Friday, October 30, 2015

Vani-Samanvay Distinguished Translator Award 2015

ILF Samanvay announces the instituion of the Vani-Samanvay Distinguished Translator Award.

Via Samanvay

As the India Habitat Centre (IHC) gears up to celebrate the 5th edition of its Indian Languages Festival – ILF Samanvay 2015, the commitment of this space to the development of a democracy of Indian languages is asserted by the announcement of a major Award for a distinguished translator, and a couple of interesting prizes for young writers. In the wake of Tamil Writer PerumanMurugan’s novel Madhorubhagan (One Part Woman) bagging the fourth ILF SamanvayBhashaSamman, the festival organisers have announced yet another much-awaited and relevant annual award which ILF Samanvay has instituted in collaboration with Vani Foundation: Vani-Samanvay Distinguished Translator Award.

Scheduled from 26 to 29 November 2015, ILF Samanvay 2015 has expanded its scope to engage a wider section of the society. It is as part of enlarging its mandate that a national level award for a distinguished translator who has contributed in a sustained and quality manner towards direct exchanges between two Indian languages, has been instituted. This award will be given as part of the activities initiated by ILF Samanvay every year. The India Habitat Centre and Vani Foundation have jointly conceptualised this award in view of the lack of recognitions encouraging direct exchanges between Indian languages without a mediating language. This award is hoped to encourage contemporary translators in the linguistically diverse sub-continent with a rich history of literary exchange.

The award is worth INR 1,00,000 (Rupees One lakh) and as far as possible this award will consider translators directly translating between two Indian languages and have sustained this activity for a considerable period of time and produced a remarkable body of work. The jury of the award include writers NamitaGokhale, Ashok Vajpeyi, RizioYohannan Raj, IHC Programmes Director Vidyun Singh, NBT Director and writer Rita Choudhury, andwriter-scholar Rita Kothari.

Countdown to 50k!

Children's Day falls in November, making it one of our most favourite months in the year (yes, we say that often about many months :)) But this Children's Day is REALLY special. It will mark the completion of the Donate-a-thon we started with the launch of Donate-a-Book, our crowdfunding platform for children's books. The Donate-a-thon was an ambitious idea, to send out 50,000 books to India's children is less than 5 months through a platform which we were just launching. We ventured into a new territory with nothing but faith, immense faith in our community who, we were sure will open their hearts to 'Help India's Children Read'.

So here we are, less than 15 days away from the closing of the Donate-a-thon and still a distance away from our target of 50k books. We have decided to place our faith on you again, our dear community, to ensure the Donate-a-thon ends with 50 thousand books and lakhs of smiles :)

15 days + 16,000 books = Donate-a-thon complete  :) 

Here is the weekly round up of campaigns for you:

A PhD student passionate about setting up a library in his village's Government school needs 737 more books. Extend your support here.

IT Nature Trust is seeking 800 books with a focus on setting up more libraries in the village communities of Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal.

JVMESK Society is a NGO started by a group of young working professionals who are working towards the empowerment of Zilla Parishad Schools in the tiny town of Parbhani, in Maharashtra. Help them raise 675 books.

Akshara Jyothi Trust wants to set up a library in each classroom in its rural public school. Support them here.

असतो मा सद्गमय । तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय । मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय is what guides Narendra, a TFI fellow from Delhi hoping to build a library in his school.

A SBI Youth For India Fellow working on education in a rural part of Odisha is raising funds to create a library for about 220 students from grades 1-8 studying in a Government school in Koinpur-Odisha. Help her build it.

Support Sarthak Foundation's campaign 'Meri Kitaab' to help them gift each child a storybook which can be theirs to read and keep.

In a low income government school at Avalahalli on the outskirts of Bangalore, 150 children from grade 1st to 7th have only 15 books to read. Help change this.

Samaritan Help Mission runs two schools providing low cost English medium education to the children of Tikiapara, Howrah and is raising funds to improve their library.They need only 124 more books to reach their book target.

Saamarth is an effort to enable young students of government and municipal schools in villages and towns to develop skills at par with what their more privileged counterparts in private schools and are looking to raise 1000 books to set up libraries. 


You also have more reasons to donate this festive season!

This Diwali, you can help light up a life AND make Diwali sweeter for your loved ones. Between 23rd October to ​8th​ November, donate books worth Rs.2500/- or more on Pratham Books' Donate-a-Book platform and you will get a gift set of our latest titles for your loved ones.

As you help light up bookshelves in library corners across India, the little tots around you get a special Diwali gift : a pack of Pratham Books' latest titles- a Diwali gift from you!

Fire the imagination in young minds. Donate books to children across the country and a Diwali gift pack for yourself and the children around you. Gift, read-aloud, story tell - all new stories for Pratham Books.

Double the joy of giving and 'Help India's Children Read'.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Splish, Splash and Endless Fun! Read : चुन्नु-मुन्नु का नहाना

‘चुन्नु-मुन्नु का नहाना’ the 8th and final story of our ‘Weave-a-Story’ campaign is up on Storyweaver! It is a quirky little story about two children, their bath time and all the fun and frolic that it brings along. 

Written by Rohini Nilekani (also known as Noni in her previous author avatar), this lovely tale like many of her others, draws inspiration from little moments in her life. Other than चुन्नु-मुन्नु का नहाना, Rohini has written and translated many other wonderful books in English, Hindi and Marathi for Pratham Books and is the creator of the much loved Sringeri Srinivas. She loves writing for children and most of her stories are open source allowing people all over the world to read, enjoy and share at absolutely no cost!

We had a chat with her recently and she shared many little secrets about her inspiration, love for writing and more. Here’s a little snippet of our conversation.

What was the inspiration behind writing 'चुन्नु-मुन्नु का नहाना’?

Last year, I was helping my darling grand-niece with her bath and we were having much fun clowning around together. It reminded me how my own two kids used to enjoy their water-time. Gosh,that was decades ago! They would get all muddy after their time at the playground and bath time was a great way to wind down, get clean and also, if I was lucky, a bit drowsy. They were so tiny, they used to each fit in a small tub or a bucket. Nostalgia made Chunnu-Munnu come about.

You've written many delightful stories for Pratham Books. Tell us a little about your journey as a children’s book author.

Nothing has given me more joy in all my work that setting up Pratham Books and writing books for children. And best of all, knowing that children have liked some of my books. That is pure, unadulterated joy. I find it easier to write for little kids, though I should try my hand soon at longer fiction for older children. Kids around 3 and 4 years are so clever, so unfettered, so curious - it is great to enter their world and become creative for them. I find it easy to be with young children and really enjoy myself too. But when you deal with them or write for them, you have to make sure you are not talking down to them, and that you recognise them as intelligent human beings, however little. They can spot pretence or condescension from a mile off. I have been making up stories for children around me for as long as I can remember and I am so grateful that Pratham Books offered such a fantastic platform for me to write. I hope Pratham Books can continue to attract thousands more people to writing for children. As a society, we need them all!

Sringeri Srinivas - created by you - is a hugely popular character. How do you come up with such interesting book characters?

Sringeri Srinivas was just a stroke of luck. I always thank God that one of my colleagues (he may not wish to be named) provided me the inspiration for Annual Haircut Day. Now Sringeri Srinivas has become a real character in my head. In fact, I was recently in Sringeri Srinivas country - the Shimoga-Sirsi region of North Karnataka and I could just imagine him everywhere, doing some crazy stuff. New ideas are bubbling up! Clearly, he has some magic of his own, and my illustrators, Angie and Upesh have a lot to do with that! Not a month goes by without someone mentioning to us how this or that child loved Sringeri Srinivas. I am just happy to be able to bring his foibles to children. I hope I can write better and better stories about Sringeri Srinivas and his community. I also hope more characters emerge from my pen. Are my other colleagues listening?

What are some of the challenges you face while writing for children?

Well, those few hundred words take many days to write. The idea marinates in your head for a while. Then you imagine some child and how she would receive such a tale. You have to enter the head and the world of a child that age. You have to keep working at the story till it really comes together. It is not so easy as it feels when you quickly read the book in a few minutes. And even then, you just have to accept that you haven’t succeeded fully. You have to very humble, when you write for children. I also believe that it is hard to create contemporary, relevant, sometimes irreverent stuff for today’s kids. You want to break some barriers; you want to challenge children; you want to stop all the humbug political correctness that is so prevalent in children’s publishing. Yet you also want to respect age old wisdom on what works for children’s writing. It is a very tough balancing act. Most writers fail at it. I want to keep trying.

You were one of the first authors at Pratham Books who willingly put your work under a liberal Creative Commons license. What motivated you to bring your work into such an 'open' space and what, according to you, has been its impact?

From day one, when we started Pratham Books in 2004, we knew that it was a societal mission. None of us were in it for the money or for the fame. We wanted to make an impact on the whole sector of Indian children’s publishing. We wanted to revolutionise access to good, affordable reading content, for ALL children, irrespective of language, class and other barriers. We were determined to take risks; to try things no one had before. Putting out our stuff under the Creative Commons license was one of the fabulous things the team decided on. It fitted our ideology perfectly. Naturally, I was among the first to put up my own work. We had to walk the talk. And we believed in it completely. It was the smartest thing I could have done.

The impact is there for all to see. In 11 years, we have reached millions of children, not just here in India but in many parts of the world. We have inspired writers, illustrators, translators, teachers and so many others. The numbers are there elsewhere on the website, but the impact goes beyond the numbers. It shows us what we can do together when we set our sights on a higher societal goal. I call it creative collaboration and collaborative creativity. It works wonders.

I hope more and more creative people will put up their best work on StoryWeaver. As an author, I can tell you, it was fantastic for me. There is no way my work would have reached so many children without the power of open.

However, I do not at all wish to trivialise people’s need to make an income from their work. They should do as they need to, plus it is their right to put economic value on their work. But I really hope they can try putting out at least some of their best work out on to this platform, and then enjoy the tremendous returns they will receive!

चुन्नु-मुन्नु का नहाना is written originally in Hindi. You have also written in Marathi and translated from Marathi for some of our other books. Most of your stories, though are written in English. What is the importance of writing in Indian languages? Does it matter?

I think it is critical in a country like ours, to put out original children’s content in our own languages. It matters hugely. Our childhood memories are fashioned in our mother tongues and those memories then help us deal with the world as we grow up. If we are introduced gently, in our own languages, into the world of magic, mystery, harshness, disappointment, resilience and all those other things that work their way into children’s fiction, what a wonderful tool it provides us as we navigate the larger world of other languages and other realities.

At Pratham Books, we were dedicated to releasing our titles simultaneously in as many titles as we could. But having original work in many different languages is even more important. Sadly, I am not great at any language other than English, to be honest. And yet, some stories come to me naturally in my mother tongue, or, as in this case, in Hindi! I hope more stuff will come to me in Marathi, my mother tongue. And I hope more authors will come forward, and soon, to write in all the languages and also the dialects of India. The new StoryWeaver platform that Pratham Books has launched creates space for it all.


चुन्नु-मुन्नु का नहाना is currently available in Hindi and Marathi. You can translate this lovely tale into English, Tamil, Konkani, Telugu, Gujarati or any other language you like and make the story available for many more children to read and enjoy around the world. Come be part of our exciting multilingual journey!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Meet ‘Greystroke’ - The Man Who Loves 'Mangoes' As Much As He Loves 'Cats'!

Cartoonist, art director and illustrator all rolled into one - meet Shyam Madhavan Sarada a.k.a Greystroke. He is the man behind the lovely illustrations of ‘Mangoes for Moidootty’ the 7th story of our ‘Weave-A-Story’ campaign. 

Shyam is an old friend of Pratham Books. He has authored as well as illustrated many books with Pratham Books including 'Wailers Three', 'Three for Free' and 'Magic Powder', out of which 'Wailers Three' is a CBSE recommended reader. Shyam has also joined hands with Pratham Books helping us translate a few titles from English to Hindi. His venture on StoryWeaver resulted into a hilarious tale- ‘The Story Pooping Cat’ which left everyone in giggles. Other than creating stories, he has also released many of his other beautiful illustrations for people to use on StoryWeaver.

He is delighted to see his illustrations get a new spin and here’s what he had to say about illustrating, inspiration and much more, when we had a little chat with him.

How does it feel to see your illustrations get a whole new spin? What did you think of the story?

It has been a decade since the original books were published, in 2005, and it is fun to see the same illustrations come to life in a completely new context, and in a story that stands on its own. I understand that the author, Sreedevi Gopakumar, hadn't seen the illustrations in their original context. Well, it doesn't matter at all, because Malu and Moidutty have given them a parallel life, and Sreedevi has cast the right amount of magic to make it all work. I am thrilled to see the illustrations find currency again! What more could an illustrator want but for one's work to be seen again and again in a very enjoyable, sweet story that people like!

Tell us a little about how you created these illustrations.

I was involved in the creation of some 20 titles in the early stages of Pratham Books' advent as a publisher. The illustrations used in ‘Mangoes for Moidootty’ were part of a series of Pratham books on everyday science (The ‘Sister, Sister’ series, 2005) written by Roopa Pai. My team and I had great fun putting them together in some 7 or 8 different languages! By then I had moved completely digital for illustration but wanted to keep it somewhat real by using natural medium painting software that mimics real-life media. These illustrations were the result of my "oil-painting-without-paint" work at the time. No canvas or paint was used! Since then I have added pen and ink, even watercolour to my arsenal... all digital, of course.

You have been very active on StoryWeaver. Tell us about your experience with the platform.

Storyweaver has been fun. It takes some getting used to, but does a great job of giving people a platform to explore their skills as storytellers. I particularly like the idea of giving a random twist to well-known books by taking their illustrations and giving them a whole new context. Plus we get to use illustrations by some of the best names in the industry, wow! ‘The Story-Pooping Cat’ is one such effort of mine, which was a collaboration with my son, Aaron. He's six and finds it "awesome" to come up with these ridiculous stories with illustrations that he likes. To further explore the platform, I collaborated with another writer, Nalini Sorensen, to republish ‘What Makes You Special’, a story that we had worked on together for the magazine ‘TOOT’. We used Storyweaver to give it a new lease of life, collaborating online, across continents, me uploading the illustrations, she adding the text. The platform makes it easy to collaborate and create content like this and the experience has been positive overall. I am looking forward to people adding more pictures to the bank, so that I can push the envelope further as a writer. I also hope to collaborate with other like-minded authors and illustrators on the platform.

What do you do and where do you go when you desperately need inspiration to draw? Yes, we are asking you to spill your secrets.

If I spill them, they wouldn't be secrets anymore, would they? If I ever "desperately need inspiration", I should stop doing it! Jokes apart, I try to find that space between the written word and the literal interpretation of the picture, and concentrate more on facial expressions and action. Most of my work ends up being close-ups or medium close-ups for that reason. I tend to sacrifice a lot of the detail of a scene, in my quest to create that magic we all love to see in the books we read. I always think that I shouldn't interfere with the imagination of the reader, only nudge it a bit here and there. I don't want to mess with the scene that the author has created for the reader... "the sky is blue", but what kind of blue? Azure? Cerulean? Periwinkle? Powder, Prussian, Royal? Turquoise, Yale, Zaffre? See what I mean? It is endless! Let it be exactly the blue that the reader wants, not the blue I saw when I read the text! Being an author myself has helped find that balance... somewhat. I'd have failed as an illustrator if I could only paint the words and not what they mean. So there, that's my secret. At least the tip of the iceberg, that is!

‘Mangoes for Moidutty’ - a delightful tale is currently available only in English. We want the story to reach far and wide in many many languages. You can help this tale reach more people by translating it into Hindi, Marathi, Tamil or any other language that you love! If there a language you're fluent in, please go ahead and translate it. Together, let’s make this story available in multiple languages for more children across the world to read and enjoy. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

This Diwali, Light a Diya. And Light Up a Face!

We know Diwali is on its way. You can see the potters making big batches of diyas, electrical shops stocking up on rice-lights and the Halwai shops bulk ordering khoya and besan - Diyas, sweets and festivities! As you prepare to welcome the festival of lights, here is a chance to double your festive joy.

This Diwali, you can help light up a life AND make Diwali sweeter for your loved ones. Between 23rd October to ​8th​ November, donate books worth Rs.2500/- or more on Pratham Books' Donate-a-Book platform and you will get a gift set of our latest titles for your loved ones.

As you help light up bookshelves in library corners across India, the little tots around you get a special Diwali gift : a pack of Pratham Books' latest titles- a Diwali gift from you!

Fire the imagination in young minds. Donate books to children across the country and a Diwali gift pack for yourself and the children around you. Gift, read-aloud, story tell - all new stories for Pratham Books.
Double the joy of giving and 'Help India's Children Read'.

(P.S - If you want to make a donation from outside India, please write to us at and let us know which campaign you want to donate to.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nielsen’s India Book Market Report : Valuing Indian Publishing at $3.9 Billion

Vinutha Mallya on the Nielsen’s India Book Market Report which is valuing Indian publishing at $3.9 billion and pegging growth at 20% annually.

Via Publishing Perspectives

The India Book Market Report released by Nielsen at Frankfurt Book Fair last week values the print book market in India, including book imports, at $3.9 billion. This positions India among the largest English-language book markets in the world. The compound annual growth rate of the market is 20.4% between 2011–12 and 2014–15, according to the report.

“Since a large number of publishers, especially in Indian languages, do not use ISBNs, this number is perhaps more representative of English-language publishers in India,” said Shesh Seshadri, Director, Lonely Planet India, who was closely involved in the making of the report. 

A growing literacy rate, estimated to reach 90% in 2020, government spends on education, digital initiatives, and outsourcing of publishing services to India, are all identified as the strengths of the Indian publishing industry. While the market is highly fragmented, it is also experiencing consolidation, in part as a result of the involvement of foreign multinationals.

“The Indian book industry benefits from a variety of government initiatives,” says Nielsen, “however, the Indian book industry receives no direct investment from the government – a serious roadblock for publishers.” Lack of direct investment, difficult distribution, long credit cycles, direct cost increases, and piracy, are identified as the other major challenges to the industry.

Lakhon Mein Ek Campaign

Our friends at Pratham and ASER have launched the 'Lakhon Mein Ek Campaign' and are looking for volunteers.

Lakhon mein Ek is a call-to-action campaign by Pratham and ASER Centre. Together with citizens from across the country, we will work towards improving the status of children's learning in 100,000 villages and communities.

The campaign started on October 21, 2015. In the initial phase 100,000 Village Volunteers are being mobilized to take responsibility for action in their villages. These village volunteers will assess children in their villages with the help of others in the community.

By January 16, 2016 success of the campaign will be marked by citizens everywhere resolving to help children acquire basic reading and math abilities in these locations.

We invite you to join us and play a role in this massive effort to involve volunteers, parents, and community leaders in nearly one sixth of India's villages and communities. Together, let us act to improve children's learning.

Register with us, take responsibility, and become a Lakhon mein Ek volunteer today!

You can find more details about the campaign and how to participate here.

Sreedevi Gopakumar on Meddling with Magic to Get Mangoes - 7th story of the 'Weave-a-Story' campaign

The 7th story of our ‘Weave-a-Story’ campaign is up on StoryWeaver and it is the perfect mix of holiday time fun, mangoes and magic. Presenting 'Mangoes for Moidootty' by Sreedevi Gopakumar - the first Community Story that has found its way into the 'Weave-a-Story' campaign. 

Malu and Moidootty resort to magic to get juicy mangoes. But meddling with magic is dangerous business and soon they have to fend off the dreaded Aamasura! And who comes to their rescue, but their grandmother.

We're really excited about this story because this is exactly what StoryWeaver is about - collaboration and creativity. The story is Sreedevi’s first attempt at children's writing and she had a rollicking time spinning a tale around Greystroke’s whimsical illustrations.When the story was first published on StoryWeaver, it was an instant hit, drawing in all sorts of happy noises. Apart from this being a delightful tale, it is also easy to translate this into other languages and that’s why we're super eager that this story be part of this campaign which has had its focus on translations. 

We had a chat with Sreedevi and here is a little behind-the-scenes story into this budding author’s life.

You wrote a story based on Greystroke's illustrations. What was your experience of weaving a story around these illustrations?

This was my first attempt at creating a story around a set of illustrations, and I found it challenging and fun. Greystroke’s artwork is gorgeous! It was a pleasure to play around with them. I have not read the stories that these images were originally created for, so I was free to interpret them to a certain degree.

Your story 'Mangoes for Moidootty' is one of the most read books on StoryWeaver. How do you feel about that?

Astounded and incredibly chuffed!

You have been an active part of the Pratham Books community. Tell us a little about what that means to you and what has motivated you.

My love for picture books and storytelling is fairly recent, and I have my 3 yr old son to thank for it. I have been following Pratham Books closely over the past year or so and have enjoyed participating in various contests like Pratham Books Summer Reads. I also chose Pratham Books for my first proper story telling session in a school. As a mother – son duo exploring the world of picture books, these initiatives by Pratham Books as well as the fantastic quality of their books are invaluable.

As a child, what did you enjoy reading?

I used to read just about anything I could get my hands on, but mostly Enid Blyton-s, Amar Chitra Katha-s and Tinkle. Picture books were unheard of then, sadly.

What do you do and where do you go when desperately need inspiration to write? Yes, we are asking you to spill your secrets.

As is the case with most mothers of preschoolers, I can only work when my son is at school. Which means I have approximately 2.5 hrs every day to myself. I am fiercely protective of this tiny pocket of my day and try to cram as much into it as possible. So whenever I can, I write maniacally with one eye on the clock. So far inspiration hasn’t been a problem. But finding the time to sit down and write something I’m happy with is proving to be an uphill task. Hopefully I’ll get better at it.

We hope you - our generous community - will help us spread this story far and wide by translating it into many, many languages. We do believe that this will inspire more people from the StoryWeaver community to write awesome children's stories. Translation on StoryWeaver is super easy. Here are a few tips to get you started! And here is a video tutorial that will help you jump right into it. We can't wait for Malu and Moidootty to meet and make friends with millions of children across the world.

(Psst : if you are wondering how Moidootty is pronounced, Sreedevi tells us it is 'Moyi-dhooo-tti')

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pratham Books at the Bangalore Book Festival 2015

It is that time of the year when Bangaloreans will get to see a lavish spread of books of all kinds. The feast is on at Bangalore Book Festival 2015, which has more than 300 stalls, including our Pratham Books Stall.  The 11-year-old festival has about 100 stalls dedicated to Kannada books, besides many offering books in Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Malyalam and the mainstream English book stalls.

Do come and enjoy the feast and avail a discount on our books too! See you at BBF!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Delwyn Remedios: The Man Who Can Make Fish Fall From the Sky

Like a magician with a paintbrush, Delywn Remedios whips up wacky and interesting illustrations in no time. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, he was a star during the #6FrameStoryChallenge that we ran earlier this year.
His vivid illustrations got a whole new spin when Ramendra Kumar used them in 'The Day it Rained Fish' in our ‘Weave-a-Story' campaign

We caught up with Delywn and here’s what he had to say about the story and his illustrations:  

How did it feel to see a story woven around your #6frame illustrations and up on StoryWeaver?

It felt wonderful to see a story written to the illustrations. It definitely made the story more engaging and gave a better insight into the characters. I too enjoyed reading the story.

Tell us a little about creating these illustrations.
I did a bit of brainstorming of various stories and possibilities from the wish list of words. I initially wanted to cook up a story about a pregnant bear as my wife was expecting at that time and I thought that I could bring in that personal touch to the story. Well, I couldn’t take that idea forward unfortunately and I finally settled on the story about the bear’s birthday and made a few pencil and paper thumbnail drawings and I was happy about the decision.

I used Adobe Flash to illustrate the story and did a basic colour on flash and enhanced it a bit on photoshop. I didn’t want to make the bear a regular brown colour and decided to look at alternate colours and added a bit of pink to the brown. The rest of the colours (yellows and greens) revolved around the colour of the bear in order to bring the bear more into focus. The colours were desaturated during the fish rain to create a different mood. I had tried many colour options to get the mood right for those scenes.

What do you do and where do you go when you desperately need inspiration to draw? Yes, we're asking you to spill your secrets.

I do keep looking at various artworks online and I have a folder on my computer called inspiring work. The work could include anyone from well-established artist to people I have studied alongside with. The idea is to find something attractive and inspiring in each of their styles. I go back to these references every time I need inspiration.

For this particular story, I did the thumbnails in my bedroom which had scribbles and paintings all over the walls. Despite taking inspiration, I believe I have style that is unique to myself and back myself to do justice to the story and its audience. I also trouble my wife asking her for feedback for almost every stroke I make. I even trouble my friends with the same and sometimes the insights they gives can really add value to your story. The fish popping out of the water in the end was a suggestion that I liked very much. To me it meant that no fish were harmed in the making of this challenge

'The Day it Rained Fish' has only one translation right now - in Kannada. We're looking for this story to be translated into more languages - Hindi, Marathi,Tamil, Punjabi, Assamese, German - all this and more! If there a language you're fluent in, please go ahead and translate it. Together, let’s make this story available in multiple languages for more children across the world to read and enjoy. Here are some tips on translation to help you get started!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Vaachan Prerna Diwas / Reading Day Contest

Update : the contest has been extended till 25th October.

You already know that we PBees like to use every opportunity to catch kids reading! Today is our late President Dr.APJ Kalam's birth anniversary. 

Schools in Maharashtra are celebrating this day as 'Vaachan Prerna Diwas / Reading Day' as well a 'No bag day'. This report mentions that...
"In a government resolution issued on Wednesday, the state asked all students from Class III to VIII to read non-academic books in school, and instructed schools to host book exhibitions, implement gift-a-book programmes, introduce students to well-known authors from around the world, and hold discussions on books. "
Presdient Kalam loved kids and he loved books. So that's a good reason to have a book-related contest, right?

Step 1 : Send us a picture of your child's/ student's/ your favourite book from Pratham Books.
Step 2 : Tell us why they/you love it (you can share anecdotes related to the book too)
Step 3 : Mail your entry to contest(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

Keep the entries coming till 25th October, 2015 (11:59 pm). Book hampers waiting for the winning entries of the contest :)

P.S - To help kick start this contest, some of the kiddos from the PB family share their favourite books
Kiyan's granny (Sandhya) who is our editor says "Kiyan simply loves this crazy story and mad illustrations. Read out this story for him in Marathi and he acts like Hatchuram. He loves how the sun hides behind the cloud after hearing Hatchu.". Oh, she is talking about the book Hatchu! Ha-aaa-tchu!
When Khushi, our designer Sangamesh's daughter, came to spend the day in our office, we asked her to pick out a book she liked. She marched off and brought back 'Takloo, the little salt seller'. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Kahaani Festival Heads to Gurgaon

The Kahaani Festival is here and Pratham Books is delighted to be a partner of this year's festival. Pack your bags on 16th and 17th of October and head to this FUN festival in Gurgaon! 

The Kahaani Festival looks to explore the various forms of storytelling and bringing to life the imaginations of young children through the oral tradition of story-telling, magic, theatre, puppetry, dance, music and much much more.

Widen your horizons and hone your skills with workshops in robotics, puppet making, kite making, learning how to play the Nagada drums and many others. Dive in and explore an exciting world of inspired tales, curious creatures and stimulating activities!

The Kahaani Festival aims to promote learning and knowledge outside the classroom through the various art forms.

Dates : 16th and 17th October, 2015
Venue : Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

It's raining fish on StoryWeaver! Have you read our latest story on friendship?

Can you believe this is the 6th new story under our Weave-a-Story campaign? In 6 weeks, we've had 6 amazing stories. Presenting to you our 6th story 'The Day It Rained Fish' by Ramendra Kumar and Delwyn Remedios.

Strange things happen at Ballu the Bear's birthday party. 
Follow him and Avanti the Zookeeper as they get drenched in a rain of fish. 
You can read the story here

Ramendra Kumar, who has also written 'Paplu the Giant' for Pratham Books wove this story about friendship based on illustrations that were created by Delwyn Remedios for the #6FrameStoryChallenge. 

Here's an interview with author Ramendra Kumar in which he talks about the joys of writing and narrating children's stories.

 You wrote a story based on Delwyn's illustrations. What was your experience of weaving a story around these illustrations?

I enjoyed spinning a yarn around Delwyn’s charming illustrations. In fact, after school, this was the first time I was indulging in this kind of hands-on creativity and it was a real fun.

What do you love most about being a children's author?

I am a writer as well as a storyteller for children. The response of the young to my sessions has been fantastic. In some of my workshops the strength has been nearly 400 while the ideal number for this kind of an event is considered to be around 50. After the sessions the children have often mobbed me with their slam books, class copies and even pieces of paper, asking for autographs. On each of these occasions I have felt like a rock star and prayed that time would stand still. In one school, a ten year old boy came up and told me, "Uncle, this was the happiest day of my life!" On another day, another place a little girl unleashed an affectionate instruction, "Sir, you have to come to our school once every month!"

Spending so much time in the idyllic world of children has taught me that the only way to be happy is to be like them. I believe we adults should strive to adopt the natural, unselfconscious behaviour of the child. That is a far more effective way of seeking happiness than looking for packaged mokshas and branded nirvanas. When I’m in the company of kids I feel much younger and far more vibrant. Even a few minutes with the little hearts and souls are like an injection of elixir. Will it be too immodest to say that I look much younger than my age because I spend so much time in the pure and pristine world of children?!

What do you d​​o and where do you go when you desperately need inspiration to write? Yes, we're asking you to spill your secrets.

I know I cannot have the luxury to choose the time and place, create the right kind of ambience and wait for inspiration to strike. I have cultivated the habit of writing quite comfortably in chaos, shutting out the world to create my own universe of creativity. And in this haven I write as often as I want and as long as I want. I have written in railway compartments, on flights, in boring meetings, in dull conventions…

For a multilingual platform like StoryWeaver, it's important to have stories in as many languages as possible. We want 'The Day It Rained Fish' to available in multiple languages so that more children can read it in languages of their choice. Could you - our generous community - help us make it available in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Assamese, Spanish and much, much more? Here are some tips on translating.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A library for tribal girls made possible thanks to you!

Lakshmi Subramanian volunteers her time and expertise as a teacher in a tribal hostel in rural Tamil Nadu. When she spotted another Donate-a-Book campaign on a friend's Facebook wall, she got curious about the initiative. After setting up a campaign page and a long phone call with the Donate-a-Book team to understand the requirements, Lakshmi was all set to get the girls in the tribal hostel their own library. She shared a short note about her experience on Donate-a-Book and some lovely pictures which will instantly make anyone's day.

I am a volunteer teacher for girls at the Tribal residential hostel in Anaikatti village in Coimbatore Dist of Tamil Nadu. The children come from tribal villages in and around the hills of the Western Ghats. They live in the hostel during the school term and attend the Government School next door. Many of these girls belong to the Irula tribes of the Nilgiris Hills. If this hostel was not available, they would have no access to even basic education.

Plan for the books received:
We have set up a small library, arranging the books according to the levels. The children are encouraged to borrow these books and we started a reading programme too. The children are paired and they read to one another, and we volunteers help them out with words they do not understand. We have also provided dictionaries, to get them into the method of finding out the meaning of words they do not know. On weekends, we read out stories to them and also ask them to describe in their own words what they understood.

Arrival of Books:
The children were very excited, they found the books colourful and the language  simple and relatable. Most of them were keen to know if it would be available always for them and if they could read it anytime!

Experience on Donate-a-Book:
It was a totally new experience. I was totally amazed at the reaction and willingness to participate from all the donors. What I liked best about donate-a-book was it was very easy to set up our Sitara page and the persons behind this wonderful effort were  always ready to oblige. Thank you.

- Lakshmi Subramanian

Donate-a-Book is a unique crowdfunding platform for children's books. Support other campaigns like the Sitara Reach and Teach Foundation get more books in multiple Indian languages here.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Meet Prashant Miranda, who gave us the Bear and the singing Man!

Prashant Miranda was one of the 'Illustrator Gurus' in the #6FrameStoryChallenge that we had rolled out earlier this year. His intriguing illustration featuring a bear and a singing man had many people making up multiple stories. Finally, for our 'Weave-a-Story' campaign, the illustrations got a perfect partner in Roopa Pai's story and we had a new storybook 'The Story of Stories'.

Prashant Miranda grew up in Bangalore, studied at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and moved to Toronto soon after. He spends his summers in Canada, and winters in India, where he travels and documents his life through his watercolour journals, animates films, illustrates children's books and paints murals. His work can be viewed at:

We caught up with Prashant for this short interview to know a little bit more about his work and what inspired him:-

  • What did you have in mind while drawing the bear and the singing man for the #6FrameStoryChallenge? We're so curious about your version of the story.
I wrote my story/poem before I illustrated the 6 frame story challenge. My 6 words were: Forest, bear, magician, mushroom, sing and boat. So my poem went something like this:

In an enchanted forest by the sea,
A charming young bear lived up a tree.
He encountered a magician one fine sunny day,
Who sat on a mushroom and began to play....
And sing songs, till they laughed and they wrote
Letters to each other, sipping tea on their boat.

  • A lot of your drawings are in watercolour. What draws you to this medium?
Watercolours are a portable medium, and since I travel a lot, it allows for me to work where I go. Watercolours dry immediately, I work small, and my paints and paper fit easily in my bag wherever I go.

  • You seem to travel a lot. Do you think travel has an influence on your art? If yes, tell us how.
Travel does inspire me. It widens my perceptions of things, and brings new references and contexts into my work. For instance, my journey to Powell River, British Columbia, last year, was the inspiration for the 6 Frame story challenge. I first encountered these gorgeous forests right by the Pacific ocean, with the tallest trees and bears roaming around, where I went mushroom picking and sang songs with my guitar......and that blew my mind. I spent the whole month of September this year back in Powell River, communing with the ocean, trees and bears.

  • What do you do when you need inspiration to draw?
I open my sketchbook and travel!!!

You can read Roopa Pai & Prashant Miranda's story here. You can help this story travel across the world by translating it in languages you're fluent in. Hindi, Punjabi, Kannada, Marathi, Assamese, Spanish, Khmer, we have all this and much much more on StoryWeaver -come be part of our exciting multilingual journey!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Science, Bear and All Things Writing - Meet Roopa Pai, Author of 'The Story of Stories'

You know Roopa Pai as the author of the 'Science Series' she has written for Pratham Books, which breaks down science concepts and weaves them into delightful stories. But for our 'Weave-a-Story' campaign, she decided to tell us an intriguing tale of a journalist bear using the imaginative illustrations by Prashant Miranda for the #6FrameStoryChallenge.

On average, Roopa Pai wears three hats every week - children's writer, journalist, and tour guide with history and heritage walks and tours Company, BangaloreWalks - but it is the first that is closest to her heart. In her 20 years of writing for children, she has written hundreds of magazine articles, newspaper columns, poems and short stories, and published over 18 books, 4 of them for Pratham Books. She is the author of Taranauts, India's first original fantasy-adventure series in English for children. Her new bestseller, The Gita For Children, released in July 2015.

We caught up with Roopa to chit-chat and peek into her writer's mind, as her story- 'The Story of Stories' debuted this week on StoryWeaver.

You wrote 'The Story of Stories’ based on Prashant Miranda’s illustrations. What was your experience of weaving a story around these illustrations?

It was a really nice challenge. As a writer, you are so used to the writing leading the way and the illustrations following, that it took a little work to shift my gaze. The fact that these were Prashant Miranda's illustrations - I don't know him, but I have always loved his work - helped; I was excited by the challenge of writing a story that would do justice to his brilliance.

You've been writing children's stories for a few years now. Has there been any change in the way you think about and write children's stories over the years? We'd love to hear more about it.

I've actually been writing for children for over 20 years now. No, I don't think I think or write differently now than I ever did. That sounds like I've stagnated or something, but what I mean is that what I learnt subconsciously from reading great books as a child, and what I was taught at my first job at Target magazine (arguably the best Indian magazine in English for children ever) about what makes good writing for children, still holds true. Some of those maxims, in no particular order, include:

· Children are intelligent, perceptive people - respect them
· Children are highly impressionable - be hyper conscious about the messages you are sending out
· Children absorb information - facts, values, wisdom - best, when it is presented engagingly. You've got to keep your readers reading if you want to teach them anything at all. Work hardest on this.
· It's quite okay for stories not to teach anything and be just loads of fun, but the best stories - even if they are laugh-out-loud funny - leave the reader with something to reflect on.
· Children love humour - try and bring that into your stories.
· Good children's stories are loved equally by adults.

How children choose to spend their free time may have changed over the years, but children haven't changed at all.

What do you d​​o and where do you go when you desperately need inspiration to write? Yes, we're asking you to spill your secrets.

Ah, this is actually a closely-guarded secret. I don't go anywhere at all. I can't write in cafes, parks, libraries, other people's homes, on solo holidays in the mountains (not that I've ever taken one, but I know I couldn't have written there if I had), or anywhere else, so I don't even own a laptop. I am sort of chained to my big-screen desktop, which is ironically very liberating - if I'm not in my bedroom in front of my desktop, I am not working! About inspiration to write, I think it happens as I go about my daily life - buying vegetables, having chai with a friend, being pampered at mom's house, helping my kids with schoolwork - but really, my best muse is a looming deadline.

That's why I often say I am not an artiste but a hack - the whip gets me going faster and better than any elusive 'inspiration'. 

What sort of books did you read as a child? 

Oh, all kinds. I was an inveterate bookworm. It is a standing joke among my cousins that when I didn't have anything else to read, I could be found with my nose inside a dictionary. But basically, by the time I was 12 or so, I had, like every other reading child of my generation, gone through hundreds of books - Enid Blyton, the Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys-Three Investigators triumvirate, Agatha Christie, Amar Chitra Katha, Indrajal Comics, Tintin, Asterix, Readers Digest Condensed Books, Star Love Stories in Pictures, Commando comics, Archie comics, Bible stories (I went to a missionary school) and lots of lots of beautifully-illustrated Russian books that used to be freely available at very low prices. 

The thing was, no one curated my reading, so I just read every single thing I could get my hands on, some of which might have been considered highly inappropriate if anyone had looked. It was absolute bliss.

You can read Roopa Pai & Prashant Miranda's story here. You can help this story travel across the world by translating it in languages you're fluent in. Hindi, Punjabi, Kannada, Marathi, Assamese, Spanish, Khmer, we have all this and much much more on StoryWeaver - come be part of our exciting multilingual journey!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Illustrating the World of Harry Potter

Our Twitter feed and Facebook timeline is full of people gushing about the new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. In the video below, Jim Kay talks about illustrating the world of Harry Potter. Astounded by all the models he makes while he is in the process of illustrating them! 

And if you want to learn more about Jim Kay's vision of the book, head here to watch another video. The Guardian also has an online gallery of some of the gorgeous illustrations from the book.

Still, no one was more surprised than Kay when JK Rowling’s publishers asked him to illustrate not one but all seven of the Harry Potter books, for glorious new large-scale editions, over the next seven years.

“I’d not really drawn children,” he says quietly, as if still stunned. “And I’m not known for a cheerful style of illustration.” Then there was the fact that the Harry Potter films had already visualised that universe so fully – why do it again, he wondered. And, of course, there was the pressure. As Kay puts it: “You don’t want to be known as the person who ruins the most popular children’s book in history.”

But after almost two years of work, seven days a week, Kay’s illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a triumph – a book so alive it seems to jump, explode and slither out of your hands as you read. Rowling has given it her public seal of approval: “Seeing Jim Kay’s illustrations moved me profoundly,” she wrote for the dust jacket. “I love his interpretation of Harry Potter’s world, and I feel honoured and grateful he has lent his talent to it.” She also wrote to Kay privately. “She sent a really lovely letter, and that’s the first time it hit me that this was real,” he says. “Imagine you’re a vicar and you find a Post-it note from God on your fridge. It was like that.”

Coming Soon...

The book fair and literary festival season is fast approaching. If you are in Kolkata or Bengaluru, here are two events that you can attend this month.

Bengali Literary Fest

India's first Bengali literary festival to be held on October 10 will bring together litterateurs from West Bengal and Bangladesh, the organisers said on Tuesday. 
"Though there are three literary festivals held in Kolkata each year, there is no festival dedicated to Bengali literature," said Tridib Kumar Chattopadhyay, managing director, PatraBharati Group of Publications. 
"Not only will it help to widen visibility but also bring controversial writings to the limelight," he added. 
Themes of discussion include "Epar Bangla Opar Bangla. Sahityer Bhasa Ki Bodle Jacche"(Is the language of Bengali literature changing across the border?), "Bitorko Na Holey Sahitya Jonopriyo Hoena!" (Literature has to be controversial to be popular!) and "Barshik Pujor Phosol! Ete Ki SahityaSamriddhaHoye? (Do the Novels, stories and poems published every year during the festive season contribute to enriching Bengali Literature).
More details here.
Bangalore Book Festival

The 12th edition of the Bangalore Book Festival being organised jointly by the Bangalore Books Sellers and Publishers Association and Indya Comics from October 19 to 25 will not just be about books but also cultural programmes and photo and cartoon exhibition at the Palace Grounds.
“The book fest will primarily showcase more than a million books, and to bring in a broader approach to the ‘world of book sale’ we thought an inclusion of cultural programmes and fine art exhibition would make the event a wholesome Dasara special,” said Nitin Shah, president, Bangalore Books and Publishers Association and Proprietor, Sapna Publishers. 
As many as 300 book stalls will exhibit a million books of 200 publishers
More details here.

Pssst : Pratham Books will also be at the Bangalore Book Festival! We'll share more details next week. See you there!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More Stories, More Joy: Read & Translate 'The Story of Stories'

Who doesn’t like more stories? We certainly do and we know you do too :)! With all the love pouring in for the four published stories for the 'Weave-a-Story' campaign, we decided to add four more fantastic stories from four awesome authors. All of October, every week, we will bring a new story for you to read, translate, share and tell. The aim is still the same, taking these 8 stories far and beyond by translating it in as many languages as possible, to be read by thousands of children. 8 stories -100 translations!

This week's edition of 'Weave-a-Story' is an intriguing tale of a journalist Bear called 'The Story of Stories', written by Roopa Pai and imaginatively illustrated by Prashant Miranda for the #6FrameStoryChallenge.
"In a happy, happy, happy forest lives Journalist Bear who is sad because he can't find a 'BREAKING NEWS' story. A Journalist Bear without a 'BREAKING NEWS' story, can you imagine! Then comes along Singing Sardarji who helps Bear see who he really is. Read this story which celebrates the power and magic of stories, and the people who weave them into being."
Click here to read the story and translate it into a language you love.

Note for Translators:
Author of the story, Roopa Pai has a few thoughts and tips for translators as they get on to translating this story. A note from her:

In this story, there are certain phrases that could be tricky for translators, because it was written by someone who thinks in English. However, I've tried to keep much of it pan-Indian, even universal, in context, so that it would work in any geography or with any language. 

Here are my thoughts and tips. 

1. Forest-By-The-Sea and Somewheristan should be translated into whatever language, and not retained as such, even though they could be viewed as 'proper nouns' and therefore untranslatable. Somewheristan in my mind would translate to 'Yello-ond-kade-istan' in Kannada, or even better, because 'istan' doesn't sit as naturally in Kannada as in Hindi, as 'Yellowondooru', In Hindi, 'Kahindooristan' would work. Forest-by-the-Sea in Hindi would be 'Dariyabaajuban' or something similar, and in Kannada could be Kadalakaadu.

2. 'Breaking News' could remain as Breaking News - I think everyone in India understands that concept!!

3. The messages that Telephone Voice people say are eminently translatable into any Indian language, since people of that state / region are very familiar with recorded phone messages in the local language. If the story is to be translated into a language that is not an official language of any state, the translator could go with Hindi - yeh number maujood nahin hai, krupaya jaanch le - which everyone has heard on the phone at some time. 

4. At one point in the story, Bear is thinking he should be a Sweeper Bear, or a Waiter Bear, or a Telephone Voice Bear. The Telephone Voice Bear has to stay, but translators could choose professions other than Sweeper and Waiter for Bear, which are more natural to the context of the language. Whatever profession you choose for Bear, it should be something that doesn't require any particular education or skill - something anyone at all can do. 

5. The song that the Singing Sardarji sings need not be translated word for word, as long as the sense of the song is conveyed.

We hope armed with this knowledge, you are ready with your keyboards and language expertise to take this story to the many children eager to read this in their own language!

The 4 stories launched till now include- Anushka Ravishankar & Priya Kuriyan's 'Its All the Cat's Fault' , 'Ammu's Puppy' by Sowmya Rajendran and Soumya Menon, a Hindi story ‘दीदी का रंग बिरंगा खज़ाना', by Rukmini Banerji and Kaveri Gopalakrishnan and a Tamil story, ‘துப்பறியும் துரை’ written by N Chokkan & illustrated by Megha Vishwanath. Read and translate these and many other stories on StoryWeaver : an open source multilingual platform for children's stories.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Into the Wild

Bijal Vachharajani shares a list of 11 books that will get children to explore the wild. Our book 'The Adventures of Philautus Frog' also gets featured on this list.

On World Habitat Day, we pick 11 books that will enchant young readers and introduce them to habitats where the wild things are.

If you thought frogs lived only in ponds, then Kartik Shanker’s book will make you think again. Shanker’s protagonist is Philautus or Thavalai, a tree frog who has never ever come down from his Big Tree home. One day, Thavalai decides to hop off to look for the big blue sea. He has many adventures, including getting directions from a snake who could have easily swallowed him whole. 

Maya Ramaswamy’s illustrations recreate the dark, deep shola forest, the surrounding hills and grasslands, and their many denizens. A hornbill sits placidly in one corner of the page, while a balloon frog puffs up in purple glory on another. Venomous snakes slither across the book and a dragonfly flits over the words. The book is packed with nuggets of information, such as that grasslands are hot in the day and cold at night, but the shola is always cool. Readers also learn that Thavalai often gets teased because Philautus frogs bypass the tadpole stage and froglets hop straight out of eggs.

See the entire list here.

The Mirrors Windows Doors blog also compiled a delightful list of books - Seeing the Woods and the Trees in 42 Picture Book Stories from Around the World. 2 of our books find themselves on this list too :)

Trees are so much a part of our daily lives, whether we take them for granted or find ourselves fighting for their survival: so it is perhaps unsurprising that there are many stories from all over the world that feature trees, woods or forests as a central theme or ‘character’…
Grandfather Goes on Strike
A boy, the book’s narrator, is dismayed when his aged grandfather climbs an old neem tree and refuses to come down until the council promises not to cut the trees down to make way for urban development. At first sceptical of his grandpa’s stand, he stands by as the police, a doctor, a TV news crew, council officials and other protestors come and go… 
The story gets across very well the blend of affection and irritation that often characterises inter-generational relationships. Whilst some of the scenarios, as well as Grandpa’s apparent lack of planning in his protest, may require some suspension of disbelief, young readers are more likely to get caught up in the humour and emotional responses to what is a relevant current issue; and the book raises important questions about whether and how much you would be willing to stand up for what you believe in.
The Woodcutter of Gura
A woodcutter sits in a tree to chop firewood and is warned by a passing priest that the branch will break and he will fall down and die if he continues. When the first two parts of the prophesy come true, the woodcutter therefore believes that he must indeed have died – and his fellow villagers are convinced also, despite the woodcutter himself giving them instructions for taking him home, fetching his wife etc.
This nonsensical folktale from Ethiopia will tickle young readers’ sense of the ridiculous and make them feel very wise…
Read the book here
View the entire list of recommended books.