Books were indeed my best friends in childhood and naturally my best memories revolve around reading. I was introduced quite early in childhood to the mesmerising world of literature and books. My father,being a voracious reader and a talented writer himself,ensured that I always had something to read on. As time passed,I started becoming choosy with the genres I picked and that has been perhaps the only difference as I grew up.
So when Blogchatter announced that the final session of #BlogchatterWritFest Season 6 was going to be about “Writing Books that Children Enjoy” I knew I didn’t want to miss this one!
I shall briefly write on the excerpts from the live session as well as my childhood experiences linked to the same.
It was good to listen to the active discussion between the noted children’s authors, Khyrunnisa A, Vidya Mani and Vibha Batra as they talked about the challenges involved as well as the selection of themes when it came to designing a book for the children. I could very well relate to it as the apt book selection was exactly the reason why I became a fan of them in the first place.
Why Childhood reading?
A question that I have often heard of late is regarding the need for reading habits in childhood. As we all know,in the present era of advanced telecommunications and technology,reading a book is getting underrated these days. Many people do not understand why it is important to keep a company of good books. This was not the case a couple of decades back. Visual media hadn’t exerted so much of an irongrip in those days and hence books were something much sought after.I still remember the joy of holding a new book in my hands,inhaling the scent of the fresh pages all of which are colorful memories still vivid in mind. In those days,the best gifts we used to receive were books-something the new generation may not comprehend fully.
Though e-books have played a major role in bringing back people to reading,I would say that it is never a good means for inculcating the habit in our younger generation.The very essence of reading is brushing past the leaves of a book letting the imagination fly.E-books might be more handy but they never give the pleasure of the activity.On the contrary,it may even hinder the reader from pursuing it further.
As Khyrunnisa had pointed out in the discussion,the attention span of a child is to be considered as priority while creating a book for them.Once the child feels that there is nothing in it to motivate him to keep reading,he/she would abandon it all together.So any author who ventures into children’s books must not only think like a child but be a child.
What should a child read?
I remember very well that English Classics were my first reads-as a kid-while I read the simplified versions for children of some,for the others I read the Malayalam translations.Irrespective of the language in which I gulped them down,the stories lingered in my mind and made everlasting impressions.I am a big fan of mystery thrillers and adventures and it all started with Enid Blyton’s “The Famous Five” back then as I progressed to my upperclass primary.Then came along the favourite Harry Potter series during my adolescence which played a huge role in bringing all children back to the magical world of reading.I remember we had the full collection of the plays of William Shakespeare in Malayalam which I started reading into as I completed my tenth.
As a child I was satisfied to remain as a reader save the occasional scribbling downs of which my cousins still make references to this day!But I believe that a good writer would always be a good reader.And for being a good author for the child,sometimes I feel that the effort that needed to be put is much more and that is where I’m in awe of these gifted personalities.
A child should always be offered an illustrated book for his first time.Those large font books with paintings and drawings would always attract the little minds.It would also allow them to have their own imaginations and interpretations as they read further.
As Vidya Mani had rightly said,the efforts for reading must start in childhood itself to give them a better perspective.
My favourite part of the session was when the host asked the guests to recommend their favourite books to children.
A book which particularly caught my attention was Vidya Mani’s favourite, “The Why-why Girl” by Mahasweta Devi.That did awaken the child in me and I decided I am going to get one to give my children too!
Selection of the right book for children demands a lot of planning and research.The earlier a child is introduced to the world of words,the better it is.In the olden days,there wern’t many a books by Indian authors but that is hardly the case now.But to ensure that the younger generation picks up books, efforts must be made to make them available for the specific age groups.
Book launches and functions like “Chat with the author’ can definitely make a huge difference in this regard ,especially at school level.
Let our children experience the joy of reading! Let us not deny them the opportunity!
Written as part of BlogchatterWritFest