Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Reading in Majuli

Earlier this month, you read about the library love we were receiving in Lucknow. We travel to Majuli in Assam to find out what kids are reading there.

The context : Last year, several organizations across India applied to receive our STEM library kit grant. This library grant was supported by Oracle. Selected schools/organizations received a STEM classroom library kit. The kit is a wall-mounted modular library unit that can be put up in any classroom or library. It consists of 100+ books, primarily in STEM subjects. The books cover a diverse range of topics in Maths, Science, Technology, Environment, and Emotional intelligence.

About the school : Majuli Island Hummingbird School, Kulamua, is a primary school providing education to around 110 students in rural Assam. The school is located in Majuli island that is surrounded by Brahmaputra. Floods are an every year occurrence and developmental activities even if initiated don’t last long. Urged by villagers from more backward villages to open a school, Bipin Dhane, now its Principal, started Hummingbird School on 16 January 2017. Thirteen villages from the area came together to help in every possible way. The school land has been donated by a local villager with a simple request to open a good school. (via the school website)

Bipin sent us a short note along with the following pictures of kids reading our books :
The books have brought a positive impact on the children. They can't wait to enter the library and go through all the books. We use it as a reward system if they behave properly they get to read in the library and that has brought about a change in the student behavior. Before we had books but they were not suitable for children and children lost interest but with Pratham Books' books they want to read and go through as many books as possible. Even teachers use this books in class and have observed a positive impact on the the student performance.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

StoryWeaver Selected as Finalist for the WISE Awards 2018

We are delighted to share that Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver has been selected as a finalist for the WISE Awards 2018.

StoryWeaver, an initiative of Pratham Books, is among 12 finalists chosen by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) for their innovative and impactful approaches to today’s most urgent education challenges

Each year, the WISE Awards recognize and promote innovative projects from around thenworld that are addressing global educational challenges.

StoryWeaver is an innovative digital platform which harnesses the power of technology, open licensing and collaboration to address the global scarcity of books for children in mother tongue languages. StoryWeaver also allows for content to be translated and versioned for localized needs. This responsive platform has published over 7500 story books available in 109 languages, making knowledge accessible to children and educators beyond global access barriers.

Suzanne Singh, Chairperson of Pratham Books, said StoryWeaver’svision is to massively scale the creation and distribution of reading resources for children in mother tongue languages. Our endeavor is to address the global scarcity of books for children and arm every child with the power of knowledge and opportunity. By providing access to thousands of storybooks, the platform has enabled educators to make classrooms more engaging, libraries more diverse and most importantly, make learning fun for children. With StoryWeaver, we have opened up a new pathway to nurture a generation of readers”.

Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, said: “We congratulate StoryWeaver for making it to the finalist stage. Each of the 2018 WISE Awards finalists has constructed an effective, tested solution to a global educational challenge. Whether it’s ensuring fundamental education for refugees or creating the next generation of empathetic and conscious leaders, each project is already transforming lives, and provides an inspirational model for others to adopt. This is vital to our mission at WISE, which centers around collaboration”.
The 12 projects come from eleven countries and were shortlisted for their innovative solutions to education challenges and their positive social impact. The awards finalists were picked from a pool of 413 projects, and evaluated according to strict criteria. They must be successful, innovative education projects that have already demonstrated a transformative impact on individuals, communities, and society. They must be financially stable, have a clear development plan and be scalable and replicable.

For further information, visit http://www.wise-qatar.org/wise- awards.


About the WISE Awards: 
Each year, the WISE Awards recognize and promote six successful innovative projects that are addressing global educational challenges. Since 2009, WISE has received more than 3,200 applications from over 150 countries. Up until now, 54 projects have won the WISE Awards, from a wide variety of sectors and locations for their innovative character, their positive contribution and their potential for scalability and adaptability. These projects represent a growing resource of expertise and sound educational practice. Year by year, WISE is building a community of educational innovators which offers a fertile environment for groundbreaking collaborations. Today the WISE Awards network comprises pioneering projects that are helping bring real change to societies and communities.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Library Love in Lucknow!

Look what popped into our inbox the other day! Our STEM libraries getting a whole lot of love in Lucknow. Last year, several organizations across India applied to receive our STEM library kit grant. Sarthak Foundation was one of these organizations. Sarthak's vision is to add significance to the lives of the underprivileged children by providing quality education. The Sarthak team sent us these pictures of the latest library installed in their Ismailganj Study Centre, Lucknow. This centre caters to the rag picker community they work with.

What is a STEM Classroom Library Kit?

The kit is a wall-mounted modular library unit that can be put up in any classroom or library. It consists of 100+ books, primarily in STEM subjects. The books cover a diverse range of topics in Maths, Science, Technology, Environment, and Emotional intelligence. Some of our colourful books are: How Far is Far (estimation of distances), I Spy (subtraction), Bonda and Devi (robots), Ammachi’s Amazing Machines (simple machines and their use), AutumnMonsoonSpringSummer and Winter (seasons of India), Up World, Down World (biodiversity of canopy forests), A Cloud of Trash (Cleanliness), A Helping Hand (inclusivity and accepting differences), Reethi and Mithu, Angry Akku (handling emotions).

This library grant has been supported by Oracle.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Sparking curiosity through STEM books

"The soap bubble will be pink," said a little girl at the District Girls Home as author of Why are bubbles round?  Sukanya Sinha, prepared to blow a bubble with pink dye added to the soap solution.


At Zilla Parishad School in Pune, a group of boys said, "We can make this jar invisible now!" They had just listened to author Varsha Joshi talk about her forthcoming book The Invisibility Cloak. 

"Shh.....Simmi is listening!" I said to a group of noisy kids at the Girls Home, holding up the book by Aparna Kapur. Actually, we were very quite happy that the children were so full of questions, and not sitting quietly. You see, we were on a mission to spark curiosity. And how better to do that than to have children coming out with questions about everything under the sun! Through March, we went to several schools across cities with our authors, illustrators and storytellers to introduce our new STEM books.

Earlier, at the Government Boys Home, I spoke about my forthcoming book, Sir M Visvesvaraya - The Builder of Dams, Bridges and a Nation. We were delighted to hear later that the story inspired the boys and helped spark a discussion on goal setting during their therapy session. 

"They had so many questions!" said Sudha Thilak, Tamil editor, who went with storyteller Sathyanarayan, to Chudar Education Centre. She also went to other centres in Chennai with the help of Pratham and Teach for India fellows and shared many of our new books,  including Maths at the Mela.

Author of The Drawing Game and Where is Nandini?, Anitha Murthy, shared her stories with little ones at Shishu Mandira, Bengaluru.

In Guwahati, Yasaswini Sampathkumar author of forthcoming book How heavy is air? had answers for this question: "Why is Bimla's cake so spongy?"

Srinivasan Krishnaswamy,  assistant professor at IIT Guwahati, narrated the same story in Assamese, getting the students quite interested in the chemistry behind cake-making.

Vidyun Sabhaney who illustrated '3..2..1..Blast-off! used art to explain astronomy to the students of Children organization in Delhi.

Our Kannada Editor Hema Khurshapur travelled to Shiggaon in Haveri ditrict and met governnment school teachers who were thrilled to see the STEM books. They happily read out from some books to the students. Later, the girls learnt about got immersed in the books including,  Telephones: From Bell to Cell.

Dr. Shivani Kanodia used storytelling, songs and activities to introduce the books  Bin Aahat Sunne Pippu (Pispsqueak Hears Echoes) and Divya Ne Banaya Naksha (Divya Draws a Map) at
The Community Library Project, Delhi.

At Chaitanya English Medium School, students had a cool time with Niloufer Wadia, illustrator of the book Let's Make Some Lime Juice and Saee Keskar, who translated it into Marathi.

The exciting world of tomorrow is closely linked to the sometimes tough world of having to learn abstract concepts of maths and science today. Could colourful, fun books help children to be ready to learn these concepts? We strongly believe so, and so we've been creating cheerful books on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

This year's list of 25 STEM books was made possible through a Cisco grant. The set includes picture books on sound, astronomy, driverless cars, kitchen science, and many more themes.  We are grateful to our authors, illustrators, translators for taking our books to children in different parts of the country. 

More sessions to spark curiosity will follow, and we will keep you posted.

Friday, March 23, 2018

On the Path of Discovery

Our editors Chetana and Bhargavi recap a fun set of events we held to celebrate Wonder Why Week :

Panipuri Inside a Spaceship anyone?

Hands soar up in the air like rockets launching. We're at Bengaluru's Nehru Planetarium, it's the Saturday ahead of the National Science Day, which calls for a morning of storytelling, quizzing and sending rockets up into the air.

Bhavna Vyas, a storyteller and illustrator with Pratham Books' titles (among others) to her name, has the children's attention. She has told them three stories -- Ammachi's Amazing Machines (an all-time favourite with the coolest granny you've ever met), Gul in Space (a sweet tale about a girl who wants to celebrate her birthday with the sun and the stars) and Panipuri Inside a Spaceship (a forthcoming title about two children who want to know what astronauts eat while on a mission).

They're having fun, but how much trivia they know about everything out there is staggering. Bhavna asks one particularly enthusiastic girl what she's going to be when she grows up: an astronaut, a scientist? The girl surprises us all with "no, a writer!" -- a breed most of us identify with.

Time for the prizes? Not yet, Bhavna has another surprise up her sleeve. She has brought paper rockets, colours and straws. Soon all the children are blowing into straws and launching the rockets they've just coloured. Wheee!

Meanwhile, every correct answer during the quiz has won the children a Pratham Books' title; we're happy that we've nearly run out of books. We're all taking something away -- the children have the books and we the realisation that there is so much out there we still know nothing about.


ಕಥಾಕೂಟ: ಗಾಳಿ ಅಳೆದು, ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ ಲೆಕ್ಕ ಮಾಡೋಣವಾ?
(Let’s weigh Air, Count Footsteps)

ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರೀಯ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ ದಿನದ ಪ್ರಯುಕ್ತ ಪ್ರಥಮ್ ಬುಕ್ಸ್ ನ “ಗಾಳಿ ಏಕಿಷ್ಟು ಭಾರ”, “ನಂದಿನಿಎಲ್ಲಿದ್ದಾಳೆ” ಎಂಬ ಕಥೆಗಳನ್ನು ಓಕಳಿಪುರದ ಸರಕಾರಿ ಕನ್ನಡ ಬಾಲಕಿಯರ ಹಿರಿಯ ಪ್ರಾಥಮಿಕ ಶಾಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಪಡಿಸಲಾಯಿತು. ಗಾಳಿಗೆ ಭಾರ ಇದೆಯಾ? ಇದ್ದರೆ ಎಷ್ಟು? ತೂಕ ಮಾಡೋಕೆ ಆಗುತ್ತಾ? ಪ್ರಯೋಗ ಮಾಡಿ ನೋಡೋಣವಾ? ಈ ಕೌತುಕದ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳಿಗೆಲ್ಲಾ ಮಕ್ಕಳು ಕಣ್ಣರಳಿಸಿ ನೋಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು.

ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ, ಗಣಿತ ವಿಷಯಗಳನ್ನು ಕ್ಲಾಸಲ್ಲಿ ಕೇಳಿ, ಬರೆದು ಮುಗಿಸಿದರೆ ಒಂದೆರಡು ಅಂಕ ಹೆಚ್ಚು, ಕಡಿಮೆ ಬರಬಹುದು ಅಷ್ಟೆ. ಆದರೆ, ಮೂಲ ಪರಿಕಲ್ಪನೆಗಳನ್ನು ತಮ್ಮದೇ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅರ್ಥ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡು, ಬಳಸಲು ಮಕ್ಕಳು ವಾಸ್ತವದಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಯೋಗಶೀಲರಾಗಬೇಕು, ಹೆಚ್ಚೆಚ್ಚು ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ ಗಳನ್ನು ಕೇಳುವಂತಾಗಬೇಕು. ಈ ಆಲೋಚನೆಯನ್ನು ಚಟುವಟಿಕೆಗಳ ರೂಪಕ್ಕೆ ತರುವ ಕಥೆಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕಥಾ ಕೂಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾಹಿತಿ ನೀಡಲಾಯಿತು.

ಈ ಕಥೆಗಳನ್ನು ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷಿನಿಂದ ಕನ್ನಡಕ್ಕೆ ಅನುವಾದಿಸಿರುವ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ ಸಂವಹನಕಾರ, ಸಂಪ ನ್ಮೂಲ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿ ಕೊಳ್ಳೇಗಾಲ ಶರ್ಮ ಮಕ್ಕಳೊಂದಿಗೆ ಮಗುವೇ ಆಗಿ ಬೆರೆತು ಕಥೆ ಹೇಳಿದರು. ದಿನ ನಿತ್ಯದ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ ವಿಷಯಗಳನ್ನೇ ಇಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು, ಸರಳ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳನ್ನು ಕೇಳುತ್ತಾ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ಕುತೂಹಲ ತಣಿಸಿದರು.

ಬಣ್ಣ-ಬಣ್ಣದ ಬಲೂನುಗಳನ್ನು ಊದುತ್ತಾ, ಎಳನೀರು ಕುಡಿಯುವ ಪ್ಲಾಸ್ಟಿಕ್ ಕೊಳವೆಗಳನ್ನು ಆಯತಾಕಾರದಲ್ಲಿ ಜೋಡಿಸುತ್ತಾ ಮಕ್ಕಳು ಸಂತಸಪಟ್ಟರು.

ಸರಕಾರಿ ಬಾಲಕರ ಪ್ರಾಥಮಿಕ ಶಾಲೆ, ಆರ್.ಜಿ.ಅಯ್ಯಂಗಾರ್ ಅನುದಾನಿತ ಶಾಲೆಯ 120ಕ್ಕೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಮಕ್ಕಳು, ಶಿಕ್ಷಕಿ ಪುಷ್ಪಾ, ಅನುವಾದಕ ಮಾಧವ್ ಐತಾಳ್, ಪ್ರಥಮ್ ಬುಕ್ಸ್ ನ ಹಿರಿಯ ಸಂಪಾದಕಿ ಮಾಲಾ ಕುಮಾರ್, ಕನ್ನಡ ವಿಭಾಗದ ಹೇಮಾ ಡಿ.ಖುರ್ಸಾಪುರ, ಭಾರ್ಗವಿ, ಸಮನ್ವಯಕಾರ ಕಾಶಿ ಇದ್ದರು.

“ಗಾಳಿ ಏಕಿಷ್ಟು ಭಾರ” ಕಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಗಾಳಿಯ ಸಾಂದ್ರತೆಯನ್ನು ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮೀ ಮತ್ತು ಸ್ನೇಹಿತರು ಕಂಡು ಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದು ಹೇಗೆ ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿಯಿರಿ. ತರಕಾರಿಗಳ ಭಾರಕ್ಕಿಂತ ಬಲೂನಿನ ಭಾರ ಹೆಚ್ಚೇ, ಆದರೂ ಹಗುರ ಹೇಗೆ? ಭಾರವಿದ್ದರೂ ತಕಡಿಯ ಮೇಲೆ ಬಲೂನುಗಳನ್ನಿಟ್ಟರೆ ತೂಕದ ಸೂಚಿ ಆಚೀಚೆ ಅಲುಗಾಡುವುದಿಲ್ಲ ಏಕೆ? ಎಂಬಂತಹ ಸರಳ, ಕೌತುಕದ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳು ಮೂಡುತ್ತವೆ.

ಇನ್ನು, ವರ್ಗೀಕರಣದ ಕಲ್ಪನೆಯನ್ನೇ ಮೂಲ ವಸ್ತುವಾಗಿಸಿ ಬರೆದಿರುವ “ನಂದಿನಿ ಎಲ್ಲಿದ್ದಾಳೆ” ಕಥೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ ಗುರುತುಗಳ ಗಾತ್ರವನ್ನು ಗುರುತಿಸುತ್ತಾ ಮಕ್ಕಳು ಕಲಿಯಬಹುದು.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Event: Water Stories

(Click on the image for a larger view)
Folks in Bengaluru : We have something brewing this weekend! Celebrate World Water Day with us.

Pratham Books and Storipur present 'Water Stories'. Join us for an interactive storytelling session with Mala Kumar (Pratham Books) and Priya Muthukumar (Storipur) followed by a water quiz by Maya Kilpadi (Eartha)

Date : 25th March, 2018
Time : 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Venue : Atta Galatta, 134, KHB Colony, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bengaluru 95.

Free entry. Ideal for 3 year olds and above.

See you there!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Podcast: The Pratham Books Journey

Illustration by : Lavanya Naidu
Want to hear about the Pratham Books journey right from 2004 till now? Take a little time out to listen to this podcast by Givology. Givology is a P2P online giving marketplace, directly connecting donors to students and grassroots projects around the world.
In this episode, we talk with Suzanne Singh, Chairperson of Pratham Books. Pratham Books is a non-profit children’s book publisher with the mission to see ‘a book in every child's hand’. StoryWeaver, an initiative of Pratham Books, is a digital platform of openly licensed storybooks in mother tongue languages.

You can also listen to it on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Enter the Retell, Remix and Rejoice Contest 2018!

Update : The contest deadline has been extended to 30th April, 2018

Welcome to the 2018 edition of Retell, Remix and Rejoice, Pratham Books’ annual storytelling contest. Every year, on World Storytelling Day, we invite our community to join us and celebrate stories by hosting the Retell, Remix and Rejoice contest.

Like last year, we’re sharing themes with our community of writers and asking you to weave stories around them. The themes have been handpicked by Pratham Books’ editors with inputs from our Outreach team.

The biggest need in classrooms remains Level 1 and Level 2 books for our youngest readers, with stories that reflect their lives and the world around them. Or, introduce them to how people live, play, sing and dream in other places!

Here are this year’s themes:
  • My family - Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Families of all types!
  • My home - Where I live and the things I do everyday.
  • My food - yummy food, yucky food and how children react to them!
  • Animals around us - Wild and domestic,insects and birds - children love books about animals.
  • Back to basics: Books about shapes, numbers and colours 
Stories can be in English, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil.

The winners take it all!
Three finalists will win a hamper of Pratham Books’ latest titles plus a one-on-one editorial feedback session with one of our editors. One grand finalist could win the chance to have their book re-illustrated!

About our Reading Levels
At Pratham Books we link levels to the child’s reading development, since we know 10-year-olds who are most comfortable with a Level 1 story, as well as 6-year-olds who can read Level 3 stories effortlessly. This happens across languages, too, as kids have different fluencies in different languages.

This year we’re asking you to be as creative as you can and convey as much as you can - using as few words as possible. Use our reading level guidelines as you create them.

Level 1 Books
  • Easy words, word repetition
  • Short sentences, less than 5 on a page
  • Text and pictures should support each other
  • Big fonts
  • Rhyme and rhythm
  • Word range: 0 to 250

Here's a page from 'Miss Laya's Fantastic Motorbike is Hungry' by Mala Kumar and Abhishek Choudhury, a Level 1 book.

Level 2 Books
  • Simple concepts (especially in non-fictions
  • Stories with linear, engaging plots 
  • Word range: 250 to 600

'The Magic Block' by Lavina Mahbubani and Rohit Karandadi is a Level 2 book.

Guidelines for Submission

Contest runs from March 20th 2018 to April 30th, 2018.

Copyright and other guidelines

  • All stories submitted must be your original work. 
  • Stories must be in English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil or Marathi.
  • Participants must be over the age of 17 to participate
By submitting your work to Retell, Remix and Rejoice 2018, you are agreeing to a CC-BY license being applied to it (This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation). To know more about CC-BY, click here.

For queries, write to us at storyweaver@prathambooks.org

How to enter
You can submit your story for Retell, Remix and Rejoice 2018
  • using illustrations from our image bank 
  • by uploading your own illustrations
  • or as text only

However you choose to create your entry it MUST be via the Retell, Remix and Rejoice contest page, by clicking on the button below:

Thursday, March 8, 2018

#GirlsMustPlay : Reclaiming Spaces

A girl’s relationship to public spaces evolves as she grows older. It skips ahead with delight and, hopscotches its way to friends. And just as she’s about to retain that confidence she learnt during these games, she’s told to step back and go back. This relationship with her favourite streets and parks might sour over time, might become one of detachment, fear or hesitation, it might be accepted as a strange and cumbersome part of life, or it might turn into one of rebellion and constant reclamation. Whether it’s the majority of population of Indian girls that resides in rural areas or the ones in urban, it’s almost impossible for girls to have a free, healthy or even neutral relationship with public areas. Eventually, many girls stop playing in such spaces at an early age. This lack of games leads to a lack of sports in their lives.

Bijal Vachharajani, Senior Editor at Pratham Books, recounts an incident, “Many years ago, as a journalist, I remember interviewing Ashok who worked with Magic Bus in Mumbai to get children back to school using football. And one of the challenges he talked about was getting girls to play the sport. And since then I think it's stuck in my head about how divisive things can be in innocuous ways. Free play and sports participation is so crucial - it equips children with life skills, builds confidence, and imagination. In our books, girls play, they run, the climb trees, just like in real life.”

Playing games and occupying public places helps boost self image, gives girls tools to tackle tough situations, makes them better at communication, and teaches them leadership – everything they must learn. Games give young girls visibility, form and shape. But many families would prefer them to remain hidden away from the scorn of others or from the lurking fear of street sexual harassment. Games, a normal part of life for boys, are gradually seen as a surplus activity for girls that can be harmlessly done away with. There are even stigmas attached to girls’ bodies and playing games is seen as a way to break their hymen, thus making them unfit for marriage. Also, since public spaces are not designed for girls, and safe spaces meant for girls are out of reach, logistics comes into play here which can be financially draining for some families. Gender clearly plays a crucial role here.

Here’s Kusum Kumari from a village in Jharkand presenting her Tedx Talk about how football changed her life:

Mala Kumar, Senior Editor at Pratham Books, meets many girl characters in the books she edits. In ‘How Heavy is Air?’, Lakshmi is the central character. “Lakshmi is not just a smart young girl, she is a confident student. She asks questions. She experiments. And she is not scared to announce that her teacher is wrong. ‘Air has no weight, Miss,’ she declares. It’s characters like Lakshmi who give young boys and girls a healthy sense of gender. In ‘Who's on Divya's Map?’, a young girl goes around her locality, meeting people, and drawing a map. By doing so, she owns public spaces and encourages others to do the same.” Mala further talks about ‘Miss Laya and her Fantastic Motorbike’, a series of four books that she wrote recently, “In many schools, 'teacher' is a feminine noun, and many children giggle when you call a male instructor a teacher. Miss Laya teaches games, rides a motorbike, teaches games, is kind, encourages children to travel with her, and imbibes in them a sense of community pride.”

Many NGOs have been working to combat this issue by providing safe places for girls to play freely like Girl Skate India, Yuwa, Just For Kicks, Isha Yoga Foundation, The Art of Sport, etc are just a few Indian initiatives and NGOs that are breaking the gender stereotypes by creating safe, nourishing environments for girls to play a sport and express their bodies freely. It’s important for parents, teachers, girls and boys to see the presence of girls in parks and on the streets. They should read about girls like Kamali who followed her six year old heart and learnt to skateboard. Also, the books they read to their children and students must have female protagonists who play and explore, and are not confined to cooking and serving.

Shinibali Mitra Saigal, Consultant Editor at Pratham Books, talks about her upcoming books that revolve around female leads, “Almost all the books I have worked on have spunky, strong and fearless girls doing something exciting and fun. I don't think it was a staunchly conscious decision but an organic one where it seemed almost obvious to have a girl as the protagonist. We have a story in the pipeline about seed bankers, all women,  of course. There is a story written by women's movement pioneer Kamla Bhasin about a girl who loves cars and knows everything about them. There is also a story about a visually challenged girl who aspires to form a cricket team and wins a match. She does it all. Girls are more fun (for me) but that is not to say that I wouldn't like boys in my books. At the end of it, both walk together.”

Clearly, the solution is not to keep girls hidden, but to make their external environment safe. For girls, part of having the confidence to occupy public spaces to play also means being able to respond like Mia when an empowering sentence like “You play like a girl” is turned into an insult.

“My coach said I ran like a girl, 
I said if he could run a little faster he could too”
― Mia Hamm

(This post was written by Sherein Bansal. Sherein is an Assistant Editor at Pratham Books. Sherein lights up when she stumbles upon good music. She becomes grumpy in the absence of travel. She loves food and can talk about it till others have finished their meals and left the room.)

#GirlsMustPlay : Back to the Playground

The conversation started with these lines :
There’s a phenomenon that disturbs me: we in India do not seem to let girls play. 
Once girl children pass toddlerhood, the space for them in public places seems to vanish. They can play to some extent in school compounds (in girls’ schools as far as I have observed, and not so much in co-ed schools) and within the confines of 'acceptable' sports. But how often does one see girls playing in empty lots, or, during bandhs and holidays, on the streets?
When we received an invitation to participate in the conversation around #GirlsMustPlay, we immediately knew we wanted to join this conversation. 

And how do we join the conversation? Through the way we know best - Books! Assistant Editor, Sherein Bansal, puts together a list of books for the #GirlsMustPlay campaign.

Girls are missing out. Many societal restraints make them minimize themselves, stay home and not express their physicality. From play grounds to sport tournaments, from swings to cricket fields, we need them front row and centre. It’s up to us to continue to create safe public spaces for girls, to actively encourage them to be free, and to show our boys that girls have every right to play in the same places that they do.

Many parents and educators read books to children. Since the retentive power of stories is quick and immense, reading those books to kids that reflect gender equality is a great idea.

Here are some of Pratham Books titles that you can read with your children that showcase female protagonists that confidently explore the outside world in some way or the other.

A girl runs after a ball on every page of the book, and takes us along this funny and colourful chase.

Dipa was the first Indian female gymnast to compete in the Olympic Games!

Kalpana is determined to learn how to ride her cycle. No matter how many times she falls.

Fatima goes on an adventure with her unlikely friend Gopa the dormouse into a world of trees!

It’s the Football Cup! But Divya has a cold. How will she play?

Shama takes Kaveri and Shivi to see spiders. Lots and lots of spiders.

In this spotting book, Mia is playing hide and seek. She hides wherever she goes. Can you find her?

From grandmothers to girls, everyone in this book is excited about playing and coaching hockey. It’s time for the girls to play a match against the boys.

Children are shown playing in the street in this adorable wordless book.

Manu has chicken pox, but longs to go back to her hopscotch!

Three children set out to play on the street. Suddenly, the street becomes a zoo of animals!

A girl visits her grandmother, decides to climb a tree, and hide where nobody can find her.

It’s a beautiful journey of a solo traveller who sleeps under the stars.

Ku-oooh! Ku-ooooh! A koel calls. Stella and Parvez chase the sound in search of the koel.

Granny can’t stop. She must juggle anywhere she goes, and with what whatever lies at her arm’s reach.

Neema loves to eat. Let’s get our fill of delicious fruits and vegetables as the seasons come and go.

Miss Laya is a spunky games teacher. The girls in her class follow suit. It’s time for fun and games!

A simple tale of a girl drawing a train on the street and having fun!

A girl loves drawing kolams. She draws them on the ground, on the walls... and even on the kites. Something extraordinary happens next.

Four friends race their toy cars. Who wins?

Other publishers on StoryWeaver like Book Dash have stories about specially abled athletes like Zanele Situ, about Nita, a young girl in a playground, and about a girl who plays with her red ball. African StoryBook Initiative have stories about games played with friends, or a girl who wants to go out and play in the rain.

All these books have girls reclaiming public spaces and having plain old fun. It’s important to feed boys and girls a healthy diet of female representation in the physical world. Let’s take a cue from these joyful characters. Girls, it’s time to indulge in some healthy childhood exuberance and take back your streets!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Library Educator’s Course

(Click on the photo for a larger view)

The Library Educator’s Course is a Professional Development Certificate course developed by Parag Initiative and being offered in Hindi for the fourth time in 2018. The course is open to all educators and intended for teachers, school librarians, development sector professionals, literacy and language educators and in fact for every one working with children and books with the desire to spread the joy and culture of reading. Library education for children has multiple possibilities and dimensions, currently unexplored. The Library Educator’s Course offers a unique opportunity to strengthen understanding and academic thinking linked to practice in a well-designed, highly charged environment with some of the best library practitioners in the field.

The course offers professional development with an 
  • Intellectually stimulating curriculum enabling vision and perspective building for the library professional 
  • Exposure and experience with rich selection of children’s books 
  • Extensive hands-on experience in contact mode with practical and theoretical discussions 
  • Opportunity for working educators to engage in a dual mode course whilst continuing their work
  • Opportunity to design and undertake field project pertaining to libraries
You can find more details about the course here.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Celebrating Science with Wonder Why Week

All year round, we create joyful stories for kids. But Wonder Why Week had us focusing all our energy on Science and Mathematics, and putting together a week that celebrates science, discovery, and the spirit of wonder!

In case you missed all the action, here is a quick recap :

We launched three new books on StoryWeaver this week:

Lazy Mama (by Vidya Pradhan and Rohit Kelkar) : When lazy Raghu Mama claims he can go on wild adventures without leaving his chair, Amish and Soni are amazed. How does he do it? Can Amish and Soni go on these adventures too?

Off to See Spiders! (by Vena Kapoor and Pia Meenakshi) : Kaveri and Shivi go looking for spiders, along with their friend Shama.

Anna's Extraordinary Experiments with Weather (by Nandita Jayaraj and Priya Kuriyan) : Anna Mani was an Indian scientist who loved to read about the world around her. Peek into her eighth birthday party and follow her through her extraordinary scientific adventures.


We also had two fun storytelling sessions in Bengaluru ...

On 24th February, Bhavana Vyas Vipparthi took us to new worlds as she narrated the stories of Gul in Space, Panipuri Inside a Spaceship and Ammachi’s Amazing Machines.

We also celebrated National Science Day at the Government Girls School, Srirampuram. Students from the neighbouring government school were also present. Translator Kollegal Sharma entertained students by introducing them to our forthcoming STEM book 'How Heavy is Air?' by Yasawini Sampathkumar and Shohei Emura. The Pratham Books team also got the children on their feet with the help of our new math book 'Where is Nandini?', written by Anitha Murthy, guest edited by Sudeshna Shome, illustrated by Ritwick Roy.


Tune in and listen to 'How A New Generation of STEM Books Are Putting The Fun Back In Fundamentals' on The Intersection podcast 
For many children, especially in India, the thought of picking up a science or maths book inspires terror. There's no fun in a system that promotes rote learning over curiosity and understanding. Fortunately, things are changing. Books that explain STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) concepts in an interesting and engaging way are finding space on children's bookshelves and in school libraries and inspiring kids to embrace the subjects instead of running away from them.
On this episode of The Intersection, Padma speaks to the folks at Pratham Books--an organization that publishes titles on things from friction, bio-luminescence and evolution to subtraction, spiders and blue whales--about the importance of introducing children to these concepts at an early age and making science and maths more fun for them. 

Also, catch up on our special STEM book-related posts :
The News Minute also covered our journey of creating STEM books in this article :
Bengaluru based Pratham Books has been actively involved in piquing children’s interest in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subjects.

“Over the last three years, we have created over 400 STEM books to address the lack of such books available in India for young readers. We have received long-term support from Oracle to develop these STEM books,” says Suzanne. 
The topics of the books range from introducing children to fascinating marine creatures to demystifying math concepts, making physics more relatable to exploring incredible topics such as animals in space, virtual reality, and women in science.
Read the entire article here

Illustrators Rohit Kelkar and Pia Meenakshi gave us a glimpse into their illustration process through their Instagram takeovers. Head to the StoryWeaver Instagram account and take a peek.

We also ran a few contests across our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. In case you see this in time, we still have two contests you can participate in. Head here and here for more information.

And with that, our Wonder Why Week comes to an end. But watch out for new stories and loads of fun stuff over the year. Till then, happy reading!