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Tall Tales for Short People

Gayatri Rangachari Shah

Chennai based Karadi Tales has recently come out with a ‘Will You Read With Me?’ series of illustrated children’s books, some based on popular Indian folklore. The publishers have roped in celebrities for the accompanying CD narration, including actors Sanjay Dutt and Vidya Balan and cricketer Rahul Dravid. As parents, you have the option of reading out a loud to your children, or using the CD as a musical narrative, with your child following along with the book. I have a four year old and we tried both options, with varying degrees of success. My four year old lost interest in the music and the narrative via the CD quite fast, in part because I think the background music was too long, and the narrative wasn’t moving as quickly as he would’ve liked. The CD experience was lengthy and required concentration. The audiobooks are meant to help kids read faster and earlier, as well as inculcate listening skills and attentivenss, as each story runs 22 minutes on the CD. Since patience is not a virtue most pre-schoolers have in abundance, my conclusion is that the CD would probably work better for children who are slightly older, say between five and seven.   Also, the stories themselves were a bit lengthy and in parts, a bit long-winded for my four year old. While I quite enjoyed ‘Cricketamatics,’ I did think my son’s age group and those a little older (kids learning to read) might find it a bit text heavy and complex. The math problems were not by any means meant for a first or second grader. On the other hand, we had much success with ‘The Lizard’s Tale,’ ‘Little Vinayak,’ and ‘The Monkeys and the Capseller,’ which I read aloud to him. He still found them a little long, but he found the stories themselves interesting. Animal oriented books for children always work well and these titles were no exception. We noticed that ‘Little Vinayak’ had a song that was not very different to the ‘The Animal Boogie,’ published by Barefoot Books in the U.S. The one area for improvement in some of the titles would be the illustrations. While ‘Little Vinayak,’ ‘The Lizard’s Tale,’ and ‘Cricketmatics’ had illustrations that he could relate to and which he poured over, ‘Monkeys on a Fast’ and ‘The Monkeys and the Capseller’ had drawings that he didn’t ...

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