Parag, an initiative of TATA Trusts, works towards development and access to good quality Indian literature for children. Parag supports various initiatives like setting up school and community libraries, professional courses for educators, and awards. Through the Big Little Book Award (BLBA), Parag recognises significant contribution of authors and illustrators to Indian literature for children. Each year BLBA selects one Indian language for the award and thereafter supports the growth of children’s literature of the chosen language.
KathaVana is an annual children’s literature festival organised by Azim Premji University to promote reading among children and to expose them to stories in English and Kannada. The festival has book exhibitions, storytelling and story reading sessions, workshops for teachers and librarians, panel discussions on topics of relevance to children’s literature, and many fun activities.
BLBA-Parag and KathaVana-APU have collaborated to support developing contemporary children’s literature in Kannada through writing workshops, translations, and recommended book lists. To begin we are organising a writing workshop for authors in April 2020.
Rationale and Objective of Writing Workshop
The objective of the writing workshop is to identify fresh voices in Kannada children’s literature, that can contribute to contemporary writing for children in Kannada, and to increase the number of high quality children’s books accessible and available for young readers. There are limited books for children available in Kannada, in terms of quality, range of age-groups addressed, and variety of genres (types of books) available. In the work of both BLBA and KathaVana, we have located moralistic folktales, comic books, short stories, novels and some informational books for children, but these are sparse in terms of quantity, and many are of dubious literary and production quality. Most importantly, we found that there is very little innovation in terms of writing for contemporary children in Kannada, and there is little awareness of trends that are currently shaping children’s literature in India and elsewhere. This leads to a gap that is filled by Pan-Indian publishers who promote translated literature for children. By itself, translations are desirable, but they are not sufficient. We also need new, innovative writing for children in Kannada. But, who will write for children in Kannada? Older, more established writers can definitely contribute; but there is a pressing need for mentoring new, fresh voices in writing for children in Kannada. It is with this intent that this workshop is being organized.
The main objectives of the workshop are:
Call for manuscripts was announced in early February. Aspiring or emergent writers for children can apply by sending in a single sample of their writing. The manuscripts will be screened by a team of children’s literature experts, and 15 selected candidates will be invited to join the workshop. In the first round of manuscript screening we will be looking for manuscripts are well written, creative and contemporary pieces. A residential workshop will be held over 3 days – 15th-17th April, 2020 in Bangalore. The workshop venue will be communicated to the selected participants. Cost of travel, food and accommodation for the workshop will be covered by the organisers.
Experienced resource people (including published authors) will facilitate the workshop. The workshop will expose the participants to the nuances of writing successfully for children. Also, participants along with the resource people will decide on ways to develop their manuscripts. By the end of the workshop, participants will be assigned mentors to further their work.
Post workshop, there will be mentoring for 2 months, to develop their manuscripts. The mentors along with the publisher will decide on the manuscripts to be published, and the form to be published in (for example, picture book, collection of short stories, etc.). Illustrations and book design will be undertaken by the organisers.
Guidelines for applications:
About the mentors:
Nagesh Hegde is an Indian author, journalist, environmentalist, publisher and professor who has written over 40 books on science and environment in Kannada. He has worked with Prajavani Daily as science and development journalist before moving on to Sudha Weekly as a feature writer. His writings in Kannada have become textbook lessons from primary school to various universities in Karnataka. He has received highest awards in journalism and literature including the Karnataka Rajyotsava award.
Thejaswi Shivanand is a teacher at Center for Learning, an alternative school near Bangalore. He is a part of running the school library and interacting with children from age six years to teenagers, over books, for the past ten years and also teaches science. He is a consultant for library programmes and a faculty at the Library Educators Course (English) that is run by Bookworm Goa and in association with Parag, Tata Trusts.
Vasudhendra is an Indian author, publisher, and LGBT activist. He has written short stories, essays, and a novel. He has also translated two books. He has been awarded with many prestigious literature awards, including the Kannada Sahitya Academy Award. Chanda Pustaka, his publication house supports many young writers through the annual Chanda Pustaka Bahumana.
Mini Shrinivasan is an educationist, teacher educator, and children’s writer. Her books have won the Sahitya Akademi’s Bal Sahitya Puraskar and the Hindu Young World Goodbooks Award. She enjoys children, travelling and reading, and tries to draw and paint, with varying degrees of success.