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Sowmya Rajendran

By Preeti Singh
Red Turtle, Rupa, Delhi, 2014, pp. 231, Rs. 195.00


A children’s book on all the books that children can read! Preeti Singh’s Great Books For Children is a compilation of books (including Indian ones) that might be of interest to independent young readers and parents or elder siblings of very small children who may want to introduce books to them. There are eleven sections, divided according to genre, for older children and a disappointingly short one for the very young ones.  Rather than classifying the books according to a rigid age-bracket, Preeti has divided them into three reading levels. This is a good idea because not all children of the same age are at the same reading level. There’s no explanation for what these three levels are though—how is a young reader to determine which level they are at without actually buying or borrowing a book listed under a particular level? Or was this a deliberate exclusion so children will be encouraged to read from all levels and figure it out for themselves? The Introduction suggests so but in that case, why have levels at all? Perhaps it would have been a good idea to include a brief explanation of the reading levels. The section for very small children has no reading levels at all.  One is not sure why this book is targeted primarily towards children rather than librarians, educationists, or parents. Not that children will be uninterested in a book guide—just that the description below each book looks like a rehash of book blurbs and does not really create any enthusiasm in one to pick up a particular book. There is no personal touch to the descriptions, no explanation for why this book was chosen by the author who says she has read ‘thousands of books’ since she was a little girl in the Introduction and that all these books made a connection with her. Rather than the 2-3 line blurb we get to read about a book (information you can find with a simple search on the Internet), it would have been interesting to know why the author chose to put this book in the list. What is special about it that makes it a must-read?  It’s also quite puzzling that there is no mention at all about the illustrations in the books. Are they funny? Are they dark? Are they quirky? Even for the section on Manga Comics and ...

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