The dawn in Indian villages or the humid air of Indian cities can be explained beautifully only by an Indian author. The dichotomy between characters from different cultures and sections is popularised by Indian authors.
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was the first Indian novelist who published his fiction Rajmohan’s Wife in English in 1864. Kabuliwallah and other short stories written by Rabindranath Tagore were some of the earliest short stories that touched the hearts and minds of Indians for their focus on social issues in India. Through their literature, Indian authors created a window for the world to view the rich tradition and culture of India. The essence of Indian Literature further evolved with writings by Satyajit Ray which introduced the genre of adventure stories. R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Adventures and Swami and his Friends introduce readers to ordinary characters from rural India to depict human feelings and interactions in a subtle way. Stories written by Ruskin Bond take the readers on a virtual trip to the valleys in Mussoorie. Sudha Murthy, a successful engineer, and teacher paved the way for professionals who envisioned to be successful authors.
Today, the number of stories written by Indian authors has grown by leaps and bounds. The most treasured are the picture books by Indian authors which enable the readers to connect to an array of themes and languages. Many illustrators use varied art forms to share stories that exhibit the diversity of Indian art. Raising multilingual and bilingual readers is now achievable due to the wide range of bilingual books by Indian authors. Three years ago, my students delved into setting up a Mother Tongue Language Corner in our Primary Year Programme Library. It is here that we do read-aloud sessions for and by grandparents who are important partners in the development of reading in children and support the mother-tongue language. Several Indian picture book authors are now coming into the limelight with the accolades like Jarul Book Award where students use their voice and choice to choose the best Indian Picture book. The Insect Boy by Shobha Vishwanath is a delight to a reader as it has interesting organization of facts to read both ways with different endings and ensures language development through numerous alliterations. Storyweaver.org is now providing a platform for budding Indian authors to publish stories in different Indian and international languages. Indian authors’ stories enable children to instantly connect with their personal experiences and thus provide a wider scope for integration with the IB Curriculum.
We are aware of the famous quote “A Book is a precious gift which you can open again and again.” The book – In the Dark written by Gita Wolf and co-author Sirish Rao published by Tara Book is one such treasure for any library not only because of its eye-catching illustrations by and hand calligraphed Sufi tale well written to appeal to the modern age readers but also because of the cost of the book.
By – Chaitali Shirali
The thrill to share my experience about a topic so close to my heart is almost dizzying!
From collection development to promoting Indian authors, this journey for an Indian librarian, especially in an International school, becomes du jour!
With the growing number of Indian authors and illustrators catering to almost every age group, it becomes mandatory for an Indian librarian to go that extra mile and promote Indian authors.
Thanks to the various publishers, the format and content of Indian authors’ books are far more readable, likable, and socially relevant than before compared to the previous text heavy and almost melancholically illustrated CBT books .
With the current publishers bringing out books brilliantly illustrated with Indian art forms and by contemporary artists and graphic artwork, building this section in the library is a treat.
As Rudine Sims says, books are windows, mirrors, and sliding doors; students need to see themselves represented in books. The argument for being a diverse and inclusive library is still not enough. Therefore, as Indian librarians serving students in India in international or local schools, we must go that extra mile.
So how does one go about it?
1.Well, the very first thing I would recommend, as is universally known, is to know your collection. Right from books for Early Elementary (PreK) to your highest classes, this is imperative. Alongside check out if your library has similar books written by Indian authors.
There is an extensive variety from bright board books for the very young (like the 10 Noisy Rickshaws written by Reena Puri and Mital Telhan, published by Desi Babies) to stories for Young Adults (like Nomad’s Land by Paro Anand published by Talking Cub).
There is no math involved that can provide you with the equation that you should have an x number of books by Indian authors for every age or grade. So go with your instinct. And budget.
2.As we all know, building a collection doesn’t translate into book circulation or exposure to books, or readability. Just like any other product, you have to advertise. You are your own library’s advocate and the voice of the books by Indian authors. Just the way you know your collection, try to get hold of the curriculum overviews, talk to teachers, find out what they are reading in class, and go back and find a similar book written by an Indian author and push that in. Voila! You would have created a local to global connect, too, apart from supporting the curriculum. For example, if a 6th grade teacher asked for a riveting book on mythology and fables, apart from suggesting maybe the Percy Jackson series introduce her to the Aru
Shah series. Everyone knows of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Now bring in ”Sunu Sunu snail” When a class is doing a unit on Aesop’s fables, go ahead connect the stories to Panchatantra and Hitopadesha.When students rave about Harry Potter, introduce them to Anand from Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Conch Bearer. If the topic in the class is about the Chernobyl Disaster in The Blackbird Girls, lead them to Suroopa Mukherjee’s Salim’s Journey through Hell on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
Celebrate Indian authors!
Every August and January, you have genuine reasons to promote Indian authors. Help your students show their love for India by reading about India or by Indian authors.
Bring in the authors! By simply hanging their posters to bringing in the authors for a visit or book talk, continue the conversations. In a virtual world, this is easy by doing zoom calls or webinars and connecting students with authors. Vendors help generously by providing this bridge. From Mahashweta Devi to Anushka Ravishankar, everyone is welcome! They are legends, and only you can make them superstars, so take printouts, put them next to the shelves with their books, or use your imagination to display them in the library creatively!
And don’t forget the illustrators!
They are the unsung heroes who bring books alive from the stunning folk art of Mamta Nainy’s Bioscope illustrated by Shanti Devi to mixed media of Macher Jhol written by Richa Jha and richly illustrated by Sumanta Dey. They are as much a visual treat as they are a literary feast.
So ahead, do your part.
Love India, Read India!
By Sushweta Saha
From time immemorial, India has been rich in its literature. We have many regional languages, and each region has famous writers, such as Munshi Premchand, Rabindranath Tagore, and more. In pre-British era India, regional literature flourished since it was written in the language commonly used. These writers, at that time, were well known and respected. In post-British India, English-medium schools mushroomed. Here the emphasis was on the English language. Speaking in the Mother language was discouraged, and hardly any literature in that language was available. Mother language was delegated as a second language. Many children did not know how to read or write in them. Then came globalization, the popularisation of international curriculums, and the importance of Western authors came with it. However, there is now a growing trend and need to promote Indian authors and their works.
Parents can read or narrate stories written by Indian authors at home and tell them the author’s name and a bit about them. Families can discuss books and stories during meal times.
Teachers or librarians can read or tell stories from Indian mythology or Indian folk tales to create interest in our history and culture at school. They can tell stories about India’s freedom struggle.
Books by publishers like Story Weaver, Pratham, and Katha can be used. The mention of character names like Raju, Raghu, Amma makes the stories extremely relatable.
Librarians can have a separate shelf and list of books by Indian authors. New books can be displayed in an eye-catching place.
Sometimes an Indian author can be invited to interact with the students and launch their book.
Students can go on book launches as field trips. To meet a “real” and a “live author and to hold a signed book is a cherished moment for all students.
The library can have an ‘Indian Author’ month when students can be encouraged to read all the books written by that author. Then students can vote for their favourite.
The library can also have a peer suggestion program.
Schools can organize literature festivals where students can meet and interact with authors.
Translated works by Indian authors who write in regional language can also be introduced.
By Kirtida Thakkar