Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vani Foundation Fellowship for Writers and Illustrators at Jumpstart 2014

Via an email sent by GBO New Delhi

The Vani Foundation will award Fellowships each of Rs. 20,000 to two writers and two illustrators of children’s books at Jumpstart 2014. The winners also get to attend a Jumpstart 2014 Masterclass.

Fellowship Mentors:
Gulzar Sahib - poet, filmmaker and Academy award winning lyricist
Paro Anand - renowned children’s author

Application guidelines:
Submissions are invited from writers in Hindi, English and other Indian languages.
One of the two awards for writers will be allocated to a Hindi language writer.

 Writers
  • Please submit previously unpublished work
  • Please label your work under one of the following themes
    • Fantasy, ghost and monster stories
    • Reality Fiction
    • Graphic novels and Comic books (5 – 6 layouts)
  • Please categorize your content based on the age group
    • 4 years – 8 years
    • 9 years – 12 years (Tweens)
    • 13 years – 16 years (Young Adults)
  • Short stories submitted will have to be the complete unpublished work.
  • The word limit for longer works of fiction/ non-fiction is 2000 words. Please include a synopsis.
  • Please email your submissions to fellowship.w@jumpstartfest.com
Illustrators
The deadline for submissions is 06:00 am, Monday, Aug 18, 2014.

For any queries, write to questions@vanifoundation.org

JUMPSTART 2014 : Play is Fun - Register Now


Jumpstart is back... and this year, the event is also coming to Bangalore. We are also happy to announce that Pratham Books is also collaborating with German Book Office New Delhi's 'JUMPSTART: Play is Fun' as a Knowledge Partner. JUMPSTART will be held on 25th,26th August in New Delhi and on 28th August in Bangalore.


It's all about play this year at Jumpstart!

Play is fun, Playing is one of the first things children do. 

It is how they discover themselves and their world. As adults engaged in creative work, we find that play holds within it the promise of inspiration, change, leisure, jouissance, lateral thinking and sometimes subversion.

In Jumpstart 2014 we look at ways in which we - as writers, illustrators, artists, storytellers, designers- creators in general, can play in the process of creating content for children- Whether it be writing a book, illustrating, animating or creating a game. What makes play possible? How do we play with words and pictures in making books for children? What does playing mean in an everyday learning environment and how is it useful? We hope to explore play in all its polysemy- the gaming of play- domestic, public and virtual spaces of sport and leisure and the embodiment & practice of play.

We want to bring together experts from the books, media, education and creative industries to create a dialogue and explore the different facets of play and its intersections with storytelling, imagination technology and reality that will translate into better content for children.


Pratham Books is also hosting a workshop for teachers on 26th August (9.30am-12.30pm).

This is the one thing that we don’t have to learn. This is the one thing that we all have a natural propensity for and it is the one thing that we all enjoy-the act of play. It is a universal thread in all human development regardless of race, class, region and belief system.

Educational planners and practitioners in India have also used play and activity as a scaffolding for children to achieve learning objectives in the early grades. Are there some experiences that are unique to our country? What are the points of convergence and divergence with the variegated cultural practices and beliefs around childhood ? Where are the interfaces between learned theory and actual situations on the ground ? What are the challenges in implementing play-based classroom activities In overcrowded multilingual classrooms where materials may be scarce? How does play get transformed in a multi-grade classroom? Can such challenging situations that may be common in resource poor schools, be turned into opportunities for greater sensitivity and a more holistic definition of education?

The Pratham Books-Jumpstart session on Aug 26, 2014 will give a hands-on opportunity to explore such questions and more. Eminent academics, Dr Asha Singh Associate Professor Lady Irwin College and Ms Amukta Mahapatra, Director, Schoolscape will lead a workshop for early grade teachers on the use of play in learning. The backdrop of theory will be lit up by incandescent questions from real practice. The participants will get a chance to work in groups to try out fresh ideas with the benefit of expert facilitation. It will be experiential learning at its best…because after all, it will all be child’s play

Click here to view the schedule and to register for the programme.

Image Source : Jumpstart

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Books as aids to keep your kids safe from child sexual abuse

Sandhya Renukamba writes an important article on using books to address child sexual abuse with your kids.

Let me begin by saying that literature for very small children does not lack cautionary tales.
We have a multitude of nursery rhymes which bring up the element of abuse and bullying, introducing these as a possibility. Think of Georgie Porgie kissing the girls and making them cry, or a great big spider coming along to bother Miss Muffet. 
We have fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood who was attacked by the Big Bad Wolf, or the Grimm Brothers’ version The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids where the kids are attacked when the mother goat is out shopping, or those like The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson and the parallel character of the White Witch in the Narnia series—I could go on.
Then we have the book series like Berenstain Bears books (Learn about strangers), the gentle, funny Mike Gordon books that make the kids think, like Safety, The Playground Problem, I Feel Bullied, Its Not Fair, I Feel Sad, and many more that deal with peer behaviour, intimidation, feelings of sadness and guilt, etc., that are key terms in any kind of abuse, including sexual abuse. 
Educating children about their bodies, biological changes at puberty, and answering questions about gender and sexuality is empowering to the child, as it dispels myths and insecurities brought about by information gathered from peers and the media, which can be really crippling sometimes. 
There are many wonderful books that can be used with children, like Babette Cole’s Hair in funny places, Mummy never told me and Mummy laid an egg
Then there are the amazing selection of books by Robie H. Harris which, however, have the disadvantage of too much information in one book, which might not be all needed at the same time. Parents can however find these books a great help for empowering themselves to talk to their children, as well as use them with children if they feel comfortable about it. 
Sandhya lists out some of the books that she uses and also says , "That said, it is up to each parent to assess their child and choose the best age / method of educating their child, and if using a book doesn’t work for them, that is OK, too. As long as steps are taken to protect the child."

Also read : Chintan Girish Modi's article 'Making schools safer for children: Beyond the CCTV camera cure'
' for more resources.

Register for the Achieve Together Conference

(Via Fiona Vaz)

Achieve Together Conference is a one day conference that aims to bring children from different socioeconomic backgrounds together for a day of inspiration, learning and togetherness. After two successful editions in Mumbai, the event will be held in Delhi for the first time in collaboration with INDUSaction.

The conference will be held on 9 August 2014 at The Heritage School, Gurgaon from 8 am to 6.30 pm. Sr Cyril Mooney, the educator who has been awarded the Padma Shree, Ms Jo Chopra of the Latika Roy Foundation will be sharing their inspiring life lessons with the students. Students will have a choice to participate in one of eight workshops on story telling, art, drama, writing, games for peace, dance, science and meditation. All workshops are conducted by experts like Aditi Rao, Ankit Chadha, Abhilasha Ojha, Rahul Hasija and so forth. The conference will also have a parallel track for teachers, parents and school leaders on how to make spaces and opportunities for children more inclusive. Experts like Mr Sunil Batra, Kanwal Singh and organizations like Adhyayan Asia will be leading sessions for adults.

All students from the age group of 12- 14 years are welcome. Registration is open at a cost of 100 INR which includes, a conference kit and meals.

Last date for registration is 3 August 2014.

Please see the website http://achievetogetherconference.com for more details and write to achievetogetherconference@gmail.com for registrations. You could also reach out to Hemakshi at hemakshi@indusaction.org for more details.

The book bond : Fat King Thin Dog

When Priya Mani introduced her son to  Fat King and Thin Dog she noticed  a bond develop between him and the book.

‘Fat King Thin Dog’ from Pratham Books has a simple, uncluttered storyline. It caught Ashwath’s fancy in a way no other book had this far. Naturally, the book was a winner in my eyes.I narrated the story to him – sound effects, animation, et al – and he loved it. Over time, I was delighted to see the attention that he lavished on the book.He would sit at his table, looking intently at the pictures. Sometimes, even burying his nose in them.I watched with barely concealed pride his growing fondness for the book. For the way he plopped himself on my lap to listen to the story, fervour undiminished.Then the attention got a little personal.He began seeking out the book. Like a dear companion, a favourite teddy. Tugging it out from my careful hands.

She documents her son's delightful friendship with the book here :


http://thebabyandthebuddha.blogspot.ae/2014/07/of-portly-kings-and-perky-dogs.html

Friday, July 25, 2014

Puppets and Comic making workshops



Bookalore and its bunch of authors are doing an event this weekend for kids:Puppet Tales and Comic Trails. Shweta Taneja, author of The Ghost Hunters of  Kurseong and  Krishna: Defender of Dharma  will be doing a special session on how to turn a ghost story into a comic. Author of Rhino Charge Vijaylakshmi Nagaraj will host the puppetry party.

Name: Puppet Tales and Comic Trails
Date: 26 July 2014
Time: 10.30am - 12.00 noon
Venue: RSI, MG Road, Bangalore
Details: Make your own stick puppets! Narrate exciting stories! Create action-packed comic books! Have a creative blast!
Event includes: Puppet Party for 3-8 years and Comic Fun-das for 9-13 years where they get to create their own comics. Parents will also get to listen to what kind of books to get for their kids.

We do love these booky lores! Enjoy the party.

Happening today---Tentastic Storytelling

Our #PBChamps continue to conduct their storytelling sessions across the country.  Pratham Books Champion Mangalam is having her third storytelling session and it is open to the public.Sorry for the late update, but we do hope many of you and your children will be able to make it!

The Happening Place 

BrainSTARS NumberNagar 

# 48 - 49, Off Kanakapura Road, Gubbalala Main Road,

Subramanyapura, Bangalore, Karnataka, 560062

Phone: +91 9980163689


on : 25th July 2014, friday
at 6pm.

To know more about the Tentastic Champions, click here. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review : Daddy's Mo

R's Mom reviews another one of our books on Indian Moms Connect.
Again, the girl’s name is Anu and its about her Daddy’s mustache. Its an interesting book especially for R whose dad doesnt have a mustache. We loved the way, in the book, the daily routine of her dad is described. The little girl’s attractiveness to mustaches forms the gist of the story.
Honestly for someone who is not a big fan of mustaches (read RM), we enjoyed the book thoroughly especially going through the various descriptions of the mustaches. 
The ending is the sweetest which obviously I wouldn’t want to state, but only add that the four year old in the house along with her 30 year old mother, now a days have loads of fun making mustaches.  
Go on and buy the book from Pratham Books, only for its illustrations, they are amazing.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stories hidden in the Seconds

This Friday morning, as I sat with my morning tea bracing myself for all the grim news that fills the newspapers these days, I discovered a hidden jewel in the Times of India. The excellent morning read came from none other than Jug Suraiya, who wrote about Kathmandu and the famed second hand bookstores there. He says that the advantage and value of second hand books is more, primarily because apart from the story written by the author, you often come across stories buried by the previous owner, knowingly or unknowingly. Little scribbles here and there, footnotes, words and phrases underlines, and bookmarks forgotten.

Mr.Suraiya’s column put an instant smile especially because just a week back we discovered a similar gem. A colleague brought a Jane Austen book from Blossoms (the very famous second hand book store on Church Street, Bangalore) and found a really old Gems wrapping in it. Now this was a packing which was in circulation when I was in school, so it must be easily 10-12 years old. This really was somebody’s special memory. Maybe a reward from a parent or a gift of love from a sweetheart, preserved with a lot of care over many years till it went out with the book. That wrapper made us smile and wonder about the ‘other’ stories between the pages, other than what Jane Austen wrote.

The concluding para of the article is the most remarkable:-
So the next time you sell one of your old books imagine that I might be the next owner of it. Or that I was an earlier owner of an old book that you’ve just bought. The book will connect you and me, and we might never know it. That’s the best secret of the secret history of old books.


Read the whole article here…

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/jugglebandhi/second-hand-books-are-more-interesting-than-new-ones-because-of-their-secret-history/

Have you even found a hidden story in a second hand book ? If not, look closely the next time.






Photo Credits : https://www.flickr.com/photos/signalstation/8290610151

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ek Mukta - A Free and Open Source Font Family

Last month we received an email from Girish Dalvi informing us about Ek Mukta - a free and open source font family. We wrote to Girish to find out more details about this project.

People in the publishing industry, bloggers and web designers have always felt that there is a lack of good quality Devanagari Unicode-compliant fonts available for use. The available fonts have limitations of their own, due to which they have not seen widespread acceptance. Girish Dalvi of Industrial Design Centre, IIT Mumbai, with his team have​ developed and released ​a free and open source font family, Ek Mukta, which hopes to be a new experiment in the field of design. This font family has both Devanagari and Latin scripts in it.



Usually while designing multi-script font families, visual features of one script unnecessarily dominate the other scripts. To avoid that, keeping in mind the similarities and differences of both the scripts, and by maintaining the balance of their characteristics, the font has been developed to form a visually cohesive family of two different scripts' letters (glyphs).


Mukta is Unicode 6.3 compliant and has several open type features.

The glyphs are narrower, especially the Devanagari ones, thus more content can be fit in the given space. Large number of Devanagari compound letters (conjuncts) are included, thus reducing the hassle of using half letters and keeping their beauty intact. The font can be used for languages such as Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit, Konkani, Nepali etc. The differing glyphs for these languages are included as stylistic variations, such as the Marathi श and ल. The Vedic signs of Unicode Extended Devanagari are also included. Another feature is the addition of mathematical signs and fractions to the glyph set.

This font is mainly designed for use on the web. It has been hinted for display on screens. It has seven weights, viz. Light, Book, Regular, Medium, Demibold, Bold, Extrabold. Ek Mukta is the only family offering these many weights in the open source domain
​.​
This font is released under the Open Font License (OFL) as a free and open source font.

There are several reasons for releasing Ek Mukta under the Open Source License. Font development is a difficult and time-consuming activity where multiple skills are required. Once a source code is available, a base is acquired for developing new fonts. The existing files can be used to develop new fonts, thus saving time and efforts. Technologically relevant progressive fonts can evolve out of this. And if there are any shortcomings in this font then people contribute to improve it. It is not necessary that Open source fonts should be free, but this font family is both free and open source.

​One of the reasons for setting fonts free is the fact that students/designers don't have access to quality fonts while working on their projects/assignments, they either resort to using pirated fonts or use bad quality fonts. I am hoping by open sourcing this font more and more designers/students will use the Devanagari for their projects and assignments.

​Links related to the font:

Demonstration of font features/possibilities of how to use the font and advanced typographic layout using html+css http://www.idc.iitb.ac.in/~girish/demo/

​​The fonts and the source code files are free to be used and studied and are available at:

Place where you can download the font https://github.com/girish-dalvi/Ek-Mukta/releases

For reporting bugs, suggestions, feedback, collaboration girish.dalvi@iitb.ac.in

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goodbooks : All About Children's Books from India


A recent website we've been referencing on our blog and Facebook is the Goodbooks blog. We've enjoyed reading the insightful book reviews that the folks behind Goodbooks write and wanted to share more about the work done by them.

We chatted with the Goodbooks team to learn more.

Why and when was GoodBooks set up? 
www.goodbooks.in is a joint venture by Wipro Applying Thought in School and the Goodbooks Trust. There are plenty of Indian children’s books being produced in the country today but they don’t get the visibility that they deserve. Children’s books are not usually reviewed in literary journals or newspapers and if they are, not many take the trouble to critique them the way they would a book for adults. Our aim is to create a one-stop space where Indian children’s books are in focus: we wish to bridge the gap between publishers/authors/illustrators and their audiences. We also cover news and events from the world of Indian children’s books.

The site went live in December 2013 though we began the spadework for it from 2011 – researching various review sites to bring together the most relevant features, networking with publishers, building a team of reviewers and laying down guidelines for them so we can be assured of high quality, and organizing archival material (reviews of children’s books and articles) that we had sourced from The Book Review journal into more accessible and user-friendly categories.


Who reviews the books?
An independent panel of reviewers composed of people from various walks of life: educators, librarians, writers, illustrators, editors, scientists, researchers. They work with us on a freelance basis. Since we are very particular that the reviews are insightful and approach a book from various angles laid out in our guidelines, we insist on seeing a sample review from a reviewer before we take him/her on board. We don’t want reviews that are general in nature, merely summarizing the story.


What has been the response to the site?
While quite a few big and small publishers have been sending us books regularly, we’d expected that many more would actively participate in this venture to make it successful. Maybe they are taking a wait and watch approach! We need continued support from within the industry and we hope more publishers will hop on board with us soon. Traffic to the site has been on the rise.


Who do you think is the main audience of the site?
We’re primarily a site for promoting good Indian books through professional reviews. The focusis very much on building a group of really good reviewers who take children's books seriously and will be able to critically evaluate all aspects of books. This in turn will help teachers, librarians and parents select good books and increase their awareness about them.

Schools will be the main focus for Goodbooks - they are keen on getting Indian books for their libraries but they have very little information about the books in the market. Goodbooks will provide them with the publishers’ information so that they know how to get the books. Many teachers and librarians have little awareness about how to select good books. The reviews will create that awareness, we hope. In short, the site will help them find information, select and access books.


Any plans of including regional language books?
We will be including regional language books soon. We are talking to a potential partner and when they come on board, information about more than 2000 titles in different languages with links to online sites wherever available, will be given so that readers can buy the books. 

Simultaneously we will start the process of reviewing the books. They will also be providing the online store links for the books we review on the site.


How do you see the platform grow?
Future plans include workshops for librarians and reviewers, conferences on children’s literature, exhibitions of children’s book illustrations and instituting awards. The Goodbooks awards, as we see it, are not only an acknowledgement of the growing talent in the field today but also a way to create awareness among all the stakeholders about the fascinating range of Indian children’s books available in the market.


How can someone become a reviewer on Goodbooks?
If you are interested in reviewing books for us, send us your details along with a sample review. However, do go through the guidelines on the site before you do so. You may email us at editor@goodbooks.in.

Thank you Sowmya for sharing more details behind the Goodbooks platform. Good luck with the platform and we look forward to reading more reviews about amazing books by Indian publishers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review : Ramya's Stars

Savio Mascarenhas reviews the book 'Ramya's Stars' on Goodbooks

It’s a sweet relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter that becomes the crux of this 16-page picture book, Ramya’s Stars. Written by Mala Ashok, this picture book takes you into Ramya’s world of colorful and vibrant earrings and the magical story that follows. Yes, Ramya likes to collect earrings, a fascinating hobby for a little girl of seven. The story reads almost like a fairy tale bordering on the lines of fantasy.

Ramya gets a gift from her grandmother, a pair of glittering starry diamond-shaped earrings. And what follows is a fantastical tale told by Mala, a story very simple in language. The words are limited in vocabulary and the length of the sentences kept to the minimum. This makes perfect reading for a child who has just started her exploration of the language and is gradually understanding words and the forming of sentences.

The book is a sureshot eye-catcher on the stands with its striking starry night scene on the cover done in watercolors by the illustrator Helga Parekh. The paintings inside complement the story beautifully. In today’s world of digitally colored artworks, it’s a delight to see artists dabble in the challenging art of watercolors. The lucidity of the paintings is perfectly in sync with the flow of the story and makes the book a complete piece of art. It’s like taking the reader through a story that rolls over a 16-page canvas.

The two factors that work well for the book are the tale that’s so uncomplicated and the visuals that are so vivid. As a parent, it would be good to expose children to stories that are simple yet fantastical and art that’s so original and natural.

Ramya’s Stars makes for a magical reading experience and is a perfect example to propagate the philosophy that Pratham Books would advocate - to democratize the joy of reading.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Help Avalokitesvara Trust Print 'Chuskit Goes to School' in Ladakhi

We are thrilled to see a collaboration we have been working on for the past few months almost reach its goal. For some time now, we have been seeing an interest in translations of our books. Last year Avalokitesvara Trust got in touch with us to discuss the possibility of translating 'Chuskit goes to school' in Ladakhi. The story set in Ladakh would be absolutely relevant to the kids they work with in Ladakh.

Like we always say, we publish in multiple languages but our work still isn't enough for all the children in India. Our mission to get 'a book in every child's hand' will only be possible through collaborations like this.

The original book is under a public domain license and free for anyone to remix. Avalokitesvara Trust would provide us with the translation while we would help with the layout of the book. Once we received the translation, our team started laying out the book. We grappled with the fonts at times (which seemed to mysteriously change from time to time), the different versions bounced between all our inboxes and finally the book is ready... well, almost!

Avalokitesvara Trust is fundraising to print this book and get it into the hands of the children they work with. If you want to help print books in the language the children can read, support their fundraising campaign.


Via Avalokitesvara Trust
As a new area of expansion this year, we are interested in publishing translations of select children’s books in Ladakhi. Our first is a Ladakhi translation of ‘Chuskit goes to School’, in collaboration with Pratham Books
‘Chuskit goes to school’ is a story about a disabled Ladakhi girl who dreams of going to school, making friends, learning maths and playing games. Written by Sujatha Padmanabhan and illustrated by Madhavanti Anantharajan, it has been translated into Ladakhi by Gen Konchok Phanday. 
We are raising funds to have Chos skyid slob grva’a cha’a nog published, printed and shipped to Ladakh for Ladakhi children. Contributions are welcome. Email: avalokitesvaratrust@gmail.com or call +919622140328
Note : This fundraising campaign is being run and managed by Avalokitesvara Trust. Any money donated to the campaign will go to Avalokitesvara Trust only.

'AdiKahani' Series Launched in Saura, Munda, Kui and Juanga Languages

News of our latest books being launched in Saura, Munda, Kui and Juanga languages has been covered by a few more publications.

Sonali Acharjee covers the book launch in India Today

Drawing inspiration from the challenges facing tribal education, three organisations, Pratham Books, Ignus-ERG with the support of Bernard van Leer Foundation, held Write workshops with authors speaking Saura, Munda, Kui and Juanga languages. This has led to a unique partnership to publish books for children in these tribal languages.

"This project marks a new chapter in the tenth year of Pratham Books as it is a significant first step in reaching the last child. It also links marginalized cultures with the world of formal education and could well be the beginning of creating a canon of literature for children from the ground up," explains Manisha Chaudhry, head of content development, Pratham Books.

The books are in bilingual format. Using Odia script, they have charming stories for beginner readers drawn from the rich oral tradition of these languages and the illustrations use tribal art with contemporary twist. "This is a very important step for us as it marks the beginning of a journey where a publisher not only publishes in Indian languages but also in languages which don't have a script. We are seeding a new set of readers and showing the way to other publishers to reach a nascent market but which will see exponential growth," says Himanshu Giri, COO, Pratham Books.


**********

The event was also covered on Odishadiary.tv

Pratham Books launched the first set of ten books in four tribal languages and four story cards for the reading pleasure of children at Bakul Foundation, Bhubaneswar. 

Tribal children face many challenges when they enrol in schools, the least among them is having to learn in a language that is different from their mother tongue. The state of Odisha has recognized this, and has taken the lead in imparting education in the mother tongue, in the early grades. The educational journey of lakhs of tribal children will be easier and more rooted in their own reality and culture. 

The event started with the launch of the books by Padmashri Prof D.P Pattnayak (eminent linguist and educationist who was the Director Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore) and panelists Ms. Dharitri Patnaik (BvLF), AnantaMohapatra, Dash Benhur, DigantaMohantyand Mr. Subir Shukla had a discussion on "Democratizing the joy of reading for all children: A case for books in tribal languages". There were storytelling sessions by tribal language storytellers for children simultaneously. The children loved the stories and for many it was a very nostalgic moment to hear stories from their own culture.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review : Rupaiya Paisa Series

Enjoyed reading Chintan Girish Modi's review of our 'Rupaiya Paisa series'.


The Rupaiya Paisa series, written by Mala Kumar and illustrated by Deepa Balsavar, consists of four books published by Pratham Books, a not-for-profit organization that creates books in multiple languages to promote reading among children. The books are titled The World of Money!, How Money Travels!, The Money Managers, and Be Wise With Money.

The books are interestingly written, scattered with stories and real-life examples to help the reader understand complex ideas in the context of their immediate, everyday lives. Concepts like receipt, payment, transaction, income, expense, interest, liability, money transfer, chit fund, insurance, risk, premium, self-help groups, microfinance institutions, subsidy, philanthropy, etc., are stripped of the vagueness they might hold for someone who is encountering them for the first time.

The illustrations are simple and playful; for example, a tree laden with red and blue currency notes of various denominations in place of leaves, and two children dancing underneath waiting for them to be shaken by the wind and drop to the ground. This sense of play is also seen in the language employed by the author. Assets, for instance, are compared to safety nets used by trapeze artists in a circus. The visual style also draws on the form of the comic strip, with a variety of characters and conversations framed in speech bubbles.

The layout ensures that the reader’s eye is not assailed by too much text. Boxes filled with trivia make an occasional appearance, as do useful tips on how to handle currency notes, simple ways of saving money, do-it-yourself activities, and open-ended questions for the reader to ponder. The visual appeal is also enhanced by images of currency notes from Sri Lanka, Iceland, Papua New Guinea, Britain, Australia, Nepal and Central Africa, and old coins minted by the East India Company.

The series is not merely an exposition of economic concepts. It also opens up opportunities to think about how families plan their monthly budget and deal with unexpected expenses that come up, the difference between needs and wants, what money can and cannot buy, the idea of greed, and the importance of saving up. Though the language is simple, the series does not underestimate the intelligence of the young reader; instead, it offers a chance to engage with complexity. For example, one of the books explains, “While we think money is a thing, it is actually an agreement to use a thing as a means of payment. In India, the citizens, with the guidance of the government, have agreed that we will use the Rupee as a means of exchange.”

There is an interesting page on how different people earn in different ways – teachers, traders, doctors, taxi drivers, brokers, artists; how some people earn a fixed salary, others get paid based on the amount of work they do on a particular day, and how some others are self-employed and determine the price of their own work. There is also an acknowledgement of the distinction between paid and unpaid work.

It is worth appreciating that the series does not show women only in household settings but also earning by working on the computer, by fighting cases in court, by starting businesses, or being managers of banks. It ends with some down-to-earth advice: “If you spend more time to understand the rules of money, you may have more money to spend.”


Click here to buy the books.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pratham Books at the Chrome App Developer Challenge

Karthik Shankar (Technology Lead, Pratham Books) writes about the event he recently attended on behalf of Pratham Books.

Pratham Books was invited by Google for Education and READ Alliance to be a content provider at the Chrome App Developer Challenge. The challenge for the developers is to create a Chrome based App that addresses three basic reading abilities - Decoding, Comprehension and Reading for Joy over a 5 week development phase. 

Pratham Books is committed to its mission of seeing 'a book in every child's hand'. Technology is a means to that same end, and Pratham Books was excited to be part of this journey to see how we can capitalize on reading apps that focus on language content for the under-served child.

The first step was an all-day workshop to help interactions between the app developers and the content providers. 

The day began with Amrit Sanjeev, a Google Developer Expert in Android, sharing insights into building a killer app. The session was peppered with updates from Google I/O 2014, which had significant news for the developers. This was followed by a demo of the Chrome Dev Editor (CDE), which is a developer tool for building apps on the Chrome platform. CDE enables an app to be developed simultaneously on multiple platforms, such as Android, Chrome, WIndows and iOS.

After a sumptuous lunch, we headed back for the content provider presentations. Purvi Shah, who heads the Digital Products at Pratham Books, started to address the gathering in Gujarati. Seeing puzzled faces in the audience, she switched to English after a couple of sentences. She drove home the point that while there are many books in English, there aren't enough native language books which are crucial in an under-served child's reading journey.

After her forceful presentation, it was Manish Rajoria's turn. He spoke about Aadarsh's popular brand, Purple Turtle and the related children's book imprint. 

Next, Karthik and Latha from Chipper Sage spoke about their expertise in delivering content using technology. Finally, Sourav and Chari from Room to Read spoke of their experience in developing literacy skills and the habit of reading in primary school children.

The door was then thrown open for the developers to interact with the content providers so that possible app ideas could emerge. The Pratham Books' desk saw hectic activity as the participants were intrigued by the large number of language titles and open licensing terms offered under the Creative Commons licenses.

Over the next 5 weeks, the app developers will need to build a complete app with the guidance of the content providers.

It is really exciting to see the intersection of engineering, content and design. We hope this enables our open content to reach many more children! With developers expressing interest in using Pratham Books' content, we eagerly await the complete app in 5 weeks time!

A few tweets from the event :



Additional Reading : EDU Hackathon Recap 

Event : The Digital Future of Indic Languages

Via MediaNama

MediaNama invites you to apply for a curated discussion on the Digital Future of Indic Languages at The Oberoi (MG Road, Bangalore), at 4.30 pm on the 24th of July 2014.

The open house discussion will cover topics such as:
- Growth of consumption of content in Indic languages in India
- Impact of mobile on Indic languages consumption
- Challenges of discovery of Indic language content: role of social and search.
- Defining standards and the role of tools and translation
- Driving user generated Indic language content creation
- Video versus Text in Indic languages
- The role of government policy in supporting Indic language content
- The role of mobile devices and touch screens
- Beyond content: service delivery in Indic languages

This is an *invitation only* event, and meant for those who are already working in this domain

Click here to register.

Book Review : Aunty Jui's Baby

Rachna Dhir reviews our book 'Aunty Jui's Baby' on GoodBooks.

Via goodbooks

The book is both illustrated and written by Madhuri Purandare. The inside jacket of the book informs the reader that 'she makes up stories about simple, everyday events in a child’s life. Her strength lies in the simplicity of her language and the beauty of her artwork.' Fortunately, neither the cover illustration nor the brief description on the back cover give away the plot. All that one is told is that 'Anu and her mother visit Aunty Jui to see her new baby. Aai and Aunty fuss over her but Anu thinks the baby is really silly.'

Ms. Purandare, an alumna of Mumbai’s JJ School of Art, is an outstanding illustrator. All the four characters' moods in the book are captured expressively by the accompanying illustrations. While she chooses to draw Anu and her Aai, almost as caricatures, she is able to make Aunty Jui all soft and capable of comforting a new born baby, with her artistic genius. The contrast is clear and works well as the story progresses.

In today’s day and age of 'political correctness', the presence of a word like 'Chee!' in reaction to a little baby doing potty in the nappy could perhaps have been avoided. On the other hand, it has been presented in quite an appropriate context and hence, one can easily be persuaded to overlook it.

The eye for detail with regard to Anu’s and her mother’s clothes, the new baby’s toys, Anu’s childhood belongings and such are worth mentioning. The use of colors is subtle and appropriate.The theme of the story and the way it is dealt with, reinforces the fact that Ms. Purandare is a multi faceted individual, who also sings and is involved with Marathi theatre, in addition to having written and illustrated more than twenty books for children. 

Welcoming a sibling, whether in the immediate or extended family or circle of friends, is both an exciting and sometimes traumatic experience for elder off-springs. In India, we have few books dealing with the feelings of anticipation and jealousy that might be experienced naturally by some children. Hence, books like Aunty Jui’s Baby are much needed by both parents and teachers to help children deal with the transition. The book is likely to be popular as the approach will most certainly influence not only children but adults in dealing with the situation at hand, without 'moralizing' any message. The story is told in simple words and clearly steers away from a 'preaching' tone.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Events : TENTASTIC Storytelling Sessions

Our #PBChamps continue to conduct their storytelling sessions across the country. This weekend, two champions are conducting sessions that are open to the public. So, spread the word, take your kids to these events and have a blast!

Lavanya Prasad (as part of TALEescope) will be conducting her session at Atta Galatta (Bangalore) on 12th July, 5pm.  Find more details about the event and registration at : https://www.facebook.com/events/784698284894388/


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Rituparna Ghosh (as part of Golpo) will be conducting a storytelling session at Kumon Centre (Delhi) on 12th July, 11:30am. More details about the event and registration can be found at : https://www.facebook.com/events/536829333090232/

(Please click on the image for a larger view)

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Tactile Picture Books Project


Via Mashable

Blind and visually impaired children will now be able to experience classic picture books likeGoodnight Moon and Harold and the Purple Crayon with the help of 3D printing technology.

Researchers at the University of Colorado have created a new project that can convert standard picture books into 3D-printed pages, letting children with visual impairments follow the raised illustrations by touch as the stories are read aloud.

The center's executive director, Alice Applebaum, told Mashable that books that can be read by touch — tactile books — are central to the education of vision impaired children.

“We often add texture to books; we have a room here where we add braille and things that children can feel to stories," she said. "It’s just like when we learn how to read with our eyes, but they’re learning with all their other senses.”

Since many children don't start reading braille until age 6, this program has given kids the chance to read with their families at even younger ages and get used to exploring with their hands.

"It is one more opportunity for visually impaired children to experience literacy in an expanded way," Applebaum said. "Will it make them better readers? Not necessarily, but it will make them more aware of what the world looks like."

Read the entire article. Learn more about the project on the Tactile Picture Books Project website.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Project to Promote Reading in Tribal Languages

Saurabh Kumar writes an excellent article about our recently launched books in tribal languages, the need for books in tribal languages,

Via livemint

The first words a child learns are usually in the mother tongue. In the case of tribal communities, children would learn the language through the oral tradition, by interacting with the family and the community, since they had no script to work with. At school, however, they would be taught in the language of the mainstream—a difficult transition. Bangalore-headquartered Pratham Books hopes to change this. On 27 June, in an initiative aimed at encouraging mother-tongue education, it launched a series of bilingual books called Adikahani. To start with, this 10-book series has been published in Odia and the languages used by four tribal communities in Odisha (Kui, Saura, Munda and Juanga), in the Odia script. “They are the first-ever books for the reading pleasure of children in these languages,” says Manisha Chaudhry, editor, Pratham Books.

Since the books are being published under an open licence, anyone can translate them into another language.

“Well-intentioned policies often come to a halt due to a lack of meaningful learning material,” says Ganesh Devy, a linguist and founder trustee of the BRPC. There have been attempts by the Union government to devise an early childhood care and education (ECCE) curriculum, but these have focused mainly on translating mainstream manuals into tribal languages. “This is not always suitable because tribal cultures have a different conception of nurturing a child,” says Chaudhry. The Adikahani series, for children aged 8-12, is by first-time authors. The initiative began taking shape when a writing workshop was organized in Bhubaneswar in July last year by Pratham Books and IgnusERG, a group of professionals who work to develop education modules and curriculum for students of preschool and upper-primary levels, along with the Bernard van Leer Foundation, a funding body with an interest in mother-tongue education. 

“Tribal languages are full of imaginative stories and poems,” says Devy, who believes that educating a child in the mother tongue has emotive and cognitive value—it enables a child to process what is taught much better.

“It all began when we were trying to develop curricula and reading material for early childhood education using tribal cultural resources,” says Subir Shukla, principal coordinator, IgnusERG. Not enough material was available. Many of the people from the communities seemed to have forgotten most of the old fables. 

Shukla says they looked for people who were 50 years old or above, had worked in the non-profit sector, or were teachers. They were trained for six-eight months in writing stories. Finally, 18 of them, all tribals who were associated with the ECCE, were selected to execute the project, using the Odia script to write stories for children in their language, rooted in their culture or in memorable incidents and animals. 

The next hurdle was illustrations. Not many artists from the tribal communities are trained or commercial artists. 

New Delhi-based Gopika Chowfla and her design studio stepped in here. “We did not want to impose our own perceptions,” says Chowfla, “so we held a workshop with the tribal artists to train them for book-ready illustrations and collect raw material to develop afterwards in our studio.” Eventually, they used Saura mural art for the illustrations. The art form is common to the four tribes covered, though they speak different languages. The main challenge, says Chowfla, was to put the illustrations in a story-board format with a visual language, since this was an unfamiliar format for most of the artists.


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

Annual Haircut Day Gets Remixed on Kitaab ka Khel

Two months ago, one of our popular books (Annual Haircut Day) got remixed by the creative folks at Kitaab ka Khel. Sweta Daga and the team at Qyuki have been co-producing the Kitaab ka Khel show which brings books to life through a new medium.

An article in The Alternative talks more about Kitaab ka Khel.
As a child, Sweta really enjoyed watching and listening to the stories on Reading Rainbow. An American children’s TV series, it was started in 1983 to encourage children to read. What she really liked about the show was the creative ways in which the books came alive.

In Kitaab Ka Khel, Sweta finds it very important to bring out the real life connection to the books she reads. She hopes that just as Reading Rainbow made her love books, she can spread that love to more children though her show. She recollects that after watching every episode, she would dash to the library to find the book and read it. Sometimes over and over again. She says that the books sparked her imagination and became part of who she was. Through Kitaab Ka Khel, she cherishes the hope that children will first, just learn to love stories and books and maybe then, want to touch the books, read the story themselves.

The books featured in Kitaab Ka Khel are by Indian authors and Indian illustrators. Sweta feels it is important to encourage our local talent and wants to use the amazing stories, drawing and art forms in India. She has a collection of books from Indian publishing houses like Pratham Books and Tulika. Right now the books she has read in Kitaab Ka Khel are in English and Hindi. Going forward, she would love to have guest story tellers on her show, reading books for the multitude of Indian languages that are there. She hopes that children will enjoy the diversity and feel curious to know more about stories in their own languages, communities and culture.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Book Review : Rupaiya Paisa Series

N. Chokkan reviews our Rupaiya Paisa series on his blog.
When I started reading, I had my own reservations: Can financial matters be explained to kids? Either it will be too diluted or confusing.
But this well designed, well written book surprised me pleasantly. It covers all aspects of finance in detail that the kids need to know. It starts with ‘what is money’ & talks about income, expense, assets, investment (short, long term), ROI, insurance, laws, taxes, shares… Best part, all these are presented with simple examples, colorful illustrations, practical tips, activities. I LOVED reading it.
I knew most of the topics that were discussed in the books, but the simple manner in which those were explained, made it a great read.
My personal thanks to Author Mala Kumar & Illustrator Deepa Balsavar. Strongly recommend this to kids / adults of any age who want to understand money.

Click here to buy the books.

The Bookshop that Floated Away

The Book Barge
A lovely story about an unusual bookshop (Spotted on @nilanjanaroy's Twitter stream)

Via DW

"Having a bookshop had always been a romantic dream. I realized at the time that a lot of independent bookshops were struggling, and having it in a quirky space would be a real help and draw people, hopefully," Sarah Henshaw says.

With a loan from her parents (the banks thought her idea was crazy), she bought a canal barge, or narrowboat, sitting in a marina near the town of Burton in England's West Midlands. The tiny space was soon filled with books, part donated, part bought in.

"Narrowboats are unique to Britain. They're very long and very narrow, about an arm span's width. It's a huge challenge to fit the books in, trying to get as many in as possible. Because a good bookshop should carry quite a lot of stock I always thought," she explains.

"One of the advantages of not having that space is that you really have to think carefully about what you are selling and to curate your stock very well. So I'm very familiar with every single book on here, and I can sell my stuff probably a lot better than a big mainstream bookstore."

Sarah now takes her Book Barge on smaller tours around the country every summer, allowing customers access to an independent bookshop in places where there normally are none.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Popular Posts in June

Children Reading Pratham Books and Akshara


A quick look at our top 5 blog posts in the month of June.

1. Battling Stereotypes in Children's Books - A question on Twitter about avoiding gender stereotypes gave rise to this post. We additionally asked 4 children's books publishers in India to share a list of books that battle gender stereotypes.

2. Launch of books in Tribal Languages - The news of our book launch in 4 new languages gave rise to a lot of excitement. (Additional details about the books can be found here : 1, 2, 3, 4).

3. Remixed. Retold. Now, Time to Rejoice! - We announced the results of our 'Retell, Remix and Rejoice' contest. This also means that we have 40 new user-generated stories to share. Go on, get reading!

4. Pratham Books is looking for a Layout artist (Digital Books) - Yes, we are!

5. The Bare Bone storytelling : Only basics are important - Payoshni hears about the Bare Bone storytelling technique and shares it on the blog (probably of special interest to our lovely #PBChamps too)

Image Source : Pratham Books

India Becomes the First Country to Ratify the Marrakesh Treaty

Via pib.nic.in
India becomes the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled on 30th June, 2014. So far, 79 WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) member states have signed this Treaty. The Marrakesh treaty will come into force once twenty countries ratify this treaty.
The main goal of Marrakesh Treaty is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled (VIPs). It addresses the “book famine” by requiring its contracting parties to adopt national law provisions that permit the reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in accessible formats - such as Braille - to VIPs and to permit exchange of these works across borders by organizations that serve those beneficiaries.  
Once the Marrakesh Treaty comes into force, it will facilitate access to published works for the millions of blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled persons in India. It would go a long way in establishing equal rights and opportunities for education and employment for them.

Nehaa Chaudhari writes on the CIS-India page ...
Maryanne Diamond, the Immediate Past President of the World Blind Union (“WBU”) congratulated India on its ratification. Calling it a country who showed “huge leadership” in negotiations of the Marrakesh Treaty, Ms. Diamond said that this ratification was extremely significant, with India being home to a large number of blind and print disabled people and a part of the Global South. 
The article also talks about the launch of the Accessible Books Consortium. Read the entire article

In an article published in The Hindu a year ago, Ramya Kannan wrote ...
Very simply, it allows the waiver of copyright restrictions in order for books to be available in formats such as formats such as Braille, large print text and audio books. 
Pranesh Prakash of the Centre for Internet and Society, in his closing remarks said: “It is historic that today WIPO and its members have collectively recognised in a treaty that copyright isn't just an ‘engine of free expression’ but can pose a significant barrier to access to knowledge.” 
The treaty also provides assurances to authors and publishers that that system will not expose their published works to misuse or distribution to anyone other than the intended beneficiaries.
There are an estimated 285 million blind and partially-sighted people in the world, of which the largest percentage lives in India. Only 1 to 7 per cent of all books published are available in formats accessible to them.

Additional reading : The Treaty of Marrakesh explained