Celebrating 15 years of spreading the joy of reading

Management Report

"The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them." Neil Gaiman

Pratham Books came into being 15 years ago around a single idea: ‘a book in every child’s hand,’ so that every child could discover the joys of reading. Our journey since, is best described as one of constantly seeking newer, better ways to make that idea a reality.

From publishing delightful, engaging storybooks in almost all of India’s regional languages and making them affordable

and accessible; to creating a volunteer-led campaign that takes storytelling to children across India and the world with our annual campaign, One Day, One Story; from throwing open the doors to one of the world’s largest digital libraries for children with StoryWeaver; to crowdfunding libraries in the remotest of regions through our platform, Donate-a-Book, we have leveraged technology, collaboration, and innovation to help children become readers and learners. It’s been a journey of joy, of discovery, and of innovation.

Deepak Raj, a Class 4 student from Sengadur village, Tamil Nadu, participated in a reading programme by Communities Rising that featured our books. “Before this, big words were difficult to read. One day, the teacher put a few words up and I read

them, using phonetics and everyone clapped for me. Now I can read on my own,” said Deepak.

Ruchi Dhona, who crowdfunded libraries for 15 schools in Spiti Valley and Gurgaon on Donate-a-Book, described the joy of children coming face to face with a library of their own. “The kids kept asking whether a library was really going to be set up in their schools. When we said Yes! their eyes widened and we could catch the sparkle dancing in their eyes,” said Ruchi.

A volunteer at a StoryWeaver translation workshop, Sanju Mandvi, talked about the joy of children having storybooks in their mother tongue, Gondi, for the very first time. “When we were kids, there was no poetry or story texts in Gondi. Now, when

we get married and have kids, we will be able to gift them Gondi books,” he said.

What a journey the past fifteen years has been. Our storybooks have touched so many children’s lives - in their own languages. Children have stepped into fictional worlds where they’ve met characters and visited new and familiar places they can relate to. Our readers climbed aboard the STEAM express to visit science, math, arts and cultural destinations. These are stories that have challenged stereotypes, fostered empathy and social and emotional learning, and introduced children to wildlife around the world and under the ocean. We listened to what our field partners had to say, creating nuanced books around difficult topics such as domestic violence, everyday conflict,

grief, and depression.

As part of the #OwnVoices movement, we’re working with a network of guest editors, art directors, writers and illustrators to find new voices from across the country and create contemporary books that reflect lived experiences as part of the We Need Diverse Books campaign.

Every milestone we have crossed came from trying to tackle the many barriers for India’s children to read. For early readers who needed very simple reading material, there were bright and cheery story cards and wordless books. For children who did not have access to printed books, there were thousands of digital books to read for free on StoryWeaver. For children who struggled to read, there were GIF books,

audio-visual books, and Readalongs with subtitles. For children who found mathematics and science challenging, there were hundreds of fascinating storybooks in print and digital formats for them to understand the world of STEM in a different, fun way.

Today, we are at the heart of a thriving ecosystem of authors, illustrators, translators, educators, and other non-profits. All focused on getting children to read. Like-minded publishers from different parts of the world are open licensing their books on StoryWeaver to provide more children with great books to read, while on-ground partners are helping take those books to the children who need them the most – in languages they use and understand.

Pratham Books is now publishing more books than ever before – in more languages, exploring new subjects, and finding newer, more creative expressions. Whether in classrooms the world over, or on award shortlists and longlists, our books are finding recognition and encouragement at every turn.

We cannot wait to see the stories that lie ahead.

Ms. Suzanne Singh, Chairperson
Mr. R. Sriram, Managing Trustee

Building a rich, diverse book list

From digital books that danced and swayed, to books that were ‘big’ in story as well as form, we’ve pushed the limits of the book format to provide delight to its young readers. Gappu Can’t Dance, The Big Book of Boochandis, and Shoecat Thoocat used GIFs – the domain of memes and messaging- to make reading a truly magical experience. Nani’s Walk to the Park, and Aachoo! used larger formats to pack in a wealth of drama and detail on every page. Chhutti harked back to the boundless joy of summer vacations, and took the form of a poster. Snip, Have You Seen Sundari, and Gorillas Go to the Beach create joy with limited or no words at all.

We captured the thrilling lives of contemporary women heroes like data scientist, Prukalpa Sankar, in The Girl Who Thinks in Numbers; geologist, Sudipta Sengupta, in The Rock Reader; and Everester, Tine Mena, in Tine and the Faraway Mountain. Cracking the Code went a step further and showcased women who have made an impact in the world of technology.

Our books continue to be peppered with unlikely heroes: the stray dogs of Mumbai, in My City, My Dogs; Anand, the garbage collector; a ‘green’ grandmother’s electric car, in The Red Fairy; farmers running a seed bank, in The Seed Savers; and Rocky, the eco-friendly pet goat in Rose and Rocky Go Green, Rose and Rocky's War on Insects, and Get Down, Rocky!

Over the past few years, we’ve been exploring new and interesting ways to draw children into the daunting area of science and mathematics. From real life inspiration for books like The Rock Reader, to a brand-new set of authors who are also astrophysicists (There’s a Hole in My Galaxy), statisticians (How Pintu Found Pi), architects (Malar’s New House), conservationists (How to be an Otter), marine biologists (Razia Learns to Swim), and even wildlife photographers (Who Just Went By?).

Several engaging books like Bow Meow Wow, Pishi and Me, Kuch Gadbad Hai, and Khusar Phusar emerged from workshops with the children’s theatre community, illustrators, naturalists with Green Hub in Assam, and marine conservationists from Dakshin.

Our books journeyed to book festivals across the length and breadth of the country, including Bookaroo (at Srinagar, Kohima, Bali and Jaipur), City Scripts at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Mussoorie Mountain Festival, Tata Lit Live, Neev Literature Festival, Peek A Book, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Bangalore Literature Festival. For the very first time, Pratham Books hosted STEAM Ahead!, a day-long festival of science stories. The event saw 13 curated sessions showcasing science and stories, during which authors and illustrators enthralled over 600 children, first at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, and then at Bal Bhavan, Bangalore.

brand-new set of authors who are also astrophysicists (There’s a Hole in My Galaxy), statisticians (How Pintu Found Pi), architects (Malar’s New House), conservationists (How to be an Otter), marine biologists (Razia Learns to Swim), and even wildlife photographers (Who Just Went By?).

Several engaging books like Bow Meow Wow, Pishi and Me, Kuch Gadbad Hai, and Khusar Phusar emerged from workshops with the children’s theatre community, illustrators, naturalists with Green Hub in Assam, and marine conservationists from Dakshin.

Our books journeyed to book festivals across the length and breadth of the country, including Bookaroo (at Srinagar, Kohima, Bali and Jaipur), City Scripts at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Mussoorie Mountain Festival, Tata Lit Live, Neev Literature Festival, Peek A Book, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Bangalore Literature Festival. For the very first time, Pratham Books hosted STEAM Ahead!, a day-long festival of science stories. The event saw 13 curated sessions showcasing science and stories, during which authors and illustrators enthralled over 600 children, first at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, and then at Bal Bhavan, Bangalore.

 
 

Speaking the many languages of delight

We have been delighted to commission wonderful storybooks in Marathi and Hindi – like Hee Kuni Kele?, and Gappu Gola - and bring them to other languages. While we continue to weave joyful translations of our books in multiple Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Odia, Telugu, and Gujarati, we have also focused on languages like Konkani, and Tibetan, which sorely lack books for children.

With over 500 books translated during the year, we have scaled up our abilities by adding new translators, reviewers, and STEM experts, even as we collaborate with teachers and guest editors. With quality, and cultural sensibility remaining the focus of our work, we have held several workshops with translators and language experts to have deeper conversations around translating children’s books.

Increasing access to books - exponentially

It's only fitting that in Pratham Books' fifteenth year, StoryWeaver crossed 1.5 million users, and offered an amazing 150 languages on the platform, in the form of over 10,000 storybooks, read over 6 million times online and off.

Our commitment to open-licensed content drives us to evangelising the idea with other publishers, and we are happy to report that several leading mainstream names have joined our effort. Sub-Saharan Publishers, our first international publisher partner is an award-winning, for-profit Ghanaian publishing house specializing in African children's books, and best-known for the evergreen Fati series. This set of storybooks is now available in English, Dagaare, Dagbani, and Sisali on StoryWeaver, where it has quickly been translated into even more international languages. Room to Read, another publishing partner, has released 200 of their titles under open licences on StoryWeaver in English, and their original languages, including Bengali, Chinyanja, Chitonga, Hindi, Khmer, Laos, Marathi, Nepali, Sepedi, Sinhala, Siswati, Swahili, Tamil, Vietnamese, and Xitsonga.

languages, including Bengali, Chinyanja, Chitonga, Hindi, Khmer, Laos, Marathi, Nepali, Sepedi, Sinhala, Siswati, Swahili, Tamil, Vietnamese, and Xitsonga.

StoryWeaver was conceived to address the scarcity of children’s books in their mother tongue languages. This year is the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages, and we added several indigenous languages to the platform. Our annual campaign, Freedom to Read, saw us partner with 11 organisations and 8 individual champions in a global campaign to create high-quality, hyperlocal language digital libraries for children in more than 35 Indian and international languages like Kora, Santali, Surjapuri, Korku, Farsi, Pashto, Igbo, Hausa, Fante, Ewe, Yoruba, Kikuyu, Luganda, Swahili, and Zulu.

Research references the ‘million word gap’ that exists between children who are read to, and those who aren’t. We are keenly

aware of this deficit, and it has spurred us to introduce a new audio visual book format called Readalongs that help the educator community spread the joy of listening to stories in their classrooms. Narrated by professional voice-over artistes, and accompanied by Same Language Subtitling (SLS) onscreen, our 150 Readalongs in English and Hindi have provided classrooms with over 2,500 hours of delightful listening.

The StoryWeaver platform is a place for fresh, creative content that showcases the vivid talents of our global community. It’s where you can find books like What Will Today Bring?, a moving tale about refugee children written by educator and author, Chrissi Nerantzi, and illustrated by Gail Spencer; and The Magic Mango, based on the Indian telegram system, written by Amelia Bonea, a Research Fellow at the University of Heidelburg, and illustrated by Ioan Balcosi.

StoryWeaver was conceived to address the scarcity of children’s books in their mother tongue languages. This year is the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages, and we added several indigenous languages to the platform. Our annual campaign, Freedom to Read, saw us partner with 11 organisations and 8 individual champions in a global campaign to create high-quality, hyperlocal language digital libraries for children in more than 35 Indian and international languages like Kora, Santali, Surjapuri, Korku, Farsi, Pashto, Igbo, Hausa, Fante, Ewe, Yoruba, Kikuyu, Luganda, Swahili, and Zulu.

Research references the ‘million word gap’ that exists between children who are read to, and those who aren’t. We are keenly aware of this deficit, and it has spurred us to introduce a new audio visual book format called Readalongs that help the educator community spread the joy of listening to stories in their classrooms. Narrated by professional voice-over artistes, and accompanied by Same Language Subtitling (SLS) onscreen, our 150 Readalongs in English and Hindi have provided classrooms with over 2,500 hours of delightful listening.

The StoryWeaver platform is a place for fresh, creative content that showcases the vivid talents of our global community. It’s where you can find books like What Will Today Bring?, a moving tale about refugee children written by educator and author, Chrissi Nerantzi, and illustrated by Gail Spencer; and The Magic Mango, based on the Indian telegram system, written by Amelia Bonea, a Research Fellow at the University of Heidelburg, and illustrated by Ioan Balcosi.

Partnering with committed, like-minded organisations to reach more children with print books

1.5 million+books distributed in
17 indian languages
Partnership with Save
the Children to cover
600 anganwadis and
225 primary schools
in jharkhand, odisha & delhi
Participated in leading book events, including World Book Fair, and Bangalore Book Fair, as well as corporate events like L&T Infotech Daan Utsav, and SAP Flea Market
200+ library-in-a-classroom kits at iimpact learning centres in 6 states
200library-in-a-classroom kits contributed to government schools in Kerala that were damaged due to the floods  
25,000stem-themed books
in tibetan distributed
for the very first time
books Selected by the Directorate of Education, new Delhi, for the second year in a row to be included in
283 pre-primary + primary govt schools
300LIBRARIES ESTABLISHED IN GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS IN HARDOI, UTTAR PRADESH, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HCL FOUNDATION
Completed a pilot with world bank on early childhood education, reaching
9000 children
350 classrooms
03 indian states
600 libraries distributed to
256 ngos, government schools, and low-income private schools across 15 states

Creating new ways to help India’s children read

One of our most joyful endeavours is our library crowdfunding platform, Donate-a-Book. It’s a place for schools, teachers, librarians, and non-profits to raise funds for a children’s library of their own – by drawing on the support of hundreds of like-minded individuals who want to help children in need, but do not quite know where to begin.

25 states
62000 books
80,000 children impacted
175 organisations & schools used our unique crowdfunding platform, donate-a-book to fill their libraries
1000+ DONORS AND COMMITTED CORPORATE ENTITIES LIKE UCWEB HELPED RAISE FUNDS TO CREATE OVER 600 LIBRARIES

We are proud to see campaigns initiated by Let’s Open a Book for libraries in the remote Spiti Valley, or The Sara, to serve children in Jammu and Kashmir.

Drawing on the power of over 5000 reading champions

One Day, One Story is our annual flagship event – completely volunteer-driven – that enables individuals and organisations to be champions of literacy, and read a story with children in their neighbourhoods, cities, towns, and villages in a language of their choice.

This year, over 5,000 Pratham Books Champions (#PBChamps) successfully conducted 5500+ sessions for children in schools, libraries, bookstores, and neighbourhoods. These sessions were held in 25 languages, and were spread across 23 states of India, 4 Union Territories, and 7 other countries.

Celebrating International Literacy Day, and aimed at helping children discover the joy of reading, the campaign began with a storytelling session for Class III students of Heritage School, Jammu – and ended on Swachh Bharat Diwas, with sessions at a government school in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

This year, given that India was the global host of 2018 World Environment Day, and that we are all part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, we chose a book that carried the message of pollution awareness — and action, so that the next generation realises the importance of reducing waste and keeping our surroundings clean. A Cloud of Trash is the story of a little girl called Cheekoo, who has a cloud of trash hanging over her head. This makes her very, very unhappy, and as we follow her story, we learn a little more about trash, about keeping our surroundings clean, and how everyday waste can, and should, be reused, recycled, or disposed of responsibly.

We published the story in 5 languages, and it was translated into over 20 more on StoryWeaver, Pratham Books’ digital platform. Radio Mirchi produced audio versions of the book in 6 languages, that were available for free on SoundCloud. Champions created their own comic book version, as well as dramatized the story. Community radio stations networks like Gramvaani whose Mobile Vaani Clubs reach over 7 lakh users in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Haryana, helped over 1300 unique listeners enjoy the story on their phones. Radio Active CR, Bangalore’s community radio station, too, featured the story. Literacy partners like Worldreader shared the story globally, on their mobile app to be read over 5000 times. In India, too, thousands of students were able to access the story on the Stones2Milestones app. Leading publisher, The Indian Express Online, published the story so that more parents and children could read it.

Champions developed the theme to suit their audiences. We saw illustrated versions of the story, recycling and upcycling exercises, and more. Some sessions were followed by talks with waste management experts, while others invited children to discuss ways to reuse everyday items. As September coincided with the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, some Champions followed their sessions with a workshop on making a recyclable Ganesha!

Best of Indian Children’s Writing (BICW) Contemporary Awards 2019

Animal Stories: The Pottering Pig;
Family: The Very Wiggly Tooth;
Fun: A Book for Puchku;
Heroism: Jadav and the Tree Place;
Grandparent Tales: Nani's Walk to the Park;
Sites and Lives: Kali Wants to Dance

The Hindu Goodbooks Award

Best Picturebook (Story) 2019: Angry Akku

The Hindu Goodbooks Award

Best Picturebook (Illustration) 2019: Ammachi's Amazing Machines

Publishing Next

Children’s Book of the Year 2019: A Book for Puchku

Donors

Cisco Google.org Swabhimaan by HDFC Life
Oracle Paani Foundation Tata Trust UC
Cisco
Google.org
Swabhimaan by HDFC Life
Oracle
Paani Foundation
Tata Trust
UC

Financial Report

Finacial Report 1
Finacial Report 2
Finacial Report 3

Board of Trustees

MS. SUZANNE SINGH, Chairperson
MR. R. SRIRAM, Managing Trustee
MR. ASHOK KAMATH, Trustee
MS. REKHA M. MENON, Trustee
MS. KANCHAN BANNERJEE, Trustee
PROF. M.S. SRIRAM, Trustee
MR. SRIKANTH NADHAMUNI, Trustee
MS. PERVIN VARMA, Trustee

design and illustration
Kritika Trehan
Rae Zachariah
Developed by
Ganesh Yadav