“A well-written story has the power of affecting a child positively. This is what I try to achieve when I write a story,” said author Ramendra Kumar at a gathering of people from Akshara Foundation and Pratham Books in Bangalore.
Author of over 16 books, Ramendra Kumar has won many awards for his stories for children. His books have been translated into Japanese, Sinhalese and Norwegian. But he feels happiest when children tell him that they remember his stories even several years after they have read them. He said children liked stories that told the truth and avoided sermonising. “I don’t think authors should ‘come down’ to the level of children, they should ‘rise up’ to the level of children!” he said.
“I like writing now-and-here stories—-stories set in the real world. Young readers can easily identify themselves with the characters in my stories. My characters do not have magic wands, they do not fight ten bullies single-handedly, or fly like superman. But they are my ‘heroes’ because of their virtues like bravery, common-sense, intelligence, kindness or humour,” explained Ramendra. One such story is being published by Pratham Books soon.
Several librarians from Akshara Foundation shared their experiences with children’s reading habits. They pointed out that smaller children picked up a book which had attractive illustrations and then continued to read the book if they liked the story too. The group discussed how stakeholders—authors, illustrators, publishers, schools, children and translators—-could work together to bring out affordable books of high quality for children. Pratham Books is working towards this goal, and looks forward to engage this community in the process.