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For the Very Young


Chandra Chari


‘All grown-ups were once children-although few of them remember it’.                                                           The Little Prince-Antoine De Saint-Exupery.     Writing for children can be a rewarding and challenging experience and yet, until recently, we in India have had to rely mainly on books published in the West for good reading material for children. It is only of late that a genuine effort is being made to fill this gap in the field of Indian publishing. There is no dearth of talent in the country, which properly channelized could easily help make up for lost time in catching up with the West, where an immense amount of research and careful planning goes into the production of children's books. The most important point to be borne in mind while writing for children is that they should be able to identify themselves with the books to truly enjoy them. More often than not, we adults end up by giving them what we think they ought to appreciate. One distress­ing factor that creeps into most of the stories written for children in India is that they tend to end on a sermonizing note. Here a comparison with Enid Blyton's books for children would not be out of place. The norms of good behaviour or the simple rules of morality are interwoven into the stories so subtly that they are implanted in the young reader's mind auto­matically. Childhood is a time of transparent honesty and children's books should certainly avoid the pitfall of portraying their natural instincts as evil, or at any rate, as something to be suppressed.   Plays from Indian History by Susan Gole, Arnold­ Heinemann, 1975, Rs. 7.50. Ostensibly written for enactment by young children in schools, this short collection—eight plays in all—fails to impress. It is true that Indian history and mythology can provide an inexhaustible source of inspiration for ventures of this kind. But merely taking an episode and introducing the characters who narrate the events on the stage, with hardly any action, cannot make history come alive for the young spectators. Zebra Books for Children: Arnold-Heinemann, India, 1976, Rs. 4.00 each. This is a collection of six volumes. Tales for the Telling by Rhoda Power, based on stories from all over the world, makes delightful reading. Would you like a Story, compiled by Alison M. Abel, fulfills the exciting prospect that the title conjures up. Stories Jesus Told by Norman I. Bull, is a ...


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