As part of its initiative to promote local languages and create awareness at pan-India level, the Tata Trusts (TT)'s Parag Initiative will try and connect local publishers to bring out children's literature in other languages. "We have realised that there are many English translations available of many gifted authors but nobody knows about them. So as a first step, what we can do is to procure these books for our libraries, even that itself is going to increase the reach of these books," head Parag Initiative, Tata Trusts Swapna Sahoo told PTI today. "And because we ourselves work with a lot of children's publishers, may be networking is a good way to start. May be getting Bengali children publishers to network with Hindi children's publishers, or you know bilingual children's publishers. And see where there are synergies that can be identified for translations," she said. As part of the Parag Initiative's bid to promote children's literature in regional language at national level, they supported setting up of libraries, so that children have access to books without having to pay for them. "Then we also engage in capacity building of librarians and teachers so that they are able to build that relationship between children and books," Sahoo said. "So then, translation happens," she emphasised. Asked why children's literature have failed to reach the intended target, she said, "There aren't enough libraries in India where you can just walk in and access good children's literature.
So that is also another reason why probably a lot of children are not reading because you know, they haven't found the access to good books." "Then the second thing is that you need teachers and adults who understand why reading is important, why children need to have access to good books, and once they do have access then how do you make sure that they are engaging with good books," she said. Asked about the perceived dip in the reading habit of regional children's literature, she said, "There is that elite group where we see a fall in reading because of access to various other things but there is a large mass of children who never had access to reading. So we can't even say that their interest has fallen because they never had interest in the first place or access to good books." "We have supported some 400 plus original titles till now as part of Parag. We worked with different children publishers. And conservatively we may have reached to some 20 million readers till now," she explained. The Parag initiative aims at recognising significant contribution of authors and illustrators to children's literature in Indian languages. The award is given under two categories - one for author and another for illustrator/artist.
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