with the children. They recited rhymes for us and the excitement in their eyes on seeing the colourful books spurred me on to do much more.

This is but the first step in a long journey ahead. There are so many communities and so many children with hardly any exposure to good books. We at Little Readers’ Nook pledge to do our bit in giving children from all sections of society access to the joy of reading. Are you with us in this initiative?

You can identify a community of children in your neighbourhood and raise funds to order a Pratham Books Library-in-a-classroom kit for them. Or organize a book donation drive in your circle. The very least we all can do is donate our own children’s books once they outgrow them.

Do write to us at to discuss how you can help.


Thank you Little Reader's Nook for helping us spread the joy of reading!

P.S - If you want to know more details about the Library-in-a-classroom kit, please email info(at)prathambooks(dot)org. You can also view pictures of the kit on our Facebook page.

Kids and E-books

Annie Murphy Paul writes about what you need to know before letting your kids read e-books.

Via Time

Could e-books actually get in the way of reading?

... the Schugars reported the results of a study in which they asked middle school students to read either traditional printed books, or e-books on iPads. The students’ reading comprehension, the researchers found, was higher when they read conventional books. In a second study looking at students’ use of e-books created with Apple’s iBooks Author software, the Schugars discovered that the young readers often skipped over the text altogether, engaging instead with the books’ interactive visual features.

It seems that the very “richness” of the multimedia environment that e-books provide—touted as their advantage over printed books—may actually overwhelm kids’ limited working memory, leading them to lose the thread of the narrative or to process the meaning of the story less deeply.

By contrast, the authors observe, some e-books offer multimedia features that actually enhance comprehension. In Miss Spider’s Tea Party, for example, children hear the sound of Miss Spider drinking as they read the words “Miss Spider sipped her tea.” In another e-book, Wild About Books, sounds of laughter ring out as the reader encounters the line “Hyenas shared jokes with the red-bellied snakes.”

The quality of e-books for children varies wildly, the authors note: “Because the app market allows for the distribution of materials without the rigorous review process that is typical of traditional children’s book publishing, more caution is necessary for choosing high-quality texts.” They advise parents and teachers to look for e-books that enhance and extend interactions with the text, rather than those that offer only distractions; that promote interactions that are relatively brief rather than time-consuming; that provide supports for making text-based inferences or understanding difficult vocabulary; and that locate interactions on the same page as the text display, rather than on a separate screen.

Monday, April 28, 2014

How Will the Library Evolve?

Via Slate

In Snead’s era, a library without books was unthinkable. Now it seems almost inevitable. Like so many other time-honored institutions of intellectual and cultural life—publishing, journalism, and the university, to name a few—the library finds itself on a precipice at the dawn of a digital era. What are libraries for, if not storing and circulating books? With their hearts cut out, how can they survive? 

Ours is not the first era to turn its back on libraries. The Roman Empire boasted an informal system of public libraries, stretching from Spain to the Middle East, which declined and disappeared in the early medieval period. 

Will the digital age mark another era of decline for libraries? To an observer from an earlier era, unfamiliar with the screens and devices now crowding out printed books, it may look that way at first. On the other hand, even the smallest device with a Web browser now promises access to a reserve of knowledge vast and varied enough to rival that of Alexandria. If the current digital explosion throws off a few sparks, and a few vestigial elements of libraries, like their paper books and their bricks-and-mortar buildings, are consigned to flames, should we be concerned? Isn’t it a net gain? 

Libraries have compensated for this shift by redefining their mission around providing access to new technologies. 

Instead, librarians have begun to identify a rationale for institutional survival in the ancillary public benefits noted above, in particular the principle of a “third place” focused on learning. 

Both maker spaces and Library as Incubator–style art programs engage library patrons to produce their own content. Also in this vein, some wealthier libraries have begun hosting self-publishing and print-on-demand technologies like the Espresso Book Machine. If basic Internet access is no longer anything to write home about, it’s notable that the cutting-edge technologies that libraries can boast of providing on-site access to are used more for creating and less for passive, traditional library activities like reading and watching.

History can repeat itself. Libraries will only survive if the communities they serve want and need them to. It would be a tragedy of historic proportions if, for instance, the public library system that Carnegie endowed and inspired is dismantled in the coming decades, but it’s a real possibility. In the end, it’s up to us—scholars, makers, and artists, seekers of community, access, and safe haven, and above all, readers in the old, human sense of the word—to rise to the level of these monuments we’ve built.

Read the entire article.

Image Credit : Samantha Marx

Friday, April 25, 2014

A small surprise in B.I.G!

For all of us who love children's books, good illustrations can put us on a high! So we were delighted to browse through the Book Illustrators Gallery (B.I.G), put out as part of the Asian Festival of Children's Content (AFCC). And even more delighted to see an illustration of one of our recent books, I am not afraid!, illustrated by Rayika Sen. Congratulations Rayika! 

Congratulations too to our other illustrators who made it to B.I.G, Priya Kuriyan, Lavanya Karthik and Tanvi Bhat (nee Choudhury).

Illustrators were invited to submit artwork that had appeared in children’s books, audio/video products, comics or graphic novels or games, published between January 2013 and March 2014. AFCC is a festival that brings together content creators and producers with parents, teachers, librarians and anyone interested in quality Asian content for children around the world. AFCC 2014 is going to be held in Singapore shortly.

Thank you all  for creating such magic with your images!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reading in the Mobile Era

At Pratham Books, we are always trying and testing new ways to get our books into the hands of children. With mobiles being one of mediums we want to experiment with, it is exciting to read this article about how mobiles are igniting a 'reading revolution' in several countries.

UNESCO's report 'Reading in the Mobile Era' sheds light on the mobile revolution taking place in developing countries.

Reading is many things, but it always and must necessarily begin with access to text, and more aptly books. Yet in many parts of the world this access is either non-existent or sorely lacking. Many people from Lagos to La Paz to Lahore – whether experienced readers looking for a good story or new readers taking tentative first steps towards literacy – do not read for one reason: they don’t have books. 

The question remains: How do we bring text to the unreached?

Why mobile phones? Because people have them. Recent data from the United Nations indicate that of the estimated 7 billion people on Earth, over 6 billion now have access to a working mobile phone. To put this number in perspective, only 4.5 billion people have access to a toilet (United Nations, 2013). 

To better understand how technology can facilitate reading, UNESCO, in partnership with Nokia and Worldreader, developed a survey to learn about the habits, preferences and attitudes of mobile readers. 

The survey was completed by over 4,000 people in seven countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe) and supported by qualitative interviews with numerous respondents. The depth and breadth of data collection make this study the most comprehensive investigation of mobile reading in developing countries to date.
The findings are significant. Among other conclusions, UNESCO has learned that people read more when they read on mobile devices, that they enjoy reading more, and that people commonly read books and stories to children from mobile devices. The study shows that mobile reading represents a promising, if still underutilized, pathway to text.
A key conclusion from this publication is that mobile devices constitute one tool – in a repertoire of other tools – that can help people develop, sustain and enhance their literacy skills. They can help people find good books and, gradually, cultivate a love of reading along with the myriad advantages that portends – educationally, socially and economically. 

This finding echoes global trends showing that convenience is a powerful driver of mobile reading. Because of their multiple uses and portable form, phones are often carried around, offering instant access to content throughout the day.

Of the respondents who cited convenience as their primary reason for reading on their mobile phone, 38 per cent cited affordability as their second-most-important reason

The study found that women and girls, while outnumbered by men in terms of actual users, are significantly more engaged by mobile reading. Data indicate that female mobile readers consume more books and read more often and for longer periods of time than their male counterparts.

Mobile phones – by providing a convenient and affordable gateway to vast libraries of text – hold promise for improving female literacy, particularly in areas where paper books are inaccessible to women due to cost, scarcity or social stigma against female education.
Survey data also show that a significant portion of mobile readers use their mobile phones to read aloud to children. This is one of this study’s most surprising and noteworthy findings, indicating a largely untapped opportunity to support the literacy development of children through mobile technology.
Most child-targeted initiatives employ mobile applications that children use directly, often in the context of a classroom or after-school programme, yet these initiatives are limited in their reach, as children, particularly in developing countries, tend not to have immediate or individual access to mobile phones. It stands to reason that if more child-appropriate content was available and more adults knew how to access it, mobile reading could have a tremendous impact on early childhood education around the world. reading advocates should adopt three broad strategies for extending the benefits of mobile reading to more people: 1) diversify mobile reading content and portals to appeal to specific target groups; 2) increase outreach efforts to create opportunities for potential users to experiment with mobile reading and learn about its benefits; and 3) lower cost and technology barriers to mobile reading.

Deadline Extension : Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest

Summer holidays spell FUN and we've decided to maximize on all the fun by extending our Retell, Remix and Rejoice contest. So, if your kiddos had exams and you were very busy in the recent months, there's no excuse now. Put on your thinking caps and conjure up a fantastic story for the contest. 

We have extended the deadline to 25th May, 2014.

Go ahead and give us your best, TENTASTIC story.

What you need to doCheck available illustrations. Dream up a story. This year’s theme is ‘10’, so make sure your story uses only ten illustrations apart from the cover page. Write your story. Email it to us. Be original. 

If in doubt, take a look at the sample story written by our editor Mala Kumar - ‘Mezzo, Tazo and Jaggu’. 

The first prize winner gets a printed, laid-out version of the winning story. 

Click here to download the illustrations, contest rules and the remixed book, all at one go.

Contest guidelines
  • Contest will be for two categories :  Above 16 years and below 16 years.
  • You can send in your entries in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil or Urdu.
  • This year’s theme is ‘10’, so make sure your story uses only ten illustrations apart from the
    cover page.
  • Please send your entries in PDF, Word or Power Point format to
    along with your name, age, language of entry with the email subject line as “The Retell, Remix,
    Rejoice contest”
  • The contest deadline has been extended to 25th May, 2014
  • Results will be announced on our blog and website on or before June 30, 2014.
  • Got any queries? Email us at
*By submitting your work you agree to a “Creative Commons – Attribution – Share Alike license” being
applied to it. While we encourage participation from all countries, prizes shall be couriered only within India.
In case winning entry is not from India, we will lay out the book and send you a high res pdf to print locally.

(a little tidbit : Did you know that one of the submissions to our contest even got selected, tweaked and published by another publisher. Awesome right? Ok, off you go ... put on your thinking caps and send us your whacky remixed story.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Publisher's Response in Trying Times

With several controversies surrounding the world of Indian publishing, Karthika VK makes a case for why the industry shouldn't stifle free expression.

There is a certain caution built into the publishing system. Call it prudence, call it cowardice or just plain pragmatism. When a publisher signs a contract with an author, the possibility of plagiarism, libel, defamation, obscenity, are all flagged as potential causes of breach of contract. Long discussions can follow on the indemnity clause, which fixes responsibility on the author and ensures that if the book ends up in litigation of any sort, the author will have to fight the case all the way through, alongside the publisher. But events don’t always unfold this way, as we saw in the Wendy Doniger case, where a book was withdrawn even before the matter reached the courts.

When the system seems to connive with the mob to prevent free expression and dissemination of content, what is a publisher to do? The easy thing would be to follow the letter of the law and not test the ideals—if one could call them that—or patience of any part of society.

The other way to respond would be to take the route further north: instead of throwing water on the wood even before the flame is lit, to sit down and plan the fire. Publishing houses, especially small, independent presses with a clear political agenda have been doing this for years; it’s the bigger houses that have for the most part cultivated fairly neutral profiles. But neutrality can fade into inaction, even compromise, and in the ever-shrinking democratic space in India, that isn’t an option any more—it isn’t even good business. A large publishing house has infrastructure, the assurance of legal help, the ability to underwrite reasonable legal expenses, and access to the media. What it lacks, perhaps, is a clear understanding of publishing as a political space where choices must be made not merely on the basis of literary aesthetics or commerce, but as part of a continuing and intellectually vibrant engagement with society. Rather than trap a trend and stay with it for as long as it generates sales, publishers must actually intervene in debates and actively commission books on subjects that could shape the way people think about governance, conflict, human rights, environment, history. In these times of self-publishing and the infinite resources of the internet, not doing so would be to fade into irrelevance.

Katha and Britannica Tie Up to Promote Indian Children’s Stories

Publishing firm Katha has tied up with Encyclopaedia Britannica to present the best of children’s stories from India across the world.

Britannica will convert titles owned by Katha into eBooks and distribute them worldwide as part of its eBook program under the overall eLibrary initiative, according to a Britannica press release.

The Britannica initiatives include providing digital knowledge and learning products to Katha schools and learning centres for underprivileged children in India.

From its repertoire of children’s titles and stories sourced from Indian languages, Katha will compile a Literature Reader in English as a curricular textbook for Classes one to eighth, which Britannica will publish and market in India.

In turn, Britannica will leverage its channels to offer the Literature Reader to schools abroad that follow Indian curriculum, as part of its curricular offering.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TOGETHER we CAN make a change

Amidst a valley created by tall skyscrapers, nearly 100 kids settled down eagerly in four little rooms of  Samridhdhi Bridge School in Bellandur. Not for them the worry of a very hot sun, and its effects. They were here to play, learn and have fun. And they did all this as part of the Sunday Camp conducted by the Together We Can collective of NGOs, of which Pratham Books is a partner. We believe we can nurture and resource the children of Bangalore for a self-sustaining life, over the next 5-15 years.

Volunteers from Baale Mane had the children singing, dancing and playing games. Volunteers from Akshara Foundation engaged the children with Lego building blocks. Spaceships, rockets, apartments, and even a 'diamond shop' got built in record time. 

The creations led themselves well to a storytelling session with a volunteer from Pratham Books. Quick sketches on a board led the children to make up some more exciting stories. We had three storytelling sessions for children of three different age groups.

We started with Haathi ka Bukhaar (Elephant's Fever) in one group. With the older group we could use the same story to talk about hygiene,  temperature and mercury. We also played with our story cards. Some of the children who had been in the bridge school for over a year could read the Hindi cards. In the older group, the story cards got converted to 'money'! Different story cards represented different denominations. The class became a 'bank' and we could share a few basics about money. This reporter was a little distracted by a little fellow who ignored her totally and instead applied himself fully to the task of tying a balloon to a pole. But a storybook finally got him too. Aha!

While the children thought they were just there to have fun, they unconsciously learnt to read, comprehend, write and translate from Hindi to English, or English to Kannada, and in some groups from Hindi to Bengali too!
Volunteers from Liter Of Light were also at the school to see how they could brighten the lives of these children with their pet-bottle-based solar lighting invention. 

Representatives from Centre for Education Innovations were present to work on connecting CSR groups to Sunday camps.
The good work done by Samridhdhi Trust and its teachers was evident in the way the children communicated. This Sunday Camp was a few hours of Sunday well-spent by all. So much to do, so much to learn!

Photo credits: Ramesh and Sridhar of Akshara Foundation.

Monday, April 21, 2014

RIP Bindia Thapar

It is hard for all of us who knew her to even say that Bindia is no more. 

Bindia with her wide smile and enveloping embrace...
Bindia who illustrated books for children at the perfect cusp of head and heart...
Bindia who faced every adversity with the grit and grace of a fighter...
Bindia who did everything with passion... 

Bindia cared deeply about everything she did and all of us who were fortunate to know her will miss her deeply.

Her illustrations in our title City of Stories have travelled the world on our Reading Champion's banner.Her characteristic style leapt out of every book she did and spoke to readers of all ages. 

She had been very keen to do a series with Pratham Books and even shown me rough sketches. 'Take it all..." she had said with her trademark generosity ..."when I'm better, I'll finish it..."

She had really wanted to initiate an award for illustrations in children's books in India. We hope that her dearest wish will be fulfilled.

RIP Bindia

- Written by Manisha Chaudhry

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Indian Publishing Industry is Growing

According to industry body FICCI, the Indian publishing industry, which is worth Rs 12,000 crore, is currently growing at a compound annual growth rate of 25 per cent. Writers such as Chetan Bhagat, whose books Five Point Someone and 2 States have been very successful, and Amish Tripathi, with his 'Shiva trilogy', have helped keep the industry ticking by bringing in an entirely new set of readers, who enjoy a quick and light read.

"There is a growth in first-generation readers, who may not have grown up reading, but have taken to authors such as Chetan Bhagat," says Amrita Chowdhury, Country Head & Publishing Director Harlequin India, adding that regional content is also quite popular. 

Adds Sanjana Roy Choudhury, Publisher, Hay House Publishers: "Increased author participation in marketing their titles has also gained ground that goes a long way in helping a book gain in numbers. Authors create Facebook pages of their titles, and tweet and talk about their books at every given platform, which is so very crucial."

FICCI's Secretary General, Dr. A Didar Singh, states that the Indian publishing industry produces over 100,000 titles every year. "There was a time 10 years back, when one used to be happy if one printed 3,000 copies of a book and it sold out. But, today you're looking at books which are routinely crossing 10,000 to 20,000, and in some cases 100,000 or even a million copies in sales," says Gautam Padmanabhan, CEO of Westland Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Group's retail arm Trent. 

Publishers have also taken a different route to reach out to readers, such as e-books and digital content. The number, though small, is growing, say experts, who place the current e-book market at about two to three per cent. "Digital content cuts through the distribution problems," says Malcolm Neil, Director of Content Acquisition for APAC region, Kobo.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 Launches Hindi Book Store today announced the launch of its Hindi book store with a wide selection of over 23,000 Hindi titles. This store of large book collection is across genres, categories and authors.

Book lovers can find books of all types such as fiction, literature, biographies, novels, childrens' as well as collections of popular authors including Premchand, Gulzar, Javed Aktar, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Kamaleshwar, Yashpal. Also a selection of the prestigious Sahitya Academy award winning books is in place.

“Since our launch we have had several queries for Hindi books and books in other Indian languages. The Hindi store is just a first step in enabling a convenient and easy access for our customers to their favorite authors across Indian languages”, said Samir Kumar, Director – Amazon India. “We will soon launch a selection of books in other regional languages including Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi. We hope our small contribution of easy access will go a long way in increasing the popularity of regional language books.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rama's Library in a Box

When we first shared pictures of the 'Library-in-a-classroom' kits which were donated to deserving organizations across the country, many people kept asking us how they could buy these kits. Rama Kumaraswamy Thoopal also commented on our album and said that she had already sent us an enquiry about the books. A few weeks later, we were thrilled to see the idea that Rama had hatched.

*drum roll please*

Rama's very own Library in a Box.

Miss V turned one and lazy mum that I am, I opted out of making it a Page 3 event. 

So unlike other well-meaning parents, I did not book the best party planner in town to orchestrate a colour-coordinated jamboree featuring trapeze artists and Dumbo the flying elephant.

Yes, I sacrificed the enviable opportunity of comparing notes with other determined momsies waggling their French manicured fingers at tots ensconced in the arms of long-suffering nannies. 

Instead, I spent the night before decorating, burnt my fingers making surprisingly decent carrot cupcakes and conjuring up a crazy rhyme time treasure hunt for Mr. V and my best buddy’s kiddies.

Heaps and heaps of time spent with my chief guest and just having the people who really count in my life made it absolutely perfect.

As did my moment of epiphany. 

I spent days of wondering if I should conduct a magic show at an orphanage, donate money yada yada …..basically do something ‘good’ to mark my baby’s first. And then it crept up to me all of a sudden and I was floored my own genius.
After years of struggling to think ‘out of the box’ in advertising parlance, I finally thought IN the box and it turned out to be my best idea ever! 

OBJECTIVE: Spread the joy of reading among kids whose parents don’t splurge on books – i.e. the help’s kids + get them books in Marathi and Hindi which they never find. Psst...anyone can do it, no biggie so just try it out in your neighborhood. It restores your faith in humanity, well at least the fact that kids do still WANT to read.

1 One old beer carton
2 Lots of Pratham books (English, Hindi Marathi, -different grades)
3 Craft paper, gum, scissors and an old calendar
4 Spread the word amongst the maids' kids as they play cricket.

Mr V and moi slapdash decorating attempts but the stuff inside makes it all worthwhile! The kids absolutely loved the Pratham books I ordered. 

1 Basic record keeping of which child has taken how many books (No mention of titles).
2 Max 2 books to a child, return in mint condition and take the next two.
3 Open Wed 7 PM and Sunday 5 PM (with workshops)
4 Sunday specials - activity around books every Sunday - e.g. puppet workshop, bookmark making, art etc. 
Launched 15th Feb 2014 and as of March 5th 2014 there have been 118 check-ins and check-outs (books circulated) among 21 kids! 

1 Work in progress which sees me haunting kabadi wallas for old Magic Pots, Chandamamas and Tinkles
2 Trying to lay my mitts on old school readers etc
3 Buying new books whenever possible - e.g. Navneet publishes in Hindi and Marathi too, I have pretty much bought all of Pratham's collection (Hindi, Marathi). Within a month my book budget has crossed Rs 2000:)

My childhood ambition of owning my own bookstore or working in a library might have been at work on a subconscious level. With Library in a Box I am doing both! Hey, but Mr V loves it just as much as I do and generously offers ‘some’ of his books for the box as well. Miss V likes sitting in the box and is thrilled to see so many kids trotting in and out. Enough said!
View more pictures of the Library in a box and the storytelling session that followed.

Thanks Rama for executing this simple and effective idea! 

Now, we wonder if many more parents and kiddos will be creating library boxes in their neighbourhood this summer (*hint hint*). Send us a mail at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org to tell us your story of spreading the joy of reading!

Pratham Books is looking for a Chief Technical Officer (CTO)

Pratham Books, a not-for-profit children's book publisher is looking for a CTO to lead their open-source Crowdsourcing Story Publishing Platform (SPP) and Crowdsourced Library Fund Raising Platform. (FRP)

About the Story Publishing and Fund Raising 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.

The project at hand will build collaborative web platforms that solve the three major problems that affect children in India – a very low number of books available for them, a lack of linguistic diversity of books and a lack of access to funding for libraries and books so that children can experience the joy of reading. We will leverage communities to solve these problems and use our openly licensed content as a catalyst for these initiatives.

The first platform, 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 second platform, 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. The FRP idea came about as we realised that there are a number of organisations out there that are in need of books and libraries and may or may not have the social capital to raise funds to pay for. Also, we have discovered that it is hard to find
a single resource of organisations that can absorb books and libraries and are credible enough to feature on a funding platform. The work on FRP has already started.

In three years, our project will enable the continuous creation of new content in multiple languages and allow physical books to reach otherwise marginalised populations of children via crowd-funded libraries and this will help create a nation where we can begin to envisage a book in every child’s hand. All of these will be built through open source technologies and collaborations with various organisations who have already done parts of the same.

For the purpose of the SPP we need a CTO who will be a key player in the delivery of this platform. This role requires a seasoned manager and technologist who can work effectively, both independently and collaboratively, in a team environment where not everyone has a technology background. More importantly this individual needs to believe in 'out-of-the box- solutions to tackle mass problems and should be a strong believer and propagator of use of open technologies. The idea is not to build a platform from scratch but if possible build-upon already available open source modules. The individual will be responsible for the end to end delivery of the platform. The platform has various verticals and the individual will need to work closely with the teams leading all the verticals to understand the usage scenarios. The individual will report to the project lead that will guide the direction of the project from the organization’s overall mission and goal. The
responsibility to deliver the entire platform will lie with this role along-with certain project management roles like hiring people for the backend, deciding on vendors, vendor management, keeping tabs on the budgets etc. Please see Booktype by Sourcefabric as an example of what we might want to create.

The individual will be responsible for all the following:

• Platform deliverables:
Preparing the user stories, documentation and compiling all the platform requirement and specs documents, creating the workflow maps etc
• Delivery of platform:
Deciding the key technologies to be used and why
Research to see existing modules available
Collaborating with organizations doing similar work
• People, Vendor & budget management:
Liaising with the finalized vendor working on the project
Hiring internal resources on a need-case basis
Ensuring the project is done within the budgeted resources – time, money and people

• Overall deliverables:
Ensuring the vision of the platform is never compromised
Managing the release schedules, time lines and versions
Roadmap for the future
Nice to have but not mandatory:

• A track record of leading and delivering projects, preferably open source ones.
• Experience working with non-profits.
• Domain knowledge in publishing industry, Indic language experience and digital publishing

For the FRP, while the platform is currently being developed by a group of designers and technologists mostly on a pro-bono basis, the CTO will need to be involved with future versions of this platform and managing the development of the same.

Pratham Books also has an estore and website. Regular inputs on upgrading these would also be part of the profile.

Location: Position is based out of Bangalore and is full-time. Project is expected to complete within a 18 – 24 month time-frame.

Salary: 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

Interested? 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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Slight Delay

We are upgrading our systems and any orders placed between 1st-10th April will be shipped after 11th April only. However, please don't let that stop you from making your summer reading lists :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Make the Most of the Summer Holidays!

Some of our regular blog readers know that we have a small section for events on our blog. You didn't? Head to our blog and look for the sub-section on the top-right of the blog. Found it?

We updated our events calendar yesterday and there are so many fun things for kids to do in the months of April and May. Ahhh, the joys of summer holidays!

Here's a quick post to share what we've found. Enjoy the holidays :)


APRIL 2014

Summer Hang-out @ Tantra Library, Chennai - 1st-5th April

Lucknow Book Fair, Lucknow - 4th-14th April

Summer Special Story Express, Bangalore - 5th April (registrations required)

Storytime with the Storywallahs, Bangalore - 5th April

Magic or Science Workshop, Bangalore - 6th April (registrations required)

Storytelling session with Vikram Sridhar, Chennai - 6th April (registrations required)

Theatre based Storytelling workshop, Bangalore - 12th April (registrations required)

Food stories, Bangalore - 12th April (registrations required)

Bengal Art and Literary Festival, New Delhi - 12th-13th April

Surukku Pai storytelling sessions, Chennai - 15th-19th April (registrations required)

Toy story puppetry workshop, Bangalore - 19th April (registrations required)

Bake-A-Tale, Bangalore - 22nd-26th April (registrations required)

From Passion to Page: A Poetry Workshop, Bangalore - 27th April (registrations required)

Tulika Day, Bangalore - 27th April (registrations required)

The Writer's Bug Summer Blast, Mumbai - 28th April -23rd May

Little Reader's Nook : Summer Storytelling Sessions, Mumbai - 21st-25th April28th April - 2nd May (registrations required)

Club Hatch Workshops, Bangalore - throughout the month (registrations required)

Merry-go-learn summer camps, Bangalore - throughout the month (registrations required)

Camp Yakaboo Workshops, Chennai - throughout the month (registrations required)

Kidsstoppress Summer Camp Guide, Mumbai - throughout the month (registrations required)

If you are a publisher who is conducting an event that our readers can attend, please mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org. If you are conducting a fun children's event, send us a link to the event and we may include it in this list.

Also, we just link to events. For more details about events, registration - please write directly to the publisher/organizer.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pratham Books Champions : Storipur and Priya Muthukumar

Priya Muthukumar sent us this lovely story of using the book 'Paplu, the Giant' during a storytelling session held at StoripurAs a student counselor and educator, she enjoys all her interactions with kids. Writing, telling stories and simply being with Mother Nature are few of the many things  she loves to do! Storipur intends to fill up the gaps, through the ancient art form, storytelling. Sharing stories about environment, countries, societies, cultures and about all ourselves: it's Storipur's humble attempt to build responsible communities

After the wonderful response for my storytelling session based on a Caribbean story on our monthly theme, magic’, my search began for a story based on a similar theme, however, I was looking for a story which was fun , with a subtle message incorporated in it. Picking up the book, ‘Paplu, The Giant’ in our local library as my ‘aha’ moment! Flipping through the pages of this thin book, I fell in love with Paplu! From that moment, I knew my young audience would adore Paplu. And that’s how the Paplu journey began for us! 

Our kids (3-10 year olds), I must say, listened to Paplu’s story without batting their eyelids. The youngest of the lot, with all innocence, asked me, with wonder brimming in his eyes, ‘but, Priya Aunty, giant means what?’ So, to explain, Paplu’s height, I grabbed a stool, and balanced myself on it and said, ‘Paplu was soooo very tall!”, stretching my hand. The kids added to the story, saying Paplu was as tall as the tree, as tall as a building, he could touch the sky …… and so on and so forth! Our giggles and chatter continuing, non-stop! 

Each one in our audience pretending to be a villager in the story, enthusiastically draped the dupattas piled at the corner of the room, on me… standing on the stool, pretending to be Paplu! As the dupattas kept falling down, I announced to the group, Paplu will need a proper dress and that we all needed to make it!

As a storyteller, it was definitely a cherishable moment for me, to see all the kids sit around Paplu’s gigantic dress, cutting and sticking, sharing scissors and glue with the only objective of making Paplu, the friendly giant’s dress! We made Paplu’s dress with old newspapers, calendar sheets and other re-useable scrap pieces of paper. This dress- making activity gave us another opportunity to highlight recycling and our responsibility towards our environment. 

We were pleased with Paplu’s dress and the story continued. Paplu’s kindness and strength, both appealed to our kiddos. The words,‘ Priya Aunty, will you tell us another Paplu story, next time! ?”, reconfirmed their love for Paplu. Finally, the kids were asked to draw their own versions of Paplu. And what appeared on paper, was a variety of Paplus, big and small, thin and fat! Many thanks to Team Pratham Books, for introducing us to Paplu! Strength is also about kindness, helping one another, and being there for others was our ‘ take- away’ from Paplu’s story.

Visit the Champions blog for more inspiring stories.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Bibliotherapy Service for Children

Via Time Out Bengaluru

For some weeks, 12-year-old Ravi [name changed on request] had been unusually tense, preoccupied and withdrawn from his friends. Concerned, his parents spoke to Sneha Caroline, manager at Hippocampus Children’s Experience Centre at Koramangala. Caroline suggested that Ravi read Katheryn Cave’s book You’ve Got Dragons, a fantasy tale about a boy whose fears manifest as dragons and how he learns to live with them. “After reading the book, Ravi opened up to his parents that exam fears were worrying him,” said Caroline, adding that thereafter the child found it easier to talk to his parents about school. Such requests often come to the staff at Hippocampus. Parents ask their advice on how they can talk to their children about difficult subjects, and come looking for a book on that particular issue.

After many such requests, Caroline and Hippocampus founding director Vimala Malhotra created a list of bibliotherapy-related books in December last year. These books address issues that trouble children – dealing with parents who are separating, the birth of a new sibling, the death of a pet, puberty or loneliness. Their advice to parents is to share a book with their child and allow them to read unsupervised. “Bibliotherapy, as a concept, is something we’ve recently started to explore. We’ve had a lot of parents asking us if there are any counsellors they could speak to. Though we have no counsellors, our attempt is to give, maybe not a solution, but some answers that can help address this requirement,” said Malhotra. 

While Hippocampus hasn’t made this service a separate programme yet, they hope it will evolve into one. “There are many issues that can at least be introduced to children through books and, though the programme is in its infancy, it’s generating a lot of curiosity already,” said Malhotra, adding that while bibliotherapy can serve as a guideline to helping children through trying times, it cannot be a substitute for a professional psychiatrist or address psychological issues.