October 2nd will soon be upon us. We will celebrate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Some of us will take the opportunity to narrate stories about Gandhi to our children. For the current generation of young children, the implications and impact of the struggle for independence is something they have not known in their collective consciousness. But, they do know about the far-reaching impact of the teachings of Gandhi. Hence, this would be the perfect occasion to introduce My Gandhi Scrapbook. The book is apt for all school going children, including older ones.
Sandhya Rao, the compiler of this unique scrapbook, is an avid scrapbook enthusiast. A Scrapbook is personal and it is a canvas to explore and
express your inherent creativity without being bound by any rules. My Gandhi Scrapbook does just that, making the father of the nation become a part of your child’s life in a more participative way.
From the very beginning itself, she introduces this premise:
My Gandhi Scrapbook is a very thin book almost mirroring the look of a typical scrapbook. It is a book in which the author invites the children to become active participants. There is information about Mahatma Gandhi, but there are many empty spaces calling on the child to fill with his own thoughts, feelings and reflections on what Gandhiji means to him or her. The child can draw, write, stick and colour into the book without any restriction.
The book thankfully abandons a chronological account of Gandhi’s life. Instead, each page highlights some interesting aspect of his personality, or his life and influence. The pages are filled with many images and graphics: photographs, stamps, notes and what not. Quotes from his books and excerpts from letters are gently interwoven. You’ll find interesting and less known nuggets of information as well.
In between all this are little activities for kids. They have a chance to try out drawing Gandhi’s silhouette, stick their own pictures of him, scribble their observations, and of course, write down their own nuggets of information about Gandhi. This is one of those rare books which gives authorship to children. They are actively involved in making the book.
The last few pages of My Gandhi Scrapbook are blank. And that’s the way it should be. They are for the reader to add what he or she wants to about Gandhi. At the end of it all, this is not a book they read. It is a path of making Gandhi truly their own!
My Gandhi Scrapbook by Sandhya Rao
Indian publishers have come up with a great variety of bilingual books to introduce regional languages to children from an early age. However, for those who live abroad, the story is different. There is either a paucity of such books, or they are not accessible for parents and caretakers who may not be fluent in reading the local script. Geneticist Pridhee Kapoor sensed a lacuna in the market when she was looking out for books in Indian languages for her kids, while living abroad. Hence, she decided to write and publish such books herself. Three books later, the Founder and CEO of T4Tales is all geared up about the world of opportunities that this venture has opened up.
Excerpts from a conversation…
Das din, is an interactive lift the flap and pull tab Hindi board book for 0-6 year olds.
Gol Mol Bol is an old Hindi nursery rhymes book with downloadable music by Ramya Shankar for 0-6 year olds.
Bolo Kya? Is a lift the flap Hindi board book for 0-2 year olds.
All three books at the moment are in Hindi.
The objective has always been to spark an interest in children to learn Hindi in a fun way. But if you have a cheat sheet in English, it stops you from achieving that objective. A child or a parent will always take the easy way out and just read the book in English. The Hindi teachers I have met here complain of the same challenge with the current set of books at their disposal.
When we started writing the content, we were considering doing the books in only the actual script. When we showed our prototypes to some parents, most of them got back saying “Oh wow! I struggled to read the Hindi script. It has been too long” or “Oh I didn’t study Hindi when I was in school but I would like my child to learn Hindi”. Based on that feedback, my father, who has been in education for the last 30 years, suggested that we add the English transliteration, to help the parents and also older kids (who are confident with phonics) to read Hindi. It gives the child a sense of pride being able to read a Hindi book. Especially so for an older child who is trying to get comfortable with speaking and reading Hindi.
I also believe that there several other Indian book publishers that do a wonderful job with Hindi (and English translation) books.
Yes, the books by T4Tales are specifically for introducing the Indian language to infants and really young children.
I have heard back from parents of older children who didn’t think their kids would enjoy the book saying that their children have shared the books with teachers in class about how they good they felt to be able to read the book. I had a mom share with me that her 6-year-old daughter enjoyed the book so much that her daughter practiced her script writing by copying the words from the book on her own without the mom having to ask. That for me was a nice surprise since we were always targeting really young children.
I once attended a talk in Singapore about the history of pop ups and other interactive features in books. Popups had started coming up in the 1770s and were not made to keep children quiet or to teach them. These books were made to give children pleasure and help them understand the spatial orientation and movement being described in the books. Today’s children learn that easily from watching movement of characters on screens (especially in animation). They don’t need the books to help them understand. I was very intrigued by this. So I thought ‘What if we did it the other way round? What if you used interactive features to take kids away from screens?’
And that became my goal – to make board books with interactive elements that are so much fun, that kids don’t need to, or want to look at the screen to understand and learn something! Although financially the costs become higher, but if I can manage to pull one child away from the screen to learn Hindi, my job is done.
Based on the objective of T4Tales to expose little ones to Indian languages in a fun way through board books, we plan to do more board books with fun interactive elements. We hope to able to publish in other languages as well. We have always been asked if we would consider Tamil or Marathi or Gujarati. We hope to publish in those categories in the near future.
Staying in Singapore, when I shared the books with a school library that offered Hindi as a subject, to my surprise, the librarian got back to me saying that she had noticed that not only the Indian children but also children that did not speak Hindi were picking up our books. For me that was a great feedback in terms of illustrations. Pictures don’t speak a language yet can convey meaning. If the illustrations are able to connect with a child that can’t speak Hindi, the book in my mind has completed its objective of engaging that child to pick up a book and not a screen. To me that was the biggest benefit of a well-illustrated and good quality book.
Parents have got back saying that they are excited to read a Hindi book that won’t fall apart at the mercy of the little one’s hands!
At the moment most of the retail and distribution for T4Tales is directly through us or online through Amazon US, Amazon India and Shumee in India. But recently we have been contacted by boutique bookstores in India and US to stock our books. Our books are available on Amazon US which automatically makes it worldwide.
T4Tales has made an amazing start and opened up a world of possibilities for parents who want their young kids to be in touch with their mother tongue. We’re surely looking forward to new releases that promise to take our little ones on another flight to fantasy!
There are few leaders who leave an indelible mark in the world, not only during the times they live in but much beyond. Nelson Mandela is one such leader who continues to inspire long after his death. His autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, chronicles the story of the long and painful struggle for freedom in South Africa.
This amazing story has been beautifully abridged by Chris van Wyk and charmingly illustrated by Paddy Bouma, especially for children.
Those who have read the original autobiography, will understand that the task of picking out relevant bits to include in the children’s version would have been a Herculean one! Yet, Wyk has done a fantastic job on this one.
The text is in first person and traces Mandela’s life from his birth in a small village, a life filled with struggles and sacrifices, to finally become the first elected president of independent South Africa.
It also weaves in a lot of contextual information about apartheid, the various tribes of Africa and the political scenario of the times. This helps children connect with the book and place it in context.
When ‘Madiba’ as Mandela is called, was young, his father nicknamed him ‘troublemaker’. As the book traces the development of the playful child to the socially aware young adult who grew to be the staunchest supporter of equality and justice in the world, one realises how this label eventually became true, albeit in a very positive manner!
The parts about the development of the African National Congress and Mandela’s long prison sentence are particularly interesting. Mandela’s life had been long but filled with struggles and sacrifices on his part for the greater good. Long walk to freedom touches upon several such sad instances in a mature, simple and straightforward manner, quite apt for children.
The illustrations accompany the story beautifully. They aptly aid the understanding of the text. Starting off with a map, placing the geographic context the illustrations move with the story taking us through the life of one of the greatest men who ever lived!
Long walk to freedom, Nelson Mandela
Published by MacMillan
If you’re also inspired to read the actual autobiography, that’s a great idea as well!
I’ve always loved picture books, and the profound messages that these apparently simple books convey. In today’s competitive world where children enter the rat race in the same manner and intensity they should be entering playgrounds and parks, maybe, it is time to pause and really ask yourself and your children, what is their inner voice…Their true inner voice. Maybe, The Blue Songbird will facilitate this process.
Written by Vern Kousky, The Blue Songbird tells us the story of a little blue bird. It is springtime and a young songbird hears beautiful songs all around her. These joyous songs are sung by her sisters, who are, no doubt, quite accomplished singers. The little songbird wants to add to this. She wants to sing what her sisters sing and be a part of the chorus. But, she finds this difficult. She gets dejected.
Luckily, she has a wise mother. When she complains to her mother that she does not seem to blend in with her sisters, her mother advices her instead to stand out.
“My dearest one,” replied her mother, “Not just any notes will do.You must go and find a special song that only you can sing.”.
The songbird goes on her quest. The story follows her varied encounters with different birds. Finally, when she returns home she realises that she has her very own song to sing. This is because of her own experience, her own story born out of her travels, and her very own song created from her adventures!
The words in the book have a very simple lyrical quality to them. The watercolour illustrations are sure to delight!
This is a gentle way of instilling a desire for individuality, at ones own pace, in a child. It is an empowering book that you may want to turn to from time to time. Like the songbird, our children are all unique individuals who need to be set off on their own adventures of self-discovery so that they can discover who they really are and express themselves when they choose to. This process must take its own time and not be a hurried one. While we all know this simple truth intrinsically, sometimes it takes a little picture book to remind us. And, The Blue Songbird does the task well!
Published by Running Press Kids (20 April 2017)
A huge range of books are published each month globally, but choosing the right one can be a herculean task. Hence, to ease your efforts, our curation panel at Enchantico goes through an extensive curation method and picks the best 2 to 3 books for every age group.
The first book for our young readers aged 5 to 6 is about a princess named Cinnamon who stays along with her parents, Rajah and Rani, in the kingdom. She had eyes of pearls, meaning she is blind. She never spoke, either. The king and the queen were worried. A talking tiger then entered the kingdom to teach the human cub how to talk. Will he be able to do it? Or will Cinnamon never talk? Let’s find out with Neil Gaiman in ‘Cinnamon’, brilliantly illustrated by Divya Srinivasan.
The second book for our 5 to 6-year-olds will allow the kids to dive into the world of art and painting. Mona Lisa was just painted and she now rests in the Louvre Museum. But, one night she gets stolen. Mona Lisa is now missing! Everybody is panicking. Neither the cops nor the intelligence unit is able to find her. Will they be able to retrieve the world famous portrait of Mona Lisa? Or will she be gone forever? Presenting, Ruthie Knapp’s ‘Who Stole Mona Lisa?’ beautifully illustrated by Jill McElmurry!
The first book for our 7 to 8 year olds will take you back to the Aztec reign. Chantico is a young boy and wishes to be a soothsayer like his Uncle Ahcambal. But, one day a fiery comet appears in the sky and none of the priests are able to explain what it really means. King Moctezuma orders them to be killed. But young Chantico has the gift of second sight and has seen the future in his dream. He comes up with a plan to save his uncle from death. Will he be able to save his uncle? Or will the prophecy be considered false? Presenting Karen Wallace in ‘The Comet of Doom’!
The second book for our 7 to 8 year olds is a series of true stories about five animals who outsmart humans in a really amazing manner. From pick-pocketing parrots and farting fishes to baby-snatching monkeys and so much more, you’ll go bawling over the range of extraordinary antics pulled by these animals. Join in the fun with Nicola Davies in ‘Animals Behaving Badly’, exceptionally illustrated by Adam Stower.
For our readers aged 9 to 10, this month’s first pick is a story of the Bolds. They are just like you and me; they live in a nice house in Teddington and have a job too. But, there’s one slight difference, they’re not humans. They’re hyenas and this is their best-kept secret. They love to giggle and laugh and bawl over anything and everything. However, the next door nosy man smells a rat (a hyena in this case) and a trip to the nearest wildlife park, wacky heists and loads more might bring an end to the best-kept secret. Will the nosy man be able to reveal the secret? Or will the Teddington’s best-kept secret stay secret forever? Find out with Julian Clary in ‘The Bolds’.
The second book for our 9 to 10-year-olds is an amazing compilation of two crazy stories, Spaghetti Triangle and Teacher Trouble. John and Nicky love to eat everything from a piece of chocolate cake to a bowl of chips. But their strange aunt won’t let them eat anything raw. One day they slurp down a plate full of spaghetti and they want more. Jenny, on the other hand, has her first day at school, which is weird and it gets even weirder when she is mistaken for the teacher. Giggle, laugh and tickle your funny bone with these two amazing stories compiled in Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘Marvellous Mix-ups’, beautifully illustrated by Kate Hindley.
The first book for our grown up readers aged 11 to 12 is of Ned Waddlesworth who thinks that the world around him is exceptionally ordinary until he discovers it isn’t ordinary AT ALL! He is on a journey from leaving his home to joining a circus, when he realises that, without him, the world would be engulfed with monstrous beasts and beings. It’s up to Ned, now, to go on a magical mission to save the world. Will Ned along with his flying circus be able to save the day? Find out with Justin Fisher in ‘Ned’s Circus of Marvels’.
The second book for our 11 to 12 year olds is a fast-paced historical mystery adventure. Sophie and Lil find themselves faced with forgery, deceit, and trickery from all sides when a priceless picture is stolen from Mr Sinclair’s art exhibition. Be amazed as the duo put their wits to test to solve this perilous adventure filled with loads of questions and puzzles. Find out if they unmask the villain and prove themselves as worthy detectives with Katherine Woodfine in ‘The Sinclair’s Mysteries – The Painted Dragon’.
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Lend Me Your Ears: The Puffin Book of Elocution Pieces, edited by Terry O’Brien, is supposed to help students who are working on their elocution skills. While it surely accomplishes this aim, it does much more. It brings the best literary gems across genres and authors to the discerning reader. This is a book that any book lover will cherish!
But, coming back to its stated purpose- communicating effectively is a skill that is undoubtedly quite essential in survival kit of mankind. One of the formal ways of developing and assessing these skills is by elocution. Remember those elocution competitions at school? Or those very popular speech and drama classes that almost every child does nowadays? We have all heard various speeches but only some of them really stand out and entrench themselves in our minds and hearts.
Lend Me Your Ears presents a collection of poetry and prose that will add spice and meaning to your speeches. These are not merely run-off-the-mill pieces. Each one has been carefully handpicked and curated for its potential applications to public speaking.
The book starts off with a comprehensive checklist of how to improve and build on public speaking skills, including how to select the right piece. It is then divided into varied sections.The section on poetry presents a collection of well known poems from the annals of literature. It also elaborates on specific points to consider while reciting poetry. Appreciation of a poem is a prerequisite to understanding it completely and incorporating it in a speech or as an elocution piece. Hence, before each poem there is a short background note that aids understanding. From the evergreen “IF” by Rudyard Kipling, to poems of the English Romantic poets right through the Indian literati such as Tagore, Sarojini Naidu and the very beloved Ruskin Bond, it has enough to ponder over!
What I like best is the “Kiddies Corner” which has a selection of poetry especially meant for children. Leave behind the notion that poetry must be esoteric, and revel in these gems for children, coming from the best poets across ages.
Terry O’Brien has picked true gems from known classic works by American and English writers. There are excerpts from Indian writers as well, and that’s quite welcome!
Of course, when we talk about public speaking how can we forget famous speeches that have captivated generations so far? Many political speeches fall into this category. These historic orations by world leaders such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, John Kennedy and so on, will remind you of the time when political leadership truly inspired change through the power of words.
The prose section also has a ‘kiddies corner’, that follows the main prose selection of essays, independent features and short stories by well known writers. These are humorous or philosophical pieces that resonate with a wide group of readers.
Elocution and drama are overlapping and related. The last section comprises of extracts from well known plays. Shakespeare obviously takes centre stage here! Anything that has to do with good language must include Shakespeare, and the book has charming selections from the bard’s works.
Lend Me Your Ears took me back to some very pleasant memories of studying literature at school and college. It reasserted the belief that words do make a difference and that the ingredients of powerful speeches can be found amidst the beautiful world of literature! Lend me your ears is a handy book that provides for interesting reading, definitely for young readers who seek to build on their public speaking (and writing) skills, but also for older children and adults. In my opinion you could safely add it to the collectible list!
Lend Me Your Ears: The Puffin Book of Elocution Pieces, edited by Terry O’Brien
Penguin Random House India (5 July 2017)
SpinTales takes storytelling to an enchanting level. With a duvet that immerses the child into an augmented reality experience and a rug that takes interactivity to another level, this product is a game changer indeed!
Narendra Ghate, Chief Designer Research, Service Design & User Experience Design, Tata Elxsi chats with Bookedforlife about this fascinating concept.
Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality are some of the futuristic technologies, which several industries are adopting. Welspun – one of the largest home textile manufacturers is one of the forerunners to adopt the augmented reality technology in textiles.
Welspun had a vision to launch smart textiles for storytelling for children. The idea was to make home textiles more than just an upholstery, and make it more immersive and engaging for kids. Tata Elxsi was a preferred design and technology partner of choice for Welspun. We helped Welspun to envision their idea to reality.
The Duvet and Rug are interactive and innovative textiles for kids, age three and up. The experience is uniquely interactive for both children and parents, with a focus on multi-dimensional storytelling, educational activities, and Augmented Reality. It is an experience that kids love.
By scanning the specified markers on the rug or duvet (using a tablet or smartphone), children can view characters in Augmented Reality. It feels like you are part of their world and you learn a bit more about the world they live in. SpinTales is the first of many experiences that is introduced and launched by TILT.
The above-mentioned stories are available in the interactive duvet. In the interactive rug, one will find jungle themed stories. Currently, three different stories are available in the rug and the duvet. The number of stories are expected to be added soon.
The activities are based on the stories, which are similar in nature. The duvet for instance has activities like Little Red Riding Hood baking cookies. In the Jungle Rug you will have this character Milo making fruit juices. The difference is mostly in terms of ergonomics.
While playing with the rug, the child will be standing, but while using the duvet kids would be mostly lying down on the bed with the duvet covered on them. Hence, from a design aspect we had to consider the height from where the duvet / rug is accessed. This is to ensure that the markers are detected when the tablet / smart phone is pointed at the rug / duvet.
Users need to follow the washing instructions as specified by the brand – TILT.
SpinTales is targeted for both playtime and bedtime. Instead of being a purely digital product, SpinTales connects the screen experience with physical activity.
To experience the beauty of Augmented Reality technology, one needs to move around. This is gives users to not just involve in physical activities, but to also enjoy the benefits of digital technology.
In addition, there are specific games, which encourages users to get involved in more physical activities and exercises. For instance, there is a game called ‘Frog and the Yoga poses’ which will encourage kids to emulate the yoga postures done by the frog. Also there is an Augmented Reality game where kids need to collect flowers by walking around on the rug.
Yes. The plan is to add more stories with fresh content and new activities. The app will be the same but the content will be upgraded. For instance, there might be bonus chapters in future for Christmas and Easter etc.
The feedback for SpinTales has been amazing and has been well received from both parents and their kids alike. SpinTales was initially launched for the US markets but it is also now available in India in stores namely Hamleys and Home Centre.
SpinTales has brought an innovative concept to merge the worlds of storytelling and technology. Time will take the magic to new heights!
Here are some lovingly curated books for the 5-6-year-old age group. …read on and have fun!
Daisy has been picked to look after the class hamsters, Pickle and Pops during Easter and she is absolutely excited to play her part. ANDDDDDD!!! Her mother’s taking her to Chocolate Land! Yayy… But wait, the trouble is that these two events shouldn’t mix up! Will she be able to take care of the hamsters? Will she be able to visit Chocolate Land?
What we love: We love how Daisy tries to multitask throughout the Easter Holidays to make sure that everyone around her stays happy.
What kids will love: Kids will love Pickle and Pops’ hilarious findings’ diary. They will love Daisy’s adventurous spirit and the rush for chocolates!!!
Know the lives of many dogs and their love for their owner, and vice versa in this funny illustrated read.
What we love: We love how the book spreads the message of love and care for dogs and animals, in general.
What kids will love: Kids will love the funny stories and poems. They will be delighted to peruse through the many dog illustrations.
A girl named Champa a.k.a Guddu lives in a village few miles away from Mithila. She is about to introduce you to her teeny tiny village with Titli Didi and Ma and Chinibas and her favourite squirrel pets named Kutkut and Jhurmut and birds named Kokila and Kaliya and more and more and more. This read is a heart-warming humorous narrative that will make you smile for sure.
What we love: We love how Champa has introduced us to the many nuances and elements of her village. We also love how loving and caring she is towards her animal friends.
What kids will love: Kids will love the Madhubani art illustrations in the book. They will love Champa’s heart-warming tale of love and friendship.
This is all for now, but we will soon be back for even more delightful reads for children!
For more book recommendations…and better still, an option of getting a book box right at your door step, do visit Enchantico by clicking on the link below:
Art transcends the boundaries of age. It is never too early to introduce works of great artists to children. This is why we love the Mini Masters series of board books for children. The aim of this particular series is to introduce impressionist painters to toddlers (and parents for the uninitiated!)
Each title in the Mini Masters series pairs simple verses with some of the most famous paintings in the history of art.
We often assume that great art requires very advanced interpretation skills. This could not be farther than the truth. The Mini Masters series brings famous Impressionist Painters to the minds and hearts of very young children.
Each book is centered on one painter. Authors Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober have successfully paired the beauty of the impressionist paintings with rhyming verse. As you turn the pages, there is a painting on each page and a little rhyme connected to the painting. Each new page reveals a new painting and the verse that connects all the paintings together till the end describes each painting in a fun and lyrical way.
Little children love rhyming lines. They love looking at pictures as well and these books combine the two things seamlessly.
A look at some of the individual books in the series:
In A Picnic With Monet, Claude Monet’s light filled paintings take the children on an enchanted picnic, right into the artist’s flower garden.
In The Garden With Van Gogh takes a look at his countryside paintings with enriching rhymes.
Dancing With Degas explores the magical world of ballet dancing complete with the toe shoes, tutus and of course, the ballerinas.
A Magical Day With Matisse visits his bright and vibrant works.
Each board book is sturdy enough for the curious little hands that will explore it! The names of the individual paintings are not given on each page, but at the end.
The Mini Masters series of books is a charming and lyrical introduction to art. It is the best way to introduce children to great paintings of the world, and some really spectacular artists!
Do share your experiences with the series (or other similar books) in the feedback section below.
Sonia Mehta, who has been writing for children for over two decades, brings the saint back to life in Junior Lives: Mother Teresa. This book is the first title in a series of illustrated biographies created for young readers. The aim of the series is to get to know our world heroes better.
This book sets a great example for the rest of the titles to follow. Mother Teresa’s life is narrated in form of a story. This is something that always works with children. It traces the story of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the young girl from Albania who transformed into the beloved Mother Teresa, the epitome of humanity.
Written in a very engaging way, it is packed with little-known facts which make it all the more interesting. Speckled with stories and incidents from her life, the book aptly takes the reader through the saint’s childhood, her decision to become a nun, her tryst in India and her work with the poor. It ends with her journey to sainthood. It thus presents in a simple and easy-to-read manner the story of one of the most important people who ever lived!
The illustrations make the book lively. There are several side-boxes and side-bars that highlight additional explanatory information. Hence, this does not break the flow of the story and at the same time gives a lot of background information that is relevant to the story. For example, in the chapter on Mother Teresa’s decision to become a nun, the side-box explains in a lucid manner the different steps involved in the process of becoming a nun. In another chapter that describes the caste-system in India, there is a diagrammatic representation of the same.
Besides the interesting trivia presented throughout the book, there is a selection of quotes and a timeline at the end, illustrations of commemorative stamps, as well as a list of resources used by the author for the well-rounded research.
In all, Puffin Books India’s Junior Lives: Mother Teresa is a great way to get young readers to know about the saint!
Puffin Books India
Author: Sonia Mehta
Illustrator: Aditya Krishnamurthy