Friday, November 28, 2014

Contests Galore!

Today's contest will take place on the Pratham Books Facebook page at 4 pm. So, set those alarm clocks and exercise those typing fingers because our newest comic book will be up for grabs!

(Update : Fly directly to the contest)

The 'Reading Dads' contest is on till 30th November. Take a peek at the lovely photos that have been coming in. Send across your photographs to join this tribe of reading dads.

The last two contests of this month are going to take place on our Facebook page on Saturday and Sunday. Do check in on both days to win a copy of 'Freedom Run' or 'Daddy's Mo'. 

If you missed the previous contests, fret not - you have 6 more chances to win books. Good luck!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Contest No. 6 : Subhadra's World

Yesterday, we held a contest on Twitter - asking people to tweet an ode to their daddy. The winning poem :

We also concluded the 3rd contest which asked people to share 'the bravest thing that their child/student had done'. It was tough choosin one because all these stories were so personal and courageous in their own ways. We finally chose Fiona's story (posted by her co-teacher Vaibhav) of her student :
Last year one of my students was caught sniffing glue. He did it once and then got addicted. He began sniffing glue often and got caught often. After a point nobody believed that he could get out of the habit. His mother was devastated and neither of us had any solutions. I remember I spoke to him and asked him to return to class and stop getting into trouble. I didn't believe he could. He was 14 years old and his mother was walking him to school and back. I know it was terrible for him to return to class. But one day he did. Dressed smartly in his white shirt and ready to learn- there he was. It was very brave of my students to put their biases aside and engage with him and it was also very brave of my that one student to return to class in order to make a fresh start.
You can read all the courageous stories that came in here - from chasing lizards to being independent, from making better choices to staying calm.

This next contest is going to be an easy one for all our readers who are big fans of Subhadra Sen Gupta's work. Look for the character names hidden within this grid. All the characters are from the books Subhadra has published with us.
Click on the image for a larger view
1. She is the famous wife of a freedom fighter and we call her ____
2. He marched India to freedom.
3. A book about someone who sang on the banks of River Jamuna and went on to become Birbal's friend. Who is he?
4. This little one is a resident of village Khajuria and is always late to school.

Still can't guess the names? Maybe our website has some clues :)

The Prize : 
An autographed copy of 'Freedom Run', autographed by author and Bal Sahitya Puraskar winner Subhadra Sen Gupta. In the Mirzapur and Bhadohi districts of Uttar Pradesh, in Many tiny villages, small children work long hours at the looms to create carpets famous around the world for their intricate designs. This is a story about the forgotten children of India.

How to participate : 
  • Answer the riddles we've posed by leaving a comment on this blog post.
  • The first person to give the correct answer wins
More Details:
  • This giveaway is only open for people with an address in India (You could personally be based out of India, but the winning books can only be posted to an Indian address)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review : Takloo, the Little Salt Seller

Terry Hong reviews our book 'Takloo, the Little Salt Seller' on BookDragon.  BookDragon is a new media initiative of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC).

The book is quite the learning opportunity: author Radhika Bapat is a clinical psychologist well versed in using storytelling as a teaching tool; artist Poonam Athalye’s whimsical illustrations are gentle, subtle lessons in ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, not to mention a celebration of gorgeously colorful palettes. As effective as the story is, before it even begins, you’re presented with a full page of “How should you use this book?” suggestions to enhance or even disregard the narrative. Clever Takloo, clever publisher, too. 
That publisher is Pratham Books, a not-for-profit organization based in India, with a mission to put “a book in every child’s hand.” They publish in 11 languages, offer over 1800 titles (thus far), most of which cost less than 35 Indian rupees. That’s just over 50 cents (!) in U.S. dollars. Their story cards go as low as 4 INR – less than a dime! That’s impressive access to their “brand of story books as Indian as the children who read them.” And thanks to our global markets, their books are available all over the world, which is why Pratham is getting the international recognition they deserve: Last month, they were cited by the Library of Congress Literacy Awards 2014, commended “For Its Effective Implementation of Best Practices in Literacy and Reading Promotion.”

Read the book (in 6 languages)

Contest No. 5 : Join us on Twitter

The #11Days11Books contest is on and the 5th contest is almost here. Join us on Twitter today to find out more about the contest. The contest will be held between 3-4 pm. We are @prathambooks on Twitter.

The 4th contest ended in 2 very quick minutes (one reason to LIKE us on Facebook if you aren't)

The 3rd contest is still happening over at the Pratham Books Facebook page. Head over there and tell us about the bravest thing your child/student has done. The deadline is 26th November, 5pm.

The 2nd contest is making us smile all the time! It is still on - so grab your cameras and albums and lets celebrate dads who read.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rekhta : A Website for Urdu Literature and Poetry

The other day my colleague Payoshni shared a little gem she found on Twitter : A dictionary for children written by Ghalib . The link sent me off in other directions to learn more about this website.

Launched in 2013, Rekhta's objective is to promote and disseminate Urdu literature, especially Urdu Poetry to an audience beyond those conversant with the Urdu script.

Mayank Austen Soofi tells us more on The Delhi Walla blog

Unveiled in January 2013 at a ceremony in India Habitat Centre, the site offers everything from ghazals and couplets to audio clips and poets’ biographies, all available at a few clicks of a mouse. The word ‘rekhta’ meaning “scattered, mixed, the old name of Urdu poety.”

The 54-year-old Mr Saraf does not fit the stereotype of an Urdu poetry connoisseur. He is neither Muslim, nor does he live in Purani Dehli. An IIT alumnus, he is the founder and chairman of Polyplex Corporation, a Rs 2,500 crore multinational and one of the world’s largest producers of polyster film. “My father was fond of ghazals and I grew up listening to Begum Akhtar, Ghluam Ali and Farida Khannum,” he says, adding, “about two years ago, I stepped back from the business to focus on my passion, ghazals. However, I was quickly disillusioned with what was on the net — no credible sources, incomplete verses, often only in Urdu script with unreadable fonts. A vast treasure of poems, I feared, would be lost if it was not properly digitized, archived and preserved.”

In mid-2011 Mr Saraf set up a team of 15 archivists to produce a website on everything related to Urdu poetry. A 10-member panel comprising university professors, poets and research scholars was formed to check for authenticity of the published material and to advise on the most representative selection of the work for each poet. (Ahmad Mahfouz, professor at Jamia Millia Islamia University and leading expert on Mir, was contacted to shortlist the poet’s repertoire of more than 2,000 ghazals.) Books for cross-reference were sourced from Maktaba Jamia bookstore in Old Delhi’s Urdu Bazaar and the Sunday book market in Daryaganj.

“Rekhta will remain ad free,” says Mr Saraf. “It is not just for those who have a curiosity for Urdu, but also for those whose hearts are touched by poetry.”

Read the entire article (and take a look at Mayank's beautiful photographs).

Additional reading:
Rekhta: A Site for Urdu Poetry Lovers

Image Source : Rekhta

Diving into a Digital Universe - Part 3

When my father first picked up a Kindle, I genuinely didn't think he'd take to it so effortlessly. He adapted remarkably quickly and was inspired enough to re-read Anna Karenina because it suddenly seemed lighter in many aspects. This was a fairly revelatory moment for me, and one that made me rethink my own sceptical and narrow attitude towards digital reading. 

Then again, the Kindle has a rosy reputation for being a dream in any reader's eyes. So let's talk Smartphones, a far more affordable option and as a result, much more widely used. In a recent report shared by Publishing Technology, they have explained why a large population of Smartphone users have turned away from reading on their devices. Their finding is that the most significant barrier to greater mobile reading is poor user-experience. Although the study is set in the US and UK, this remains a relevant insight for publishers, booksellers and e-reading platform providers in other countries as well, and certainly something they should not be dismissing easily.

In this current state of transition in reading, it is interesting to see how diverse sets of users are responding and adapting. My aunt's cook had recently added me as a Friend on Facebook and I was mildly surprised (not to be patronizing) at the number of Tamil articles that he had been sharing. 

As renowned author Margaret Atwood rightly said in an interview last year: “One of the things the Internet does do is that it drives towards literacy. You have to be able to read and write to use it. And cheap cell phones have enabled information exchange in an unprecedented way. So you may not have a library or a bookstore or even a school, but most villages now have at least one cell phone. Farmers in remote areas can use it to track marketplaces; people are doing banking on their phones.” Atwood – aged 75 – has been called by The Guardian as “literature’s digital doyenne”. Apart from interacting regularly with her readers through Twitter, she has contributed stories to innovative digital platforms such as Wattpad and Byliner.

While there are authors like Atwood who have been early adopters of technology, there are plenty of others who are apprehensive about the integration of reading and technology. In this third installment of 'Diving into a Digital Universe', we continue with asking creators of children's stories in India how they feel about the steadily changing form of the book and whether this has altered their creative processes. Here's what they had to say:

Nandini Nayar, Author

Like everyone who has grown up reading proper books, I viewed the digital texts with suspicion, certain that they would never catch on or replace books. But with the passage of time I find that I am open to new ways of reading texts. So yes, I can see myself reading digital books.

As a writer the ‘eureka’ moment of finding a great idea remains as magical and unchanged in the digital age as in the past. The only difference and challenge lies in adapting the story effectively for the digital medium. I have written stories for mobile phone apps and find that I have to learn a whole new set of dos and donts while doing this. These rules are not big or scary enough to interfere with the actual process of writing. They are just markers of a new territory that I have to keep in mind. In many cases I have found that the digital medium adds to the basic story, since it provides opportunities for noises and other such details to be included in the story.

Check out Nandini Nayar's book 'When Amma Went to School'

Priya Kuriyan, Illustrator

Surprisingly, I've not as yet illustrated for something that was envisioned specifically and solely as a children's e-book. Perhaps, this is because a lot of publishers in India convert what was meant as a traditional physical book into a PDF and then sell them online as e-books. There are no interactive features in the book. Therefore, as an illustrator, the work is not very different and I would imagine that even as a reader, the experience wouldn't be very different. (This might not hold good for older readers who read books without illustrations.)

However, when a children's book is specifically designed to be an e-book, with interactive illustrations and experiments with narrative structures, I would imagine the illustrator's creative process - in terms of the way they plan the book – to be different. The size of one's canvas would vary within a story and one is not restricted to the same proportions of a traditional book through the entire story. While illustrating traditional picture books, 'page turns' are considered very important, while in an e-book, that aspect is replaced by other more film-like techniques like zoom-ins and transitions. So I guess the process of visualising it would differ considerably. Also, what one creates on screen is the final product. So, the entire aspect of colour-correcting, worrying about paper quality, etc, wouldn't be part of the process. 

I feel that the e-book and physical book are two entirely different products - which is why one won't replace the other - and there is a different kind of pleasure in consuming each of these.

Check out Priya Kuriyan's illustrations in 'Susheela's Kolam', 'Peacocks and Pakodas!', 'Everything Looks New!', 'Lassi, Ice-cream or Falooda?', 'Hot Tea and Warm Rugs' and 'Kheer on a Full Moon Night'.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 in the 'Diving into a Digital Universe' series. And read about Pratham Books' journey into the digital universe.

Stories Cut from Paper

With scissors and paper, artist Béatrice Coron creates intricate worlds, cities and countries, heavens and hells. Striding onstage in a glorious cape cut from Tyvek, she describes her creative process and the way her stories develop from snips and slices. (via TED)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Contest No. 3 : The Brave Ones

The third contest that is part of the #11Days11Books contest is happening on our Facebook page

The Prize : 
An autographed copy of 'Freedom Run', autographed by author and Bal Sahitya Puraskar winner Subhadra Sen Gupta. In the Mirzapur and Bhadohi districts of Uttar Pradesh, in Many tiny villages, small children work long hours at the looms to create carpets famous around the world for their intricate designs. This is a story about the forgotten children of India.

How to participate : 
  • Answer the question we've posed by leaving a comment on Facebook.
  • Encourage your child/student to share what their views too.
More Details:
  • This giveaway is only open for people with an address in India (You could personally be based out of India, bu the winning books can only be posted to an Indian address)
  • The giveaway is open till  26th November, 5pm

Pssst : Contest No.2 (Dads who read) is also on till 30th November, 2014. Send in your entries.

(To know about the other contests we are running : check the Pratham Books blog / Facebook page / Twitter account regularly from 20th-30th November, 2014.)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Madhuri Purandare on Writing for Children

One of our authors, Madhuri Purandare, was the recipient of this year's Bal Sahitya Puraskar. At an event held in Bengaluru on 15th November, all Bal Sahitya Puraskar winners expressed their thoughts on their own writing/ children's literature. The following is Madhuri's speech :

Madhuri accepting the Bal Sahitya Puraskar
All of you have been writing for children with integrity and persistence. I don't have anything new or extraordinary to tell you. I have made some rules for myself when writing for children; I am going to try telling you something about these.

  • Whether it is writing, illustrating, or doing something else; anything for children must be done with care, seriousness as well as with joy. I must always be mindful that instead of doing something for children with just a sense of responsibility, or duty, or out of a sense of charity that by expending my time and efforts for children despite being an adult is something extraordinary, it is better not to do it at all.
  • I have long realized that it is no longer possible for me to create something as impromptu, free and refreshing as children can. I should not forget that I ought to create something for children, but in my own way.
  • I should never take children for granted by saying 'Oh, what do they know!'
  • Although I am creating something for children, I should not make the mistake of leaving adults out of it. By this, I mean: whatever I create for children should have the capacity to attract and to involve adults as well. If I can achieve this, then it presents them with an opportunity and a good way to gain entry into the world of children.
  • As a famous author has said: Every time a child says, 'I don't believe in fairies,' there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead. Don't you think this is unfortunate? I must keep seeking how to tell fairy tales to children in today's world whose childhood meets an early end.
  • I cannot bring those values to my work that I do not believe in myself. When I create for children, I should at least not be dishonest with myself.
  • A newspaper gets delivered to me every morning. A lot of my energy goes towards getting myself out of the depressed state that reading a newspaper leaves me in, and getting hold of enough energy to face the day. And yet, I should not lose faith in something – that the world is a beautiful place and that life is worth living.
This is all I have to say.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

State of the Commons

Creative Commons has shared a fantastic infographic (and a report) on the adoption and usage of Creative Commons licenses.

Some of the graphs that were of interest to us :

Find all of Pratham Books' work that is available under Creative Commons licenses and the derivatives created through them.

Young Adult Literature and Indian Authors

Kareena N Gianani  wonders if YA literature is finally finding a strong, indigenous voice.

Via mid day
Bolder, better YA literature is sniffing air - pacy mythological thrillers, complex graphic novels, stories set in conflict zones are on offer. 
Ameya Nagarajan, editor, Inked (Penguin’s imprint dedicated to young adults) says Indian writers attempting YA literature seem to have understood the thumb rule -- negotiate this complex space without talking down to your audience, and that, by itself is half the job done. And take more risks.

Young Man ReadingThe key change, feels Nagarajan, has come about because people are hearing about ‘unusual’ themes in books and a market is being created in India. “It’s taking a while for the readers to invest in a book by an Indian. We have been told we should try and use non-Indian pseudonyms for some of our international level YA, for example. The problem is the general feeling that Indian’s can’t really manage to write at international standard in English. The solution of course is very simple, find the people whocan and then publish them. The market will learn,” she explains. 
“Nothing is off limits. If as a parent or publisher, you think you are sheltering this age group by not making them read some themes, you’re really oblivious,” smiles Khan. The only thing she considers a no-no when writing for young adults is glamourising negative behaviour. “I have had characters in my books who have large breasts, I’ve used a cuss word, I’ve even dealt with sexual manipulation between a teenaged couple. But all with a consciousness that someone out there might take all the wrong things from it, and my style will have to walk some very tricky ground,” she explains. 
Publishers, writers and YA readers call this phase ‘growing up’, and they expect much trial and error, and very tricky times ahead. There’s much to be done, and a marketing model to be cracked for such a tricky segment. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Contest No.2 : Looking for Dads Who Read

Yesterday, we announced the 11 Days - 11 Books contest. The first contest has just concluded and we received some lovely responses. Time for the second contest. This contest will have three winners - so you have a higher chance of winning! Time to take a picture/a selfie or dig into the archives to find that amazing picture you want to share with us.

How to participate : 
  • Send your photo to web(at)prathambooks(dot)org with the title 'dads who read'.
More Details:
  • This giveaway is only open for people with an address in India (You could personally be based out of India, bu the winning books can only be posted to an Indian address)
  • The giveaway is open till 30th November 2014, 11.49 pm. We will contact the winner via email. If we do not hear back from the winner within one week, the prize will go to the next person we choose.
The Prize :
We will choose 3 winners and each will get a copy of Daddy's Mo, autographed by author and Bal Sahitya Puraskar winner Madhuri Purandare.

About the Book :
What does Anu like the most about her dad? His Mo! Do you know what a Mo is? Actually, Anu likes everyone with a Mo. So much so that when she see a Mo, She gets funny ideas!

***The pictures shared for this contest will be shared on our Facebook account.

(To know about the other contests we are running : check the Pratham Books blog / Facebook page / Twitter account regularly from 20th-30th November, 2014.)

Event : PubliCon 2014

The theme for this year's PubliCon 2014 is 'Publishing Across Platforms' and will be held on 3rd December, 2014 at FICCI, New Delhi


The digital revolution has brought a number of changes in the world of publishing. It has not only revolutionised the publishing process, but has also brought new models of book distribution and new platforms to read and interact with the book. In addition, digital has enabled the creative industries, publishing services, technological innovations and the internet revolution, to become an integral part of the publishing process today. Further, existence of numerous publishing apps clearly indicates that publishing is increasingly moving towards a mobile platform. These new developments have brought to the fore new challenges of innovation, strategy and adaptability.

The major challenge that a publisher faces today is how to make a book accessible across multiple platforms and to be able to access new revenue streams. Content strategy and information architecture management are the new buss words through which the publisher grapples with. PubliCon 2014 will look into these new areas of publishing and will try to find solutions to some of these new challenges.

Find more detaills about the registration and schedule of this event. Limited sponsorship opportunities are also available. 

Authorisms - Words Created by Writers

Paul Dickson shares the top ten words invented by writers which have entered the wider language and  have been enriching English for centuries. 

To be irresistibly enchanted, dazed or pleased A word that Shakespeare debuts in The Taming of the Shrew when Katharina says: “Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes, that have been so bedazzled with the sun that everything I look on seemeth green.” Several of the websites that track the Bard’s words have, in recent years, commented on the fact that a commercial product called The Be Dazzler had come on the market and was taking some of the shine from the word. The Be Dazzler is a plastic device used to attach rhinestones to blue jeans, baseball caps and other garments. One site commented: “A word first used to describe the particular gleam of sunlight is now used to sell rhinestone-embellished jeans.'

SerendipityNovelist William Gibson invented this word in a 1982 short story, but it became popular after the publication of his sci-fi novel Neuromancer in 1984. He described cyberspace as “a graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system.

The writer and politician Horace Walpole invented the word in 1754 as an allusion to Serendip, an old name for Sri Lanka. Walpole was a prolific letter writer, and he explained to one of his main correspondents that he had based the word on the title of a fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The three princes were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not looking for.

View the entire list of 'authorisms'.

Image Source : Paula Eklund

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The 11 Days - 11 Books Contest : Play and Win!

Last year, we held a Children's Day contest across our social media platforms and gave away books. This year, we celebrated Children's Day with two of our authors (Subhadra Sen Gupta and Madhuri Purandare) who were in Bengaluru to receive the Bal Sahitya Puraskar. As a belated Children's Day treat for all our friends, readers, fans and followers, we are hosting the 11 Days - 11 Books contest (coincidentally in the 11th month of the year :)). 

You have 11 chances to win autographed copies of 'Freedom Run' (by Subhadra Sen Gupta) or 'Daddy's Mo (by Madhuri Purandare). 

The contests will be hosted on the Pratham Books blog / Facebook page / Twitter account. So, make sure you are following us on each platform to keep track of the contests.

Here's the first contest :

How to participate : 
  • Leave a comment on this blog post with your answer.
  • Only 1 answer per person
  • Make sure you enter your email id while commenting so that we can get in touch with you if you win
More Details:
  • This giveaway is only open for people with an address in India (You could personally be based out of India, bu the winning books can only be posted to an Indian address)
  • The giveaway is open till 21st November 2014, 5 pm. We will contact the winner via email. If we do not hear back from the winner within one week, the prize will go to the next person we choose.
The Prize :

1 copy of Freedom Run (Hindi) autographed by author and Bal Sahitya Puraskar winner Subhadra Sen Gupta.

About the Book :
In the Mirzapur and Bhadohi districts of Uttar Pradesh, in Many tiny villages, small children work long hours at the looms to create carpets famous around the world for their intricate designs. This is a story about the forgotten children of India.

Good Luck!

This contest has been closed now and the winner of the contest is Srividhya Venkat for her answer:
 "Freedom is being able to follow your heart. Following your heart makes you happy. Therefore, freedom brings you happiness.
HOWEVER, freedom must have defining boundaries. I have freedom to play music loudly inside my house, but it must not be so loud as to disturb my neighbours. I must respect the freedom others enjoy and not encroach upon their boundaries. Without respect, nobody can enjoy freedom."

(To know about the other contests we are running : check the Pratham Books blog / Facebook page / Twitter account regularly from 20th-30th November, 2014.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pratham Books on CSR Times

We've been featured on CSR Times. CSR Times is a platform to share information, updates and knowledge with people directly or indirectly involved with CSR. The CSR Times team caught up with Suzanne Singh (Chairperson, Pratham Books) to trace the history and evolution of Pratham Books as well as mention different ways in which companies and individuals can join us on our mission of getting 'a book in every child's hand'

CSR Times: What is your Library program? What is the cost of setting up a library? How do you manage it? 
Suzanne Singh: We have a simple solution that we have developed for a library. As per the RTE, every school in India must have a library. Most of the times books are kept locked in the cupboard are not shared on a regular basis with children. Also since infrastructure is an issue, a separate room is usually not available for a library.So we came up with a simple solution. We createda small modular unit with plastic pouches that can be hung up on a wall. These pouches can accommodate about 125 books per classroom. We call this a Library in a Classroom.The idea was to create a print rich environment in the classroom itself where the child can actually pick up a book whenever she wants to read and put it back. With feedback from teachers, we also added zip to the modular library that allowed teachers to lock the library unit whenever required. It is something that they can put up on the wall and can be accessed by the child in the classroom without the need for a separate library or room,and this has been very successful.

CSR Times: Your organization is a social business model and is in proper alignment with the CSR and its requirements. So what according to you can be the role of CSR in context with your organization and how you can play a role? 
Suzanne Singh: Books can really be transformational and we need to understand the importance of reading. When a child has access to a library at very early age, it opens up their minds, expands their horizons and their interaction with books helps them grow.
I think CSR can play a really big role in helping set up libraries across schools and communities. There is an acute shortage of not only books but also people who can work at ground level. The pleasure of reading is diminished because the children simply don’t have access to books apart from textbooks. They can’t just pick up a storybook and read it. So CSR funds can be deployed very effectively in creating a network of libraries in schools and communities and spread the joy of reading. If companies take up the responsibility of ensuring that kids have access to books in the locations where they have their industrial plants and branch offices in non-metro cities, it will go a long way in addressing the gap that exists on the ground today. 
CSR Times: Would you like to be approached by NGOs across India.
Suzanne Singh: Certainly, our books are subsidized and affordable so that they can be accessible for everyone across the country. Like I mentioned earlier most of our books are priced under Rs.35. We also have a low cost ‘mini storybook’ option called a story card which is an A4 card folded down the middle with a full story and 4 to 6 illustrations. We priced these story cards for Rs 2 when we started and now it is sold for approximately Rs. 4 per card. The idea was to make these stories available to children at the least possible cost.

CSR Times: Would you like to suggest something to increase people’s participation? To engage as many as possible.
Suzanne Singh: One of the things we do amongst many others, was to engage with volunteers who we call Pratham Books Champions. Hundreds of Champions participate with us in our mission to bring books closer to children because we believe that this is a societal mission and we all need to join hands to make this a reality. Every year on International Literacy Day we have a campaign called ‘One Story One Day’ and we invite volunteers to conduct story-telling sessions in their communities. Last year we selected a book called “Paplu the Giant” for this campaign. We had published the book in 5 languages and our volunteers translated it into many more languages for their sessions. 500 Champions participated to conduct storytelling sessions with 40,000 children and what was quite astonishing is that the story was told in 25 languages. This year we have picked a book called ‘Takloo, the little Salt Seller’ and we have done about 1500 storytelling sessions across the country. We encourage our Champions to share their experiences on our blog You can read on the blog how people are becoming change makers and a simple idea of reading a book to children, brings forward hundreds of volunteers who do so in their own ways.

Subhadra Sen Gupta on Stories and History

777-Line of school children seen from above at Taj Mahal Sep 1, 2012 2-18 PM 5340x3602

We've been catching up on all our CROCUS reading (What's CROCUS? It is Saffron Tree's annual celebration of reading, books and more). Our own editor Mala was featured in this year's event

Having met Subhadra Sen Gupta last week, we were delighted to see her article which emphasizes why history doesn't have to be a boring subject in schools.

History is what we are. It is our story and human beings need their roots as much as they need ambitions and dreams.

The problem is that our textbooks focus on dates, kings, battles, economic policy, acts of parliament and somewhere we forget the most important element of history – that it is the story of people. Not just of kings, priests and warriors but of tribals, lower castes, women, farmers, potters and weavers. We need to put people back in our histories. Why don’t textbooks talk about the epic voyages of Chola ships to Bali where our textiles taught them to create batik designs? About how they painted the walls of caves in Ajanta for hundreds of years? Or tell them that Babur wrote a diary and Krishnadeva Raya composed poetry. More than Akbar’s conquests I find it truly fascinating that he was nearly illiterate.

Children like battles, they make exciting reading but not when they get confused between the dates of the two battles of Panipat and the teachers cuts marks. They love to listen to the story of a man in a chhoti si dhoti and a voluminous shawl walking for a month to Dandi to pick up a handful of sandy sea salt. They don’t really need to know all the points of the Minto-Morley Act.

So parents, teachers, if you want children to get a sense of history you have to move away from text books and walk out of classrooms. Take children to a monument and let them touch the carved pillars as you describe how the stone carvers worked. A museum offers us our history through things and things can say so much. Harappan pottery looks so much like what our potters still make today. An image of a goddess shows us jewellery designs. A sword and shield has so many stories to tell.

Read all the posts from CROCUS 2014.

Image Source : BJ Graf

Monday, November 17, 2014

Inclusive Print Access Project at Delhi University

Le Jour ni l’Heure 2482 : autoportrait aux quatre couvertes, Plieux, bibliothèque, salle des Nuits, lundi 18 mars 2013, 19:17:58

Delhi University is looking at making their libraries more inclusive through the Inclusive Print Access Project.

Via Business Standard

Delhi University is in the process of installing a special technology which can scan books and transcribe text to speech in all its libraries, a move which the varsity claims is a first-of-its-kind initiative for visually-challenged students by an Indian university. 

The technology called 'Inclusive Print Access Project' is a combination of software which has been imported from abroad to suit the needs of the visually-challenged students. 

"We just want to ensure that the students don't remain dependent on readers and can study and work in an independent fashion as other students. Certain universities abroad have this technology but in India we are the first one to have such reading machines and accessible system assembled in a comprehensive manner," another EOC official Bipin Tiwari said. 

"We have got a software from Germany which can transcribe Hindi books. While the accuracy level for English text is 99 per cent, for Hindi books it is around 90 per cent but it will serve the purpose to a large extent," Aneja said. 

Besides this, the project also includes a software called 'braille space' in which the students can record their assignments and convert them into written text.

Jamshedpur Book Fair Begins

The 30th Annual Jamshedpur Book fair is on from the 15th-23rd November.

Via The Telegraph

The 29th Jamshedpur Book Fair is all set to take off on November 15.

The 10-day fair, arguably one of the most sought-after events in the city’s calendar, will be held at Tagore Society’s Rabindra Bhavan grounds in Sakchi. 

A wide range of books in English, Hindi, Bengali, Gurmukhi, Odia and Santhali will be up for grabs. However, unlike the previous two years, the 2013 edition will have no theme. “This year, we don’t have any theme. It will be a general fair. The emphasis will be on quality rather than quantity,” said Ashis Chowdhury, the secretary of Tagore Society.

The organisers will try to match the standards of other book fairs in metropolitan centres by hosting a slew of events such as seminars on literature and inter-school competitions during the 10-day event.

Saffron Tree Catches Up With Our Editor Mala Kumar

Saffron Tree's annual blog festival CROCUS is back! 
We, at Saffron Tree, bring to you this CROCUS, a few of these handpicked books on Pre-History and Ancient Civilizations, along with interviews of notable children's writers of historical fiction/ non-fiction.
Arthi Anand from Saffron Tree catches up with our editor (and author) Mala Kumar to find out more about her books as well as the work we do.

Tell us more about your journey with Pratham Books so far? Did you start off as an editor or a writer? What do your roles entail?
I started off as a consulting editor at Pratham Books. Since I had conducted recreational maths workshops in schools earlier, Pratham Books suggested I write a set of books on maths. 'Happy Maths was thus born. Very soon I was working full-time as an editor. As a small team then, we all multi-tasked. And loved it. We still multi-task. As one of the editors, I plan our list, commission authors, select illustrators, give them briefs on each book, and then send it out for translations. We also talk to potential authors, illustrators, translators, storytellers and champions to take our mission forward. And a whole lot of other things too, of course.

How did you come up with the wonderful idea for the money series and the really cool Indian take on seasons?
When we see our books being used in distant and remote parts of the country and in the poorest of homes, we see the power of books as a tool to change lives. Money is a word all children know. As innovators in the field of children's publishing in India, at Pratham Books we saw an opportunity to touch upon subjects that children needed to know but could not find anywhere. Rather than wait for children to become competent readers and then tell them about finance, we decided to make financial literacy so simple and clear that young children would learn to read, find the joy of reading AND get some money sense all at once.

For the Rupaiya Paisa series, we had a workshop with some excellent participants. I wore my 'journalist' hat, digested all the information, did a lot of research, and then wrote the books, even though I have no foundation in finance. Then, I edited it along with my colleagues.

There is so much one can write about the seasons! Our aim was clear - to keep it simple and clearly rooted in India. I decided to start with a child planting a sapling in spring. Then, with my colleague and co-author Manisha Chaudhry, the books just took off. The Rituchakra series looks at the seasons as they change, one book at a time, and the tree features in each with its own development. 

Since Pratham Books offerings are multilingual and have to connect with multiple strata of children-are there guidelines/constraints you need to work within?

We do have to keep several points in mind. A story in verse does not translate well in all languages. So we avoid them, or in some cases, do them only in a few languages. Word-based stories and puns fall flat when translated. Idioms add style to stories, but since they do not translate well either, we are aware that each translator has to use idioms in places appropriate to their language. We do have to retain an inherent sensitivity when we look at stories to ensure that we're making every child, whichever strata she may be from, feel comfortable while reading our books.

Tell us your favourite picture books from the Pratham Books stable and why?
Oh, there are too many! And each for a different reason - good storyline, great illustrations, personal quirk, the story behind the genesis of the book and so on. But here are some ; The Royal Toothache for its universal child-like appeal, Can & Can't for its simplicity, City of Stories for the late Bindiya's illustrations, Bishnu the Dhobi Singer for the character, Daddy's Mo and My Two Great-grandmothersfor their story and art, and so on. Of my books, I love Ruchi Shah's artwork forPaper Play, and am really proud of our team at PB and the illustrators and designers for getting out the Rupaiya Paisa series.

Read the entire interview.

Also, catch all the CROCUS fun here and there is also a chance to get your hands on a lovely book chosen by the Saffron Tree team.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Our Books Get Reviewed by The Book Review

The theme for the November 2014 issue of The Book Review is 'Children's Books'. Many of our books have been featured in this issue. 

Chandra Chari reviews the Adi kahani series and writes...
Pratham Books has come out with a winner set for readers in the making.  
Adi Kahani, with resonances from the Panchatantra tales, have a lovely lilt to the titles themselves. When I read some of them to my granddaughter Dharma, she loved the sound of Aisla...basila..and kept repeating them! As would other children. Or, Doong Doong Dum Dum,. The Dancing Elephants again would bring a burst of joy in the young reader.
Read the entire review by clicking on the image below.
(Click on the image for a larger view)


Partho Datta goes on to review 'We Call Her Ba'
Sen Gupta is helped by Neeta Gangopadhya's brilliant illustrations. The pictures in the book are done in pen and ink and many take up the whole page. Careful photographic research must have gone into these illustrations.  
This little biography is a great read, the prose is lucid and can be enjoyed by everyone (not just children). Printed on glossy paper, this attractive book at Rs.50 is a steal.

(Click on the image for a larger view)

The magazine also has small snippets about some of our other books. You can also find our editor Manisha Chaudhry's review of 'Captain Coconut and the Case of the Missing Bananas' (by Tara Books) and Lynette's Journey (by Eklavya). 

You can order your copy of The Book Review here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Letters to Read on Children's Day

Image Source : Henu, Pratham Books

The Indian Express "asked artists as well as ordinary people to write to their children — about their hopes for their sons and daughters, and their dream for the country."

As we dive into the world of Children's literature with Subhadra Sen Gupta and Madhuri Purandare (this year's Bal Sahitya Puraskar winners), we will also be taking time out to read and savour this list of heart warming letters written by parents, poets, cartoonists and others.

One of the people whose letters are also on this curated list is of our beloved author Paro Anand - wishing her readers a Happy Children's Day. 

But then, one day, something happened. I remember the exact moment, the exact feeling even now, years and years later.  
I had picked up a book called Born Free by Joy Adams. I was drawn into the book, much like Alice down the rabbit hole. It was a book that I wanted to be in, to be part of. This was the life I wanted to live, these were the people I wanted to be. The book is the first part of a trilogy about a family who adopt a lion cub and then set her free. I laughed and wept and fantasised. After I’d read the trilogy, I wanted — no — needed to read more. And so I did. And I haven’t stopped ever since.  
What is it about reading that hooks people so much? You know the answer to that, you’ve read it in a hundred posters in the library. But to me, it is the ability to achieve every single dream and do every single thing, go to every single place that I want to, from the comfort of my own home. But not in a hit-the-pause-button-on-life kind of way. More in a get-into-the-skin-of-the-character, live-the-world-of-words kind of way.  
That’s what got me into writing, too. I wanted to be an actress, a big movie star with a paparazzi tail. I also wanted to work with wild animals — it could be crocodiles and snakes. Just something, anything, more interesting than the life I was leading. I tried everything — did an acting course, spoke to the zoo director and wildlife rescue people. But no one was giving me a job. I decided to try to write about the life I wanted. It turned out to be quite a good story. While I was writing it, I realised that I was living it. And it was a really thrilling experience. I believed myself, and when others read it, they believed it, too. So I wrote some more. And more. I knew that this was what I was born to do.

Read the 13 special letters. Bookmark this post and you will have lots to read over this weekend :)

Happy Children's Day!

Inclusion in Children's Literature

Storytelling at Akshara Foundation
Photo by Akshara Foundation

For Children's Day, we are sharing Usha Mukunda's lovely article on the element of inclusion in children's literature

The benefits and advantages of reading cannot be reiterated often enough. Against this reality, it is imperative that all children of all persuasions and abilities have access to reading material. However mere access is not enough. There must be access to books of good content, facilitators who can ensure access and who will also provide an open space for children to talk about their observations and responses to books.  
Inclusion must be on an equal footing. It is not the inclusion of a lesser with a greater. It is to do with being on par. So it is absolutely essential for all children to read and know about each others’ lives, situations and particularities.
When a child reads a book, she relates to it in various ways. The theme and plot catch her fancy, there is strong identification with a character or two, the illustrations strike a chord in her mind and the language seems to mirror her thoughts. At the end of the reading it is highly probable that an unconscious reflective process has begun.
On the topic of equalising elements in children's literature, Usha lists out several elements - multiplicity of languages, settings, characters, art; avoiding stereotyping; leaving things unsaid at times; access and affordability, etc.
1. Multiplicity of languages is essential.With the number of languages thrumming through the states of India, it is laudable that Eklavya has taken the bold step of publishing books, not only in mainstream languages like Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Urdu and Chattisgarhi but also in Malwi (spoken in Malwa region of MP), Bundelkhandi (spoken in Bundelkhand region of MP), Gondi, Korku (both tribal languages with huge populations in MP), and very recently in Kunkna. (a tribal language spoken in southern Gujarat) Other publishers like Pratham and Tulika also cover a large number of languages. 
6. Different themes.So far authors and publishers have taken on relatively ‘safe’ themes. Ponni the flower seller and Babu the hotel waiter by Tara Publishers are a good start, no doubt, but how about A day in the life of Lakshmi the Hijra or of a disabled child ? Anveshihas tackled a tough theme in The Sackclothman where a young girl going through the trauma of a family tragedy reaches out to a mentally disturbed adult. It begs the question of what we would have done in a similar situation. ’ 
‘9. Ease of access and affordability.NBT and Pratham Books have made a significant contribution in this area with their book fairs in remote places and their low cost books.

This Children's Day, Enjoy 150+ Free Stories!

Children’s Day is special to us. This day is for those special ones for whom our entire team at Pratham Books puts all their efforts into. Every year, we take extra effort to do something special for our young readers and this year is no different. We have a gift ... a big gift... a gift of more than 150 free stories!

Pratham Books’ mobile application for android phones was first born in September 2014, coinciding with our annual celebration of International Literacy Day. As a part of the ‘One Day One Story’ event, a few story telling sessions took place via mobile phones, thanks to ‘Takloo - The Little Salt Seller’ making an appearance on our app. Since then, we at Pratham Books and CISCO - our partners for the mobile app - have been working hard to make the app better to give our readers a range of browsing choices. And finally, just in time for Children’s Day, we are ready! 

The updated app now boasts of over 150+ books across 6 languages (English, Hindi,Marathi,Kannada,Telugu and Urdu) and 4 reading levels. The app is compatible with over 6500 android devices covering the entire spectrum of android versions. Also, one can read a book and bookmark it for offline reading. To top it all, you can download the app for free :)

Stories about children from across the country, friendly animals, snippets from everyday life, wonderful wildlife that exists in a city pond - you will find them all here. Have no doubt, this is the perfect Children’s Day gift for your little ones!

Follow these 3 simple steps to start reading with the Pratham Books mobile app:

1. Follow this link to download the app or look up Pratham Books on the Google Playstore.
2. Register with your child’s age, your name and email id.
3. Select your child’s Reading Level and preferred language to start reading.

This Children’s Day, gift your children the freedom to read stories, anytime from anywhere. Carry books for your children in your pocket, with the Pratham Books mobile application.


We cannot thank the kind folks from CISCO enough for all their efforts and volunteering their ideas, time and technological expertise. The young and dynamic engineering team of CISCO Systems including 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 made this app possible. Thanks to them, we can now bring stories to many more children in one more form.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Our Books Reach the E-Base Library in the Pench Tiger Reserve

The Pench Tiger Reserve has a brand new library - thanks to the folks at Conservation Wildlands Trust. And we were happy to hear that many of our books are also available at the library.

Via the e-base blog
The E-Base library is a humble attempt to open up the world of books to the students of Pench. The importance of reading for a holistic education cannot be discounted and the E-Base library strives to fill this gap that exists by bringing to the students books from all around the world. With a choice of books on biodiversity, science, environmental conservation, Gondi folktales and encyclopedias, in both, Hindi and English, the library not only augments their general awareness and knowledge of their surroundings and its relation to the world but also inculcates an appreciation for their rich Gondi roots.
Love this photo (by Monica Szczupider) which was shared by the Conservation Wildlands Trust on their Facebook page. 

Students enjoying the wonderful books by Pratham Books at the E-Base library in the Pench Tiger Reserve.
This is the first time the students from this region have had a library at their doorstep!
Thank you, Pratham Books, for making this library project see the light of day through your fantastic and very economic books. There truly is a book in every child's hands!
Read more about the inauguration of the E-base library.

Wishing all the kiddos at the E-Base library a wonderful and joyous reading journey ahead!

Regional Language Books for Kids - Our Books On Another List

The folks at The Alternative and Lakshmi Subodh (from Atta Galatta)  have curated a list of '25 regional language books for kids'. 9 of our books find mention on this list. Here goes...

The baby in this book hears so many interesting sounds around her. Can you hear them too?

Khaidi has a very special car that takes him to many places. Droomm... he drives wherever he wants to to go. Come, join him on a drive around the world. 

A wonderful introduction to the most complete of all the shapes, the circle.

This book attempts to demystify important scientific concepts through the medium of storytelling. Buy the book

Sringeri Srinivas had very long hair. He wanted it cut on Annual Haircut Day. Everyone was busy. You will never guess who helped him that day!

Once Upon An India, has four beautiful books featuring children from different eras in Indian history as their main protagonists. This book is part of this series.

Long long ago, there lived in Norway a grumpy, grouchy farmer called Gloomy Gus. Gloomy Gus was not just a grouch---he was arrogant too, and believed he was smarter than everybody else, especially his wife.

Nine year old Chuskit longed to go to school, to make friends, learn math and play games. But she could not …. until Adbul decided to do something about it.

See the entire list of books on The Alternative.

Which of our books are a big hit in your house?