They may not know all the complex words languages can throw our way, but give children the opportunity to think and they will travel through various dimensions to express their imaginations, and the end result is nothing less than fascinating. Aparna Raman, founder of Timbuktoo Young Authors Publishing, has known this up, close and personal. Conducting writing workshops for children above five years of age, Raman has witnessed the changes children undergo once they unleash their minds. “In fact, it was during these workshops that I realised the need for a publishing house for children. Some of the kids were doing so well at the workshops that I began to post their works on social media and received very encouraging feedback,” she explains, adding, “This initiative was to create a more organised platform for the kids and it allowed them to take their creativity a level up.”
Raman likes the idea of catching them young, as far as honing one’s creative skills are concerned. And once these workshops are over, the children become more confident and articulate. “Workshops make a big difference to a child’s personality,” Raman says.
Timbuktoo already has about three book titles under its belt and is all set to launch its fourth title today. What makes these books really special is that children write them all. “When children write, they don’t have to become something else to do it. It’s in the grain of their nature and therefore, their thoughts flow easily, unlike an adult author who writes for kids where he or she has to literally put themselves in a child’s shoes in order to write. “Our titles are a result of our workshops. They are given a particular theme and they can write what they want. The latest book, My Book Of Me, focuses on role-play where each of the writers was given a role to play out. For instance, one kid is a beach, one is a song, and so on. What they did with that role was entirely up to them and to be honest, I was amazed at their imaginative skills. The authors of this book are Dhruv Matthan, Inara Nanjappa, Keya Mammen, Layaa Ananth, Ranai Rai, Tiya Prince and Vidur Ayappa,” Raman adds.
Once the stories are more or less finalised, Raman, and a team of illustrators, create visuals for the book. “I am just a facilitator here; the books are written by kids and for kids,” she says.
While on the subject, we ask if children don’t read as much as we did even 10 years ago. “No, they are not because books today have a lot of competition and some of the option are far more appealing to a child; video games for example. But I also believe that we should force children to read. Technology has become a big part of our lives and we might as well accept it. And that is precisely why we are also introducing a digital version of our latest book. Even our education system is changing. Not just elite schools, but almost any mainstream school is adopting dynamic ways of teaching children and we shouldn’t ignore it,” adds Raman.
And how profitable is it really, to become a publisher who exclusively deals with children’s books?
“I cannot look at this venture purely from a financial perspective. The project is new and one has to put in quite a bit of effort into making it work. So right now, the company is self-funded,” Raman explains.
My Book Of Me launches at 10.30am this morning at Tharanga, Singamma Sreenivasan Foundation, Sadashivnagar; and on December 7 at Lightroom Bookstore at Wheeler Road Cross.