NBT, India’s unique initiative to promote India’s young voices

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The National Book Trust, India (under the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India) initiated a unique step towards books and reading by organizing a session on promoting India’s ‘young voices.’

The session brought together eminent children’s writers/illustrators and the young budding child authors of India on a single platform. Sudha Murthy, Deepa Agarwal, Subir Roy and Dr Rajesh Vyas shared their experiences of writing and understanding what children today are interested in reading. The young child authors aged 7 to 15 talked about their inspiration behind writing at such a young age, and their future goals.

Sudha Murthy, Chairperson of Infosys Foundation and a prolific writer in English and Kannada, in her Keynote address on ‘Children’s Literature in India’, underlined how important it is never to underestimate your potential. “My background and absence of children’s literature when I was young helped me in writing for children. It is essential to understand your readers and the style of your writing. For today’s children, it is imperative to write in a contemporary style and incorporate values in our writings”.

While, Deepa Aggarwal, the acclaimed children’s author with more than fifty titles, said, “My journey of becoming a writer started with stories told by my mother and later developed in my school days, studying in a boarding school. I always try to think from the point of view of a child and take inspiration from real-life incidents as well as from my own children.” Stressing on the importance of illustrations, Subir Roy, an international award-winning and legendary illustrator said, “It’s vital to take inspiration from your surroundings and let children nurture their creative ideas. Being original and honest with your art is very crucial to become an illustrator.” He also stressed the importance of drawing a negative character correctly and not glorifying it by putting unnecessary details.

Dr Rajesh Kumar Vyas, a prolific critic of contemporary art and culture, poet and renowned columnist, talked about his childhood days when he got inspiration to write from puppet shows. “Our mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is open,” said Vyas. “As a writer, one needs to pay attention to our surroundings and how you perceive that should reflect in your writings, which will always be different from others, hence original.”

Speaking on the occasion, Yuvraj Malik, Director, National Book Trust, India said that all young authors have the potential to win the Sahitya Akademi award, the Booker prize or any other prestigious literary award, all they need is correct guidance and a platform to showcase their talent. Talking about NBT, Malik said, “We have very specialized and exclusive content for children’s literature, and NBT has set the benchmark in this domain. We publish content for children and organize special events for them, and now is the time to pay attention towards the content written by children.”

In the next session that followed, the young Child Authors talked about their writings and inspirations. This was followed by a Q&A session where children posed many interesting questions to the eminent writers, which the writers happily answered – like how to depict nature in their illustrations, how to make characters come alive, how to overcome obstacles, and how to become an established award winning writer.

The programme was moderated by Kanchan Wanchoo Sharma, Assistant Director (Public Relations), NBT, India.

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