Neem, Peepal, Banyan…

As the International Year of the Forest draws to a close, we are running the ‘Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow’ campaign. As part of the campaign, we have organized an exciting relay of events throughout December to spread awareness for a greener world.

But, we also wanted to get a few of our friends to partner with us for this campaign. We’ve asked some of our publisher friends to write about their books, we’ve asked one of our blogger friends to share creative activities one could do with their kids, etc.

Manasi Subramaniam, Editor – Karadi Tales, decided to share the story behind a trees rhyme created by them.
A child’s earliest experiences with language, music and expression are through nursery rhymes and lullabies. But what often happens is that children in India hear and repeat rhymes that they have no natural connection with. The Western canon, while certainly effective, is often not as easy to relate with. It was to address this gap that the Karadi Rhymes were born.
We began to seek things that were uniquely Indian on which we could compose these rhymes, and of course we came up with lots and lots of things – mangoes, beaches, bhelpuris, monsoons, cricket and so much more. Around this time, we also began focusing on those Indian things that children often don’t hear about.
And we realised that kids grow up hearing and reading about trees that they have never seen – cedars, willows, oaks etc. Often, they never even learn about the names of the wonderful trees that can be seen across our country. While working on the second volume of Karadi Rhymes, we realised that there were no lullabies or rhymes in the English language that talked about the variety of trees that grow in India. And the trees rhyme began!
Shobha Viswanath, who wrote the rhymes, tried to keep the rhyme and metre as simple as possible. Usha Uthup is a favourite with adults and children. She loves kids and her voice lends itself to the rhymes beautifully and we were delighted when she agreed to sing the rhymes for us. We also worked with some very young singers who sang along with Usha like a background chorus. The voices come together to music composed by 3 Brothers & A Violin, who did a lot of research before coming up with the perfect background score and melody that very young children can easily pick up and sing along with. We worked with animators to make sure that the right trees were shown as the names were being sung.
Today, our greatest joy is when a little kid comes to us and starts singing, “Neem, peepal, banyan…” – and they can identify these trees as well!
You can buy the Karadi Rhymes DVDs here and the Karadi Rhymes Audiobooks here.

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