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The ‘write’ boost for kids! | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

After writing a number of banking thrillers including Bankerupt, God Is A Gamer and The Incredible Banker, author Ravi Subramanian embarked on a completely different journey when he recently launched My First Book of Money. A children’s book, this one is miles away from his earlier works that were tales of murders and financial embezzlement. “I have always felt that writing for kids is the most difficult thing for an author. And if I manage to do that successfully, I would have achieved, in my mind, far greater success than what writing thrillers has brought me,” Ravi tells us.

Over the past couple of years, it seems that the children’s book space in the country has opened up with newer authors making a foray into this domain. They have found backing and encouragement from publication houses, who want authors to delve deeper into this space. Whatever be the reasons, and there are quite a few, it is a growing space with many possibilities.

More voices, more books

Sayoni Basu, Co-founder and Primary Platypus, Duckbill Books, believes that there has been a huge growth in the number of Indian authors writing for children, a trend which started about 10 years ago, but has escalated in the last five. “One of the reasons is that there are many new publishers in the children’s literature space. Hence, there are more avenues for new authors to be published. This also includes many self-publishing options,” she says.A few months ago, movie critic Raja Sen made his debut as an author with The Best Baker In The World. He had told After Hrs, “When you’re writing day in, day out for grown-ups who are trying to see analysis in your work, you have a different voice. When you do something like this, it’s so creatively liberating to let go of all that.”

Challenges galore

Facing competition from international writers, it’s no wonder that Indian authors find it hard to have a breakthrough in the market. “The first hurdle is that of perception,” believes Ravi. 

“Firstly, the common mantra seems to be ‘When I read a book, Indian authors are fine, but for my child I want foreign authors.’ Possibly because the feeling is that Indian authors write poor English,” he adds.  Secondly, I wonder why the market is willing to pay Rs 400 for a book by a foreign author, but won’t pay more than Rs 200 for a children’s work by an Indian writer,” he adds.

According to Vatsala Kaul-Banerjee, Publisher – Children, Hachette India, the main challenge is that young ones are attracted towards a host of other media and usually take their cues about what to read depending on what is popular abroad. “For a publishing house like ours, which prides itself on originality as well as quality of writing, illustration and production, there is also the competition from low-priced and low-quality books to deal with,” she opines.  

Literary boost

It’s not just publication houses that have come around when it comes to giving Indian authors their due when it comes to this space. Last year, a media house’s literary fest included a children’s section for the first time. Just last weekend, the city saw two literary fests, both dedicated to kids. Bookaroo 2018, held at Mount Litera School International, saw 22 writers, illustrators and storytellers mesmerise four to 14-year-olds over 50 sessions of dramatised reading, workshops and craft. Another children’s literary festival was held at the Cricket Club of India which included a storytelling session, drama workshop and interactions with authors among others.

Says Sachin Bajaj, executive committee member of CCI, and Vice Chairman of the library, “The entire idea was to engage with kids and bring them into our library to read. We want to get them away from their electronic gadgets and back into the world of reading books. This was also a platform to introduce them to good books and promote young Indian authors,” he says. With over 600 children participating in various sessions, Sachin says he doesn’t believe when people say kids aren’t reading anymore. “I’d say India is abuzz with children reading books!”

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