Friday, July 31, 2015

Books donated by you have reached their first destination!

We were giddy with joy when we got an email from Team IMC confirming that the books had reached the bridge school they had raised funds for! The email had a few pictures too where the big smiles on the little faces were shining through.

Swathi Ram sent out this lovely note with the pictures which talks about the work they do and the children's reaction when they saw the books.

"Tucked inside the Happy Valley Residential Society in Bengaluru is a little sheet-roofed building, serving as a day school for children of the nearby migrant workers. An empty plot converted into an educational space by constructing a small shed and making it suitable for conducting classes, this non-formal school caters to nearly 30 kids who attend school from 10 am to 1 pm every day.

The idea was born as a result of repeated encounters YFS volunteer Smt. Latha Rao had with the children of construction workers, who were found whiling away time in construction sites and her firm belief that education is the only way to moral as well as intellectual development.

The project started with much enthusiasm was hard to implement because of the pressure faced by the children to drop-out. Most parents wanted these kids to stay back home to look after their younger siblings (Yes, a 4-5 year old is expected to look after an infant/ toddler!). To reduce the drop-out levels, it was necessary to educate the parents of these children on the importance of education. We also had to cater to all the needs of the kids including clean drinking water, mid-day meals etc.., as well as make the classroom colourful and attractive to get them to school day after day. The parents now send their children to this non-formal school run by YFS, where children are provided with basic education that helps them later enroll in a full-time government school.

The books provided by Pratham Books would go a long way in keeping their interest in coming to school at an all-time-high. Just take the example of the day we had chosen to show them the books and distribute it to them, so that they could read them at home and get them back. It was a Saturday, which is mostly allotted for games and they are the happiest because they get to play in the park within the community. But just the mention of *new story books* which had been sent specially for them made them sit still inside the school, with that twinkle in their eyes. When I entered the school with the books, they started dancing in joy with cheers of 'Miss', 'Books', 'Nanage ( "for me" in Kannada)', 'Yay' etc.. filling the air. It was a spectacle.

New books are a rarity for them. They mostly see old, used ones brought home by their mothers who work in other homes. Books which they cannot read because they are in English, or because they are beyond their level of comprehension. People do not spare a thought while donating books. But here, they had new books - in Kannada and English, and they had volunteers who would help them read and understand them too. What else does a child need? Small things make them happy, like these books did. And for that, we thank you all once again. For having made us a part of your movement, for supporting us in our cause, and more importantly for the smiles on those little faces :) "

Thank you for setting up a campaign on Donate-a-Book Team IMC. You and our kind donors are responsible for the unadulterated joy visible in the pictures below.

Support other campaigns like this one and Help India's children read.

Hmm...Which book do I read?

Engrossed and curious!

New books! yeyyyyyy

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sometimes one needs a little extra..

Don't we all? The extra room to keep those old books, that extra space in bed to stretch to our heart's content, the extra cake for a midnight snack...

A few of our friends on Donate-a-Book also needed a little extra time. They are determined to build a library for our little friends from different parts of India and as we know, the best libraries take time to grow :)
So we have given our friends an extra 10 days  to build this enchanting world of books where our little friends can experience the magic of written words!

They need our help and support. Every bit counts. Every day counts.

For as little as Rs.100, 3 books can be put in the hands of India's children.

From Igatpuri to Leh, from a Henny Penny Library program to a creche for children of migrant workers in Mumbai, they need our helping hand. Let's go that extra mile for them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Paplu became Ramudu

A few months ago, we spotted some intriguing pictures on our PBChamp Priya Muthukumar's Facebook page (Storipur). Priya mentioned that she had taken Paplu to meet some kids in a village. The pictures had made us curious and we were waiting to hear the full story. Finally, here it is ...

In Priya's words ...

When I write a story (I’ve just started!) or choose a story to be told, besides various parameters , I pay attention to few pointers which I read somewhere~
  • Will the story and it’s characters add to the listener’s mental image?
  • Will they relate to how the character is feeling?
  • Will it help them feel that they are in the story?
  • Will it hold their attention? Will they remember the story, atleast for awhile?
Now, will all these be possible, if one is going to be telling the story to an audience who do not understand the language , you speak? 

Given that brief, let’s move on to a real-life story. Briefly we had met ~ Tripti Raj and I . And then our bond became stronger, thanks to the social media. Tripti in her usual exuberant self, shared with me about her dream of telling stories to a group of warm and humble villagers in a hamlet near Vishakapatnam. She along with her team (Liter of Light, Bangalore) was working on a project of providing light for this village and she wanted the storytelling session to be the grand finale. When she asked me to help her with the storytelling , I was more than to happy to take the plunge!

The story that popped in my head, was ‘Paplu the Giant’. I had narrated several versions of this story to several groups of children. It has remained one of my all-time favourites! Okay, the next task was to script it to suit our audience in the village. I remembered watching a Telugu film as a kid and one thing that remained afresh in my memory about the film was the  repetitive, magic words used in the movie, from that emerged my own tweaked version of the words ~ jimbalakadi pamba, pambalakadi jimba. This was included in our story-script. Words in  Telugu, the local language, were sprinkled here and there, ammayi, abbayi, maavayya, rakshasudu. I also shared with Tripti the idea of making a giant Paplu with the kids .With yours truly scripting the story and Tripti rehearsing and preparing for her first story session, the big day arrived. Now, to know about the rest, read Tripti’s experience and the connections she made, in her own words, below~

No, I am saying no more. It was surreal to listen to Tripti’s experience at the village. Yes, irrespective of the languages we speak, we do connect with each other...well, this time it was through stories!

Every time, I think about this, my heart swells up with pride and warmth. Storipur is proud to have collaborated with Liter of Light, Bangalore on this truly unique story experience. And Pratham Books, we love all those, ‘easy- to- relate to’ stories that you publish... and Paplu who became Ramudu will remain in our hearts forever!


Thank you Priya, Storipur and the Liter of Light, Bangalore team for taking Paplu to meet more kids across the country and for truly sharing the magic of stories.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Announcing the Results of the Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest

The results of the Retell, Remix and Rejoice contest are finally here! The judging this year took a long, long time because of the number of entries. This year we received a total of 99 entries! Yes, 99 - the largest number of entries we've ever received. We also added  new category - the collaborative category - to allow 2 or more people to join hands and create a story. This category saw many parents and kids team up to send in stories. The illustrations for this year's contest were chosen from the Adikahaani series of books and seemed to a big hit among the participants. We were a little sad to see that most of the entries sent in were in English (we were hoping for multilingual stories), but were delighted when we spotted some Hindi and Marathi stories being submitted.

Choosing winners from the 99 diverse set of stories was a hard task. Thankfully, our main judges came to the rescue! The three judges for this year's contest were :

Bijal Vachharajani 

When Bijal is not reading Harry Potter, she can be found looking for tigers in the jungles of India. In her spare time, she works so as to fund the trips and those expensive Potter books. She did this by working as the Editor at Time Out Bengaluru. She is now a consultant with Fairtrade India.

As a journalist, Bijal has worked with Time Out Mumbai, where she handled the Around Town city section and the Kids section. She was the South Asia Co-ordinator for, an international movement that’s working on the climate crisis. She pursued her masters in Environment Security and Peace with a specialization in Climate Change and Security at the University for Peace in Costa Rica.

Arundhati Venkatesh is a children’s writer based in Bangalore. Arundhati was also the winner of last year's Retell, Remix and Rejoice contest.

Arundhati has published picture books and chapter books with leading publishing houses in India. Her books have won several awards, including the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2015 for India, Middle East and Asia for Petu Pumpkin Tooth Troubles, the Comic Con India 2015 Best Publication for Children award for Bookasura - The Adventures of Bala and the Book-eating Monster and the RivoKids Hindustan Times Parents and Kids Choice Award for Petu Pumpkin TiffinThief and Junior Kumbhakarna. You can find her work at

Rajesh Khar is an editor at Pratham Books. Through these years, he has not only edited and translated books but also coordinated lit fests like Bookaroo, JLF, Samanvay, New Delhi World Book Fairs and joined hands with organisations like Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, CBSE, NEOR by NCERT and a host of non-profits. He has been supervising books in many Northern & Eastern Indian languages and also have had opportunity to be a part of the Adikahaani Series and the Urdu programme. His interests are music, classical performing arts, casual writing, theater and film making. He loves spending time with children and young people and basically has a lot of fun in whatever he does.

Here's what they had to say about the judging process:

It wasn't an easy task, and I spent many happy hours going through the entries. The below-16 category was exceptionally enchanting, with their quirky, imaginative story lines. For me, that was the hardest to choose. What gave me a lot of hope was seeing the many narratives that brought together these mosaic of pictures, to talk about issues of farming, conservation, biodiversity and environment protection. Imaginative and thought-provoking, these few pictures were stitched together to tell the story of unpredictable weather and climate change, issues that farmers face in an insightful way. Words together with pictures can be powerful, and RRR reaffirms that fact.

Rajesh : 
It was a pleasant surprise to see how many different stories people can weave around the same images and more or less the same situations. Even more surprises waited me till I read some of the stories under different categories - a number of stories began with the same image! A good number of stories began with a same scenario e.g. about a drought! Quite a few stories had a folklore type of approach.  
For me the process of evaluation was simple - open the entries one by one, read them carefully and see if the images chosen match the story. I put remarks against each story and then after reading through the entire set, gave a ranking. I had to re-read all of them again to give a ranking because by the time you reached the tenth story, the first one wasn't so clear in your mind. Some stories appeared like their authors had a conference call before writing them! I smiled, read on and wondered how similar we are.  
So a few questions arose in my mind: Do similar images propel us to think more or less on the similar lines? Have our brains learnt to interpret similar images in broadly similar ways? If all of us wish to co-exist with the nature around us, then what stops us from living a life of harmony? I don't know the answers yet, may be after reading many, many more stories, things might get clearer in my mind...or who knows?
Arundhati : 
There were so many interesting stories to choose from! A good story idea that was both imaginative and coherent, or a fresh approach stood out and made it to the final list.  
Congratulations to all the participants. It was a pleasure reading the entries in the under-16 category; the young participants deserve applause. Have fun reading and keep writing!

And now, on to the results ...

Below 16 category winner : Sneha Ganesh for 'The Quest of the Flower Which Died at Sunset'

Arundhati though that the story was an unusual interpretation of the visuals.  "Interesting that a story set in contemporary times has the hero going on a journey with people helping him along in his quest - much like a folk tale. Are we making kids jump through hoops in pursuit of the "special flower" - an A+ ?Thoughtprovoking!", says Arundhati. Bijal loved the story because of the super match between visuals and storytelling. The interesting title hooked Rajesh and he found that the story had interesting turns and suspense.

Collaborative category winner : N. Chokkan, N. Nangai, N. Mangai for 'Friend Detector'

While Arundhati loved the wicked humour of the story, Bijal thought that it was 'super storytelling with photos'. Rajesh loved the title and the active use of remixed illustrations. Arundhati also liked the story because of the folktale-ish feel.

Above 16 category winner : Nalini Ramachandran for 'Jambook and Big, Brown Round'
"An imaginative tale, delightfully written. Plenty of dialogue and action to move the story forward. Love the joyful tone of the story. Must be served with some bangaladumpa on the side!", said Arundhati. Rajesh went on to say, "Very good title, interesting folk style story retold neatly and good use of images".

Congratulations to all the winners. Your stories will be laid out by our designers and you will receive the hard copies of your stories soon.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Digital Diaries: The Growing Tribe

Over the last couple of months, several people have been contributing to the general health and progress of StoryWeaver, our upcoming, open-source story publishing platform. People from within the organization, interns, proofreaders, volunteers... and all this has made us think of the word 'team' as a more fluid concept. And come to think of it, this ties in rather well with StoryWeaver's key ideas of openness and collaboration.

So for this edition of Digital Diaries, we thought that it might be nice to tell you a bit about a few people in our extended, constantly growing team: two design students from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology (Muniza and Shuchi) who have just completed their internship with us and one of our many volunteer proofreaders (Kumarika) who visited us recently.


Halfway through her internship at Pratham Books, Muniza exhausted her black and brown art supplies. Why? Well, from drawing squirrels and macaques and lions and porcupines and bats. So then we had to seek out the more colourful creatures: crabs and seahorses and sunbirds and chameleons. Muniza has done a set of wonderful illustrations for StoryWeaver – of animals, birds and insects – and we're certain that children across the country are going to enjoy looking at these realistic drawings of some familiar and not-so-familiar creatures. An artist with a great eye for detail and collector of beach sand (seriously!), you can see more of her Muniza's work here:


If you walk into the Pratham Books office and find a quiet, thin figure sitting in the way of the breeze holding on to her papers, you have met Shuchi. If you aren't observant enough, you probably wouldn't have noticed that she is in the same room, as she hardly utters a word on her own. But switch to art, or movies based on art and design, or talk about Christopher Nolan, and you will sit rapt in attention, as she talks about all of these passionately and knowledgeably. She is really good with her hands, whether it is illustrating, knitting, crochet or baking yummy cookies. Shuchi is helping us put together an animated tutorial for StoryWeaver. Shuchi's handiwork will sit proudly there, guiding many new users on how to use StoryWeaver. You can see more of Shuchi's work here:


We were pleasantly surprised when Kumarika – who has a full-time job at Infosys - landed up at our nearly empty office on a late Saturday morning, eager to get down to business. We had already spoken to her of our mild struggles with Odia on StoryWeaver and our worry of not getting it entirely right. Very reassuringly, Kumarika quickly opened a couple of websites that could get us healthy Unicode fonts for Odia and even had an app which she uses often to tweet in Odia, her mother tongue. Kumarika – who is here in Bangalore only for a few weeks – travelled more than two hours to get to our office. While she didn't complain even once about the commute, the biggest reward for her – we think – was seeing children's books in Odia, especially our Adi Kahani series (books in tribal languages). Kumarika is helping us proofread all the Pratham Books' titles in Odia that will be available on StoryWeaver and in return, we have promised to send a set of our Odia books to her father, who has taught Odia over the years.

Digital Diaries aims to document the ups and downs, the curves and bumps, the little mistakes and big learnings of Pratham Books' exciting journey into the world of digital books, publishing platforms and a lot more.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Say Hello on Instagram!

And we've jumped on to a new platform!

We are rather late to the Instagram party, but we've finally arrived! One of the things we were highly excited to see was the diverse work of the illustrators who work with us. We've already found some of our friends on Instagram, but where are you? We are @pratham.books on Instagram. Show some love and follow us please.

Illustration credit : Ruchi Shah (from the book 'Anaya's Thumb')

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sport a New Look with the July Calendar

Last month we started sharing our calendar pages online so that anyone could add a dash of whimsy to their screen. This year's calendar was illustrated by Priya Kuriyan and steps into an India of stories - where every child has a book in her hand. This month's page is set in a tea garden - so, don't forget to grab a cup of chai and curl up with a book (or books) this month.

How do I make this image my screensaver?
Right click on the image below and save it. Set as your screensaver (or maybe even your Facebook cover picture?). Done, done, done! 

P.S - If you change your desktop screen, we would love to see some pictures of this travelling across screens :). Mail us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org OR share your pictures with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram