Rohini Nilekani on The Journey of Pratham Books


Via Deccan Chronicle

But as the saying goes that most good things do not come easy, books reaching out to one of the most important segment of the population seemed like a dream that was far fetched. Although only at first.

The fact that there was a necessity to break this barrier began to take shape in a room when like-minded individuals brainstormed on the way forward. Getting books to go to where the children are was an idea that needed to be executed.

For Rohini Nilekani, the task at hand was enormous considering the sheer numbers when it came to children who had no access to reading material. But she relentlessly pursued the idea, to the extent that she made a decision to let Pratham Books become an independent entity that can aggressively attack the insufficiency of accessibility an availability of books. 

“I remember the discussion some of us were having about the issue and we were grappling with finding ways to beat it. That’s when I realised that if we needed to work this out, it had to be an institution by itself. That was the magnitude of the work required and I decided that I needed to shift my focus on this entirely. That’s how Pratham Books was initiated seven years ago,” stated the philanthropist and chairperson of Pratham Books.
 And today, Pratham Books being one of the largest in the children’s publishing sector, it has reached out to many million children with over eight million books and nine million story cards shipped out across the nation to libraries, schools and other centres.  
According to her, among the many reasons, one of missing puzzles was availability. She further added, “There was not much for children to read in general in the market and child-friendly books were very few. This lack of reading material can affect the entire ecosystem of reading. Especially in today’s time of textbook and knowledge based society and learning. It was imperative that children experience the joy of reading and what better way to inculcate this than with books that can appeal to the likes and understanding of a child? And that is how books published by us are designed. It had to be simple with good graphics with the visual complementing the text.”  
 The idea and effort, while started off with one person’s vision, had to be collaborated with various stakeholders to ensure sustainability. And Ms Nilekani was clear that bringing authors, illustrators and producers of books together to build a reading country while also relying on markets, philanthropists and the state who is responsible for its’ children, was of utmost importance for the goal to be accomplished.  
It’s been a seven-year journey and Pratham Books continues to gear itself further towards more growth to be able to reach the 160 million kids in every nook and corner of the country, stated Ms Nilekani. 
“It is about geography and technology. In the coming years, India’s broadband will be more widespread. We should also be poised for that technological milestone and while making technology more ubiquitous, make reading too synonymous with it. It is our hope that some day soon every child will be reading well,” she added.

Read the entire article here.

There are a few mistakes in the article. The article mentions that we’ve published 170 titles in 14 languages. Pratham Books has published 215 titles in 11 languages.


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