Let children choose books, not mummy, daddy: urge authors

There is something for everyone at the Jaipur Literature Festival. So when a session on Writing For Children, Writing as Children, was up with anchors like Nandana Dev Sen, Jerry Pinto, Paro Anand and Nayanika Mahtani, talk about these authors, their books, novels and their thought process was bound to be there, including some laughter and fun. But a class VI student of Jaipur’s Maharaja Sawai Mansingh Vidyalaya, Jiyan Roytalukdar, who sat through the session, only wonders why are the children never asked what interests them. Here he pens a report for Rajasthan Post

I always look forward to the JLF. So many sessions, so many authors, so many books, debates and discussions. Not that I understand all of them. But I try hard to listen and imbibe some of the thoughts and ideas.

The session was all about children’s literature from picture books to what today’s generation wants. Jerry Pinto, author of Em and the Big Hoom, said today’s children do not want to read. He said the one thing that really, really irritates him in the children’s writing business was that children don’t get to buy books in this country. “Mummy, daddy will buy the books, chacha chachi will buy the books and then they will insist to the shopkeeper ‘humko ek achaa dharmik kitaab dena’ which will teach their children how to think and what and why. If not so, then children will buy books of authors from abroad. They will buy Gerinimo Stilton, Captain Underpants because their English is advanced than our English.”
Jerry said he actually feels annoying to be a children’s author as there is always a big wall of parents between him and the children. Parents want children to read books that guarantees putting their child in top 10 and through IIT.

Nandana writes for very young age about 3-5, Jerry’s book are for slightly older kids and Paro’s book are for 13 and above.

Nobel laureate Amarthya Sen’s daughter and a scholar in her own right, Nandana said writing for young readers involves reconnecting with the child at several levels. Nandana Dev Sen, Jerry Pinto, Paro Anand shared personal anecdotes and experiences in their creative journey of writing in the session.

The main topic dwelled on children literature. All of them have written some bestseller books like Nandana Dev Sen’s – Mambi and the forest fire, Jerry Pinto- A bear for Felicia, Paro Anand – Elephants don’t diet, No Guns at My Son’s funeral, Nayanika Mahtani’s debut thriller novel is about tiger conservation called Ambushed.

The session also discussed how each author decided on their ideas. For Paro Anand, it is always challenging as she writes on topics which are a wee bit serious and not-so-happily-ever after kind of books. Paro recounted her meeting with late Dr Abdul Kalam. ‘He had said that I liked one of her books but why is it a children’s book? Paro had then told him, ‘I want to spread the message to the children. After all everything in their life would not be happy. At some point of time they have to face the dark side of life.” Nandana agreed parents always protect their children and give them a sheltered life but they should actually help them to be ready to face the world as it is not always a beautiful place to live in.

Another point which cropped up during the discussion was what is the solution when children are more into their gadgets than their books. The authors talked about e-books and how they could easily download books for reading now.

But all authors agreed that with Kindle. e-books and phones, reading has become much easier Jerry, however opined that reading a hard copy and reading on Kindle and phone was totally different and Nandana agreed saying even though e-books are order of the day but “yes we should read a book like a book.”

Jerry was fun, made us laugh, Nayanika’s book reading was gripping and the inspirational talks of Nandana and Paro must have set many a young writer on the right path. But I just wondered it would have been so much better, if they had asked us what actually we want to read.

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