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Forget Cinderella, these 5 books tell kids it’s okay for boys to cry and girls to be strong

(From edexlive. Link to the complete article given below)

From Cinderella to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Little Red Riding Hood to Sleeping Beauty — traditional stories may come with morals, but there is no denying the fact that they tend to pander to gender stereotypes and perpetuate biases. The fair maidens and chiseled princes, the damsel in distress and the knight in shining armour routine, kissing women in their sleep (sexual assault lawsuit, anyone?) — these stories are riddled with ‘chivalrous’ crap (for lack of a better word) like this. Who said girls can’t rescue themselves or that all boys are brave?

In today’s world, there is no scope for kids to relate to these characters or situations, despite the various retellings and re-readings of these tales over the years. Children need, scratch that, deserve better stories that they can resonate and relate with. And for that, we need better writers. This is where ‘The Irrelevant Project’ comes in and it’s more relevant now than ever. Started by Alishya Almeida and Meghna Chaudhury as a series of workshops, which has now turned into a power-packed punch of five illustrated books that were released this January, these books tell children that it’s okay for boys to cry and girls to be strong.

Let’s do this

If every conversation between Almeida and Chaudhury, ever since they met through the Young India Fellowship, was subjected to the Bechdel Test, they would easily pass as all they spoke about was intersectionality, feminism and the education scenario. “There is space for more and there needs to be more,” says 29-year-old Chaudhury, during our call with the feisty duo. They decided to initiate a pilot workshop to understand the deep-rooted biases that creep into the minds of kids, in 2015. This was done in four classrooms of two government schools in New Delhi. The activities that they conducted helped children recognise the stereotypes that exist in their minds and the environment, along with certain critical thinking and problem-solving exercises. The inferences they gathered compelled them to start The Irrelevant Project. “We have five books with children, who are all of different builds and temperaments so that more and more children connect with them, as the protagonists,” explains 26-year-old Almeida. And this is just the beginning.

Read more at the edexlive link here

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Book Excerpt: Do We Not Bleed: Reflections of a 21st Century Pakistani by Mehr Tarar

Do we not bleed

 

The Story of Shazia Mustaq

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, education in Pakistan faces a catastrophe of unparalleled proportions. According to a 2015 UNESCO report, Pakistan has nearly 5.5 million children who are out of school, the second highest number in the world after Nigeria. Pakistan also has the highest number of illiterate adults in the world, after India and China.

According to the Pakistan Education Statistics Report, 2013–2014, the total number of out-of-school children at primary level in the country has dropped from 6.7 million in 2012–2013 to 6.2 million.

An October 2014 report by Alif Alaan, a campaign to end Pakistan’s education emergency pointed that there are 25 million boys and girls out of school—that’s nearly half of all children in the country. In relative terms, most out-of-school children are in Balochistan. More than half of the country’s out-of-school children live in Punjab. Across the country, it was harder for girls to go to school. Girls made up more than half of all out-of-school children. A majority of the parents of girls did not allow them to study, while boys were mostly unwilling to go to school. Older children are more likely to be out of school. Around 70 per cent of out-of-school children have never been to one before. Girls mostly drop out of school to help with household work. Children from poor families are far more likely to be out of school. The education system is unable to retain enrolled students

Said Shazia Mustaq, ‘My siblings didn’t get a chance to study, and that caused me immense pain. I think that is what got me thinking about education. Sometimes, I wish there was some magic wand that all illiterate people, out-of-school children become educated. I wish it for the whole world, and especially for Pakistan. Bas paadh jaiyan sab. Because of lack of education, Pakistan, my homeland, has divided into all these classes.’

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Reviving children’s Urdu literature

“Mein ne Urdu apni maan ke doodh ke sath pi hei!” (I have consumed my mother tongue, Urdu with her breastfeeding me). This is how I express love for the sweetest and most civilised language of the world; of course never to look down upon other languages as these all travel in the same boat. While my mother used to recite Urdu songs like, Chanda mamun door ke… and the lovely stories, it all got percolated into my soul and gave me the impetus to write kids’ stories while as a kid only. Continue reading


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Kitaab Interview with Don Bosco: I’m really writing for future adults

By Felicia Low-Jiminez

Don Bosco

Don Bosco

I confess that I have never met Don Bosco in person. We’re friends on Facebook, we’ve exchanged emails, I have copies of his books, but I’ve yet to meet the man face to face. However, his reputation precedes him. Don is known as an innovator in children’s book publishing, someone who’s constantly coming up with new ways to entice kids to read, and a writer that takes risks with his projects. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, Don is also known as a Super Cool dad. He is perhaps one of the few writers I know who not only draws inspiration from his two sons, but directly involves them in writing and illustrating the books that he publishes. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to encourage and groom a new generation of readers and writers.

Tell us more about your newest book, Lion City Adventures.

Lion City Adventures is marketed as a book for children (8 to 11), but now we’re discovering that parents, teachers and other adults are fascinated with it too.

The book features 10 very different locations around Singapore, from the Singapore River to Little India, Gardens by the Bay to the Mint Museum of Toys.

The aim is to introduce children to Singapore’s rich heritage as well as its modern marvels, and we’ve done this by mashing up different types of content. Each chapter contains an exploration guide for the place, colourful illustrations, child-friendly activities, pages for sketching and journalling, and also a role-playing challenge where readers help to solve a mystery.

We’ve tried to be a little more creative with the role-playing aspect. There’s an epic background narrative about an old exploration society started by three children in Singapore back in 1894, called the Lion City Adventuring Club, and this runs throughout the book. Also, when readers get to the end, there’s an official Lion City Adventuring Club certificate waiting for them.

By introducing this alternate reality element which celebrates curiosity and exploration, we can eventually expand the story out of the book and into a wider trans-media package, with print, digital as well as real-world experiences. And so this book is an introduction to all that. Continue reading


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Atef Abu Saif: The children in Ghaza have barely slept

Dispatch from Gaza: Day-to-day life continues even in a war zone, but sleep does not: Guernica

GhazaI don’t know how many hours I’ve wasted watching my nineteen month-old girl, Jaffa, sleeping, drifting among the clouds of her dreams; the occasional movement of a limb, the faint smile dancing on her lips. This used to be my favorite moment of the day. But now, looking at children and thinking they could be dead in a minute’s time, they could be transformed into one of those images on the TV, it’s too much to bear. The cruel images from that day when a house in the neighborhood was struck by an F-16 or a drone, or the images that various media outlets have posted online, or those described in vivid detail by a friend who happened to be an eye witness, all these images deny me the pleasure of seeing my kids sleeping peacefully. This used to be one my greatest pleasures. Continue reading


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Q&A: Bond on being 80

The Indian children’s writer on receiving the Padma Bhushan and why children are a recurrent theme in his work: The Outlook

ruskin_bondFor me, every day is a new awakening. On my 80th, I greeted the early morning sun, watered my plants, wrote a page or two, salu­ted the world from my window, and treated myself to two eggs instead of the usual one!

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Modern children: Onslaught of cartoons may pose risk to reading habits

From among a group of schoolgirls, Ramsha Zafar admitted bashfully that she was fond of the stories of Amar Ayyar, popularly mispronounced as Umro Ayyar, the legendary trickster from the Dastaan-e Amir Hamza: The Express Tribune

Ramsha, an eighth grader from Al-Farabi Islamic School in Nilore, was visiting the two-day Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) with her classmates and teachers on Friday.

But she was the only one in the group who said she reads children’s storybooks and could recall a favourite character. Continue reading


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Pakistan: Musharraf Farooqi revives Urdu literature among children

After writing critically acclaimed novels, including the poignant Between Clay and Dust (2012), Pakistani-Canadian author Musharraf Ali Farooqi is embarking upon a new project that aims at popularising Urdu literature amongst children.

MusharrafUnder his children’s publishing house, Kitab, which he established in 2012, Farooqi launched a catalogue in December 2013 with eight books, five of which are in Urdu and three in English. The books comprise his book Tik-TikThe Master of Time and those by renowned authors Sufi Tabassum, Ghulam Abbas and Mehdi Azar Yazdi. Continue reading


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North Korean dictators revealed as children’s authors

Researcher finds Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung both credited with fiercely ideological but ‘quite enjoyable’ tales: The Guardian

From Madonna to Barack Obama, celebrities and politicians have long been tempted to dabble in the world of children’s books – but their output pales in comparison to the “ultra” violent tales for children ostensibly written by North Korea’s former leaders Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung, according to an Australian academic. Continue reading


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India: President urges authors, publishers to promote children’s literature

India’s President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday called upon authors, publishers and the Government to do their utmost to promote children’s literature: The Hindu Businessline

He was speaking at the inauguration of the New Delhi World Book Fair 2014.

The theme of this year’s fair is ‘Kathasagara: Celebrating Children’s Literature’. The President said that children are the best readers of literature because they have no patience for pretence. “India has had a long and rich tradition of literature written for children as manifest in our folk and oral storytelling traditions, panchatantras, mythologies, puranas, jataka tales etc. Literary giants such as Rabindranath Tagore, Premchand, Abanindranth Tagore and Sukumar Roy have written for children.”

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