Different Tales : Stories Addressing Issues of Marginalization
While the ideal childhood, often depicted in storybooks, maybe more or less true for children from the middle class, it is not so for those children removed from what we may consider the mainstream – for those less privileged or marginalized.
These children also go to school, although a majority of them never make it through school. They also read the same textbooks and some of the same storybooks. While the child from the mainstream can identify with the lessons or stories he is reading (as they largely depict his life), the child from the margins of society cannot. There are few stories about this child, no textbook details his life. It is this gap in children’s literature that Different Tales, a series of 13 children’s books telling the stories of children from the marginalized sections of the society seeks to fill. Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies has brought out the Telugu versions of these books, and the Malayalam and English versions have been published by DC Books.
But the children depicted in the 13 stories are brave, energetic, determined and confident. The stories in Different Tales are not about victimhood but about how these children manage their lives. They work, play and study all at the same time. These stories are not about conforming to the standard but in a way challenging the existing naturalized literature. Khadeer Babu’sHead Curry (one of the books in the series), for instance, is a story about the pleasure of eating meat, in this case a ram’s head. How often have we heard even a mention, let alone an entire story, of non-vegetarianism in Indian children’s books?
While the stories in Different Tales are mainly meant to provide the marginalized children strong and powerful images of their lives, their readership is not restricted. These stories are also meant to educate the mainstream children about the lives of children from different backgrounds.