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Fun with the Grammar Skill Builder Series by Puffin Books

The Skill Builder Series (Puffin) aims at providing fun-filled, lively and comprehensive educational material that provides practice for students. Any teaching aid that is convenient and easy-to-use finds application in schools and at home. After a successful run with the Phonics series, the Grammar Skill Builder Series is here to add a dash of fun to grammar! 

The series of four books are a part of The Skill Builder series that encompasses a wide range of skills such as numerical, logical, critical thinking and language skills. 

Our conversation with Sonia Mehta who has compiled the series…

The Skill Builder Series fulfils a much-needed lacuna in the market- it provides for books that reinforce key concepts through practice. Tell about the process of conceptualization of the Grammar Series. 

To give you a brief background about why we decided on the skill builder series, I’ll step back a bit. For the last several years, at Quadrum, the company I co-founded with my husband Dushyant Mehta, we have been creating educational content for publishers. We’ve built a large team of teachers, educators, writers and designers who are familiar and have worked with educational content. We have also been closely in touch with schools and children as we researched and created and books. This is when we also took on developing an entire pub-list of supplementary educational books for Puffin. Over the last few years, we have created a large number of titles as part of the Puffin Learning programme. It was while doing market research for this list, that the idea of Skill Builders came to us. Today, the focus is as much on soft skills as it is on academic skills. So, we created the Skill Builder series, that not only focuses on the academic aspects of Math, Science, Phonic and Grammar skills, but also on the 21st century soft skills like conflict resolution, collaboration, decision making etc. 

Speaking about the Grammar series, the importance of grammar cannot be stressed enough. I believe that having strong language and grammar skills helps build confidence to communicate among children. As adults we know today that having the mastery over your first language makes a tremendous difference to your work and personal life. And it’s never too early to start. That’s why we created the Grammar Skill Builder series, along with our teams of teachers, who are hands on teachers of these subjects.

With diverse boards such as IGCSE, ICSE, CBSE and varied state boards, how do you ensure that these books are relevant across categories?

All the subjects that the Skill Builder series tackles, deal with topics that are the foundation of that subject. So whichever the board, these topics do get covered. The content is thus ‘board agnostic’. It’s the level at the which the child is, and when he or she is ready to tackle these that varies. And that is up to the parents when they buy the level that best suits their child.

What is the age group that the books 1-4 roughly target?

All the books in the Skill Builder series have been created across 4 levels – from 1 through 4. We have stayed away from being specific for either age group or grade, because when out of school, we believe every child must be allowed to learn at his or her own pace. This gives the parent the flexibility to choose the level that their child is comfortable with. But broadly the books are levelled at ages 5 to 9 – though it depends on the learning level of specific children. 

The books have been designed in a very attractive manner as well. Filled with colour and illustrations, these actually make practicing grammar fun. Do share the feedback you have received for the same. 

We have got terrific feedback from parents so far. With summer holidays coming up – and kids having to endure extended periods of lockdown coupled with online school, we have got feedback that parents and kids have found these books fun and very useful. Parents are feeling extra pressured these days to give their kids that little additional practice to help supplement what they are learning in school, mainly because they are missing out on the direct teacher interaction. This series has helped bridge that to a great extent. 

You have been quite versatile in your writing for children and have a depth of experience in the area. As online schooling and interactive e-workbooks gain steam, how do you visualize the relevance and positioning of traditional workbooks? 

It’s true that the world is turning digital at an incredibly rapid rate. Online schools have only further speeded up the process. Everywhere parents are seeing how intuitive their kids are getting when using technology. However, the flip side of this is the awareness that parents have of exposing children too much to screen time too early. This where this series helps. Because it is filled with fun interactive activities, kids enjoy putting pen to paper. So even if the digital wave keeps growing, I don’t see that the physical will reduce too much – especially at the early ages. It’s in the pre-teen and teen years that digital is likely to take over.

We really enjoyed the Phonics Series and the Grammar Series added on the value of the Skill Builder Series. What’s next in the pipeline?

Taking forward the importance of language and communication, I’m really excited about the new series in our line-up. This is a pure vocabulary series, because building a good vocabulary is corollary to good grammar. The VOCBULARY MADE EASY series – also across four levels – is a ready reference series that helps children find new words, make sense of them and learn to use them better. It is themed and levelled and also has fun information, riddles and jokes interspersed. English is a beautiful language, and when children discover the joy of using new words, they are bound to become even better at it and enjoy it even more. 

And while we work at phonics and grammar, we just can’t wait for the Vocabulary Series! 

Dhanishta Shah

Dhanishta is a freelance writer, going strong on a quest to explore a variety of topics and avenues for generating purposeful content. A self-confessed bibliophile, she is the Founder of Bookedforlife.

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