Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Delhi's Most Knowledgeable Bookshop Attendants

Mayank Austen Soofi takes us to meet some of Delhi's most cherished bookshop attendants.

Via livemint

He has hardly any books in his house but he is known to many Delhiites who live in book-lined homes. Mithilesh Singh, a 39-year-old college dropout from Bihar, is the floor manager at Bahrisons Booksellers in New Delhi’s Khan Market. The landmark book store is patronized by the Capital’s famous people, and all of them turn to Singh on literary matters. “Mithilesh is a genius,” says author William Dalrymple. “I love the way he knows about any book I ask for and can generally find it in seconds even if it involves shinning up some rickety stepladder or rootling around in some attic. If not, he knows where he can get it within 24 hours. If all bookshopwallahs were like him, then Amazon and Flipkart would never have got a toe in the market.”

The joy is deeper when the book store owner gives you a smile of recognition. But to have an affable bookshop attendant more informed than you on new titles and who helps you search for the desired authors is beyond expectation. That is exactly how Singh delights book lovers every day. The moment politician-lawyer Kapil Sibal, one of the store’s many VIP regulars, pushes open the glass door, he asks for “Mithilesh” to show him the latest stock. It’s the same with many others who are in a hurry and want to browse only those recent releases that suit their reading taste. The most commonly uttered name in the store is not “Rushdie” or “Rowling”, but “Mithilesh”.

The grave-looking owner of the eclectic Fact & Fiction book store in Basant Lok market in Vasant Vihar is rarely seen smiling but his assistant Ravi Vyshumpayan’s relaxed demeanour puts one at ease. Full Circle at Khan Market has the friendly Reji Varghese Joseph (he was trained in Bahrisons) as well as the elderly Jolly Sabharwal, who pleasantly surprised the regulars after returning to her job in July after a five-year break (she appears stern but is charming once you break the ice). 

The Book Shop in Jor Bagh suffered a tragedy in May with the death of its founder, K.D. Singh, who used to regale the faithful with stories of his college days in Delhi. The regulars continue to visit the shop not only to bask in the soothing company of Singh’s wife Nini, but also because of the obliging Sohan Singh, the quiet-natured doorman-cum-attendant. Early this year, on his store’s Facebook page, K.D. Singh left a sentimental note, saying, “Sohan Singh has been with The Bookshop for fifteen years. He knows where every. single. book. is shelved. And even though he can’t read in English if you are a regular customer he knows the kind of books you like and is happy to point you to books that you might enjoy. He is such an integral part of The Bookshop…”—just as Mithilesh Singh is to Bahrisons.

“As long as my father was active in the shop,” says Malhotra, referring to the store’s elderly founder who retired five years ago, “I used to do exactly what Mithilesh does today. He exercises the same freedom of decision-making.” Shooting a glance at his star staffer, Malhotra says, “Both of us have been loyal to each other and both of us respect each other’s position.”

Monday, September 29, 2014

Entering a Children's Picture Book

Publishing Perspectives writes about a children's book project that allows you to enter the world of the book - digitally and literally.

How can the digital age use the tried-and-true concept of a picture book to create something new and wonderful for children? How about art that is as large as a child? How about details that can be examined up close while interacting with a (FREE) app on an iPad?

This is the concept behind the KIWI (Kids Interactive Walk-In) Storybooks: 5 ft. x 7 ft. paneled screens magnificently illustrated by award-winning children’s author/illustrator Roxie Munro for kids from kindergarten through 5th grade. The lightweight, yet sturdy frames of the screens can be easily assembled and dismantled, and there are panels for eleven themes: Farm and Maze, Fire Station, Space Station and Castle, to name a few. The Velcro panels are easy to change and insert. The free apps for each KIWI StoryBook, which can be downloaded onto iPads, can initiate a scavenger hunt — searching for plants and animals in the desert or rainforest — or help a child discover sounds familiar to the Old West, or make a digital jigsaw puzzle of a photo of the art, or let a child record and edit an original movie. And that’s just the hi-tech part.

If you want to keep the experience in the analog/real world, how about using the panoramic screen as the backdrop for a play? Author and playwright Douglas Love has created scripts for each backdrop so kids can produce a four-person skit or a two-act play for seventeen characters or just improvise a scenario based on some suggestions. There is nothing quite like the collaborative work of theater to motivate and inspire children to learn and share what they’ve learned with others.

The Future Library

Imagine a library whose works will not be seen for a century.

Via The Guardian

Depending on perspective, it is an author's dream – or nightmare:Margaret Atwood will never know what readers think of the piece of fiction she is currently working on, because the unpublished, unread manuscript from the Man Booker prize-winning novelist will be locked away for the next 100 years.

Atwood has just been named as the first contributor to an astonishing new public artwork. The Future Library project, conceived by the award-winning young Scottish artist Katie Paterson, began, quietly, this summer, with the planting of a forest of 1,000 trees in Nordmarka, just outside Oslo. It will slowly unfold over the next century. Every year until 2114, one writer will be invited to contribute a new text to the collection, and in 2114, the trees will be cut down to provide the paper for the texts to be printed – and, finally, read.

"It is the kind of thing you either immediately say yes or no to. You don't think about it for very long," said Atwood, speaking from Copenhagen. "I think it goes right back to that phase of our childhood when we used to bury little things in the backyard, hoping that someone would dig them up, long in the future, and say, 'How interesting, this rusty old piece of tin, this little sack of marbles is. I wonder who put it there?'"

Each year, the Future Library trust, made up of literary experts – and Paterson, while she's alive – will name another "outstanding" writer who will be contributing to the artwork. The trust is also responsible for the maintenance of the forest, and for ensuring the books are printed in a century's time. A printing press will be placed in the library to make sure those in charge in 2114 have the capability of printing books on paper.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review : Rupaiya Paise Series

Priya Fonseca reviews the Rupaiya Paisa series - written by Mala Kumar and illlustrated by Deepa Balsavar.

There’s an Indian book series that is recommended by CBSE that we should certainly not pass off with the disdain often accorded to school text books. The Rupaiya Paisa books are a series of four books sold together by Pratham Books. Author Mala Kumar has done an excellent job of keeping the content relevant and focused especially when the topic of money can be so vast and daunting.

Most parents don’t know where to start when explaining monetary concepts with children. My husband and I too thought that we had covered all the basic aspects and were in for a rude shock when we realised our seven year old son’s concepts about money were quite muddled. It was cute for him at four years to think of a bank as a place from where he could get sweets, but now he needs to understand other things like what banks do, plastic money, concept of credit, saving, investing, earning, understanding the value of money and a lot more. Recently without checking with us he gifted our maid a larger monetary gift from his piggy bank than we presented her for her birthday. That was followed by an incident when he went to buy sweets with one note, asked for certain sweets, and came back not knowing how much money he had left behind. While it warms my heart that he has no problem sharing from his piggy bank, I know we need some assistance pronto with this subject.

The Rupaiya Paisa series is eye catching with very lovely illustrations by Deepa Balsavar so my son quite enjoys reading the books himself too. We prefer reading this series out loud to him so that he can ask questions if he doesn’t understand something. It’s best to go step by step with these books and maybe even complete one book; let the information sink in for some time and then go on to the next at a slightly later date. ‘Big’ words are explained as and when they come up in the text so if you skip a book, the child may come across a term that does not have a detailed explanation as it has been explained in a previous book of the series.

Ideally read through the books yourself before presenting them to your child or starting the reading sessions. If your child is young or you believe there may be sections that are too advanced for current comprehension just skip them for now and go back to them at a later date. The series is perfect for kids 7+ years. Buy the series from the online store. My buying experience was smooth and the books arrived in two days. The store has a whole host of interesting books so you may want to browse while you are there. They also have almost all books in different languages.

Bookworm takes 'Chhuk-Chhuk-Chhak' to St. Thomas Boys Primary School

Stumbled across this story by Flavia from the Bookworm Goa team.

It was the first library session after the week-long school holidays for Chathurti. The boys were all set to hear a new story. We asked them what they had done over the holidays – many had gone to their ancestral homes or visited the homes of their relatives. Unfortunately, no one went by train. Our story for that day was Chhuk-Chhuk-Chhak by Vinita Krishna with great illustrations by Suvidha Mistry, published by Pratham Books.

We all stood in the aisles and made the noise of a train pulling out of the station, gaining speed for a while and then slowing down as it approached the next station. It was fun – tiring, but fun.

They heard the story of the little girl who started drawing a train on her slate, but ran out of space, so ….. one boy suggested that she continue on the wall of the house! Some others said she could continue on the floor. Which is what Nanhi did – she drew the rest of the coaches on the floor of her verandah.

We asked the boys to do the same on the floor of the classroom. There was hesitation at first – no one had ever drawn on the classroom floor on purpose, before! However, after the first couple of 6-year olds were persuaded to start, there was no stopping the others. Our train was really long.

Hop over to the Bookworm blog to read the entire article and to see how long the train was :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Paro Anand and Kids Have a Roaring Time!

A lion that speaks Punjabi, a bear that dreams of being the first bear on the moon, a rabbit that sings instead of becoming the mid-day meal for the lion -- all these animals came alive as author Paro Anand and about a hundred students of Chaitanya Vidyalaya had a, literally, roaring time. Paro, known for her work with children in conflict-zones, did the storytelling as part of the BLF-Pratham Books Outreach programme. Author of books like Bhabhloo Bear's Adventure, and No Guns at my Son's Funeral, Paro has a background in theatre, and also holds a world record for helping children make the World's Longest Newspaper!

"I want to be a writer!" said a Class 8 student,  a first-generation school-goer. "I like ghost stories, do you have a book about ghosts?" asked a young boy, the first person to be able to read English in his family. "I want to climb trees like Bhabhloo!" said another student, in all probability the first girl in her family to go to middle school.

For these bright students, Paro's session was a peep into the exciting world of literature. Outreach programmes light up the minds of young children for whom storybooks and reading are not part of the natural environment at home. The school,  tucked off the BIAL highway, in Palanahalli, is a well-lit place that is striving to do the best for its students, adding one class at a time as the oldest children graduate to the next one. 

The Outreach programme continues, even as the Bangalore Literature Festival 2014 is all set for an inauguration tomorrow. Paro Anand is a speaker on the panel discussing 'Children and Young Adult Fiction' at the Bangalore Literature Festival at Crowne Plaza on September 28th.

Meet Justice Leila Seth at the Banglore Literature Festival

C for ... Children and the Constitution - Learn with Justice Leila Seth

What is the Constitution? What are children's rights as per our law?

Join Justice Leila Seth as we revisit the Constitution of India through her book  'Hum Bharat ke Bacche  : Hamare Samvidhan ki Uddeshika'.

Justice Leila Seth was the first woman Chief Justice of a High Court in India, the first woman judge of the Delhi High Court and the first woman to top the Bar examination in London. 

The former chief justice will talk to young people and answer their questions about all things lawful and wise. If you or your little ones have a question for her, be sure to be at the Bangalore Literature Festival, on September 27, 2014, between 10.30 and 11.15 am. 

See you there!

Buy the book

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

TENTASTIC Storytelling Session by Cuddles and Reads

If you missed the International Literacy Day events happening earlier this month, Bangaloreans are in for a treat.

Cuddles and Read is conducting a storytelling session at Atta Galatta on 27th September, 2014.

Via Vani Balaraman (Cuddles and Reads):

Usher in the Dussehra festivities by celebrating with 'Takloo - the Little Salt Seller'.
International Literacy month Celebrations at ATTA GALATTA, Saturday, 27th September, 5 pm onwards. 
Listen to stories from Pratham books, get your hands dirty in paint, play games with Takloo and more! Send in wacky lines about salt and win a goody bag.

'Jo swaadisth kaane se kare pyaar, takloo is kaise kare Inkaar'

Lot of ATTA and Galatta guaranteed!

Vani will also be reading the story of a magical scooter that can transport you into space - perfect story to celebrate India's Mars mission Mangalyaan. Vani wrote this story as part of Pratham Books' annual Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest.

*This session is part of the TENTASTIC campaign where volunteers have committed to conduct ten storytelling session this year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pratham Books Wins Two Publishing Next Industry Awards

This weekend, we were making TOO MUCH NOISE!!! 


Because we won...not one... but TWO awards at the Publishing Next conference in Goa. 

We won awards for :
 Publishing Innovation of the year (for the Adi Kahani series in tribal languages)
Digital book of the year (Too Much Noise)

The Publishing Next Industry Awards reward the talent, initiative, entrepreneurial zeal and untiring efforts of publishers – big, small, independent – that create books. Established under the aegis of the neutral platform of the Publishing Next Conference, the awards seek to recognize innovation and leadership in the book trade.

The Adikahani series is a set of 10 story books and four story cards in Saura, Munda, Kui and Juanga languages. The Adikahani series is a very important step for us, as it marks the beginning of a journey where as a publisher, we not only publish in Indian languages but also the first books for children in tribal languages that have no body of printed literature and some don't even have a commonly accepted script. We are drawing a new set of first generation school goers into the ambit of reading for pleasure. It is a small but significant beginning to right the balance of power between the margins and the mainstream. With these books we are seeding a new set of readers and showing the way to other publishers to reach out to a nascent market.

A big thank you to:
Illustrators group: Sugrib Kumar Juanga, Sanatan Juanga, Kusha Kumar Barik, Ramani Ranjan Sarangi, Pradip Kumar Sahoo

Juanga Writers Group: Dambarudhar Juanga, Hitabandhu Juanga, Kodanda Juanga, Kshetrabasi Juanga, Maheswar Juanga

Kui Writers Group: Buna Kanhar, Philmon Pradhan, Pramod Kumar Digal

Munda Writers Group: Budhnath Munda, Prafulla Kumar Surin, Prafulla Tapno, Rabindra Kumar Singh, Santosh Kumar Singh,

Saura Writers Group: Abena Gamanga, Ajama Gamanga,Isak Karji, Pradina Gamanga, Srinibasha Gamanga

Subir Shukla, Smruti Ranjan Jena, Surendra Prasad Singh of Ignus ERG

Gopika Chowfla and Kalyani (from Gopika Chowfla Design)

Dharitri Patnaik at the Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) for funding the workshops and the books

To all the translators who also translated these stories into other languages.


‘Too Much Noise’ marked 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. 'Too Much Noise' written by Noni (Rohini Nilekani) and illustrated by Angie and Upesh has been released under a Creative Commons license.

A big thank you to :

Rohini Nilekani for writing this story,

Angie and Upesh for illustrating the story,

Jagdish Repaswal and MangoReader for creating the interactive book,

Pallavi Rao and Radio Mirchi (Mirchi Cares) for facilitating the audio versions of the story,

Parthibhan Amudhan and BookBox for creating the animated version of the story.

Sanjay Shripad, Rajesh Khar, Mukund Taksale, Meera Tushar Punarvasu, S Jayaraman, Sugunasri for translating these stories into other languages.


Within a few months of launching both these projects, we've won accolades for them, Yayyyy!

You can also look at some pictures from the conference.

BLF-Pratham Books Outreach at Deccan School

Reaching out to children is fun. But reaching out to children just an hour before they break off for mid-term vacation? Fun and challenging and a strength-test for the vocal chords! About a hundred students of Class 3 of Deccan International School, Bangalore, gathered in the auditorium for the BLF-PB Outreach session.

The diminutive Sangeetha Kadur, illustrator of Wildlife in a City Pond, and I, co-author of the Rituchakra series, decided to engage the children together. After I moved from one season to the other through the books Everything Looks New; Lassi, Ice-cream or Falooda; and Peacocks and Pakodas, Sangeetha took over and talked about the fascinating little creatures who are seen at a pond during the monsoon.

We do hope the session made the children curious about seasonal changes in nature, and the myriads of life forms around us. Observing these could well be part of their holiday activities! Psst....many birds do come to the venue of this year's Bangalore Literature Festival...so visitors can not only see authors and books but also many colourful birds and trees.

P.S: Justice Leila Seth, author of 'Hum, Bharat ke bacche' (we, the Children of India') will be interacting with children on September 27, 10-30 am -11.15 am. Get your copy, autographed by the author!


Penguin's Crowdsourcing Experiment

Great to see that Penguin is going to experiment with Stephen Fry's latest book.

Via Publishing Perspectives

Penguin UK launches one of its most ambitious projects ever this week in which it effectively aims to crowd source the future of the book. On Thursday it will release a chunk of free, cross media content from Stephen Fry’s new volume of memoirsMore Fool Me – as well as material from the earlier Fry Chronicles – and will actively invite creative disobedience, digital play, tech mash-ups and all kinds of online mayhem on a global scale. 

Far from being protective of the content – so often the norm in this walled garden world in which we live – Penguin is telling the world ‘do what you will. Take this metadata, this audio, this text. Mess with it. Go play. Invent. Create. Surprise yourselves. Surprise us.’

With so many conversations within the industry about the future of the book being inconclusive, Hull’s thinking was: “Let’s see what people out there come up with. Let’s open source the content and see where it takes us.”

Anything and everything is welcomed. The publisher hopes for an amazing, disruptive reading experience. Audio mash-ups on Spotify, experiments with conductive ink, games, NFC (near field communication) applications, 3-D printing, splicing, dicing, video…Penguin is hoping for a global cacophony of ideas and is open to anything.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Spread the Festive Cheer with Pratham Books

The festival season is upon us. While the sweet smell of ladoos engulf your homes and bright lights fill up the streets, don’t let children miss out on the reading!

For this season of revelry, we have come out with special festive packs with some of our latest and most popular titles included. These packs will be ideal for filling up the afternoon breaks between celebrations for your child. Or take the festive spirit ahead by gifting them to other little ones.

These packs come at a special discounted price and are available in English, Hindi and other regional languages for children of all age groups. 

Click here to buy the festive pack now and get ready to celebrate.

BLF - Pratham Books Outreach Programme

The BLF - Pratham Books Outreach Programme takes the excitement of books and literature to children in schools! Authors and illustrators get to meet young readers across Bangalore in schools so that children catch the reading bug early. This is the second year of the Outreach programme. Between September 17-27, 2014, there will be book readings, and interactive sessions with authors and illustrators at chosen schools.

Authors include Paro Anand (Bhabhloo the Bear, Lion on the Loose, No Guns at My Son’s Funeral ), Vijaylakshmi Nagaraj (Rhino Charge, Natural Wonders of the World), Mala Kumar (Rupaiya Paisa series, Rituchakra series) and illustrators include Soumya Menon (My Fish! No, My Fish! ) and Sangeetha Kadur (Wildlife in a City Pond). The sessions will be conducted in English, Kannada and Hindi. Participating schools include Deccan International, Jeeyar Memorial School, Bangalore International School, and Chaitanya Vidyalaya.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Why a Good Book is a Secret Door


Childhood is surreal. Why shouldn't children's books be? In this whimsical talk, award-winning author Mac Barnett speaks about writing that escapes the page, art as a doorway to wonder — and what real kids say to a fictional whale.

"Kids like Nico are the best readers, and they deserve the best stories we can give them."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

BLF- Pratham Books Outreach Programme begins!

Wednesday afternoons are usually the dullest point of the week. You are half way to the week, half way to the day, weekend still looming a little far. But all this majorly changes when you attend a storytelling session, in a room full of giggling kids with a storyteller who can mimic animal voices and performs with puppets. Wednesday afternoon, suddenly become the highest point of the week and we have something to thank for this.

Bangalore Literature Festival is just around the corner (26th – 28th Sept.). In it’s third edition, BLF is bigger and better and as one of the Festival Partners, Pratham Books cannot be excited enough! We decided to start the celebrations a little early and invited one of our authors to do a storytelling session in a school as a part of the BLF-Pratham Books Outreach Programme.

The session started to a full house. The kids, a mix of Kannada and Hindi speakers, were eager and excited. Their unit exam had just finished and the relief was visible. Our author, Ms. Vijaylakshmi Nagaraj made an entry on time and after a quick intro to the session by our colleague Shruthi, we were all set. Vijaylakshmi picked up her story book, Rhino Charge , published by Pratham Books to read out to the kids. As the kids empathized with the shy rhino Ringo, who finally picks up the confidence and courage to say his name aloud to his friends, they also had a good time identifying all the other animals illustrated. After the story finished, Vijaylakshmi introduced the kids to all the animal puppets she had brought along. While the peacock mesmerized the kids, the mouse made them squeal with delight (or maybe fear ?). A discussion on colours of the ladybird ensued and disappointment expressed over the disappearance of dinosaurs. The kids requested Vijaylakhsmi to tell them a story about Dinosaurs , and she obliged by reading out snippets from her other book ‘The natural wonders of India’ printed by TERI. She then invited one of the children to read out the Kannada version of 'My Car', another much loved book from our stable. The session ended with Vijaylakshmi stressing the importance of reading to the kids, and requested their teacher to ensure a story before every lesson to make it more interesting. She also extracted a promise from the kids to write a new story by this Friday which they will show to their teacher, as well as the Pratham Books office next door. Goodbyes were said and the session concluded. We all exited the school with all the stress of the week washed off and a big smile plastered on our faces. Story telling with kids did that to each one of us.

Here are a few pictures from the event.

Introducing the session
  Ringo, the rhino in class
The peacock puppet brought many smiles
10 - year-old Purvi, reading out 'My Car' to her friends                                      

Tamil Classics - A Click Away

Via The Hindu

NETamil, a five-year project by the Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), Pudhucherry, (translated as French School for Asian Studies), facilitated through a European Union grant, will convert some of the oldest available palm leaf inscriptions of Tamil classics into digital format, to make them more accessible to Tamil language enthusiasts worldwide.

The Department of Tamil, EFEO, headed by Professor Eva Wilden, won a 2.5 million grant from the European Research Commission for NetTamil earlier this year. The project which ropes in European collaboration will use hi-tech equipment for photographing and digitising from Denmark, which is not easily available in India. The ultimate aim is to make classical literature available on an open source platform, with consent from copyright holders. “What we would like is for anyone to open a file on the Internet and access an ancient Tamil text,” says Ms.Wilden.


Making a case for the preservation of manuscripts, Ms. Wilden says that the tropical climate of South India poses a challenge to the longevity of manuscripts. “Most important works in European archives are boxed and stored in climate-controlled conditions. But there are many Tamil manuscripts bundled up in small libraries,” she explains, adding it is imperative to copy manuscripts every 100 years to preserve the text, as they are at risk of being eaten away by insects. “For want of being copied and oiled properly, some of our manuscripts have been lost to the world.” Preserving the sources for all texts is also imperative to spot variations while transcribing from the original manuscript. But as there are thousands of manuscripts and not enough funds to preserve them all, new media technologies which convert ancient literature into digital format, present a far less expensive way of preserving classical literature for posterity.

Read the entire article.

Image Source : Joshua and Rachel Elek

Friday, September 12, 2014

Diving Into a Digital Universe – Part 1

discover the possibilities
There was a time when I couldn't bear the thought of reading on a gadget. I couldn't imagine not hearing the faint but comforting sounds of pages being turned and definitely wasn't ready to give up being able to smell the pages of a book. I worried about the eventual decline of print books and wondered if it might become something of an antique item twenty years from now (as is predicted in Gary Shteyngart's dystopian novel 'Super Sad True Love Story').

But that was a while ago. These days, I read the news on my phone during my commute to work and occassionally steal my husband's Kindle. Needless to say, my apprehensions about the digital book universe have reduced considerably, and I now approach it with more curiosity and optimism. Although I do retain a tiny bit of skepticism – which is known to be healthy ­ I'm determined to get myself an e­book reader this year.

At Pratham Books, we have already digitized several books and plan on scaling it up significantly in the next few years. Combining this with actively obtaining the Creative Commons licenses for several of our books in multiple languages (imagine accessing all our wonderful books for free!), we hope to continue our efforts with promoting literacy and also contribute towards reducing the digital divide that is likely to emerge in the next few years.

In the last few years, the book­ publishing industry has had to reinvent itself constantly, based on emerging trends in reading habits, preferences and technological innovations sparked by the digital revolution. Pratham Books asked a few children's authors and illustrators how they feel about the changing form of the book – from print to digital – and if and how this has affected their creative processes. We're publishing their views as a 3­part series, so do watch out for more of these on our blog and join us in our explorations of this new and vibrant world.

Natasha Sharma, Author & Illustrator

I find the changes in the form of books tremendously exciting. It allows many opportunities for stories to reach new audiences in new forms. In my opinion, a book, be it presented in any form, still needs at its core, all the elements of a strong story. When I think through a story and develop characters and plot, I don’t find any change in my creative process. However, I do think that for a story to be effectively converted from one format to another, say from print to ebook, you do need to think through changing some aspects to fully exploit the opportunities of the new medium and make it effective.

I still think of books in their traditional format first, but I am sure that people with a better grasp on this space can explore many wonderful formats. When one builds in gaming, alternative story lines or involving the reader in decision making within the story, it really is a brave new world. 

Having said that, I still love to curl up with a physical book.

Check out Natasha Sharma's books 'Kaka and Munni' and 'Anaya's Thumb'.

Praba Ram, Author & Founder of Saffron Tree (a website that reviews children's books)

In the history of publishing, we know “print” has always embraced a diverse set of constantly changing medium and many different technologies. From a production angle, when that final PDF is sent, you know the creative process, as in, the interaction between your publisher and you (the author) is over. So taking that format to the reader is the next step. Popularity of PDFs has helped people warm up more to the idea of e­books. The writing process for the author, in my opinion, remains unchanged, only the delivery mode is constantly changing. Digital content is a heterogeneous entity with competition from image ­oriented apps and games. I feel optimistic that, irrespective of the pressure that books face from emerging new technologies, the written word will always prevail. So long as the reader savours and favours the written word, in print or digital format, over any other image­oriented app or games.

Check out Praba Ram's book 'Subbu, the Signal'.

 ~Written by Yamini Vijayan

Image Source : Georgie Pauwels

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cutting Tea Tales

Absolutely love the fun literary idea our friends at Akshara Foundation came up with to celebrate International Literacy Day.

Via The Times of India

Oblivious of worldly affairs, a gaggle of giggly kids was busy playing in a water-clogged road on Sunday morning, till something snatched their attention — books hanging from plastic pouches at the nearby chai-cum-provision stores.

Vision :"A Book in Every Child's Hand"The curious kids soon started milling around the shops in Sathya Nagar, a slum near Byappanahalli, East Bangalore. It was probably their first close encounter with books beyond classrooms. Said an elated Jeniffer A, a class VIII student of a government school, “Textbooks are the only books I had seen till now.” Flipping through their illustrative content, she added, “I am happy to find books on Subhas Chandra Bose, Adolf Hitler, and Jnanpith awardees.” Her excitement showed in the way she grabbed one title after another as if many new windows to the world had suddenly opened for her. The kids had the Akshara Foundation (AF) to thank for this. On the occasion of International Literacy Day, the NGO launched Cutting Tea Tales, an initiative to convert chai and provision stores into reading stations by providing free books. Within 30 minutes of AF volunteers placing the books in these stores, some 100 children gathered to explore the little treasure troves.

They jumped from one book to another, stopping at times to admire a picture or to marvel at the options to choose from.

“Kids who had come to purchase kites soon got lost in this world of words; some began reading them the books there and some took them home. I never thought these children would be keen on reading,” said Zabeer Ulla, a shopkeeper.

The best thing is they come in different languages, including Kannada, English, Urdu and Tamil. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me any of them.” Not just kids, the reading bug didn’t spare the youth either. Sipping on garam chai, many picked up a book or two for a quick read.

Under this initiative, shop owners will act as librarians and custodians of the donated books. Hailing the move, Shiva Kumar, a shop owner said since morning every customer who walked into his store couldn’t help but turn a few pages.

Coming Soon : Bangalore Literature Festival

The Bangalore Literature Festival is coming to town.

Via The Hindu

The third edition of the Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) will be held from September 26 to 28 at Crowne Plaza, Velankani Tech Park in Electronic City. The three-day festival will see a walk-in of almost 150 authors, including literary greats like Girish Karnad, Ramachandra Guha, Arun Shourie, Chandrashekhara Kambara and more.

The festival will focus on looking into issues related to the North-Eastern states of India, along with oppression of the minority. Other themes include gender and women rights, and violence against women, LGBT rights, travel writing, short stories, humour, love to name a few.

There will be a special panel to address the topic of aboriginal writing from Australia among others. Chandrashekhara Kamabara will have a discussion on how the South Indian languages have the ‘classical language’ tag but that might be nothing more than a title.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Celebrating International Literacy Day with 1300+ Storytellers and 1500+ Sessions

A month ago, we started preparing for our annual Literacy Day celebrations. Like always, the month whizzes by in a flurry of activity. And like always - our community showers us with a lot of love by volunteering to give their time, their energy and their hearts to help spread the joy of reading. In its third edition, the 'One Day - One Story' campaign has once again been able to double the number of reading champions who will be joining us this year.

This year, we have ...

1300+ Champions
1500+ Sessions
Thousands of children are going to be listening to stories!!

The book chosen for this year is Takloo - The Little Salt Seller (written by Radhika Bapat, illustrated by Poonam Athalye). A delightful story about a clever boy who has got entrepreneurship in his genes, it seems! A story that is sure to engage children of all ages.

The UNESCO theme for International Literacy Day is - Literacy and Sustainability. We realized that 'Takloo, the Little Salt Seller' is a perfect choice as the book touches on environment, societal patterns and economic activities. Serendipity!
Takloo and his family are ready to meet thousands of kids today
Apart from the champions in India, we also have champions joining us from Nepal, Pakistan, USA, Mozambique, Singapore, UAE, France, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Zambia. 

If you've just found out about our International Day celebrations, fret not! To conduct your own storytelling session, please register, download the book and share it with a child/children. A big shout out to :

  • CISCO for creating the reading app, 
  • Mirchi Cares (the CSR division of Radio Mirchi) for creating the audio books,
  • Anand Viswanathan for translating the book into Sanskrit (and Vikram Gakhar for coordinating it)
  • Renu Seth and team for the hand-written Gujarati translation
If you want to attend a session, we as well as some of our champions are conducting events that are open to the public. Check the full list at : http://blog.prathambooks.org/2014/09/reading-takloo-little-salt-seller.html

If you are sharing pictures/news about your event, please use the hashtag #PBChamps on Facebook and Twitter so that we and other champions can also follow your updates. You can tweet us at @prathambooks and find us on Facebook at : www.facebook.com/prathambooks

Join Pratham Books and 1300+ storytellers in sharing the joy of stories.


About the campaign : 
At Pratham Books we have a dream, to see “A book in every child's hand”. We understand that to reach the 200 million + children in India is going to take a while. In the meantime, we decided to take 'One Day, One Story' campaign to as many children possible on a single day throughout the country.

This initiative is part of the Pratham Books' Champions program where we encourage our community of volunteers to conduct reading sessions. These sessions are conducted free of cost and mostly with children from under-served communities. The Pratham Books' Champions program is a one-of its kind volunteer program that has scaled to a national level with more and more volunteers wanting to join us in this movement.

Friday, September 5, 2014

One Day, One Story, Many Languages and Many Voices

Maegan Dobson Sippy writes about our 'One Day, One Story' campaign in the New Indian Express
One day, one story, many languages and many voices. This Saturday, thousands of children across India will listen to a reading of a charming tale — Takloo the Little Salt Seller. Chosen for this year’s edition of the Champions campaign, run by Bangalore-based children’s publisher Pratham Books, the initiative sees a single story being read by volunteers to children nation-wide on the same day. “We’ve almost doubled the number of volunteers each year — from 250 in 2011, to 600 last year, and already over 1, 000 storytellers for this campaign,” says Maya Hemant Krishna, community manager, Pratham Books. 
From Bihar to Goa, Bangalore to Bhopal, the champions come from far and wide, and include individuals, NGOs, corporates and libraries. The book is published in multiple regional languages, and is freely available for further translations. “It’s very exciting to think of one book being read on a specific day throughout India, in many different languages,” shares Arundhati Chatto–padhyaya, who works with underprivileged children in Goa. Yuman Hussain of The Azad Foundation, an NGO that will take the story to children in over 20 madrassas, to foster integration as well as literacy, says, “It cuts across state, language, religion and caste boundaries.” Every year the tale is written and illustrated by local contributors . “Pratham books are very Indian. Including everyday characters makes it easy to engage children in a dialogue,” explains Neela Gupta, a retired librarian, and one of the earliest champions.
Our Adi Kahani series also gets a mention in Maegan's comprehensive article.
Pratham Books, earlier this year, launched Adi Kahani, a series of stories written in tribal languages, now translated into English and Hindi. “Tribal languages reflect a rich culture and transfer knowledge and wisdom from one generation to another,” explains Manisha Chaudhry, head of content development at Pratham Books. “These stories should travel as they are a significant part of our national heritage and hold value for all children,” she says in conclusion.
Read the entire article to hear more viewpoints on the changing face of children's literature in India. The article features our fellow publishers (Tulika Books, Karadi Tales,  Tara Books, Duckbill Books), champions and other lovely book-ish initiatives.

Launching the Pratham Books' Mobile Reading Application

International Literacy Day is just around the corner. It is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year for the Pratham Books team. Serving so many Reading Champions who are getting ready to bring a ‘story delight’ to thousands of children is a big responsibility. Our office is buzzing with activity with event co-ordination, getting banners and posters ready, sending out activity suggestions and last minute additions to the ever growing list of books to be shipped out adds to the chaos.

Every year, much to our dismay, disappointments happen. The couriers don’t reach on time, the speed post slows down or some books just get lost in transit. Also, a lot of times many people come in late with a request to become a Reading Champion and it is too late for us to send them a copy of the book. Usually, an e-copy of the book is always kept handy and duly mailed out for such occasions although sometimes, even for that it’s a little too late.

So, what do you do if you read about our One Day One Story event just 24 hours before the event? Thankfully, we now have a solution for that.

For some time now, Pratham Books has been toying with the idea of launching a mobile application for our books. The application would be an extension of our efforts to take our books as far out, and in as many ways as we can. 

So one day, we sat down with the good folks from CISCO Systems and together conceptualized a Mobile Reading Application for young readers. Just in time for our annual celebration of the International Literacy Day, the first version of the mobile application is up and running! *drum rolls*

24 hours before the event, or just 24 minutes before, all you have to do is to go to Google Play Store (for android devices) and download the application and voila, here is 'Takloo, the Little Salt Seller'  (in six languages) on your mobile or tablet screens. In its first avatar, the application hosts a limited number of books but that repository will only increase. A couple of more books are also present for quick reading.

As much as this reading application gives you the flexibility and comfort of reading books that fit in your pocket, it also gives us the means to take our books and stories to the farthest corners of the country through technology. Books are finally travelling in bits and bytes through fiber optic cables to reach destinations far off, in record time.

Download our mobile reading application at:

Happy reading and sharing!

A big shout out to the team of young and dynamic engineers of CISCO Systems , mainly Khalid Imam, Nancy Jain, Ashish Bhatiya, Ritesh Singh, Saurabh Rajpal, Bharat Goel, Vidisha Sahijwani ,Sudha Narayanan, Kaushal Kishore, Srinivas Boddukuri, Marudhu Sahana E and Dili Rathi and their guides Anil Neeleshwar, V C Gopalratnam,Dharmendra Rangain and Rohini Kamath. They put together their technological skills for a larger social impact. They have been great thought- partners to us.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Reading Takloo, the Little Salt Seller : Public Events You Can Attend

The third edition of 'One Day - One Story' is back. This collective reading movement will see 1300+ storytellers share stories across India and multiple international locations.

The story chosen for this year is 'Takloo - The Little Salt Seller', written by Radhika Bapat and illustrated by Poonam Athalye.

Join us for a day of storytelling and fun on 6th September, 2014.

The following events are flagship events being conducted by Pratham Books. All the listed sessions are free but do call on the listed numbers to reserve a spot.

Venue : Hippocampus Children's Experience Centre 525, 16th Main Rd, 3 Block, Koramangala
Time :11:00am - 12:00 noon
Champion : Arts Tales with Arthi Anand
RSVP : Ankit Anubhav (+91- 8971936444)

Venue : Saptaparni, Plot no.21, Road No.8 Banjara Hills, Next to kalpa school
Time : 11:00am - 12:00 noon
Champion : Deepa Kiran
RSVP : Ms Sunita Sharma (+91-9848824387)

Venue : KitabKhana, Ground Floor, Somaiya Bhavan, 45/47, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort
Time :11:00am - 12:00 noon
Champion : Priyanca Vaishnav
RSVP – Mr Raviraj Nar (+91-9324288833)


Our champions are also conducting several storytelling sessions (which are open to the public) happening over the next few days. Please check the list of all the public events you can attend. Click on the links below to get more details about the event.

(This list is being updated so please check back to see if there are any events happening in your city)


5th September
10:30 am - JP Nagar - by SHLOK Foundation

6th September
9:00 am - 10:00 am - K R Puram - by SHLOK Foundation
9:30 am - 10:30 am - Malleswaram - by Smitha Holehoddu Srinivasamurthy and Spell Genie
10:00 am - JP Nagar - by SHLOK Foundation
10:45 am - 12:15 pm - SVK Layout, Anagalpura Village - by SHLOK Foundation
11 am - 12 pm - St.Marks Road - by Seed A Read and Gambolla
11:30 am - 12:30 pm - Haralur Road - by CuddlesAndReads
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm - B.T.M 2nd Stage - by TALEescope

7th September
11:00 am - 12:00 pm - Jayanagar - by Seed A Read
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm - BSK 2nd Stage - by Seed A Read

8th September
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm - Bellandur - by Akshharam


6th September
11:00 am - 1:00 pm - Adyar - by The Reading Room
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm - Adyar - by The Reading Room

6th September
8:30 am - Bhandari Public School, Gali No. 9, Brahmpuri, near Seelampur Metro Station (RSVP 9811433382)
10 am - 11 am - Nizamuddin West - by Reading Caterpillar

6th September
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm - New Shahupuri - by Deepika Marda

8th September
5:45 pm - Sector 52 - by Golpo - Discovering Expressions, Emotions & Life Through Stories

10th September
5:00 pm - Sector 52 - Golpo - Discovering Expressions, Emotions & Life Through Stories

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Play to Learn

Maanasi Baa writes about the Pratham Books-Jumpstart workshop conducted at JUMPSTART, New Delhi.

If numbers indicated success, the Play to Learn workshop was clearly a success. With more than a hundred participants coming from over fifteen schools, the workshop had definitely hit the nail. However, a quantitative criterion doesn’t necessarily gauge success, which is exactly the point that these alternative models of teaching are trying to endorse. No need to worry though, this workshop did pretty well under the quality control check, too.

A number of different teachers had come to learn how to play, which was an interesting concept in itself. The teachers introduced themselves, role-playing their own students and the room reverberated with laughter. The teachers got comfortable, pretty quick and well the rest as they say was just fun and games.

“All Children are the same and all of them are different.”

Dr. Asha Singh invited her participants to dwell rather deeply on this observation. Every child is unique, and even though we herd them as one huge collective, we forget to engage with their differences. There is no universal method to teach children and not every child learns in the same way. This tussle between the traditional model of teaching that doesn’t cater to every child’s needs and that of a more flexible model that allows every child his or her own limitations, is an old tussle. But we often forget and remain ignorant of these debates.

Amukta Mahapatra touched upon the tendencies of children. She says that children have a tendency to explore all that is unexplored. There resides a sense of curiosity that motivates them to engage with real life concepts. However, all of this happens through play and thus play, must be encouraged. The three E’s are of immense importance: Energise, Excite, Engage.

Read the entire article.