The day a cute picture book gets shelved can only lead to a dark, sleepless night.
Here’s a little brief to get you up to date:
Natasha Sharma is a Sikh and grew up in Amritsar. The idea behind this story came from childhood memories of seeing her father tie his turban every morning. She teamed up with Priya Kuriyan over a period of two years, where she would send videos of her father tying a turban in order to get the details right in the illustrations.
But, is this really the point?
I believe there's a larger concern at hand. According to Wikipedia, Freedom of Speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. Everyone involved in the making of this book has had their freedom of speech stripped away from them.
This episode has elicited fear within the Indian children's writing industry. I am worried about what this means for authors, illustrators, publishers and the kinds of books we will release going forward. When other countries are advocating more the need for diversity, we will be taking several steps backwards.
I wonder, isn’t a sentiment that forces the publisher to remove the book from their catalog only going to lead to more intolerance?
I stand with #bringbackthepug and hope you do to!
Books for Toddlers (1.5 -3 year olds)
Today, I am sharing a list of books that I think would be apt for 1.5 to 3 year olds and the key words for this age group would be: Repetition & Rhythm.
At this age, children like repetition, especially as they are just learning how to talk. Repetitive text and words help them retain new words and concepts in their mind. Another reason I like repetition is because it allows children to partake in storytelling. My favourite activity to do with N when she was younger (and even now) is to read a new book to her a couple times and then leave out words for her to say. Rhythm is another great way for children to guess what word will come next. It also teaches them the concept of rhyme, laying a solid foundation for spelling. Of course a lot of these is intuitive and as you read more, you’ll figure out what works for you and your child, but I thought I would share my own experiences if they would be of any help!
A couple of cautionary words:
* The age bracket is flexible. I still read a lot of these books to my almost 4 year old and will probably start reading some of these books to my son BEFORE he is 1.5
*The books listed below are books that I have found great, but by no means the only list that you should follow.
*Somehow, I feel the joy of chancing upon a book while browsing through a library or bookstore is incomparable to any list you will find, so do visit book stores when you get a chance!
* Most of these books should be available on Amazon, but if you cannot find them, please get in touch with me – happy to share my own copies
*I have avoided listing too many OBVIOUS choices and starred ones that I really love!
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? *
One, Two Tree
Owl Babies *
The Animal Boogie
Eyes, Nose, Fingers and Toes
It’s A Bear
Days With Thathu
Each peach pear plum
Llama Llama Red Pajama *
Moo, Baa, La La La
Tip, Tip, Dig, Dig
Goodnight Goodnight Construction Sight
Sherri Duskey Rinkey
Whistle For Willie
Ezra Jack Keats
The Colour Monster
To Market, To Market
No Matter What
The Kissing Hand
Whoosh Around The Mulberry Bush
The Tiger Who Came To Tea *
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt *
Press Here *
Goodnight Moon *
Margaret Wise Brown
Guess How Much I Love You
Sam Mc Bratney
Eating The Alphabet
The Pout Pout Fish
Black, White and Wrinkly!
Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby and welcome to the chaos that is parenthood! Though reading with your little one may seem like an awkward exercise in the first few months, there is no such thing as starting too early. In fact, it is an excellent way to bond with your child and create a lifelong love for reading. The gentle sound of your voice and the comfort of being in your arms during a storytelling session is a guaranteed way to soothe your baby. You need not worry about comprehension at this stage, the experience of going through a book is what counts. Of course, this shared activity will also help you pass those initial countless hours at home!
Did you know that newborns have very limited eyesight and they cannot see much further than their own face? Books that have black and white images with strong outlines are perfect for the first few months. By three months, babies can coordinate their hands and eyes so use tummy time to allow them to engage with the books. Between four and seven months, your child can sit in your lap for a reading session. The combination of cuddling up with your child and reading a book, while allow babies to associate reading with a pleasurable experience!
At this age, reading should be introduced as a bottom-up and top-down activity. By this I mean, we should aim to provide books and activities that are developmentally suited for the child (bottom-upà black and white books), but also stories that they may not understand (top-down). The latter approach will open up your newborn to the wide array of sounds and rhythms of speech, as well as the concept of stories. I would suggest reading books with ‘stories’ at bedtime.
By six months, your little one “wakes up” to the world around them and this make them an entirely different reader! They can respond, connect and interact with books so it is essential to provide them with opportunities to do so. Ideal for six to 1 year olds, expose your baby to lamaze books and peek-a-boo books. Lamaze (tactile) books are great for teaching them around the world around them. Using their senses, they can discover what ‘bumpy’ feels like, the look of shiny surfaces and the sound of something crinkling and so on. These soft books that are bright and colourful are great to hang on car seats and strollers.
Peek-a-boo books are also great to introduce your child to at this age. You can peek through a hole to see what's on the next page or peek under a flap to see what's hiding underneath. Babies will have great fun trying to anticipate what comes next or what's hiding. Great develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills! As your baby will be able to sit up without assistance now, it’s the perfect time to give them small books to explore on their own. Use a combination of cloth books and board books.
Here are some great titles, but if you cannot find these particular books, just stick to the above brief and you’ll be fine :)
On The Night You Were Born
Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes
Black on White
How A Baby Grows
Look At You
The Runaway Bunny
Margaret Wise Brown
Where is Baby’s Belly Button
Black and White
Are You My Mother
Where is Spot
Who Said Moo
A Tiny Little Story: Zoo
Flip Flap Pets
Critiquing Work: How I do it
I have found receiving and giving feedback to be one of the most helpful ways in advancing my writing. I have been blessed to have some very thoughtful and kind critique partners.
The reason I like to critique is because it gives me insight into how other people would see my work and makes me more conscious of my own writing. Moreover, if I am comprehensive in my critiques than my critique partners are likely to do the same for me.
This is my critique process:
My role as a critique-r is to help advance the story and make it a better version of itself. Some challenges I have faced and how I have resolved them:
Drive That Character
I decided to take a break from writing. Often, when I am working on a piece, it becomes an addiction. I open my laptop every free moment and start typing, editing, and changing. Most of the time, this process isn’t that fruitful. So I told myself, take a break. I have not touched my writing for a week, but I have had an otherwise action-packed and eye-opening weekend that has indirectly fueled by writing.
Firstly, my husband and I attended the Jio Mami Film Festival where we saw two films and attended one masterclass. The first film, ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’ produced by the team behind AIB was a humorous take on Indians who have been left behind in war-torn Iraq. Overall, it is light and warm, but there are some moments that puncture in your heart. ‘Nimtoh’ is a film by Saurav Rai, a director from Darjeeling and it has gone for the Cannes film festival. It is slow-paced, does an excellent job of recreating life in the mountains and creates the division between the servants and those being served.
While I was fascinated by the screenplay and the direction, the thing that was amiss in both films (to me) was a strong, tangible character that I was rooting for. This made me realize that no matter how good the writing may be, unless you have characters that the reader is connected to or feels for, the piece will fall flat. The protagonists in both films were young boys and while I felt sad for their situation, I wasn’t invested in them. It dawned upon me that this is KEY- especially if the story is character driven.
My first picture book, ‘Burrito Has A Butterbody’ has garnered love from children everywhere and to be honest, it is a simple story. There are no intricacies or deeper meanings. When I think about it, the simple reason for this is that Burrito is a very amiable character and the children are rooting for him. Moreover, a lot of them have been in situations like him and find him relatable.