Happy living in a storyland

Happy living in a storyland

Eleven-year old Naman Sharma dressed in an achkan is held by a middle-aged woman who applies a deep shade of red lipstick on his lips to complete his look of the historical character ‘Tenali Rama’. “I am part of the play Pakshiyon ki Ginti. We will soon present it on stage,” he informs browsing through the books on display at the ongoing World Book Fair where the competition - ‘Popular Characters from literature come alive’ was in progress.

“I like books on art and craft, but for this play I issued the book Tenali Rama ki Chaturai Ke Kisse from our library,” he says informing about his preparation for the forthcoming drama event. Soon, his “Library aunty” comes looking for him and Metrolife is informed that he and his friends represent the charity library run by members of Children’s Library Trust in New Seemapuri.

“We try to inculcate reading habits among children. Children from all stratas of society come to us and some of them don’t even know how to read. It is with the help of books that we encourage them to learn to read. Other activities such as story-telling, reading competition and star-reader award (for those kids who are best readers in a year) help them gain confidence to participate in other public events such as this one organised by National Book Trust. After participating in these, they come back to us suggesting stories on which they want to perform skits,” informs Sudha Sharma, a member of the trust.

It is to encourage reading habits in children that the theme of this year’s World Book Fair is ‘Kathasagara: Celebrating Children’s Literature’. A number of publishers have brought their best titles to attract children to their stalls.

Topping this list are 3D books published by Kathputlee Arts and Films. “We have fairy tales and even graphic novels in 3D. In all, there are 16 titles excluding Pedia – art
education magazines for youngsters. One can see 3D images in these by wearing glasses available along with every book.” A one-of-its kind experience!

Some publishers have brought research-based books such as How to weigh an Elephant and Thangram of Mehgarh by Geeta Dharmarajan. “The first one teaches maths to children in a fun way, whereas the second makes use of the same pedagogy to educate children about our history,” explains Devaraj from Katha publishing house. He adds that the demand for books in Hindi seems to be on an all-time high and the picture books too are selling like hot cakes.

Supporting him, Tarun Monga, head of sales and marketing at Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd says, “The poster-sized colouring books enable kids to sit down and colour with ease. But an emerging trend can be seen in the sale of Chalk Books which are re-usable, like a chalk board.”

Even bilingual books, based on mythological characters (Jataka Tales) such as Rama, Bheem and others are gaining popularity, compelling teachers to buy them for school libraries. They, however, don’t mind buying them, “since these have stories which are meaningful and act as alternative to comics. We cannot negate the knowledge that life trajectories of our mythological characters teach us,” says a school teacher while packing all the books to surprise her proteges!   

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