Shopping for children books
April 7, 2010
I am often quizzed about where I buy books for Aru. While I do visit Crossword and Landmark occassionally, I have to admit that I am not exactly thrilled by the choices offered by them. So, I generally keep hunting for kids’ books via different sources. The list below covers most of our current sources.
In addition to these, there are local bookstores in Pune, who keep a good collection of kids’ literature. I do plan to post a review of the local bookstores in Pune sometime soon 🙂
I have ordered quite a few books from them for Aru and they are quite a hit at our place.
I discovered Pratham Books through a friend who has illustrated some of their books. Her mother works as a Content Director for Pratham, Mumbai. Pratham is an NGO that works in the field of child education. Pratham Books come from their not-for-profit publishing division. They endeavour to develop good quality, reasonably priced, supplementary education material primarily for Pre-Primary and Primary school kids. (They are also coming out with curricular and other books for older kids, but that seems like a more recent project.) The study material gets used primarily in Municipal schools and other schools in relatively poorer neighbourhoods. So, naturally their books are mainly written in regional languages, which then get translated to different regional languages and also English.
I had seen their Marathi books and found that the content and quality of books was superior to lot of children’s books you’d find in many popular bookstores in Pune. Aru quite liked them when I read them out to her. So, I went ahead and ordered quite a few books in English. When they arrived, I was slightly disappointed, mainly with some of the stories, but the disappointment was short-lived. They instantly clicked with Aru. For one, she could read the ones from the ‘Pre-school category’ all by herself and others with a little help from me – so naturally she was thrilled. The stories are quite simple and uncomplicated, which I think works very well for kids who are just learning to read, because they can concentrate on reading and still ‘get’ the story. Personally, I think their books under the ‘Pre-school’ category are great for kids who are just beginning to read.
(Lesson for me – you are not always a good judge of what your child would like to read and like to be read!)
So, there! Do hop over to their site and discover the khazana of some of the most reasonably priced, very good quality reading material for your kids 🙂
Katha is another popular source of kids’ literature for us. Their books, however, are more relevant for 3 year and above – though thats my personal opinion. I bought a couple of Katha books when I visited ‘Sreebhumi’ in Kolkata; Aru was around 2 year old at that time. They did not click with her. However, recently Katha books are one of her favourites.
The quality of their books is very good and quite a few of their books have won the ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ awards. Good stories, very good illustrators who experiment a lot with different forms and styles – overall a very good experience. They have also come up with some very good books in the ‘Katha World Series’. ‘Katha World Series’ presents works of some European authors translated into English.
‘The song of the Scarecrow’, ‘The Princes with longest hair’, ‘Mo…aaaning Morris’, ‘A Lion in Paris’ are some of our favourites these days.
3) Tulika Books
Tulika offers a wide variety in kids’ literature. Their books are very Indian and the stories are based in various parts of India. Various cultures, traditions, behaviours are very naturally incorporated in the stories. The illustrations depict very Indian images, are mostly in Indian folkart and hence very rich in colour and their form and styles. Thanks to Tulika, Kolam and uruli are part of Aru’s vocabulary 🙂
Tulika is also a very good source of bi-lingual books. This may appeal to Indians settled in other countries who want to introduce their kids to their mother tongue. They also have picture books for very young kids – 6 month – 1yr olds 🙂
4) Karadi Tales
Karadi tales are also integral part of our lives these days 🙂 From the site you can see that they have audiobooks, picturebooks, video books a.k.a DVDs etc., however, our experience is limited to their audiobooks. In audiobooks they have a good collection of mythological stories, folk tales, panchatantra stories, kids’ rhymes (rhymes which have a very indian theme). The Karadi Rhymes are simply loved at our place. The stories are narrated by Karadi, the bear, their main storyteller. Lending their voice to Karadi are some very well known theatre personalities in India like Saeed Jaffery, Naseeruddin Shah, Tom Alter, Girish Karnad, so you can rest assured that the narration will be superb. The style of narration is very good, the characters are very colourful and have very interesting names – a crow couple is called Kala and Karupi, the stories are interspersed with songs, there are very vivid descriptions of the settings.
They also offer bi-lingual books. We own their audiobooks in both English and Hindi. However, I have to admit that we like their Hindi books more than the ones in English. I think the drama, songs and dance etc. creates more impact in your own language. In English they sound too polished and sophisticated 🙂 This is ofcourse my personal opinion!
Jyotsna guys are fairly well-known in Pune. I think, in general, they are pretty well-known amongst the Marathi speaking populace. I was introduced to Jyotsna by a friend when he gifted Aru a set of 6 booklets by Madhuri Purandare. During same time Jyotsna had come up with some very good set of books for teenagers – Marathi translations of Iranian stories by some famous Iranian authors. These books retained the original illustrations from Iranian books. I bought a couple of them and quite liked them. Lateron, English translations of these books were also published by Jyotsna. I liked the books so much that I bought the entire set of books for Aru; to be read when she grows up 🙂 ‘Vachu Aanande’ by Madhuri Purandare, also from Jyotsna is another very good compilation from them – a must for all Maharashtrian households with kids. So, the crux of the matter is that they have very good Marathi books for kids.
Their website is not of much use, however, if one is in Pune one can easily find their books in local bookstores.
6) Tara Books
Tara books are a class apart! And no, we don’t own any Tara books nor have we seen any, but I surely have reasons why I want to own some. Their books are presented in a lot of Indian folk styles – Patua from West Bengal, Warli from Maharashtra, Gond Tradition from MP and many mmore. Their books are priced slightly on the higher side, however, I think if you have a look at the books, the prices will seem justified.