In her article ‘The kids are all right
‘, Nilanjana S Roy talks about children’s publishing, the books shortlisted for the Crossword Book Awards and building bridges to readers.
Via Business Standard
Children also need the right kind of books, by which I mean chiefly the kind that doesn’t preach or talk down to them. They sense when you’re sneaking a moral into a story, or trying to sell fiction that is a lesson in disguise, and their b******t detectors are as sharp as ours were as kids. “I don’t like books that talk to me like Teacher Madam,” I was told once by a bright 10-year-old who was volunteering with his school’s fledgling library programme.
That’s why this year’s Crossword Books Award
list in children’s writing is a triumph: because none of the five books on the shortlist are earnest, preachy or are moral science lessons in disguise.
None of Pratham Books’s or Tulika Books’s titles are on the shortlist this year, but these two publishing houses have also changed the way Indians read. Pratham is a non-governmental organisation that publishes books in several languages – English, Hindi, Kannada, for example – and also publishes story cards, priced at Rs 4 in an attempt to take stories to the millions of children who might not be able to afford an English-language story book.
They invite Champions to read a story every year on Literacy Day to children from under-represented schools: they had 250 champions in 2011, which grew to 1,300 by 2014.
Twenty years ago, the complaint about Indian children’s books in English was that you didn’t have good production or innovative local storytellers and writers. You have both today; what’s missing is the bridges that connect publishers with readers.