My first work for children in a book format!
My first attempt at writing in Tamil!
And my first attempt at illustrating for children!
Yes, a lot of firsts with this book!
Name: Pappa Veetu Vaasal (Tamil)
(Will update here if and when translations in other languages become available).
Written and Illustrated by Nandhini Chandrasekaran
Publisher: Story Weaver Community
Format: Free Online Reading
Reading Level: Level 1 (2+ Years)
About the Book
In ‘Pappa Veetu Vaasal,’ a little girl narrates the people she meets at her doorstep in her everyday life – the people who deliver milk, newspaper, vegetables, letters, and the school bus driver. She sees a favour from her neighbour; she feels the love from her family; and she cares for her pet.
Through this book, I intend to bring in children, the feeling of community relationships. I believe that when children interact with people in their immediate environment, like the little girl in the book does, they develop a subtle bond with the lives of people around. These early human connections can perhaps help them grow to empathetic and kind adults.
Also, communities provide opportunities for children to become familiar with people of other cultures, religions and lifestyles which can potentially dissolve social inequalities in their hearts and minds as they grow.
As you read out the book to your children or when your children read on their own, talk to them about the different lifestyles of people around you. For example, explain to them the people involved in the process until vegetables reach your home, from farmers to vendors. They are sure to grow love and respect for the unseen people and vegetables!
About the Illustrations
I am not an illustrator and I have no intention to become one. After this first attempt, I realized that I shouldn’t be doing it again in the best of my minds. Story Weaver does provide images by artists that can be accessed, to add to our stories, but none suited the scenes for my book. I didn’t have a go but do it by myself. A sense of angle, far and near, depth, light and shadow, facial and limb features – nothing I have! I just managed to do basic watercolour illustrations for every scene.
I have to mention that after this experience, my respect for illustrators has leaped a ton. Not that I undermine the talent of authors and editors, but illustrators definitely do a far lot more for children. I am unsure if illustrators get credit equal to authors, but this illustrating experience has changed the way I look at picture books.
If you are an illustrator or know someone, and would like to collaborate with me for children’s STEM books, please drop a word. Let me add, little readers will be our only form of compensation, if you are looking for one. It is a free platform and none needs to pay or get paid for writing, illustrating, translating, reading or re-publishing our works.
Children’s Books in Regional Languages
When we were kids, my mom used to read Ambulimama books (Tamil children’s magazine) for us. Those were the first books we listened to. Tinkle and Gokulam came later. Today, I don’t think children are introduced to books in their mother tongue early, including my children. When I read out a Tamil book to my son, he reacts as though I am reading a book in another language and waits for me to translate. To children, the spoken Indian language and written language are certainly different. I have realized, though late, that children need to listen to stories in their native languages early, in order to build a bond with the language.
I am glad that today many Indian children book publishers are instrumental in bringing books in Indian languages. Tulika Books, Pratham Books, Tara Books, Katha Books, to name a few. While there are a few original books in regional languages, most are translated from their English versions. Translations are treasures as well but they may miss out on the rhythm and rhyme of the original version. Somehow, I am motivated to create books for children in Tamil.
About Story Weaver
Story Weaver is Pratham Books’ free online resource of children’s books in 155 languages. Pratham Books is a non-profit children’s books publisher and all their print versions are also available for free reading at story weaver. In addition to books from their publishing house, Story Weaver also allows anyone around the world to add books in any language. One can write, illustrate, translate and publish children’s books all by themselves on Story Weaver. It will be available for free reading under the creative common license, encouraging people to collaborate and reuse.
If you or your children can read Tamil, please check the book link to read. After you read, please share your views, suggestions or experiences about it. I am eagerly waiting to hear the comments. If you think it can be a nice read to young children, please share it to others through Whatsapp and social media.