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Mallika Menon and Damini Butalia

When we started off on this article our general idea of children’s books were the regular Enid Blytons and Adrian Moles. We thought it would be simple enough to say children are reading the same things everyone else was reading ten years ago. But they are not. When we walked into the South Delhi bookshops and saw the section on children’s books we were amazed!  What surprised us the most was just the numbers. Children’s literature, we think for the longest time, was thought of as being a small and an insignificant market. Though a variety of books were being published, it was never considered to be a big profit area. But judging by what is currently available in the few bookshops that we visited, children’s literature has found a new resurgence.        The bookshops that we visited to conduct this market survey are those usually frequented by us. These are predominantly English bookshops in Khan Market, South Extension and Hauz Khas in South Delhi. Our survey was mainly to find out about trade books for children and not necessarily textbooks. We listed a series of questions that would give us a general idea on what children were reading today, which type of books were more popular and which books were being pushed further back in the shelves. What we figured out was that even though the television was invented decades ago and almost every home in Delhi has at least one if not more, children still read!!      Kids are introduced to books from an early age.  Parents read to their kids usually at bedtime to start the process. These used to be mostly fairy tales and books like Aesop’s Fables but now there is a whole range of books for little kids from Dr Suess to Mr. Men books. Children’s books published by Indian publishing houses such as The Magic Key series follow similar trends of colourful pictures and just a few lines of text for children who have just begun reading.      Kids, particularly those just starting to read on their own, love books with basic letters and words and a lot of illustrations. These sell quickly and are in plenty in bookshops. These were the popular Ladybird and Scholastic publications and ever since their popularity has increased they are published in India and are available at cheaper prices. Parents pick up books for ...

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