Monday, June 30, 2014

Telling Stories in Bangalore

Sravasti Datta writes about three storytellers in Bangalore and the different ways in which they tell their tales. We are so happy to see two of our Champions (Arthi and Vikram) mentioned in the article too ... and a small shout-out for the champions programme too.

Via The Hindu

Storytellers are pursuing the art form not just in terms of performance, but also experimenting with it as a tool for education. Three storytellers speak of their experiences with the art form.

Arthi Anand

Author of children’s books such as Ranganna and Have you seen this? Arthi takes time out of her corporate job to pursue her love for storytelling.

“When I was telling my children stories, I noticed that rather than reading to them, narrating stories held their attention.”
She went onto conduct many storytelling sessions, evolving a style of her own and has since been flooded with requests. “My style is more interactive. I am fairly good at craft and so create art work for the stories I tell. I also sing.”

Her Facebook page, Arts Tales with Arthi Anand has quite a fan following. “I conduct at least two events that are open to the public and one for a volunteer event at Kidwai Oncology unit and for the Ejipura slum kids.” Arthi’s storytelling sessions are wide-ranging, from The Story Feast series, in which she spins stories around food for children to Back to School Parade events. “For Pratham Books, I am doing the Pratham Books Story Express, where I tell stories from any Pratham book and the story express travels through India.”

Vikram Sridhar

A theatre personality, a storyteller and passionate about conservation, Vikram Sridhar’s varied passions inform his storytelling. 

Vikram initiated Around the Story Tree that uses storytelling to convey the importance of conservation and celebrates traditional human-to- human interaction. “Stories often depict animals in a particular, stereotyped way. For example, foxes are sly and snakes are dangerous. I want to correct these assumptions in my stories.” Moving away from the world of gadgets, which consumes much of our modern lives, Vikram wears handloom clothes and serves traditional food, during his storytelling sessions.

Image Source : Arthi Anand

Books for Tribal Children in Odisha - in Their Own languages

The Times of India carried an article about our latest range of books in four tribal languages (Saura, Munda, Kui and Juanga).

Via The Times of India

No doubt story books are source of wisdom for children and when it is written in your mother tongue then nothing like it. Tribal children of Odisha can now enjoy stories in their mother tongue.

Pratham Books, a not-for-profit-publisher, has launched 'Adi Kahani', a series of 10 story books and four song cards (songs with illustrations), in Saura, Munda, Kui and Juanga languages. Child-centric themes, simple language and delightful illustrations in tribal art style are hallmarks of the books. A book contains one story.

The objective is to make reading fun and easy for tribal children, who find school lessons difficult to learn. The reason being the language is alien. "Lack of books in mother tongue is the main reason for alienation of tribal children from school education. These books are aimed at making learning fun for the children by making the process enjoyable, contextual and skill-oriented," said chief operating officer of Pratham Books, Himanshu Giri. A good story book is a perfect gateway to the world for pre-schoolers, he added.

A group of writers and poets, who are also native speakers, prepared at least 50 to 60 stories through which children between 3 to 6 years can get their first exposure to world of knowledge. All the stories were read out to children of respective tribal communities and 10 stories, which were liked the most by children, were selected. The books are bilingual - both in tribal and Odia languages - and written in Odia script.

"Creating these books was a year-long process. We tried to write stories to which children can relate to. So we selected the themes from our rich oral traditions having a huge collection of songs, riddles, sayings, games and tales," said Smruti Ranjan Jena, who coordinated the project.

After the publication of these books now it's necessary that these books reach for whom they are intended through mainstream distribution channels like state government's relevant departments and organizations, working with tribal groups, said head of content development, Manisha Chaudhury.

The Changing Face of Literary Criticism

everyones a critic

'A good deal of reviewing, especially of novels, might well be done by amateurs ... whose ideas about [the novel] would surely be worth more than those of a bored professional,' wrote George Orwell in 1946. With this simple remark, Orwell anticipated the rise of the amateur literary critic.

'Today we have an internet forum where anyone with an opinion about a book can start blogging about it for a global audience,' says Murray. 

For Murray, amateur book reviewing technologies like Goodreads have democratised the practice of literary criticism. Where criticism was once the exclusive domain of the learned professional, book review websites have enabled everyday readers to take part in the critical conversation.

'We've got away from the situation of an old-style enshrined critic who, like the voice of God, would declare whether a book was any good or not,' says Murray. 'We now have a situation where there can be a whole plethora of voices ... and a whole range of views on a particular book.'

The rise of the amateur critic has also seen changes in the nature of contemporary criticism. Murray has detected a new mode of online critique that privileges the emotional responses of the reader. 'Professional literary criticism often downplays the emotional response readers have to a novel. Yet emotion is front and centre in a lot of these amateur reviews ... that's something to really enjoy about reading them.'

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Call for entries - 2014 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize

The Shakti Bhatt Foundation is inviting entries for the 2014 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize. In its seventh year, the prize is a cash award of one lakh rupees, and a trophy.

The award covers poetry, fiction (including graphic novels), creative non-fiction (travel writing, autobiography, biography, and narrative journalism), and drama.

The deadline for publishers and individuals to send in first books (no limit to the number of entries) is July 15, 2014. Books published between June 2013 to June 2014 are eligible.

Authors from the subcontinent are eligible but books must be published in India.

Publications must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.

Worldreader's Digital Libraries in Ghana

As of may 2014, a total of 3,919 books are available on Worldreader Mobile.
Craig Mod travels to Ghana to see the impact of e-books being accessed through Worldreader.

Via Medium

I peeked through the window and none of the thirty or so children stirred. All heads down, deep in their ebooks.

The silence was overwhelming and in stark contrast to the volume of everything else I had experienced in Ghana. 

The Kade children are as children elsewhere: agile with machines. They quickly learn to landscape them, magnify the font size, prop them up like tablets for relaxed reading. They have no trouble with the interface. They make the Kindle do things I didn’t know it could do. The children find hidden features, text-to-voice features, make the devices read to them — robotically but surprisingly clearly — and follow along as the text moves in unison, helping them navigate words that might be a bit out of their English register. Most importantly, the children learn to find books. Books they love, books they must read for homework. Books with curious titles.

Miss Jackie explained to me I was witness to their summer reading session. That the children were of all ages because they were sent voluntarily by their families. 

I reflected back on how most of my suspicions regarding the efficacy of Kindles in Ghana had been assuaged. The students seemed enthralled, and the devices didn’t stutter.

But most importantly, I said, I loved watching Miss Jackie hold forth like a loving taskmaster, accepting no bullshit from the students. That was the key. She ran her classroom decisively, without nonsense or skepticism. You could see that strength inspire the children. That the students read as much and as well as they did was because of her, not because of the Kindles. In fact, I continued (now sitting up in my seat), the most heartening part of the entire operation was how the school and staff were so supportive of the devices, and so obviously eager to foster a culture of literacy and appreciation of literature. You could feel that support bleed beyond the school. Since the children were there voluntarily, so too, by extension, was the community. And that felt very right. In the end, the Kindles were exactly what they were supposed to be and nothing more: containers to get books to children otherwise without.

More and more of the reading happening through Worldreader is not on ereaders but cheap feature phones and smartphones. Devices implicitly connected to the network.

The most exciting part of bringing these students online through reading is that, eventually, “they will become net exporters of their culture.”

We are happy to share that many of our books are also available on Worldreader. You can download the app and find them at the following places:
Image Source : worldreader

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review : Aunty Jui’s Baby

Indian Moms Connect reviewed our book 'Aunty Jui's Baby' (written and illustrated by Madhuri Purandare)

Via Indian Moms Connect

Madhuri Purandare has done both the story and the illustrations. Originally written in Marathi, the book has been translated to English by the Pratham books team.

When I got the book as a set, what I liked the most about the book were the illustrations. They are amazing. Each expression, little nuances have been paid attention to.

The story is about a little girl who, R says, is ‘four years old just like her’ who goes to her Aunty’s house to see a new baby.

What follows is what the book is all about.

Simple story line and effective use of daily happenings in a little girl’s life, from getting up to combing her hair, to running here and there, to wanting to be a big sister. Everything has been captured so well.

Its a book which they have put under reading level 2, which means that the child reading it, should be able to read it by herself. But honestly, R and I enjoyed the book even when I was reading it, mainly because the illustrations are really good and add so much character to the storyline.

Fighting DRM

Cory Doctorow talks about the recent Hachette-Amazon dispute and the dangers posed by Ebook DRM Dictators.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is the bait in a “trap” of global laws that give platform companies – Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo, Barnes & Noble – “the power to usurp the relationship between publishers and their customers,” said the writer, blogger, digital commentator and ‘copyright activist’ Cory Doctorow in a powerful keynote address at last week’s third Writing in a Digital Age conference in London, organised by the Literary Consultancy.

He likens it to a lock which, rather than protecting our content, is the root of something darker. “Any time someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you, and won’t give you the key, that lock is not for your benefit,” he said. 

It’s a situation that has put chains around the major publishers, he believes. Referencing the current dispute between Hachette and Amazon, he notes that Hachette has had “the most uncompromising stance on DRM of all the major publishers. Every Hachette ebook ever sold through Amazon has been locked with Amazon’s DRM. Now, Hachette can go out and team up with all the other digital companies all at once, but for Hachette’s most loyal, most buying, hardest reading customers, Hachette is saying if you want to keep buying our books in digital form, you have to throw away all those dozens or hundreds or thousands of books you’ve bought to follow us to Kobo, to follow us to Barnes & Noble, to follow us to Google Play, to follow us to Apple. 

“Or you have to maintain two parallel sets of reading infrastructure, two different libraries you search, two different apps that you use, two different rooms effectively in your digital life where your books live…”

He imagines what might have happened if Hachette had not used DRM. Then they could “ship a custom version of Calibre or another ebook reformatting app…and they could offer discounts on their titles with Waterstones, or WHSmith or Google. And they could say: ‘For as long as Amazon is screwing with us, our books are half-price everywhere else – and here’s a tool to liberate yourself from the Amazon jail so you can take your books with you to a less abusive retailer’.”

Read the entire article.

Image Source : listentomyvoice

Friday, June 27, 2014

Getting Kids to Read the Themselves

25 - Little Reader

What if your child doesn't want to read independently because you read-aloud to him/her? The Book Doctor has a few suggestions.

Via The Guardian

As you are finding, reading aloud is the best way of getting your child to enjoy books and it will lead your daughter into reading on her own. From listening to the stories you read to her, your daughter will get more and more drawn into the particular experience that books give her. She'll begin to dream and wonder and journey and, once started, she'll want to do it some more. That will be the best spring board she can have for wanting to pick up a book to read on her own.

Don't worry about her not wanting to read any of the book you are reading aloud; keep that book as an experience that is quite separate from her either reading to you or reading to herself. Some children like to pick up the book that is being read to them and race through it on their own so that they can get to the end more quickly. For the majority, however, they want to absorb the story as it is shaped by the voice of the reader and especially the way in which the reader creates the characters by using different voices.

The final solution to getting your daughter to read alone will be to find a separate time and space where you can introduce her to a carefully selected choice of books which you feel she is most likely to like. As you say she's happy with the books you choose to read aloud; the simplest way forward would be to offer her another book by the same author.

Remixed. Retold. Now, Time to Rejoice!

The Retell, Remix and Rejoice contest is a contest where we see the delightful reincarnation of stories, making reading that much more fun. A contest where the end result is as delightful as the beginning, if not more. This 'Tentastic' year at Pratham Books, the 'Remix, Retell, Rejoice' contest witnessed many children and adults participating enthusiastically, with their thinking caps on and their creative juices flowing.

With a total of forty entries from kids and adults, our judges were amazed at the permutations and combinations that the illustrations from "My Car', 'Aaloo-Maaloo-Kaaloo' and 'Where is my bat?' threw up. Maaloo had many new adventures, Khaidi learnt new lessons and made new friends and the lost bat was found in many amusing ways.

We were pleased with the stories written in various regional languages like Kannada, Tamil, Hindi and Marathi. Though English took the lead, the regional languages marched close behind with their heads held high.

Choosing a winning story was a difficult task for the judges (as all the stories were fun in their own way) yet inevitable. 

The winners are : 

In the 'Above Sixteen' category, Arundhati Venkatesh's 'Tsangpo's Wish' is the winning story! Ms.Venkatesh has linked the three friends beautifully, paid close attention to details and the illustrations gel well with the text. Here, though the friends are unknown to each other, they give a new meaning to the proverb, 'A friend in need is a friend indeed.'

 In the 'Below Sixteen' category Aviral Sood's 'Naughty Chou Zheng' bags the first place. Though the story is in the realm of fantasy it is firmly grounded as it brings out the importance of safe driving. The message of the story is well woven and humorously brought home. 

Other stories too were well written and deserve a special mention. Arathi Srinivasan's 'Lost it or found it' helped me find my smile reminding me to keep that frown upside down. :) 

Pavithra Sankaran's 'Akhi and the Earth' broadened my smile into a wide grin when Akhi and his brother lifted Mother Earth's spirits by doing a very simple thing - tickling her!

A loud shout-out goes to Latha Rangarajan for having observed the illustrations keenly and for interpreting them quite differently, to Mitra Dave for bringing the dinosaur back to life, to Vani Balaram for sending us 4 stories, to Sangamesh and Vignesh for being the only children who sent us stories in a regional language, to Samiksha Foundation for fostering the little writers amongst the kids they work with.

Congratulations Aviral and Arundhati. Your stories will be laid out by our designers and you will receive the hard copies of the same. 

Thank you participants for adding colour and vigour to the stories and for making this contest a big success. 

Pratham Books is looking for a Layout artist (Digital Books)

Update : This position has been filled and the posting is closed. 

Job Description:

Pratham Books is looking for a Layout artist for e-books. The candidate will be responsible for a working on adapting original design files into languages and converting our legacy content for the digital medium (phone, tablets etc).

Pratham Books is a not-for profit children's books publisher. Our books are translated into several Indian languages.

Skills required:

Software skills (print):
  • Expertise in Indesign creative suite, Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw, Pagemaker, MS Office, Windows
  • Familiar with Acrobat and pdf
  • Typing in at least one Indian language
  • Minimum of two years of relevant experience
  • Ability to work quickly and accurately on design files
  • Archiving
  • Be a team player, Quick learner
  • Good English communication skills

Desirable skills:
  • Knowledge of linux / ubuntu
  • Working knowledge in Unicode fonts in Indian languages

Full-time position based out of Delhi / Bangalore

Will commensurate with experience.

If interested, please email your resume to along with following details:
1. Current Residential Location:-
2. Open to Relocate to Delhi /Bangalore (Yes/No): -
3. Current Take Home Per Month Salary:-
4. Expected Take Home Per Month Salary:-
5. Notice Period:-

Company Profile:
Pratham Books is a not for profit children's book publisher with a mission to see “a book in every child’s hand”. In the last ten years we havepublished over 260 titles in upto 12 languages and have spread the joy of reading to millions of children in India! We have also had the pleasureof working with the country's best authors and illustrators and needless to say our books have won many awards. Most of our books are under Rs. 35.

We have a very inclusive policy and are one of the few Indian publishers to have released 400+ of our books under the Creative Commons framework. Through this our books have been translated to languages such as Assamese, French, Spanish and German and we have also created over a hundred derivative versions of these books - entirely new books to audio books from the existing books!

For more information about us and what we do please visit our website and blog.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Behind the Scenes - Making of the Tribal Language Books

Sharing some scenes of what transpired at the authors and illlustrators workshops that gave shape to our brand new books in  Saura, Munda, Kui and Juanga languages. Photographs taken by Rajesh Khar.

About the illustrators workshop, Rajesh Khar had this to say:
We enjoyed the workshop thoroughly despite the fact that it would begin at by 10 everyday and not end before 7-7.30 in the evening; and artists would continue to work till pretty late at night!

You can read more about the project at :

You can also buy the English-Hindi version of the books on our website.

आदिवासी भाषा लेखकों की कार्यशाला - इन भाषाओं में एक नई पहल

Tomorrow, we are launching a set of books in 4 tribal languages. We are tremendously excited about the launch of these books and want to share all the behind-the-scenes work that went behind the creation of these books.

Rajesh Khar (editor, Pratham Books) sent me this report written by Surendra Prasad Singh of Ignus-Erg who also happened to be one of the resource persons at the Write Workshop.

(Zoom in to read the document or click on the link above to read it on Scribd)

Creating Books in Tribal Languages

Manisha Chaudhry writes about the Write Workshop we held last year that resulted in the birth of 10 new bilingual books and 4 story cards in 4 new languages - Saura, Munda, Kui and Juanga.

“Johar!” In Odisha, this is how people from the Munda tribe greet each other.

I did not know this until I got to spend three days in the company of 18 authors from Munda, Saura, Kui and Juang tribes. We were together for a Write workshop where Pratham Books, in partnership with Ignus-OUTREACH, and generous financial support from the Bernard van Leer Foundation, was hoping to get manuscripts of stories, songs, poems in these languages to publish them as children’s books...perhaps for the first time. 

More and more tribal children are now enrolled in formal school. They have to study in the official language of the state which is different from their mother tongue. The government has recognised the difficulty this poses for the child and has introduced multilingual education. 

However, we all know that education is something much larger than what happens in a classroom with a text book. It must mean something larger if every child is going to have equality of opportunity within and after school. Books beyond the prescribed texts are as important for a meaningful education as what the teacher teaches in a classroom. But are there any such books available for tribal children? 

Did you know that there are about 62 tribal languages in Odisha alone? Many of them don’t have scripts but they are rich speech communities with traditions of storyteling, songs and vibrant means of knowledge transfer between generations. Is there a way to acknowledge and respect these traditions and prepare the child for an education that priveleges reading and writing? I believe that books go a long way in building such a bridge. 

I also believe that all children have an equal right to grow up reading good books. All kinds of books. Books in their own language which reflect the world around them. Books that open the window to the wide world out there. 

The Write workshop was a first attempt to catalyse writing for children in tribal languages by people who are working with children. They know that books can be instruments of power, repositories of memory and culture and the reflection of a child’s world...

Stories told traditionally were shared and written, songs were sung by a universally tuneful bunch, new stories were written using triggers ...

The books have been illustrated using Saura  tribal art but with a contemporary twist. They are being published in the tribal languages in a bilingual format using Odia script and additionally in Hindi and English.Some Tamil-English, Marathi-English and Urdu-English versions are also in the offing. A small but sure step in reversing the flow of knowledge from the margins to the centre.

If you are in Bhubaneswar on 27th June, you can catch the launch of the books. You can also buy the English-Hindi version of the books on our website.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Join Us for the Launch of Books in Tribal Languages

Pratham Books invites you to the launch of our first set of ten bilingual books and four story cards in tribal languages - Saura, Munda, Kui and Juanga. 

Using Odia script, they are charming stories for readers drawn from the rich oral tradition of these languages. The illustrations use tribal art with a contemporary twist. 

The books will be launched by Padmashri Prof D. P. Pattanayak (eminent linguist, educationist and former Director, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore).

Do join us for a morning of talk and play. 

Time and date 

11am, 27th June, 2014


Bakul Foundation, 16 Satyanagar
Bhubaneswar, 751007

Purnendu Kabi +91 9990444437

Details of the event  

  • 11.15am - Book Release by Padmashri Prof. D. P. Pattnayak (Former Director, Central Institute of Indian Languages)
  • 11.20am - Bilingual panel discussion on ‘Democratizing the joy of reading for all children: A case for books in tribal languages.’ Panelists - Ms Dharitri Patnaik (BvLF), Dr AB Ota (IAS), Mr Subir Shukla
  • 11.30-12.30pm Storytelling for children by tribal language storytellers
  • 12.30 pm Refreshments

(All the tribal language books are going to be donated to selected organizations that work in Odisha. If you work with kids/schools in Odisha, please get in touch with us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org)

A National Strategy for Education

Children Reading Pratham Books and Akshara
Meeta Sengupta is back with another important article about the state of education in India. Meeta outlines the steps that can hopefully better the existing system.

There are shortages everywhere—teachers, faculty, researchers, laboratories—and these are reflected in every assessment of education that has been done, be it the Annual Status of Education Report, the Programme for International Student Assessment or various higher education rankings. The good news stories lie buried under the sheer scale of the challenge ahead. Clearly, the battles need prioritization for the war to be won. Where does one start? With a mantra: Unbox. Unbind. Un-entangle. Unite.

Unbox learning: While the investment in classrooms and schools is great, it is time to release learning from the tyranny of classrooms. Learning should go to the student and must extend way beyond the walls of a classroom. Build on existing programmes to push content via multiple channels, create open libraries, let village school buildings become community learning centres after school time with open access to solar-powered connected computers. Commission science and reading vans, convert bus stops into educational game corners. Invest in creativity and research attitudes from the very beginning. Let learning be open to all, not just those who wear uniforms. Allow certification of prior knowledge when proven, so that the skilled are not burdened with schooling again. Create and support channels of knowledge flow to build communities of learning.

Read the entire article.

Additional Reading : Why Reading Should be Embedded in a Country’s Culture

Image Source : Pratham Books

An Insulting Time to be a Writer

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi writes that it's an insulting time to be a writer. Why? Read on...

Writer's BlockPerhaps it's a depressing time to be a writer. Offended by the littlest thing, censors and cretins elbow publishers into pulping books. Readers patronize novels written by former accountants that retail with bright gold stickers bragging Rs 80 ONLY! Publicists scold you if you don't tweet like Shashi Tharoor — provocatively, unrelentingly, uselessly . Editors say, 'Have you considered an Indian Sixty Shades of Grey?' (Yes, it's my memoir). Big book prizes beg around to stay funded, amending old names to the latest sponsor. Critics know they've become as culturally irrelevant as the books they review in publications with an annual readership of five. If there was never any money to be made in publishing books there is now money to be lost in writing them. Bah. 

And yet, we write. I write. It's an insulting time to be a writer — and in a strange way, the most important thing to do right now. I don't mean to write novels to win readers (good luck, babe) or to write long, hectoring essays that appoint authors as ambassadors of causes (you can be a big fraud or a small fraud, either ways the capital investment is the same). I mean writing in the old fashioned sense of an active endorsement of solitude, writing to fashion and organize a life, writing as a means to think aloud. And to be a writer who is not a cultural celebrity, as he was until recently, but someone who put up in relative isolation, obscure and sloshed, raging against the world and celebrating beauty at every possible occasion, as he always had. Books became again what they were: love letters to people you are yet to meet. With all perks under check, and no expense account to speak of, you'd have to be nutty to want to be a writer. If you are one then I salute you. Few things make me as insanely joyous as being faced by a blank, commandeering page, and to experience this joy without any of its accompanying consolations of public success is to meet, finally, something like accomplishment. This feeling is personal, and enduring.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Magicbird Publishing Took Our Books to Kids in Malaysia

The story of how our books reached kiddos in Malaysia began in 2010. In 2010, we met Ken Spillman at a literature festival. Ken came back a year later to hang out with us and conduct storytelling sessions for kids at Akshara Foundation. Sue from Magicbird Publishing had also seen a stall featuring our content at AFCC, Singapore.And the dots connected when Ken introduced us to Sue in 2013. 

With the cost of sending our books to Sue being way too high, our Creative Commons-licensed books came to the rescue. We could share the raw files with Magicbird Publishing and they could print it in Malaysia. Ohhhh, how we love Creative Commons licenses.

Nine months later... here we are. Magicbird Publishing is distributing our books in Malaysia under the One for One Books Campaign.

Sue mailed us today to share the following pictures and said,
At our first Prantham book distribution at SMK Joseph Kepong - a Govt Tamil Vernacular School :) The storytellers loved your books!

The Reading Bus will also be bringing 30 of each of the 15 Titles to the Philippines to distribute over there once they go and have just made another donation to Kalsom Reading Programme, SOLS 24 / 7 and of course the Reading Bus :)

About Magicbird Publishing
Magicbird Publishing is a social business established in 2012 as an independent non-profit children’s content creator with a focus on book publishing, building of reading spaces and Wisdom Clubs. We are dependent on our direct sales channel to get print books out on a one-for-one basis and are trying to secure grants to build readings spaces. Our ultimate goal is for poor children to always have constant access to stories and storytelling (Wisdom Clubs).

We believe that brains needs books and above all storybooks and storytelling. Over and above a right to education and a right to play children need access to non – fiction books where reading is just for pleasure and not to pass exams. Once a child learns to read for pleasure the world will open out exponentially. We aim to open up children’s minds to imaginative, creative worlds whilst at the same time encouraging thoughts and discussion.

To us poverty should not be a barrier to the world of wonderment and stories.

Why Pratham Books?
To build reading spaces / libraries in schools, community centres, shelters who already have a strong reading programme which we can augment to move learning to read to reading for pleasure and to include a storytelling component at these places. It is to this end that we are very grateful for Pratham Books to agree to work with us to help us publish books to fill up these libraries. Quality books are so expensive and to be able to publish and distribute is so much more economical for us. This of course could not have been done without the help of Midvalley our sponsors for this first wave of printing. 

Cost to purchase books is expensive and to be able to get quality books at the cost of printing was an exciting prospect for me. Also these books have been tried and tested so we know children love them. Furthermore they have an Asian feel so its nice counterpart to the more western reader type books like Peter and Jane that many children learn English from. 

Reach of the books
We are printing 1000 copies of each title (we chose 15 titles). The books will have a very wide reach.
(a) 300 books of each title to SOLS and another 300 to the Reading Bus 
(b) 100 books of each title to Beatrice a friend who runs reading programmes independently in several schools 
(c) 100 books of each title to Mezo Refugee School and Ideas Academy for their onward actions in that community. 
(d) 200 books of each title I kept for donations on my end.

Learn more about the One for One Books campaign on their website or follow the campaign on Facebook.

A big thank you to :
Ken Spillman for introducing us to the One for One Books Campaign,
Sue Yian Quek for making this happen,
CK Koh for formatting all the books,
Midvalley and Mastercard for sponsoring this particular print run of books.

Learn more about our Creative Commons inspired collaborations here.

What Our TENTASTIC Champions Have Been Upto

The TENTASTIC Champions season has begun.

Priya from Storipur kick started the season in May with a storytelling session based on 'Chuskit goes to School'. Read about how Priya and the kids even built a bridge to get Chuskit across. Priya went on to conducted her second session for Storipur with an important message on plastic and recycling. Read all about it here.

Arthi Anand is so close to almost completing the TENTASTIC goal she committed to. With six storytelling sessions under her belt (in less than a month), I wonder if Arthi is going to set a new champion record this year (Arthi - are you listening? :)). Read all about the storytelling express Arthi has been taking around - session 1, session 2, session 3, session 4, session 5 (session 6 coming up soon!), 

Neela Gupta (one of our first champions) collaborated with Pooja Motwani and Shweta Dave to conduct a storytelling session in Vadodara. Neela's report is a timely reminder that things may not always go the way we plan, but one should persevere nevertheless.
And Lopamudra Mohanty conducted three storytelling session in one go

Phew ...aren't our Champions extraordinary?

The current TENTASTIC count is : 
6 Champions, 12 Sessions and 290 kids! 

P.S - If you want to be a TENTASTIC Champion too, you can register here.

To get your frequent dose of fun champion stories, subscribe to the champions blog (look for the subscribe button on the right).

The Illiterate but Passionate Librarian

India - Dal lake, Srinagar, Kashmir
Yesterday's post of Philani's pavement bookstore reminded me of the story of Latif - a librarian in Srinagar.

Via Deccan Herald

On the banks of picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, sits the only library in the neighbourhood, run by a man who loves books but cannot read. In a single-story wooden house, carefully maintained shelves are filled with around 600 books in several languages, the prize possessions of Muhammad Latif Oata, a 44-year-old handicrafts seller who dropped out of school at age 10 to work.

Over two decades, Latif, a Kashmir native, has accumulated all these books through exchanges and donations from people who visited his shop, first in Goa, then in Karnataka and now here in Dal Lake, a popular tourist destination.

Since the vast majority of those who visit the library are tourists, he has named it the Travellers Library. Anyone can take a book; all Latif asks is that borrowers describe the stories contained in the pages of the books they return. 

Latif’s love affair with books began in the early 1990s when he was in Goa, where he sold handicraft items in a small shop. One day, a foreigner stopped near his stall, holding a book written in English by a south Indian author. He didn’t want the book anymore, so he handed it to Latif. Because Latif couldn’t read, he asked the foreigner to tell him what the book was about. The story was about a young girl from a poor family in Kerala who achieved success despite all the struggles in her life.

“When he told me the story of that book, it inspired me and drew me toward the stories contained in books,” said Latif. “I wanted to know more stories from people who had read them in books as I couldn’t read them.” Latif kept that book on his shelf in the shop. 

Some time afterwards, a foreign couple who stopped by his shop asked to buy that book. Latif told them that he didn’t want to sell it but that he would be willing to give it to them if they left another book for him. The couple gave him two books. By exchanging books in this manner, his collection on the shelf grew, and visitors would often narrate the stories in the books they left behind.

So, the next time you find yourself in Srinagar, don't forget to go looking for Latif's library.

Image Source : sandeepachetan

Monday, June 23, 2014

NBT's Book Publishing Course


The National Book Trust has announced the schedule for the 19th edition of its annual 4-week Certificate Programme, to be held in New Delhi, from 4th – 30th August 2014.

The course provides an overview of publishing, and its different areas, like editing, production,design, sales and marketing. It is designed keeping in view the needs of the industry in the Indian context. Besides strengthening the knowledge in different aspects of publishing, the course also helps the participants to take up publishing as a career. The course duration includes interactive sessions, case studies, group discussions, project work, and visits to publishing houses in the capital.

The course would provide an opportunity to come into contact with key people in the publishing industry today. Members of the faculty are drawn from leading publishing houses and institutions, universities, and experts from NBT.

The application deadline is 10th July, 2014. More details can be found here.

The Pavement Bookworm

The story of a young bookseller in Johannesburg.

Via SA people news

Philani is a bookworm who has chosen to review and sell books rather than resort to begging. He shows up on different streets of Johannesburg with a pile of books, and on request he will review the books, the authors, the publishers.

“He has read all the books in his collection and is always seeking for more to read,” says Tebogo. “He then sells some of his books as a way to raise money for himself and some of his homeless friends. I’m appealing to anyone that can contribute somehow into his life.

“He’s a great role model on the power of reading and can be an amazing ambassador for our young people.”

In the video (see below) Philani notes that “reading is not harmful. There is no thing as harmful knowledge” and highlights the virtues of reading, reminding us how much better a book can make a person’s life, a child’s life, and the life of someone in an old age home.

Read the entire article.

We also love that Philani gives away children's books for free so that someone can give it to a child and the child can hopefully turn reading into a life-long habit. Watch a short video on Philani below.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Vir's Bucket Library

Aarti Srinivasan sent us this little note about her nephew and his library. 
My 2 year old nephew Vir loves reading books. So much, that the first English word he uttered a few days back was “Booka” (his cute version for book ). And here’s what Vir did when he was asked to arrange the books back in place. He turned the bucket lying somewhere in the corner into his little innovative book shelf. 

What funny bookshelves are your tiny tots creating? Have a story to share? Mail web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Lessons in History through National Museum's books


he next time you are at the National Museum, make sure you get your hands on these books.

Via Business Standard

"The museum has different plans for different visitors. We realised that children would get bored. So, we thought of reinterpreting our museum collection for children to encourage active interaction," Jayati Roy, the museum's outreach department official, told IANS.

Roy, along with another museum officer Rige Shiba, has penned these four fun-cum-educational books that will focus on different museum artefacts. The books will be introduced to children who are more than seven years old.

The first book "Birds and Animals in Indian Art" has images of different animals or birds that were vehicles of different gods. In this way, a child will learn about sculptures and deities.

"As our culture is plural in nature, this initiative is an effort to introduce them to our incredible diversity," she added.

Keeping in mind the syllabus in history text books, the second book "Life in Harappan Civilisation" highlights agriculture, art and the lives of people of those times.

The third book "Finding Buddha" is designed to present different types of Buddha sculptures, whereas the fourth book "Nine Rasas" will help them learn about the nine essential art aesthetics.

The Why Why girls and boys

Why are we putting up this blogpost now? Why do we love illustrators? Why do we feel that  children should have storybooks around them? Well, we're sure you know - we just love storybooks and their creators and their readers! And mostly, the band of champions who take the stories out to children.

In 2003, to promote the Read India movement, Pratham Books released Mahasweta Devi's book The Why Why Girl? The bright and bold illustrations were by Kanyika kini. The book, published by Tulika Books,  was translated into Kannada by Girish Karnad with the title Yake Yake Hudugi. The launch coincided with the International Literacy Day celebrations.

And now, since Pratham Books has already started its International Literacy Day festivities by launching the Tentastic Project, we were happy to see this post via our friends at Hippocampus. Read Kanyika's interview here.

If you, or someone you know, would like to be a Pratham Books Champion, why not look up the details here?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Ramachandran on What Makes a Great Book for Children

Magic Book

Manisha Gera Baswani's interview with artist A Ramachandran introduces us to his views on what makes a great book for children.

Throughout the world, children’s literature has the quality of make-believe. But strangely enough, the illustrations fail to create an imagery of their own. These illustrations are mere literal translations of the stories into visuals. This is because the pictorial concept of beauty in the western tradition of illustration glorifies the world as one sees it around us.

Just as in our folk and tribal traditions, illustrations for children’s books should have more suggestive qualities in their pictorial form. Thus a picture would be a separate entity in itself, with remote suggestions to the text, thereby enabling a child to imagine various possibilities from a single motif.

The traditional society, as part of a religious structure, created a series of rituals based on magical perceptions. Unlike the modern one, this society never lost its freshness and innocence. The folk tales and songs, epics and classics, which were handed down through the generations until recent times, embodied this world. The rituals and festivals were spectacles of incredible fantasy in which everyone participated.

We are replacing them with technological media like television and cinema. These media enforce passive and vicarious enjoyment rather than active participation in social events. Thus we destroy the capacity of the child to dream and imagine delightful nonsense.

As I see it, the new generation of children are torn away from nature, society and sometimes even family, in case both parents are working full time. Also, we are teaching our children to have a rational outlook from their very early years, thus systematically destroying their capacity to perceive, dream and imagine.

Good quality children’s books, on the other hand, will help a child find his way back to the collective consciousness of myths and legends, lullabies and songs, images and pictures. They will allow the child to create a world of make-believe and delightful nonsense.

Large Cuts in Global Aid for Basic Education in India

Adult Education Programmes in India

Via livemint

India saw the largest cuts in aid to basic education to any country in the world from donor nations and organizations party due to nagging economic woes across the globe, Unesco said in a new report. 

International aid to the elementary or basic sector fell by $278 million between 2010-2012, even though India is among the top five countries in the world in the number of children still out of school, the Paris-based United Nations cultural agency said.

“Despite a huge progress in getting its children into school since 2000, India still sits in the top five countries for the largest number of out of school children in the world,” Unesco said. “Reducing support now is only going to make the remaining challenge of helping these children harder.”

The report assumes significance because the UN’s target of education for all ends in 2015. Globally 57 million children and 69 million adolescents are still out of school. India still has 2.9 million children out of schools despite its right to education law coming into force on 1 April 2010.