Thursday, July 28, 2016

What's Happening at JUMPSTART 2016?

Soooo much to look forward to at this year's JUMPSTART Festival. From the JUMPSTART ALCHEMY LAB (psssst : sign up!) to the masterclasses by subject experts, from innovation to technology. Here's more on what you can expect from this year's event.
(Click on the image for a larger view)


At JUMPSTART 2016, we are inviting content creators, writers, illustrators, educators, teachers, librarians, publishers, thinkers, innovators and provocateurs to travel with us, and our global and local experts, along the wide and varied interface between education in school and children's content. Get Inspired by discussions on Innovations in educational content, drama in education, re-imagining the future of education via gamification. What are the evolving pedagogies in classrooms and is the content moving in step with them? What are publishers doing differently in new ecosystems of learning? Are new products being designed differently? In the constantly evolving world of learning and content, here is your chance to be updated, to create, ideate and network. Join in the fun at #JUMPSTART16. Know more:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How StoryWeaver Is Enabling Stories in Multiple Languages

Shrabonti Bagchi reports on how our online platform, StoryWeaver, is providing access to stories in multiple languages - including rare languages.

Via FactorDaily

Translations and languages have emerged as a very important part of the platform’s impact. “One of the most interesting aspects for us has been seeing our books being translated into many rare, tribal languages — and not just Indian ones,” says Suzanne Singh, chairperson, Pratham Books.

Languages like Banjari/Lambadi, Kuruk/Oraon, Gondi, Mundari, Sadri, Santhali and Kora don’t even have a written tradition, and in many cases, no script. Interestingly, some stories have even been translated into Sanskrit, which of course has a vibrant written tradition but very few reading resources for children. At the same time, many translators living outside India have used the platform to translate Pratham’s books into their own languages, such as IsiXhosa, Kiswahili, Olukhayo, Khmer, and Farsi. There are also translations into more mainstream foreign languages like Japanese, Portuguese, Hebrew, Russian, and Spanish.

Pratham Books' chairperson Suzanne Singh shares more about the journey of the platform...

Visit StoryWeaver to discover a world of stories. 

Learning to Read

This week, we came across two examples of how organizations are increasing reading fluency among the kids they work with. Closer home, Deepalaya Community Library Project conducted a Summer Fluency Pilot Program. In Cambodia, Room to Read lays emphasis on teacher training.

Via Deepalaya Community Library Project
While the Deepalaya Community Library at Delhi’s Sheikh Sarai has grown significantly in membership in the last one year, it has not escaped us that reading fluency amongst many of our readers lags behind their peers from more privileged backgrounds. In June 2016, a team led by Michael Creighton conducted an assessment of nearly 100 children from the ages of 6-16. The assessment required children to read continuously for 1 minute from selected Hindi texts (suited to their age-group). The total number of words read and the number of errors were noted as well as reading behaviors such as whether students were observed correcting their own errors. This was the basis for evaluating fluency-levels.  
The goal was to build fluency and enhance reading comprehension in Hindi. We chose Hindi for many reasons, but primarily because it mother tongue literacy is not just good in its own right, but it supports literacy in other languages as well.
Four groups of 4-7 students came for an hour a day, every day. The idea was to give individual attention to each child, helping them understand their blocks & mistakes and overcoming them through repeated readings of different types of texts ranging from picture books to comics to longer & more complex books with fewer pictures. Every night students took home childrens’ magazines to read from for ‘homework.’ 
Everything was aimed at giving students a variety of experience actually reading extended amounts of text: partner reading; independent reading; repeated readings of the same text. Students read daily both from leveled readers and from books and magazines of their own choosing.
Read the entire report to see the results of this project.

From Room to Read's report titled 'How to Read to Children: Why Training Teachers Matters'
“They borrow lots of books, especially after library period,” said Namex, who has taught first grade at the school for 28 years, “so many that I barely manage to write them all down in the logbook!” She giggled with delight. 
All of this was new to the teachers at Kampong Thom Primary School, too. Until recently, they hadn’t known how to show their students how much fun reading can be. 
“Where is my watch??” said Namex, turning the colorful page. Her face grew animated as she lowered her voice to make the sound of a clock ticking: “Tick! Tick! Tick!” Every first grader in the library was about to burst with anticipation. 
Even though Namex Pen had shared stories with her students many times in class before, her method had been to read from a government-issued textbook peppered with bland illustrations, then ask them to summarize the story. They’d never had a library before. Reading seemed like a chore and her students were easily distracted. 
Before the training course, Kampong teacher Sokmol Khit only knew about one reading activity — read aloud. Now she knows how to pair reading activities with the right grade. She likes the shared reading activity for kindergarteners because they can learn about sound and intonation while reading along. 
“It used to be only the librarians were trained,” says Sokmol. “Now that every teacher in school is involved in promoting reading I can see a huge improvement.”

Attend a Masterclass at JUMPSTART 2016

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For JUMPSTART, we’re taking a trek back to class as this year’s annual festival of content creator’s ‘JUMPSTART’ - Goes to School. Our aim is to provide you a 360 degree view of intersections of children’s content with education. With JUMPSTART 2016, we are inviting content creators, writers, illustrators, educators, teachers, librarians, publishers, thinkers, innovators and provocateurs, digital innovators to travel with us, and our global and local experts, along the wide and varied interface between education in school and children's content. This is how various content creators and disseminators can benefit from JUMPSTART this year: 

2nd August, Day 1: Inspiration
Target audience: author, publisher, illustrator, teacher or education technology expert 

Get Inspired by discussions on Innovations in educational content, drama in education, re-imagining the future of education via gamification. What are the evolving pedagogies in classrooms and is the content moving in step with them? What are publishers doing differently in new ecosystems of learning? Are new products being designed differently? 

3rd August, Day 2: Perspiration 

Writer’s masterclass- Ken Spillman 
Target Audience: Editors, Authors 
What does it mean to be a writer every day? Which techniques and methodology can prove to be helpful for a productive writing life? What sort of mind preparation goes into being a successful writer? How does one overcome writer’s block?. Watch the author of 60 books answer these questions and join him for practical writing exercises to unlock the writer within!

Digital learning’s masterclass- Florian Sochatzy 
Target Audience: Digital Publishers, Subject Matter Experts, Instruction designers 
How can didactical concepts be implemented technically? Which design strategies are useful in bringing forth innovation in the context of e-learning? What are the general tools and techniques used for e-publishing? Learn all this and more with our international expert and also design one chapter for multi- media textbook with the master himself

Illustrator’s masterclass- Orit Bergman 
Target Audience: Illustrators, Graphic designers, Authors 
What is the creative process that goes into the making of a picture book? How can picture books help in making our children better readers and writers? What is the use of picture books in primary schools? Watch our Illustration expert from Israel answer these questions and engage in a practical session with her which will make you fall in love with the process of making picture books!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Chat With Shahidul Alam

Chintan Girish Modi talks to Shahidul Alam on his latest book Brahmaputra Diary: A Journey To The Source of Asia’s Greatest River. 'Brahmaputra Diary' is our recently published book which  is a travelogue about one of the mightiest rivers of the world - Brahmaputra.

Alam is a human rights campaigner and a disruptive political artist from Bangladesh who is on the hit list of the anti-secular, extremist forces in the country. 

It, therefore, came as a surprise to me, when I learnt that Alam, who is primarily associated with his work as a photographer and human rights campaigner, has now authored a book for children titled Brahmaputra Diary: A Journey To The Source of Asia’s Greatest River.

Ilish fishing 2001

In the book, Alam writes, “Like a Hindu deity, the river has many incarnations, changing its name and nature as it flows along its 2900 km journey from its source near the holy mountains of Kailash through the icy glaciers in Tibet, the green mountains in India, and through the fertile plains of Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal. Near the source, the river is called Tamchok Khambab Kangri, meaning ‘the river coming out of the horse’s mouth’. According to legend, Tamchok Khamabab spilled from a glacier in the Chemayudung Mountains. The Tibetans know it as the Yarlung Tsangpo, the purifier. In India, it is known as the Brahmaputra. In Bangladesh, it is also known as the Jamuna, the Padma and finally, the Meghna, before it opens into the sea.”


It has been published by Pratham Books in 2016, more than a decade after the photography exhibition it is based on was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2003. “My partner, Rahnuma Ahmed, has often told me that if I ever run out of work as a photographer, I can always get work as a baby sitter,” says Alam. “I love working with children but had never considered writing a book for them. I was thrilled to bits. Especially the fact that it is a cheap, affordable book with such a large print run!”

“I don’t think that Shahidul would have seen himself as a children’s book author in a stereotypical sense,” says Manisha Chaudhary, his editor at Pratham Books. “His great passion is visual communication, which goes beyond boundaries of age. He had text to accompany the exhibition. However, it needed some simplification, additions, and explanations to make it more accessible to children. Shahidul was willing to work with our constraints to create the best possible book for children without any dumbing down of the written text.”


The book speaks of political, cultural, racial boundaries, and crossing them — not only by gliding in and out through places but by immersing in local stories and folk songs. We learn about religious scholars, alpine vegetation, mythological lore, and nomadic life. We see Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the wind, bridges made of rocks, sheep seeking shelter, fisher folk going about their daily chores, and lamps being lit in temples and monasteries.

In the book, Alam writes, “No one is known to have traversed the entire run of this river. We take you on this journey, across the millennium, across three nations, through Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. From the icy trickle in the glaciers, along Pei in China, to where the river narrows into a rapid-filled gorge reaching phenomenal depths and amazing cascades.”

Read the entire review here.  Buy the book here.

Friday, July 15, 2016

JUMPSTART 2016 : Have You Registered?

JUMPSTART is back and this year's festival is going to school! We are also happy to announce that Pratham Books is also collaborating to organize the 'JUMPSTART ALCHEMY LAB'.


JUMPSTART and Pratham Books cook up some new theories on how children learn science in middle school. We invite all middle school science teachers to come and remix and reboot ideas. Click on the image below for details about the workshop. 

Cost of the workshop : Rs.250+tax (the workshop is free for government & affiliated schools. Please mail abhishek(at)prathambooks(dot)org to confirm your participation.)
To register : sign up here.

About the festival :
In Jumpstart 2016 we travel along the wide and deep interface between education in school and children's content. The prelude of the thinkfest asks the most primary questions. What do children like? How do they learn? How do we get Better Outcomes in Education? How to content creators nurture a democracy of opportunity within the system which recognizes the inherent diversity among children? What can we do to encourage madly creative content that delights and educates? 
The major chord thrums as it explores the idea of Innovation in Education. What are the evolving pedagogies in classrooms and is the content moving in step with them? How are language and science classrooms different today? What are publishers doing differently in new ecosystems of learning? Are new products being designed differently? Has technology influenced design itself? Are new formats transforming content creation and delivery or not? And most importantly, are children learning better because of this?
You can attend the festival in Delhi (2nd-3rd August) or Bangalore (6th August). Find more details about the festival and registration here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"...A Place For People Like Us”

Bijal Vachharajani sent us an email with a link to this beautiful speech by author Matt de la Peña. He talks about readers, diversity in children's books, the loneliness of writing and more.

Via The Horn Book

Back then I never would’ve described myself as a reader, but Mrs. Frank knew better. And the truth is, I wasn’t reading those magazines for stats or standings, I was reading to find out what certain players had to overcome to get where they were. I was in it for the narrative. And what I found in some of the better articles wasn’t that inferior to what I would later discover when I readWar and Peace for real.

Over the past ten years I’ve visited hundreds of schools and met tens of thousands of young people. And so many of them are just like that old version of me. Self-defined nonreaders who spend all day reading the world. My mission as an author is to help a few of them translate those skills to the written word. It didn’t happen for me until college, when I was introduced to books like The Color Purple, Their Eyes Were Watching God, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Junot Díaz’s Drown. When I finally fell for literature, I fell hard.

But what if I can nudge a few of these kids toward the magic of books at a younger age? What if I can write a story that offers that tough, hoodied kid in the back of the auditorium a secret place to feel?

“I had never known, never even imagined for a heartbeat, that there might be a place for people like us.”

* * *

Unfortunately, we don’t always get that far. Sometimes we have to back up and address something much more basic and urgent. “Hey, mister,” I’ve heard time and time again, always from kids at the poorer schools. “Why would you come here?”

The subtext is obvious.

This school is not worthy of your time.

We are not worthy of your time.

Ganesh Devy and Mapping Linguistic Diversity

From 2010 till 2013, Ganesh Devy oversaw the People's Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI). G Seetharaman meets the man who is out to map the world's linguistic diversity.

Via The Economic Times

Speech Studies PLSI was India's first language survey in a century and unlike the previous one, was not a government effort. The survey was done by Devy's Bhasha Research and Publication Centre with the help of 3,000 people, a tenth of whom were linguists.

The survey identified 780 languages across the country and said there could be another 100 languages. (The Census of 2011, which looked only at languages spoken by 10,000 people or more, listed 122 languages.)

"Much of the work on language diversity is being done by academics. His work is a big contrast to that because he is working at the grassroots level," says Peter Austin, a linguistics professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. 

Devy, who is a self-trained linguist, now wants to move on to something that he has been contemplating for 20 years, an undertak undertaking far more ambitious than PLSI: a global study of languages. Called the Global Language Status Report (GLSR), the project will be a collaboration between linguists, sociologists, anthropologists, folklorists and indigenous activities across the world. 

According to Devy, GLSR will not be a survey, but a report on the outlook for languages and their application in various domains like technology and law. "PLSI just describes the domains of a language. GLSR will get into diagnostics: will a language survive or will it disappear? If it disappears, which language will replace it?" 

Devy, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2014, hopes to tap into a network of 150 experts from around 50 countries. Dishon Kweya, who teaches literature at Egerton University in Kenya, is one of them. "The idea of studying people's languages across the world is to me a very exciting avant-garde effort.... We have not had much of similar studies in terms of scope.... In some respect it is a trailblazer." 

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Evolution of the Book

Via TEd-Ed

What makes a book a book? Is it just anything that stores and communicates information? Or does it have to do with paper, binding, font, ink, its weight in your hands, the smell of the pages? To answer these questions, Julie Dreyfuss goes back to the start of the book as we know it to show how these elements came together to make something more than the sum of their parts. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

5 Campaigns To Support This Week

Last week, our crowdfunding platform turned 1! We step into the second year with a renewed commitment to take the joy of reading to kids across the country. And WE NEED YOUR HELP! 

"How can I help?", you ask. There are several ways to do so. You can donate, spread the word, adopt a campaign, talk to the CSR person in your office and see if there is  way to collaborate, keep a piggy bank to collect change that you can donate once a month, get a set of friends together and start a fundraiser for a, so, many ways :).

Currently, we have 5 campaigns running on the platform. Can you help them get more books?

Help India's children read. Donate a book today!

Note : If you work/know of an organization/school that needs books, please leave a comment below or mail us at

Comic Book Celebration Week

The Alto Comic Book Celebration Week will be held from July 4 to July 10 on the ReadWhere platform.

Comic book and superhero culture may still be a niche spectrum of entertainment in India, but Comic Con India is doing everything it can to celebrate this sub-culture. With the arrival of the first ever comic book celebration week in India, fans will not only get free access to a host of Indian comic book samplers, but also take part in fun competitions that could fetch them amazing prizes.

It will bring popular publishers such as Amar Chitra Katha, Graphic India, Chariot Comics, Abhijeet Kini, Holy Cow Entertainment Campfire Graphic Novels and Meta Desi Comics to the digital content sphere, wherein the fans from all over India can directly download comic samplers to their desktop, phones or tablets.

We are bringing the latest & the best in Indian comics to fans across the country, in return we hope they will support their local creators and not only download the free comics but also purchase them!" Comic Con India founder Jatin Varma says regarding the exciting event.

During the course of Comic Book Celebration Week, fans can also participate in fan art contests, fan meme contests and trivia contests, winners of which will be chosen based on via public voting and internal judging.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble in July!

We have a new team member at Pratham Books. Lesson no.1 for all new team mates : PBees love sweets! One must always bring sweets to office (for special occasions, when you travel and come back and sometimes for no reason at all!). Totally apt that we had this conversation on the day we turned our calendars to the page below. Priya Kuriyan's dragon gluttonously chomping on mangoes will set the theme for this month. 

Priya was one of the Illustrator Gurus of the #6FrameStoryChallenge and she created a wordless story with 6 words. 

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.

Totto- Chan and the World of Learning

This year, we've been reading many books in office. Keeping track of the books we are reading, sharing and recommending books and also finding little gems. Gems like Totto-Chan! Mala Kumar shares more about this precious book in her article for The Hindu.
...Tomoe Gakuen. This was a school founded by Sosaku Kobayashi during World War II where he taught lessons not just on science and literature, but also about nurturing relationships, making friends, and taking care of nature. This school, like many other places in Japan, was destroyed during the war in 1945, but the lessons taught there continue to inspire many. 
Kobayashi was born on June 18, 1893. It is said that as a child, he would stand by the river, and pretend he was conducting an orchestra performed by the waves. No wonder he encouraged children in his school to dream, always believing in the inherent creativity and goodness in all children. The world knows about Kobayashi and his educational methods because one of his students, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, wrote a book about her years in the school. The book was published in Japanese as Madogiwa no Totto-chan in 1981. A colleague loaned me a copy of Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window , the highly-acclaimed English translation by Dorothy Britton. 
Kuroyanagi attributes her success to her early schooling at Tomoe, and its extraordinary headmaster, Kobayashi. 
So what was so special about this school? To start with, it was a school where the classrooms were old railway carriages. It had a headmaster who allowed children’s potential to blossom naturally.  
In school, Totto-chan learnt to scrawl music notes on the floor, climb a tree, and help a classmate with polio climb it too. She also learnt that an old farmer could be a great gardening teacher. She narrated all the interesting things that happened to her in school to her pet dog, Rocky. Thanks to her kind, music-loving, progressive headmaster, Kobayashi, she learnt life skills easily and organically just like her classmates did.. 
In 1982, within a year of the publication of this autobiographical book in Japanese, it sold 4.5 million copies. The title in Japanese roughly translates to mean ‘to be left sitting by the window’, a phrase denoting failure in Japan. But the book records the triumph of free spirit, of innovative methods in education and the natural development of children. It also opened a window, for countless readers, to the enormous potential of sensitive schooling in the development of children. If you can’t sit on a tree to read this book, a place by the window will do very well.