“We need to excite the curiosity of children”
opines Anjali Raghbeer, author of ten children’s books in conversation with Varsha Verma.
Anjali RaghbeerWriting a children’s book is no child’s play. The book should be entertaining yet informative. The characters need to be real-like…the language engaging and the presentation attractive. So, how do children books authors manage to put all these elements into their books? Here’s what Anjali Raghbeer, a children books author has to say.
Characters…inspired by real life
“Often, the characters in the novel are inspired from real life. I have two children and I observe them and their peers carefully, trying to find what language they use and what would interest them to read,” told Anjali. “Infact, there have been a lot of books of Indian culture but children wish to read something in their own language, something with which they can relate to…and that’s what I try to put in my books,” she added.
“The biggest challenge in writing a children’s book is that they should feel that they are being taught something new. Neither should children feel that the book is talking down to them. It should be exactly at their level. Infact, we need to engage them at a different level, we don’t have to tell them a story, we need to excite their curiosity,” told Anjali as a matter of fact. Besides, the beginning of the novel is also the most difficult part of the book, she opined.
Anjali’s first book, The Quest for Clues was published in the year 2007. In 2009, she brought out a series of four books. More recently, she is working on a book with scholastic, titled The Person With The Broken Step based on Humayun’s tomb and a series of four books, titled, Looking at Art by Tulika Publishers. She has also developed a picture book for them on Mahatma Gandhi.
The Looking at Art series of books leads children into the world and sensibilities of some of India’s best known artists. It is an engaging introduction to art and the artist through story, memoir and biography, as well as a valuable resource for the understanding of art. These include Barefoot Husain (Maqbool Fida Husain), My Name is Amrita…Born to be an Artist (Amrita Sher-Gil), A Trail of Paint (Jamini Roy) and The Veena Player (Raja Ravi Varma).
Reading – will surely continue…
“Even though schools are trying hard to inculcate reading habits in children, it is the environment which needs to be controlled. There are so many modes of entertainment, which just can’t compete with reading. But yes, reading will continue to exist until there are books to fire the imagination of children. Indian authors should get beyond myths and fables and create absolutely innovative and interesting literature for children,” added Anjali. “No wonder why titles like Harry Potter and Toy Story sell like hotcakes.”
Passion for writing…
The journey to writing was a long and circuitous one. Anjali Raghbeer, first did her MBA from the London Business School. While she threw herself into business activities, it was writing that pulled her. She went on to pursue a Certificate in Feature Film Writing from UCLA. In addition to the course at UCLA, she’s enhanced her craft with several short courses, books and self-study. She writes children’s books and develops scripts for film and theatre.
She firmly believes that in writing, she has found what she loves doing best. Her film scripts include dramas and romantic comedies. Her film ‘Track’ is currently in pre-production stages. The script is based on an Indian sportswoman.
The change required…
Anjali feels the distributors need to wake up and distribute books in a more organized manner and reach various audiences. “Nevertheless, it is an exciting time to be in children books,” concluded Anjali.