I have always wondered how amazing it would feel to interact with authors, especially those who write children’s books. I imagine them to be fun, cheerful, and young at heart.
When I got the opportunity to moderate a #BlogchatterWritFest session of well-known Indian authors like Khyrunnisa A, Vibha Batra, and Vidya Mani, I immediately grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I also had another reason. Read on to know more.
I was first introduced to Vibha Batra’s writing sometime last year when I picked up her book The Secret Life of Debbie G. This graphic novel where the author has effortlessly portrayed the emotions and troubles of a teenager piqued my interest to pick up more Children and Young Adult books. I have admired Vidya Mani for her concept of a traveling bookshop ‘Funky Rainbow’ which champions Indian author children’s books.
And I have a couple of anecdotes to share about Khyrunnisa A who belongs to my place of birth Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. She worked as an Associate Professor of English at All Saints’ College where my mum did her Masters in English Literature. The icing on the cake is that I had the opportunity to meet her when she was invited as a Judge in a South Zone Debate competition at my school, Sainik School. When I informed my Dad (who was also a Senior Teacher at the same school) of this opportunity, he was equally happy for me.
So, you can imagine my excitement when I spoke to each of these fabulous authors.
A brief session of 45 minutes, but time flew like an arrow!
Here’s are a few key points and takeaways from the session.
- When writing for children, it is imperative that you put yourself in their shoes and not talk down to them and sound preachy. They are intelligent and not afraid to call a spade a spade. One has to grab their attention from the word go and you can achieve this by having a great title and a killer opening line. ~ Khyrunnisa
- She also gave us an important message. One should always keep in mind that in the end, the reader is your child. While as a parent, you’d prefer them to read moral stories, one should understand that the child may prefer something fun, exciting, and adventurous to read.
- The KISS principle is of utmost importance when you write for children. Keep the story simple and engaging with a clear beginning and end. And that’s hard yet essential because the craft of writing simple sentences is tough.
- Research! Vidya added to this by suggesting how crucial it is to take the time to learn and improve one’s craft and do ample research on the subject or theme of your story. Do not take your audience ie, children to be stupid or silly. They are an eager and enthusiastic crowd.
- There is ample difference between writing and selling books. For the former, the difficult part is having the discipline to write. Selling children’s books seemed even more difficult when I started my traveling bookshop, The Funky Rainbow, says Vidya. Not many know of children’s books written by Indian authors and there is already a preconceived notion that western books like Harry Potter, Wimpy Kid series or Percy Jackson are always better. This has to change and it is changing slowly. Libraries and schools should ideally come together to promote Indian writing.
Here are some of the books recommended by the writers:
- Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell
- Just William Series by Richmal Crompton
- The Why Why Girl by Mahasweta Devi
- Pinkoo Shergill Pastry Chef by Vibha Batra
- Butterfingers Series by Khyrunnisa A
- India A to Z by Vidya Mani and Veena Seshadri
Catch the replay of this session on Writing Books That Children Enjoy here.
Written as part of BlogchatterWritFest.