Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Top 5 Books of 2015

With all the end-of-the-year lists we come across during this time, we thought we would look into which books emerged as this year's bestsellers at Pratham Books. And *drum roll please*.... all the books are books we launched this year! Time to add them to your 'to buy' lists if you don't have a copy of them yet!

There is something that Hatchuram does that makes the whole town go topsy-turvy. Would you like to find out what it is? Buy this book.

Serpy wants to move in straight lines. But have you ever seen a snake move in a straight line? Serpy looks at the world around him and comes up with a straight answer! Buy this book.

The children of the village were scared of the big man, Pehelwaan ji. So when he wanted to play with them, they just had to let him play. Buy this book.

There is so much to see on a street. Join Sonu, Monu and Rina on a colourful walk down the lane. Buy this book.

Sonu, Monu and Rina discovered many things together in 'Colours on the Street'. In this second book, the three friends set out tot play. Little did they know that they would meet so many animals. Would you like to meet them too? Buy this book.

And while you are thinking of buying these books, check out the 13 new books that have landed in our e-store and order your copies for the new year! Here's to a year full of reading discoveries.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Mark Stories Created by Children on StoryWeaver

Did you know that it's now possible to mark your child's story as 'Created by Children' on StoryWeaver? And, you can add additional details like name, age, and so on. It was important for StoryWeaver to have this feature mainly for two reasons: to give due credit to young creators, and for our user community to be able to identify stories created by children.

Here's how you can mark stories created by children. It's easy-peasy.
  • After you create a story, hit the 'Publish' button and a form appears.
  • At the near-end of the form is a field to add details of the child. In cases where a story has been created by a group of children, it is possible to add details of more than one child.
  • Additionally, there is an open field in which you can add any other details which you feel may be relevant. For instance, if the story was created as part of a campaign, a class project, etc.

Once you publish the story, these details filled by you will appear on the last page of the book (as shown below). The thumbnail of the story will also be labelled as 'Created by Children'. Stories created by children can be easily found if searched under 'Created by Children' via the Publisher filter.

 If the child's story has already been published on StoryWeaver and you now want to mark it as a child's story - don't worry, it's not too late. All you've got to do is:
  • Go to your 'Profile' page.
  • Look under 'My Published Stories'.
  • Click on the story, press the 'Edit' button and re-publish it. While re-publishing it, the steps are the same as mentioned above in the previous section.
Here is an example of a child-created story.

If you have more questions, write to us at and we'll be happy to guide you through this process.

To read, translate and create stories for children in any language of your choice, log on to

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

More Apps to Play With : From the Studio of Tanay Kothari and His Team

In April 2014, we were introduced to Tanay Kothari - a bright and intelligent 11th grader from DPS RK Puram. He and his friends had already been working on developing apps and he was keen on experimenting with our Creative Commons licensed content. Over the months, we've received numerous mails from Tanay outlining the ideas he has, the different features he wants to introduce in the apps and more. One of Tanay's first mails stated 'I am really excited about working with Pratham Books, and the main reason I want to do this is to help children find joy in learning, which I believe is the most essential thing in a child's education.' 

Not only did Tanay create the app, he wanted to run a pilot with kids who would actually be using it. Tanay and his team have worked on creating 8 apps till now : Too Much NoiseFat King Thin DogThe Auto That FlewAnaya's ThumbBheema the SleepyheadThe Red RaincoatGoodnight TinkuEverything Looks New.

Tanay writes about his experience of developing these apps with our content and actually seeing them being used by kids...

I never imagined that the lifestyles of people could be so diverse, even in modern metros like Delhi. My recent visit to schooling centres in the suburbs run by Pratham, India’s largest NGO, gave me a new perspective of the world around me. 

I started working with Pratham Books in April ’14, after I wanted to use my skills to give back to the society. Pratham Books is an organization with the aim of putting a book in every child’s hands. They publish high quality story books for children at low prices to make them accessible to children in rural areas. Their books reached far and wide through collaborative hard work, yet there were children in remote areas which could not get access to their physical library. Cut-off from the world by major modes of transportation, there was one mode of transportation which connected these areas to the rest of the world, namely, the Internet. And that was how I started my journey with Pratham Books; a journey which I never thought could have changed the way I look at life around me. 

After months of meetings, hard work and night-outs, the seemingly ginormous task was finally complete. I had created a framework, and used it to digitize my first book. This framework would allow for future expansion, and further digitisation of books with incremental effort. Using this, even a ten year-old can do so, the process being as simple as drag-n-drop. 

Our first book - Too Much Noise - was finally developed by Dec ’14, following which I planned a visit to the centres in the suburbs to get feedback on our new product and if it could really make a difference. Go to a school. Showcase the app. Get the questionnaire filled by the children. Go to the next center. Repeat. A process that seemed so simple was just about to change my life. On 20 Jan, I packed my bag, printed the questionnaires, ready for my first visit. Taking the metro, a rickshaw and then walking for 20 mins through narrow winding streets, got me to my destination - a small rural schooling centre in East Delhi. 

I stepped into the first classroom. These weren’t like normal class rooms. Children of different classes sat in groups of 5-6 on mats, each group being taught by a teacher. As soon as I walked into the classroom, I was greeted with a resounding “Good Morning Sir!” as all the children welcomed me in. Getting them all into a circle, I showed them what the app had - a multilingual story with play-along text, in-story quizzes and interesting facts about objects and people in the book. I could sense pure delight on their faces as every tap on the screen surprised them. Even simple things as swiping to turn the page left them awestruck. All the different actions which happened on the screen created a magical aura, and the children’s happiness knew no bounds. I realized these were children who had never had access to technology. To them this was magic; and I, the magician, bringing to them this joy. This was a different kind of happiness that started to bud inside me. Not the transient kind, but one that was destined to leave me with a smile of satisfaction for time to come. For two days, we went from one centre to another, meeting children of all ages and every one of them was as excited as the rest. At one centre, a group of little girls decided to repay me for telling them a wonderful story, and wrote a story with me as the main character - a brave warrior prince. However small an incident, this was one of the things I will never forget. 

These kids learnt a lot from the app and me, but I learnt a lot more. The most important of them being appreciation for every small thing in life. Most students from well-off families hate to go to school and view it as a burden. When I asked the same question to these children whose parents could barely afford to send them to school, the response was totally unexpected. “I love going to school”. “Because you can meet your friends there?”. “Yes, but mainly because I love to learn new things”. I was surprised to hear this. They thank god and their parents for every day that they are able to go to school, every new thing they learn, every book they are able to read, and every small gesture done towards them. This is one thing I could never have learned in school or in textbooks, and neither could anyone else.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Notes from StoryWeaver's Mumbai Workshop

It's been a little over three months since StoryWeaver went live. StoryWeaver is an open source digital repository of multilingual stories for children. We have been overwhelmed with the response the platform is getting from the community. With close to 90,000 reads, many new language additions, many translations and many new stories, the journey till date has been exciting. 

With StoryWeaver, Pratham Books' goal is to get stories to every child in as many languages as possible. With this mission in mind, we conducted the first workshop with educators, librarians and non-profit organisations in Mumbai.

On the sunny mornings of 16th & 17th December, 60 bright people gathered at a venue in Kurla, Mumbai to know more about StoryWeaver and how to use it effectively in their classrooms/reading centers. The participants came from different walks of life, the diversity of their knowledge and expertise adding to the electric atmosphere in the room. Representatives from Pratham, Unicef, CHIP education, The Tamarind Tree, Angel Express Foundation, Muktangan, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, QUEST and various other organisations along with a few CSR representatives from JSW, Aditya Birla and Essar were present. In the august company were also a few parents and storytellers and book club owners working towards promoting reading among children.

The session started with introductions of each participant and a fun exercise which got them guessing a story's end! Many whacky answers emerged and a question was thrown open to all participants : 'What role do stories and books play in the environment you work in' ? Many hands went up. Educators spoke about how stories kindled imagination and creativity takes wings when you have stories in a classroom. Another participant responded that books/stories are a great way to familiarize children with languages, while another asserted the importance of books and stories as a bonding mechanism between an adult and a child.

With the context set in about the big role stories and books play in our lives, the session moved on to a detailed demonstration of the platform and the participants also got to experience StoryWeaver first hand during a one-on-one worktime. The participants also shared their thoughts on the platform and their experience.

Reshma, an Education Specialist with Unicef complimented Pratham Books on the launch of StoryWeaver which, in her opinion, had a potential to grow and provide access to communities and children in far flung corners of the country, especially in tribal areas where resources are always scarce. Manisha Ahuja, from VIDYA Integrated Development for Youth and Adults was very excited and said she could already think of atleast 20 different ways in which she could use StoryWeaver in Vidya classrooms to enhance learning and engagement. Vidya Classrooms operate out of Corporation run schools and have computers connected to the internet. They have already been using books from Pratham Books in the classrooms and their teachers use the stories as a starting point to create activities. With StoryWeaver, many more and new ideas can be put in place.. From images serving as writing prompts to Flashcards been made and used to tackle difficult subjects, there are many interesting ways to use StoryWeaver. Manvi and Arvind, both from Pratham expressed their desire to curate content from StoryWeaver to be used in the reading programs that Pratham is piloting across various states. They stated that options of choosing from various languages was a big plus, as their areas of work range from Rajasthan to Telangana and they could choose from the bank of Hindi and Telugu stories, all at one place.

Radhika from v-shesh, an organisation that works with hearing impaired children, commented on the need of adding more ways to access books for children with disabilities- from audio stories to stories in sign languages.

After a long and hearty discussion on StoryWeaver and its role, the session closed with a vote of thanks to all the participants for their time and engagement and to ESSAR Foundation for providing a lovely venue and delicious lunch on both days!

The Pratham Books team came back from Mumbai brimming with new ideas and a stronger belief in the power of technology and StoryWeaver in providing access to great quality books and stories to India’s children.

We are in the process of organizing many more of such demos and workshops across the country, both virtually and physically. If you would like to be a part of any of these workshops please sign up here and we will stay in touch with you with further information.

Ms.Suzanne Singh talking about creative collaboration
Working together
Full house!
Let's weave-a-story together
Finding and reading stories
Educators collaborating
Various ways to use StoryWeaver
Participants at work
StoryWeaver on mobile

Monday, December 21, 2015

Bookaroo in the City (Pune) : Sandhya Taksale

Sakal Times covered the storytelling session conducted by Sandhya Taksale (editor, Pratham Books) during Bookaroo in the City, Pune. Sandhya took kids to Kashmir through a story set in the region (The Missing Bat) and went on to make the kids giggle with the story of 'Bheema, the sleepyhead'.

Click on the image for a larger view
You can also read about some of the other sessions here.

Ruskin Bond's Tips for Writers

At this year's Penguin Annual Lecture, Ruskin Bond spoke about the joy of writing. He also offers a few tips to writers ...

Write every day

"There's a rigor, a discipline to writing as a craft. You must write regularly every morning and your conscience will be clear," says Bond. "I got into this habit as I had to make a living from my writing. I had other jobs but they never lasted long."

Bond started by writing lists in Delhi when he was 8 years old. Soon he was keeping a diary that later became the basis of his first novel published at 17. He writes every morning, at least 500 -2000 words, "so you get it out of the way. Write about anything that comes to mind. I started recording thoughts, dreams...if nothing exciting is happening you can write about a dream, most of my romantic stories were dreams," he says.

Find joy in writing

"Write about things as if you are looking at them for the last time and you will find the words to preserve them." Surrounded by trees, insects, birds and changing seasons in his beloved Mussoorie, Bond says the natural world started seeping "into my stories and taking part... the bird on the wing, the sunflower in sunshine, the fox who commands the night, all these little things are part of my writing. People say my writing style is simple, I'd say it's an art to convey complex ideas simply. Words are wonderful things and you must respect the language you write in. Don't be lazy with grammar and composition. When words ring true, you get your greatest satisfaction as a writer. If you don't find joy in that, give up writing."

Don't despair

His parting advice comes from the heart: "Believe in your writing and never despair that you won't be published. Even if you despair, write in your despair. Above all, never give up."

Read the entire article.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fundraising Fridays

This Fundraising Fridays note is with a special appeal, and a different one. In our previous editions we have been highlighting our campaigns and all the good work the beneficiary organisations associated with those campaigns do, and appealing to you to donate funds for books. But in this edition, the roles are slightly reversed and we are asking for YOUR help for a different cause.

Help us, dear community, in finding genuine organisations who need books and would spread the joy of reading to children in two areas in Tamil Nadu.

But first, allow us to explain a little more. 

A very kind donor at Donate-a-Book reached out to us with a unique appeal. He wants to set up libraries in two villages in Tamil Nadu, but doesn't know of any genuine organisations or has the resources to find them. Could we help? He will donate the books, but needs to have a reliable organisation or school which will actually take these books to the children.

We will try, we promised. So here is the appeal to you to help us locate organisations/schools/genuine individuals who could set up and take ownership of these libraries and help set up a reading program.
The locations are as follows:

1.Kallakudi - A Panchayat town in Tiruchirappalli district in Tamil Nadu. This is close to Dalmiapuram.

2.Sembiyakudi - A village in Ariyalur district in Tamil Nadu. This is next to Kulamanickam(West).

If you are an organisation that works in these locations or you know of others who do, please drop in a message at with the subject ' Library-in-a-Village' or simply leave us a note in the comments section.

Help us build a reading India. Let's set up libraries together!

Also, last five days left to get your hands on our 'special gift' for you this Christmas.
Be a BOOK SANTA and get your own gift!
Make a donation of Rs.1000/- on Donate-a-Book and get a copy of the limited edition Pratham Books 2016 Calendar as a gift. Calendars to be sent to first 100 donations only till 22nd December. Hurry!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why Reading a Book Again and Again with Your Kids Is a Good Thing

Devon Corneal highlights the benefits of reading your child's favourite book  over and over again (even if it drives you nuts). 

Despite its annoyances, repetitive reading — whether you’re reading to your child or they’re reading to you — offers a surprising number of benefits for new readers.

Vocabulary and Word Recognition
The more a child reads, the larger their vocabulary becomes. When a child reads or hears the same book multiple times, they become familiar and comfortable with a greater number of words. That text you’ve memorized? Chances are your child has too, and that’s a good thing.

Pattern and Rhythm
Hearing favorite stories read aloud helps children become aware of the pattern and rhythm of text. Language is more than just words — it’s how words sound and connect to each other. Parents can model the rhythms of reading for children who are just learning how language works.

With fluency and comprehension comes greater reading confidence. Children who can follow a story and don’t stumble over words are more self-assured about their abilities and more likely to enjoy reading.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lightroom Bookstore : A Veritable Narnia for Children’s Books

Have you been to Lightroom Bookstore? Lightroom is pretty close to our office and we love dropping in from time to time to enter the magical space Aashti Mudnani has created. Last year, we even hosted a chat with Bal Shaitya Puraskar winners - Subhadra Sen Gupta and Madhuri Purandare - at this cozy space. Bijal Vachharajani shares more about Lightroom Bookstore : the city's best-kept secret for kids.

Chatting with Subhadra Sen Gupta and Madhuri Purandare at Lightroom Bookstore

The delight you feel when stepping into Lightroom Bookstore is comparable to what we think Lucy Pevensie might have felt when she crawled through the cupboard to reach the magical world of Narnia. You can’t help but be spellbound as you walk through the inviting space, surrounded by books and more books. 

 Aashti Mudnani started Lightroom in 2013, after dreaming about it for seven years. “From the beginning the idea was to have a handpicked selection, keeping books that we believed were good for our children to read,” said Mudnani. “Choosing books is quite an intensive task – we go over endless lists sent to us by publishers, online recommendations, friends’ book lists, reviews etc, to choose the books we keep.”

Lightroom has a range of international and Indian books for children and young adults. Apart from the usual suspects such as Harry Potter, Julia Donaldson, and Percy Jackson, there’s The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard by Eddie Campbell and Dan Best, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, and Paper Planes by Dawn O’Porter. There are books published by Tulika, Hachette, Tara, Katha, Pratham, Duckbill, Red Turtle, Puffin, and Young Zubaan, selected by the team at Lightroom.

What makes Lightroom special is its people. Mudnani and her helpful team are knowledgeable and unobtrusive. Need a book for a ten-year-old who loves monsters, a birthday gift, or a first book for your toddler, they know just what you want. And they even smile approvingly if you confess that the book’s actually meant for you.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Be a BOOK SANTA and Get Your Own Gift

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a gift that children can enjoy all year around - a book. This festive season make a donation on 'Donate-a-Book' and spread the joy of reading to hundreds of little children. And for being their Secret Santa, Pratham Books will reward you with our beautiful calendar for 2016! Click here to donate now.

*The first 100 donations made above Rs.1000 are eligible to receive a calendar.
**Valid for donations made between 11th - 22nd December.
***The calendar can only be sent to postal addresses in India


Pratham Books’ Calendar for 2016 celebrates the ultimate creative power- the power of your Imagination! We hope the pages of this table top calendar will inspire you to let that imagination soar month on month and come up with colourful new ideas.

The illustrations featured in this Calendar were created as part of the #6FrameStoryChallenge, an online campaign run by Pratham Books to build a rich bank of illustrations for its open source story platform- StoryWeaver. The essence of the #6FrameStoryChallenge was to tell a complete story using just 6 illustrations. We carry on this spirit of storytelling through the calendar by providing space on the other side of the calendar page to play with the illustrations and craft your own stories on it.

It’s now your turn to nurture the power of imagination within you. Be an idea-starter! Your own storyteller! Let that imagination soar! We wish you a happy 2016.

(You can also download/print the low resolution and high resolution versions of the calendar.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2015 State of the Commons Report

Our Creative Commons journey began in 2008 with 6 books. Over the years, we kept adding to our pool of CC-licensed books - thanks to the authors and illustrator who shared our vision of spreading the joy of reading. Finally, this year we went all out and launched StoryWeaver - an open source platform for multilingual stories. As we continue on this journey, it is heartening to see the  2015 State of the Commons report that states that more and more organizations and people across the world are embracing the power of open. 

"The online communities that we’ve created together are a global platform for sharing. If we want to live in a digital world that is fair, diverse, vibrant, serendipitous, and safe for everyone, we will have to choose to make it that way. If that world is going to be accessible, equitable, and full of innovation and opportunity, it will require our leadership to foster and defend these ideals.", says Ryan Merkley, CEO, Creative Commons.

The report states that ever 1 billion CC licensed works entered the Commons in 2015 and that the CC licensed works have nearly tripled in the last 5 years. The adoption of CC-BY-SA and CC-BY licenses is on the rise (Psst : Pratham Books and StoryWeaver mostly use the CC-BY license for our books). In 2015, CC licensed works were viewed online 136 billion times.

From the adoption of CC licenses by major platforms like Wikipedia and Flickr to impacting the open education movement, from increased use of licenses by government bodies to adoption by major foundations like Ford Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - all this and more in the 2015 State of the Commons Report.

Image Source : Creative Commons

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sign Up for StoryWeaver's Mumbai Workshop. Apply now!

Pratham Books is conducting a workshop in Mumbai to get educators and librarians familiar with StoryWeaver. The session will include a demo of the platform and also have dedicated work time for participants to try their hands on StoryWeaver.

If you are :
  • a librarian looking for curating stories
  •  a teacher in search of interesting ways to introduce concepts to your students
  • a Reading Champion
  • someone passionate about children's storybooks in Indian languages ...

You can sign up to attend the workshop on any one of the two days. Please note registration is compulsory and we have limited seats for each day, so hurry up and register yourself here. If you get a confirmed seat for the workshop, you will receive a confirmation email from us by Monday, 14th December. Preference will be given to participants working in under-served communities.

Date: 16th and 17th December
Time : 11 a.m to 4.30 p.m (lunch will be arranged)
Venue: Near Bandra. More details will be emailed to shortlisted participants
Registration link :

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Frogs that Captured Our Hearts at BLF

One would have been excused for thinking that the crowd outside the closed doors was waiting to get into a cinema hall in a multiplex! One wouldn't be wrong for the children and parents who came to meet the frog that climbed over the mountain, at the Bangalore Literature Festival 2015, actually got to see an excellent pictorial slice of life in the Western Ghats. Frogs the size of a fingertip, frogs who looked like a slimy mass of purple earth, frogs with incredible patterns on their bodies and frogs with beautiful eyes. As the audience went aww and wow in adulation, the hero of the show was a little tree frog called Philautus.

Kartik Shanker, author of 'The Adventures of Philautus Frog' started the children's session with a song, The bear went over the mountain...And what did he see? The other side of the mountain, of course. Like the bear in the rhyme, Kartik said when he set out to write a book about a tree frog, he imagined the little fellow going over a mountain in the Western Ghats, and meeting various interesting animals. A professor of ecology at the Indian Institute of Science, Kartik and his group of fellow researchers have explored the Western Ghats and other biodiversity regions and come back with an immense body of work. They also have astonishing footage of wildlife, including frogs and that is what biogeographer Vijay showed to the kids. 

Biogeographer Vijay who studies animals like snakes and frogs and turtles believes strongly that biology is closely connected to the place or geography in which they live. Biogeographers study species and their distribution in different ecosystems and through different time periods. Vijay projected pictures of different kinds of frogs and explained in a very simple fashion how they evolved. He also shared recordings of frog calls in the wild.

Smitha Shivaswamy and her team of illustrators from Pencil Jam added art activity to the session. She told children about nature journalling, and the enthusiastic kids took to it quite easily as Kartik Shanker answered questions and Vijay showed them pictures.

Language was hardly a barrier for some children of migrant workers, who also enjoyed drawing frogs and viewing the frog show. 

Kids who managed to get copies of the book at the Atta Galatta store next door got them autographed by the author. 

While literature got somewhat hijacked by politics and controversies at this year's Bangalore Literature Festival, thankfully, the children's section remained rooted to its agenda of sharing the joy of books with kids. They got a taste of literature and the art and craft of storytelling and writing, through sessions like storytelling, puppetry, writng workshops and illustration workshops.

If you missed being at the session, or could not get copies of the book, please do visit the  e-store to get this book (illustrated vividly by Maya Ramaswamy).

Pratham Books would like to thank Bangalore Literature Festival for hosting the session, and Kartik for writing this book inspired by - if you haven't guessed it yet - The Adventures of Phileas Fogg, the one who went around the world in eighty days. Thanks too to Kartik, Vijay, Smitha (and her team of George, Aditya and Mubarrah) for doing such an awesome job there!

Heading to Gujarat with This Month's Calendar

December is finally here! This month's calendar page is all about stories and the power to transport you different places and times. Priya Kuriyan takes us to the deserts of Kutch with her lovely depiction of a moonlit night (don't miss the 'bhunga' in the background). 

Give your screen a new look by setting this as your screensaver and start counting down to the end of the year (or to the start of a new year).

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 Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Meet the Frog that Climbed Over the Mountain at the Bangalore Literature Festival

Join author Kartik Shanker as he introduces you to 'The Adventures of Philautus Frog'. Herpetologist Vijay will take you on an audio-visual treat and Smitha Shivaswamy will show you how to create a visual journal.

A wildly entertaining afternoon for children of all ages!

Date : 5th December, 2015
Time : 12 pm - 1 pm
Venue : Hotel Royal Orchid, #1, Golf Avenue, Adjoining KGA Golf Course, HAL Airport Road, Bengaluru.

*Can't attend but want to learn more about frogs? Buy a copy of the book.


Makkala Koota – Lit for Kids @ BLF

There are many more fun activities and workshops happening at the Bangalore Literature Festival for the little ones. Happy to see that some of our authors (Vijayalakshmi Nagaraj) and illustrators (Soumya Menon, Greystroke) are also conducting workshops at the festival.

See the entire schedule and plan your weekend!