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As part of my Study Paper for my Journalism and Corporate Communication course at Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai, I had decided to write about Children’s Literature in India. Following which I had interviewed an illustrator, Editor of Children’s book and others in this line. Deeya Nayar of Tulika Publisher was kind enough to accept my request for an interview back in 2001. Much of my thoughts about publishing challenges of the Children’s book became an understanding for me during this interview.

Tulika’s books can be used as supplementary readers to the mainstream academic books. They have topics to complement and supplement subject books like English, History, Geography, Mathematics and Language learning tools. Tulika brings out both fiction and non-fiction books. “The non-fiction books are the most challenging ones,” says Ms. Deeya Nayar. They are challenging because of their role to represent real life facts in understandable and simple language.

Most of the books published so far, pays a lot of importance for moralistic teaching, value-based education. Parents expect the book to carry a moral at the end of any narrated story.  Tulika aims to counterbalance these attitudes by bringing out more books of Indian origin for Children and has a firm commitment to provide good quality books with proper text material and appropriate Illustration. The illustration plays a very important role for selection of a book for reading among Children. Ms. Nayar cites an incident like the time when a Child is allowed to browse through the library which is a rare occurrence and does not happen often. The child picks up books because it likes the illustration or an aspect in that book which captivates its imagination. The child would hold on to the books and would insist on buying that specific book.

“Books should not only be easily understandable but also have to challenge the child’s mind,” says Ms. Nayar. Working only within the vocabulary limit of the child, a writer may introduce new words, which could be contextually decipherable in the story for furthering the child’s vocabulary.

The Adults mostly select books for Children. Ms. Nayar feels, “the Parent should let the child go and allow it to select books on its own judgement.” Adults from their overprotective attitude scrutinise, and then, select a book based on whether it could be read by a child or not. Nearly 90% of the selections come under this category of Adult’s choice. Parents’ choose books with a moral or educational value. The pleasure of merely enjoying the book for its reading quality is not given an importance.

In treating serious issues for Children there is much caution employed by the publishing world. The sensitive subject has to be treated in manner that could be more easily understood by the Child without scaring them. The Child is usually more open towards new concepts than its Parent.

One such serious issue dealt concerning a current issues are published by Tulika under the section called ‘Think About.’ The subject dealt is current and taken from the environment that it constantly faces. Usually Children are protected from the hard truth of the world but the increasing exposure to riots and violence. It then becomes imperative that this information is disclosed to the Child without glossing over and with positive tones. The serious issues like Communal harmony, faith, special children and other Child affecting subjects; Tulika aims it for slightly older children, the 9 plus age group.

Books titled “Sorry, Best Friend” for the 9-10+ age group where Communal harmony is the subject dealt. The concept for the book has evolved from a workshop conducted in Delhi says Deeya. The stories in the book are compilation of the workshop’s outcome through interactive sessions between writers, illustrators and children. Book titled “One World” is again on communal harmony but on a global range. The book is where oneness among nations is dealt and for same age group. It contains stories, memoirs and activities.

“Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand?” is about acceptance of a child with impaired mobility. The Child is exposed to the idea that a disabled child is no different from itself and wishes to be accepted as their peers. This book is aimed at all age group and appears in simple and understandable verses.

Books like these are often a part of the curriculum and modify them creatively for ease in teaching the Child. These books could be used as a supplement to the curricular lessons and there by enhance the child’s learning.

Image Courtesy: http://www.tulikabooks.com/info/team