“Create a reading schedule and reading corner for your child”

Suggests Nandini Nayar, a well-known children’s books author, while sharing her views on how to inculcate good reading habits in children.

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Reading is essential for the overall development of a child. “The most important thing is for parents to accept that they can do things to get children to love reading. You can narrate stories while feeding the child, while bathing them. You can entertain them while you are travelling or waiting in the doctor’s office. When children are a little older, parents can introduce books to them. It is always a good idea to have a reading schedule for your child

Nandini Nayar is India’s  leading prolific children’s writer. In a career spanning
a little over 15 years, she has published 62 books. In addition, Nandini has been a regular contributor to iconic children’s magazines like Tinkle, Hoot, Toot, Dimdima and
The Children’s Magazine and newspapers like The Hindu and Sakal Times. For older children Nandini has written novels, collections of short
stories, creative biographies, and retellings.

because this gives a structure to the day. Create a reading corner for your children and stock it with books and comfortable chairs. Keep children away from devices that can distract them from reading. Read with the children because they observe their parents and learn from them,” tells Nandini Nayar, a well-known children’s books author.

Journey as an author…

“I have been writing for over 20 years now. I started my journey with a short story that was published in a newspaper. Seeing my story in the newspaper filled me with so much excitement! This pushed me to write more stories. And now, I have over 300 stories published in different newspapers and children’s magazines. After my son was  born, I began to make up stories for him. I sent these to Tulika and they were published as picture books. A few years later, I began to write for older children and tried my hand at non-fiction and graphic stories. Now I have published over 60 books written for children of different ages,” tells Nandini.

Inspirations all around…

“I believe that ideas are all around us. All we need is to keep our eyes open to find them. But it’s not enough to find ideas. You must recognise their potential and work on them. And then of course, you will have to write down these stories. When I get an idea for a story, I first examine it and decide what kind of story I want to write and for which age group. Once that is decided, I begin to think of how I want to narrate it. Different genres have different elements in them and I use these to create the plot of the story. For the duration of time that I am writing a story in a particular genre, I am completely immersed in the setting and the world of my imagination,” she shares.

Varied story lines…

“Each story has a very different story line. However, the common thread running through my stories is the description of an ordinary, everyday world. All my picture books are set in the world of the home. What Shall I Make? is set in the kitchen, where the boy is given a ball of dough to play with. Chhotu and the Big Wind is set on the terrace, where clothes are hung to dry. Guddu’s Photo is about a boy who doesn’t want to smile for a photo that his mother wants to take.The four books in the Apoorva series (Apoorva’s Fat Diary, Meanie.com, Dear Aunty and Laugh Out Loud, Apoorva) are set in the world of home and school. The Curious Case of the Sweet and Spicy Sweetshop and Camp Sweets are books that encourage readers to find their own calling and to follow their heart. The Happiness Train, my latest book, explores ideas of home and happiness and attempts to find out what makes different people happy,” she recalls.

“I want to write a story that readers are reluctant to put away, a story that helps them forget the world around them. For this to happen, I must ensure that my story is convincing. So, my aim is to create a storyline that is exciting and intriguing and people it with characters who are believable and with whom readers identify,” she adds.

Languages I write…

“I write in English but several of the books that I have written for younger children have been translated into various Indian languages. Some of my books with Tulika are bilingual and have the text in both English and one Indian language,” shares Nandini.

Hardest part of writing a book…

“The first thousand words of a book are often the most challenging. This is because you have just created a new world and are writing about it. You need to pay attention to get in all the details that are needed to make the story come alive,” she shares.

Advice to aspiring writers…

“I would suggest reading a lot and reading with care and critically. When you do that, you notice patterns, you appreciate the use of language. You understand how the writer uses setting and characters to take the story forward in a believable way. I also suggest that people who dream of publishing their stories should write often. For this it is necessary to have a schedule and stick to it,” she advises.

On Covid challenge…

“The fear of Covid and the sense of claustrophobia induced by the lockdown had a very negative impact on the creative life. For more than 6 months, I could not even think of writing. Instead, I organised creative writing workshops for children. Planning these workshops and engaging with children, even if it was only online, was wonderful. Towards the end of 2020, I began to write again. It was like starting from scratch and learning everything afresh. But slowly, the process of planning a story and writing it began to work its magic on me. The familiarity of the process soothed me and the excitement of penning a brand new story filled me with positive thoughts,” she shares.

Experience with publishers…

“I have published with most of the well-known publishers in India. I started my journey with Pranav’s Picture, which is a picture book published by Tulika. The other publishers for whom I have written picture books are Karadi, Pratham, Eklavya, Children’s Book Trust and Puffin. In the chapter book category I have worked with Penguin Random House, Talking Cub, Mango, Scholastic, HarperCollins, Juggernaut and Hachette. Every publishing house has a different way of doing things. So does every editor. I have learnt something new and exciting from every editor I have ever worked with,” concludes Nandini.

 

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