One day, one story, many languages and many voices. This Saturday, thousands of children across India will listen to a reading of a charming tale — Takloo the Little Salt Seller. Chosen for this year’s edition of the Champions campaign, run by Bangalore-based children’s publisher Pratham Books, the initiative sees a single story being read by volunteers to children nation-wide on the same day. “We’ve almost doubled the number of volunteers each year — from 250 in 2011, to 600 last year, and already over 1, 000 storytellers for this campaign,” says Maya Hemant Krishna, community manager, Pratham Books.
From Bihar to Goa, Bangalore to Bhopal, the champions come from far and wide, and include individuals, NGOs, corporates and libraries. The book is published in multiple regional languages, and is freely available for further translations. “It’s very exciting to think of one book being read on a specific day throughout India, in many different languages,” shares Arundhati Chatto–padhyaya, who works with underprivileged children in Goa. Yuman Hussain of The Azad Foundation, an NGO that will take the story to children in over 20 madrassas, to foster integration as well as literacy, says, “It cuts across state, language, religion and caste boundaries.” Every year the tale is written and illustrated by local contributors . “Pratham books are very Indian. Including everyday characters makes it easy to engage children in a dialogue,” explains Neela Gupta, a retired librarian, and one of the earliest champions.
Our Adi Kahani series also gets a mention in Maegan’s comprehensive article.
Pratham Books, earlier this year, launched Adi Kahani, a series of stories written in tribal languages, now translated into English and Hindi. “Tribal languages reflect a rich culture and transfer knowledge and wisdom from one generation to another,” explains Manisha Chaudhry, head of content development at Pratham Books. “These stories should travel as they are a significant part of our national heritage and hold value for all children,” she says in conclusion.
Read the entire article to hear more viewpoints on the changing face of children’s literature in India. The article features our fellow publishers (Tulika Books, Karadi Tales, Tara Books, Duckbill Books), champions and other lovely book-ish initiatives.