Thursday, July 27, 2017

Creating A New Visual Language

Rachel Lopez takes a look at some of the illustrators who are creating a new visual language in children's books in India. Two of our books (illustrated by Rajiv Eipe and Ruchi Shah) are also featured in her article.

Via Hindustan Times

Some of the work is almost cinematic - moody vampire landscapes, grandmas that swing up coconut trees. Others are clearly tongue in cheek - jokes about poo, gags sneaked in for parents. But each is a step towards a new visual language for kids, one where the rules are elastic - and a new adventure is just around the corner.

Rajiv Eipe : Ammachi’s Amazing Machines (authored by the illustrator); Pratham Books

“As a child, I was always drawn more to the pictures than the story,” says Eipe. He trained as an animation filmmaker and jumped at the chance to work on children’s books. “The publishers wanted physics-related content, but in a way that was fun, not preachy,” Eipe says. He dreamed up a grandmother who invented simple machines using household objects, to make coconut barfi with her grandson. “Grandparents are resourceful, they are from a DIY generation,” Eipe says. “I captured some of the spunk of my own grandparents, and details of their home, in the book.”

Ruchi Shah : The Cat In The Ghat (authored by Ambika Rao); Pratham Books

Inspired by a real-life expedition of explorer Sandesh Kadur, this story follows a photographer‘s attempts to document a little-known wild cat in the Western Ghats. Shah says the book was originally conceived to feature the photographer’s work. “But a children’s book is a lot more fun when it’s illustrated,” she says. Unlike most books, the drawingstake up only half the page, so she knew her work needed to stand out. “I had to select what could be highlighted in the pictures and I knew I wanted the feel of the rainy, lush, damp forests,” she says. “I wanted the colours to burst out of the page.” She worked with photo-inks and splotches and didn’t care about staying within the lines. “When kids draw they spill, yaar. Why shouldn’t you?”

Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Interested in a StoryWeaver Workshop? Tell Us!

With our mission of ‘a book in every child’s hand’, it is our constant endeavour to take more books and stories to more children. A key stakeholder in this mission are organisations and educators who help seed and cultivate the joy of reading in children. Along with reading, books also make great instruments of engagement in classrooms which is key to effective learning in classrooms.

With StoryWeaver, our open-source, multilingual digital repository of children’s stories, access to good quality reading material has become much easier. Children and educators can read 4200+ stories in 81 languages and educators can also develop their own resources for their classrooms. Stories can be downloaded to be read offline or printed. New stories can be created using the image bank of over 6,500 illustrations! Users can also translate or re-adapt existing stories with simple tools embedded on the platform. 

One of the ways in which we engage directly with organisations and educators is by conducting StoryWeaver workshops with them. The day-long session focuses on why reading is important and explores the platform in detail. Participants also get dedicated time to try the platform on their own and engage with the Pratham Books team and network with other participants. The workshops participation is free of cost, but on a first come first serve basis.

You can read more about our previous workshops in Hyderabad here and Delhi here

We are planning two workshops in August & September. One is Chennai and the other one in Kolkata or Bhubaneswar. If you are an organisation that works with under-served children wanting to bring more stories to them and engage with StoryWeaver, please fill the form here and we’ll contact you with further details.

Interested organisations based in and around Chennai, please sign up here.

Interested organisations based in and around Kolkata or Bhubaneswar, please sign up here

If you want to know more about our efforts to engage with organisations or have anything else to say, please write to Khyati at  khyati(at)prathambooks(dot)org .

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

When They Heard Those Stories…

On one Sunday last month, we woke up super early and headed to Cubbon Park. Why? Amrita Tripathy tells us more ...

What is a usual Sunday morning about? Sleep for long hours, have an elaborate brunch and so on! Over all a lazy day? The last Sunday of June was an exception for us at Cubbon Park.

Situated in the central part of Bangalore, Cubbon Park is one of the city’s green lungs. Tall trees, verdant canopies, whistling cuckoos, chirping birds, Cubbon Park is home to urban wildlife. Amidst all these, an early morning visit to such a place can be rejuvenating.

In association with The Hindu, we celebrated Cycle Day at the park on June 25, 2017. The red-canopied reading zones set up by The Hindu team could not be missed and neither were the sessions like yoga and zumba. The already charged-up crowd wanted a relaxing session and there we were! Our storytelling session was just right for all age groups.

When Mohammad Mustafa, the anchor announced the storytelling session, the kids were enthusiastic. Along with kids, we saw parents and adults gathering around the stage to hear our storytellers— Shruthi Rao and Bhavana Vyas Vipparthi.

Bhavana started with her illustrated book ‘A Cloud of Trash’. As she narrated how sad, grumpy and troubled Cheekoo was, she unfolded the reasons of her frustration too. With a foul-smelling trash cloud hanging over her head, Cheekoo was the unhappiest girl in the world. The cloud made of banana peels, biscuit and chocolate wrappers and hovering flies was troubling Cheekoo and the others around her. But one day, things changed and she managed to get rid of the trash cloud and became happy again.

The crowd was smitten by Bhavana’s narration. A powerful story about garbage and what one could do to handle it. From waste segregation to waste management through 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), Bhavana spoke about the simple steps and day-to- day changes that each one of us can incorporate towards making a clean, green and safe planet.  She took her illustrated story to the next level by talking about how composting and how organic manure help in plant growth anda greener environment -thus setting the context for Shruthi's story.

Shruthi, the author of ‘Avani and the Pea Plant’, is a well-known storyteller. Avani’s story is about the journey of a pea seed from Avani’s mom’s kitchen to the backyard garden. One fine day while playing in the garden, little Avani notices a new plant and mother identifies it as a pea plant. Neither of them knew how a pea plant got a place in their garden. Doesn’t it sound intriguing? Shruthi also encouraged the younger ones to try a small experiment of germinating seeds at home.

After the storytelling session, we had a half an hour interactive activity session where Bhavana taught kids to create a ‘tree of life’ from waste like dry leaves, tetrapak sheets, cereal packets, rope, straws, and water colors. Nearly 45 children participated in this activity session and thoroughly enjoyed the craft work.

The kids were also given tomato seeds with instructions of ‘how to grow your own tomatoes’ and take part in the upcoming contest at Pratham Books. We will post the details of the contest in a separate post soon. So, stay tuned!

The activities designed around these two books was an attempt to generate awareness about trees and nature, sensitize children about their environment, and waste management in general. The joy, curiosity, and happiness of the children and enthusiasm of the crowd was worth seeing. Wish every Sunday morning could be like this – in a park, among trees, with children and endless stories!

What happened to Cheekoo? How did she get rid of her cloud of trash? Read the entire story here.

How did the pea seed become a plant? Did Avani or her mother play a role? Read the entire story here/ get your own copy of the book here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Schools That Care Conference

Are you going for the Schools That Care conference? Our editor, Mala Kumar, will be speaking about the 'Joys of Reading' on Day 3 of conference.

In July 2017, The Teacher Foundation brings to you a conference with a national presence and an international perspective. It’s Schools that Care (STC 2017), celebrating 15 years of dedicated work in making schools enabling environments for students. The conference will also present the findings of TTF’s 5 years of research aimed at developing a framework of Standards for Social and Emotional Learning (SSEL) for Indian schools. 
Pastoral care and its elements of empathy, sensitivity, positive regard for the child are often given short shrift in the race by schools and parents for rote-based academic achievement and marks. In the long run what gets sacrificed are students’ human capacities for compassion, courage, joy, generosity, grit, resilience and relationships. The repercussions of this are already evident in an increasingly intolerant, angry & divided world. 
Schools have a moral imperative for providing an education that prepares all students to handle life’s challenges with a sense of personal and collective integrity. 
Schools that Care (STC) 2017 is a conference with a difference. Since schools exist for young people, this conference includes them as prominent and powerful voices! STC 2017 promises to be a confluence of minds, hearts and hands – both young & old. It’s an opportunity for discussion, dialogue and debate amongst school leaders, teachers, researchers and students.
Find more details about the conference here. The conference is from 13 to 15 July, 2017 at the JN Tata Auditorium, Bangalore.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Meet the Finalists of This Year's Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest!

The result for Pratham Books’ Retell, Remix and Rejoice contest 2017 is finally here! A big thank you to all the participants for taking part, and being super patient with us as the judges read through each of your wonderful stories.

This year, Retell, Remix and Rejoice was in a slightly different avatar as we asked our community to weave level 1 and 2 stories around certain themes. We received 66 entries: 39 in English, 26 in Hindi and 1 Tamil story. This was the most number of Hindi stories we ever received for the contest.

Drum roll please

And now, on to the results! This year, we have 3 winning finalists:

Each finalist will receive a gift hamper of books from Pratham Books and will get one hour with a Pratham Books editor, who will share their editorial feedback on the story. One final story will then be chosen for re-illustration.

Meet the judges

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

This is what Rajesh had to say about the entries this year: “I enjoyed reading all the stories very much and while reading the thoughts that came into my mind were a mixed lot - sometimes those of pleasure, at times a little sadness. Why sadness? Well, in some of the stories I wished that the authors had sustained that creative energy till the last word. Animal Symphony was a lovely story that highlighted the need to provide children ample opportunities to bond with nature alone. My Grandma Has a Tail and Toot'ta Tara both displayed out-of-the-box thinking and creativity. Joy, happiness and love together make every childhood memorable and create individual secure little universes. This subconsciously builds the foundations for a happy and healthy future life. I was happily reminded of this while reading A Special Journey.”

Our second judge, Kanchan Banerjee is a Managing Trustee of Akshara Foundation where she develops strategy and designs learning material. She founded Jyoshika, an NGO which works for the enrichments of children's learning in their eearly years. She enjoys writing for children.Under a UNICEF projects she developed graded readers in Kannada for children in Karnataka and in Hindi for children in Chattisgarh. She had this to say about the entries received this year: “It was delightful to read a variety of imaginative entries. Truly, writers can fire the creativity of young children and move them to a different space away from moralizing.”

Congratulations to the winners. You’ll be hearing from us shortly about your one on one session with a Pratham Books editor.

Read all the Retell, Remix and Rejoice entries.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Pratham Books is Hiring : Accounts Executive

 (Update : This position has been filled and the posting is closed.)

Pratham Books is a not-for-profit children's book publisher that was set up in 2004 to publish good quality, affordable books in many Indian languages. Our mission is to see ‘a book in every child’s hand’ and we have spread the joy of reading to millions of children in India.

In 13 years, we have published over 3,000 books and distributed over 14 million copies of our storybooks and 16 million story cards.

We are looking for an Accounts Executive to join our team in Bengaluru.


  • Verification of bills received from vendors and process for payments.
  • Entering expenditure and payment entries in Tally.
  • Monthly Payment of TDS
  • Monthly BRS and maintain returned cheques details.
  • Maintaining Fixed Deposits Register
  • Monthly Settlement of Staff Advances and Reimbursements
  • Perform any other duties as and when required.

  • B.COM / M.COM graduate with a experience of 3-5 years
  • Should posses good knowledge about excel, word and Tally
  • Strong communication skills- written and verbal English
Location: Position is based out of Bangalore

Salary: Will commensurate with experience.

Write to us: Email your resume with Accounts Executive in the subject line to careers(at)prathambooks(dot)org

P.S - If you are shortlisted, you will hear back from us within 15 days of applying.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Exploring Science and Maths Through Stories

Sometimes, Maths and Science can be daunting for children. However, when concepts are presented in a fun and engaging manner, children find it easier to grasp and retain them. There is a dearth of simple, informative books for young readers and access to these books will help children in their learning journey. With support from Oracle, Pratham Books developed a special set of books exploring Science and Maths concepts with engaging narratives and eye-catching illustrations that will enrich the child’s current curriculum and be a useful classroom aid for the teachers. Last year, 100 Library kits with these books were distributed to multiple not-for-profits and schools across the country. We traveled to a few of our partner schools to see the impact these books were having which is documented in this video. 

Pratham Books would like to thank Oracle, Mantra Social Services, Florida English School and Communities Rising for their support to this film. 

We are also thankful to Sangeeta Velegar for the script for this film and Arjun Swaminathan Films for the production.