I am that generation which was still under the strong influence of British English and books too… While we spent endless summers reading the famous five and secret seven and dreaming that one day we will have a gang like that of our own.
The kids these days explore the world of multiple screens from iPads to iPhones to interactive television but nothing beats the feeling of cuddling up with a book in your favorite couch or reading short stories to your little munchkins.
I am fiercely proud of India’s cultural heritage and that was perhaps one of the reasons that led me to start this blog . While I explored the world of block prints and Banarasis, deep down inside I also wanted to learn and write about India ‘s rich tradition of story telling . In the quest of looking beyond the world of Pepper, Peppa Pig and Noddy for my four year old , I wanted him to discover the world Indian story writers which led me to the delightful world of Karadi.
“The Karadi Tales content is primarily geared towards Indian culture and heritage and the aim is to encourage early reading and help readers get familiar with their Indian roots and understand and respect the myriad cultures of the country. Many of their indigenously produced audio books are voiced by renowned Indian artistes like Naseeruddin Shah, Girish Karnad, Sayeed Jaffrey, Nandita Das and Vidya Balan. Karadi Tales books are highly acclaimed worldwide and with the best possible Reviews, Recognitions and Awards. ”
Karadi Tales went international in the second year of its establishment. They are a regular at Frankfurt Book Fair and Bologna Book Fair. Their books are also distributed in North America . They have sold rights in many countries, across the globe. Many of their titles are translated into various foreign languages .
There are translations also in Indian regional languages and bilingual books in Tamil-English and Hindi-English . Their main aim is to make every child a reader so the books are kept very reasonably priced. They have also set up libraries for schools under India Reads initiative.
Here are some snippets from our interview with Shobha Viswanath – founder and renowned author of several Karadi Tales Books.
How did Karadi Tales start? What motivated you to start writing and publishing books?
I and my husband had decided to return to India after 5 years in the US, predominantly to give my children the much needed exposure to our Indian roots. But it was very frustrating to find very little in terms of reading material that actually reflected our culture.
Having noticed a need for good indigenous books for children we decided to start out in a small way working/operating from home. We started under the banner of Sky music as one of the many activities that we were involved in. But as we were growing we felt there was a need for a singular Brand that would speak books.
As the bear places a very important role in many India stories and mythologies, we thought we would make him the central character – Karadi (bear in Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam) – the storytelling bear. And thus was born the brand Karadi Tales.
Who are your favorite Indian authors both for children and adult fiction?
Anushka Ravishankar for children. But having said that, there is a crop of really good emerging writers for children. Chitra Soundar, Natasha Sharma, Annie Besant, there are so many. I like many contemporary Indian writers who write in English. No particular favorites yet.
Please tell us more about the books published for visually impaired children.
Our aim has always been to see that every child is given access to reading. Keeping in mind the children with visual challenges, we decided to come out with a very creative tactile book, with Braille print, under an imprint called Dreaming Fingers. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was the first of the series. There is also ‘I Feel a Foot’ and of course our Alphabet book.
What is the relevance of audio books and videos in the world of tablets, YouTube and mobile applications which have plethora of choices for children? How has Karadi tales kept itself abreast to change in technology?
Reading will never lose relevance nor listening to a story. It does not matter what avatars the traditional book or the traditional story teller takes, both will continue to be of relevance in a child’s world. The printed picture book will continue to exist, no mater what other platforms one can present itself. Therefore, we will continue our presence with physical books as well as be available in other digital formats. Our stories will soon be available as digital downloads and as mobile applications.
What are the future plans for Karadi Tales?
We are entering our 21st year and looking to forge ahead as usual. We are coming out with many more new titles and looking into the future I see myself continuing to help children become happy readers.
What Karadi books would you recommend for pre-schoolers and older children this summer?
Please take a look at our audio book and picture books catalogue at http://www.karaditales.com/PDF/Audiobook_Catalogue.pdf and http://www.karaditales.com/PDF/Picture_Books_Catalogue.pdf
I recommend all of them!!
Karadi books are available in several Book stores across the country are also available on portals like Amazon, First Cry and Flipkart
Karadi Tales enters its 21st year in June this year. Here is wishing our beloved bear Karadi a very Happy Birthday , may you continue to delight young and old readers for years to come.