Monday, March 29, 2010

How do you choose a picture book?

When choosing books for your child, take their age and reading capacity into consideration. For pre-readers, choose books that have bold, vivid, and colorful illustrations of everyday objects. For beginners, choose books with simple storylines and illustrations that closely match what is going on in the story.  For independent readers, choose books where the illustrations tell a story of their own in fiction, or where they provide information of their own in non-fiction. 

Source: RIF.

Do read these informative articles on children's picture books:

Save the Picture Book at Book Brunch

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Picture Books and Early Learning

Holding and reading wordless picture books can be the first positive step towards learning reading skills. Readers are not intimidated by words and they gain confidence by the knowledge that they are able to comprehend the contents of a book on their own.

Picture books often require young readers to ask the basic question: What will happen next? But it doesn’t stop there. The books also invite readers to look backwards. This ability to travel back and forth in a book facilitates the development of reading skills. Picture books are full of details. Absorbing these details while looking at the pictures helps children enjoy the nuances of language as they become more fluent readers.

The special thing about picture books is the magical way they connect generations. They present a perfect opportunity for adult-child interaction. There is a universality about picture books that crosses all linguistic and cultural barriers unlike written texts, especially at the early learning stages.

Check out picture books from Karadi Tales!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why Picture Books?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of a child, that’s certainly true. A young child’s imagination is sparked off first by the image of the things she reads about, then by the words that describe them. She is far more likely to associate, for example, the picture of a tree to a tree itself than the word ‘tree’.

Therefore, a picture book becomes integral to development, awareness and exposure. Children do, in fact, judge a book by its cover all the time. And it is through pictures that a lifelong habit of reading is formed.

Children seek to connect stories with the world around them. Pictures make the stories seem more real and they can relate to them easily. For a child, words and pictures are the twin elements that come together to create a magical world of stories. Sometimes, even language becomes secondary to the narrative.

Meaning is represented in language and images, inviting the reader to attend to both in order to make sense of the story. When illustrations reflect familiar situations to children, they validate emotions and experiences, and by making this emotional connection, they begin their intellectual development. 

Picture books help children understand that words convey meaning well before they are aware of the text. They improve vocabulary and help them identify colours, shapes, numbers, letters and names. Picture books can also help build background knowledge – for example, a child who has never been to the zoo, a farm or a beach can still learn all about these places by exploring picture books.

After all, any child would rather be shown than told!

Check out picture books from Karadi Tales!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blogging Karadi Rhymes

Karadi Rhymes has really been hitting the news in recent times! Check out some recent links!

On 10 February, Anukrishna wrote about using 'My Name is Madhavi' to teach children. Read about her experiences!

On 1 March, Monika Manchanda wrote: 'And I can vouch for the fact that they are for adults as well… whenever its playing me and N keep stealing glances on the TV!' Read the entire post!

On 7 March, Nishita wrote about her experiences with Karadi Rhymes here. She wrote: 'Introduced as an initiative to provide more localized nursery rhymes that Indian kids can easily associate with their daily lives, this DVD contains simple rhymes based on Indian themes such as mangoes, cricket, and Indian festivals.'

On 11 March, Shruthi blogged at Hallucinations, writing: 'Oh it is delightful. Very likeable songs, very Indian in both subject and music. The illustrations are particularly delightful. I don't even have to mention Usha Uthup's glorious, flawless, soaring voice bringing it all to life. I'm not sure who enjoys it more - Puttachi or me, but we have the loveliest times, sitting together with the book while the cd plays.' Read the post!

On 16 March, Saffron Tree writers listed out their favourite poems and ChoxBox picked Karadi Rhymes! She wrote: 'the accompanying book has delightful illustrations that are sure to catch even a reluctant reader's eye. Then there is the addictive music and the full-of-life voice of Usha Uthup.'

She also linked to Meera Sriram's 2007 review of Karadi Rhymes on Saffron Tree.

Wow! Looks like Karadi Rhymes is a classic that may never grow old!

You can pick up the 2 volumes of Karadi Rhymes at our online portal, at Amazon (Volume 1 and Volume 2), at Flipkart (Volume 1 and Volume 2) or at any bookstore near you!

Karadi Rhymes is now available as a DVD as well! Check it out!

And look at our YouTube page for sample videos from the Karadi Rhymes DVDs!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Karadi Tales - now on Amazon!

Guess what, guess what. Karadi Tales is finally available on Amazon! Just search for any of our products and buy them on Amazon. Great way to save on shipping charges if you're outside India.

We're excited about this!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Little Vinayak: A Review

At Saffron Tree, Praba reviews Little Vinayak, written by Shobha Viswanath, illustrated by Shilpa Ranade, narrated by Vidya Balan, set to music by 3 Brothers & A Violin and with a title track by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

Praba writes: 'With refreshingly simple text paired with bright, bold illustrations, Little Vinayak is an inspiring story, which celebrates differences in a positive way.'

Read the complete review!

And pick up the book at our online shop!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reading IS Important!

The average seven-year-old is a computer whiz. Parents are astounded at the ease with which he uses gadgets. But is he a fluent reader? Not always.

Parents may ignore this. After all, he’s so smart with the computer. But they often do not realise that computers are designed to be mastered by anyone. With their natural intuition, every kid would figure out how to operate them.  This should not be viewed as an extraordinary ability.

Through the 1900s, the USA was one of the most creative and productive societies. In the 21st century, however, that has changed. America has begun to realise that their young population entering the workforce is ill-prepared to continue this rich legacy. A generation that grew up on a diet of excessive television, computers and video games and too little time reading is now facing extraordinary limitations. 

In a passionate address talking about the reemphasis on reading in the education policy Barack Obama recently said:

‘These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent -- for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home.’

India is today where the USA was 20 years ago. With the proliferation of cable television, computers and video games in Indian society over the last few years, our children are now achieving reading proficiency almost 2 years later than the previous generation did and reading much less. This will result in children who grow up to function intellectually and emotionally well below their potential.

So the next time anybody says that reading may not be that important in the computer age, think again.  Help your child become an early and enthusiastic reader and you have empowered your child more than you can imagine.

- Written by C. P. Viswanath, Director, Karadi Tales

Friday, March 12, 2010

Audiobooks and Children

Initially, children learn to read using a mix of ‘phonetic’ (sounding the letter and joining the sounds to form words) and ‘sight’ (recognising a word as a whole by sight through repeated exposure). Fluent readers read by ‘sight’, which means that they see every word as a picture and not as a collection of letters. 

There are two main reasons why children are reluctant readers:

- Phonetic reading is slow and often stressful. 
- Sight reading is not effectively taught in schools.

A struggling reader finds no joy in reading and often gives up quickly. By the time the child deciphers the word, he / she has lost track of the meaning of the sentence.

Sight reading is especially important for English because less than 30% of the words in the English language are phonetic words. When a child listens to a Karadi story and tries to read along with the book, the child hears and sees the word at the same time. This dramatically increases the sight vocabulary of the child.

Karadi stories are scripted in such a way that every sentence has a few phonetic and familiar words that the child recognises. Even if the child recognises only 2 or 3 words in a sentence of 7 or 8 words, he / she is able to stay hooked to the correct sentence. And since the audio always helps the child with unfamiliar words, the effort is minimal. The child can have a good time with the story while unconsciously grasping new sight words at his / her own pace.

Karadi sootradhars are among the best storytellers in India. They are carefully selected for their neutral Indian accents, effective speaking and ability to emote beautifully with their voices. Children imbibe these models very quickly.

In addition, the dramatic presentation supported by relevant background score and effects allows a child to understand and imbibe new words. So the use of appropriate words, choice of phrases and correct grammar develop naturally.

Our children are growing up in an increasingly visual world. Their ability to listen and learn is reducing rapidly. Listening is not merely hearing. It is the act of hearing, understanding and putting the information to memory. Whether inside a classroom or outside, a child with good listening skills will grasp quicker and with less effort.

Good listening skills and longer attention spans are critical to learning. Yet, we never nurture them consciously at home or in school.

When a child sits with a Karadi Tales audiobook and listens and reads along with a story for 22 minutes without being distracted, it almost seems like a miracle. This nurtures listening skills and attention span.

- Written by C. P. Viswanath, Director, Karadi Tales

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reading Fosters Creativity!

Reading stimulates the theatre of the mind. Each child evolves his or her own unique theatre and that is the root of your child’s creative growth. 

Today, there exists the common misconception that children today are much smarter than children of previous generations. 

But the truth is that in an age where information is so widely available, it is only natural that children absorb much of it! So their information bank is, perhaps, greater. But are they actually smarter?

Unless a child knows how to productively use the information stored in the brain, it is of little consequence. Information, since it is so freely available, is no longer valued as highly as creativity, the ability to think out of the box, the ability to use information to evolve innovation... the ability to just imagine...

Look at this case study:

A group of forty Class III students was given a verbal description of an unusual creature from a Harry Potter book and asked to draw the creature. Children who had not seen the movie came up with highly individual pictures. Children who had seen the movie came up with an image resembling what they had seen in the movie. 

What would you rather have, one idea or forty ideas?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Newsletter for March

Take a look at the latest newsletter from Karadi Tales!

To subscribe to the newsletter, just drop us an email at

Monday, March 8, 2010

March Blog-Rolling - Part 2

In a really beautiful blog post, Monika Manchanda blogs about her experiences with Karadi Rhymes. She loves the 'Indian-ness' of these rhymes and admits that she enjoys them as much as her child does. Check out the comments on the post as well for some great thoughts on books and rhymes for Indian kids.

And if you don't have your copy of Karadi Rhymes yet, get them from our online store! They are available as audiobooks and DVDs!

At Jabberwock, Jai Arjun Singh blogs about the 'Will You Read With Me?' series. Describing the books as 'beautifully produced', he goes on to add: 'If these don’t get your indolent, brain-dead, junk-food-and-video-game-addicted monster child interested in stories and storytelling, nothing will. Nothing!' Thanks, Jai!

Books from this series are available here.

Times of India reviews Karadi Tales picture books. Anusha Vincent writes, 'Simplistically told and enhanced wonderfully by the artwork, these superbly-packaged books are sure to get young readers engrossed.'

Also take a look at these beautiful books on our website.

And guess what! Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar was recently voted the best bedtime story ever written! Read a piece on this in The Telegraph here. It's one of our all-time favourite picture books as well. Do read our take on Eric Carle here!

Chitra Bilingual publishes four Eric Carle books in English / Hindi. Take a look at the series!

We also publish The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a tactile picture book - a book to touch and feel. Look at the tactile series here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Karadi Tales Animated Series

Have you seen the Karadi Tales animated series on Disney Channel yet? We're on Season 2 now, featuring stories from Indian mythology and folklore. The show airs every weekday at 09:30 AM. Don't miss it!

Directed by Soumitra Ranade, the television series has 26 titles from the Karadi Tales catalogue rendered vibrantly in an animation style that is uniquely Indian. The animated characters and backgrounds are richly created along the lines of the Indian mask-making tradition. The final look is distinct, sophisticated and intrinsically Indian.

The soundtrack features Naseeruddin Shah, Girish Karnad, Saeed Jaffrey, Jaaved Jaaferi and other celebrated artistes from the Indian theatrical tradition. The episodes are beautifully textured with the music and lilting background score created by 3 Brothers & A Violin. The series currently airs in English and Hindi, and will soon be broadcast in other regional languages as well.  

Read write-ups on the show at Daily News Analysis and The Hindu.

See videos from the show on our YouTube page!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Blog-Rolling - Part 1

Daily News Analysis (DNA) writes about audiobooks and the reading process in an insightful, detailed article. Read it here.

For more information on the subject, do read two notes from Karadi Tales director, C. P. Viswanath, on audiobooks and reading.

Also read his piece in the Times of India on multilingualism. Pratham Books showcases this piece on their blog here. Tulika responds to this piece with their own take on language learning here.

Do take a look at our website to read more about Karadi Path and language learning in the classroom!

And did you know that our very own Sanjay Dutt has a huge, loyal fan base in Germany? Take a look at this blog post by Ingrid Diwali Zellner. She reviews The Monkeys and the Capseller and Monkeys on a Fast, two titles narrated by Sanjay Dutt in the 'Will You Read With Me?' series by Karadi Tales.

Time Out Mumbai reviews Super Hathaman (written by Kaushik Viswanath, illustrated by Chetan Sharma, narrated by Jaaved Jaaferi and set to music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and 3 Brothers & A Violin). Do read the review here!

Be sure to read this write up on the launch of the book!

You can pick up all these titles and more from the 'Will You Read With Me' series here.

Back at Saffron Tree, our favourite website on children's literature, ChoxBox refers to a Karadi Rhymes song in a review of Meera's Friends, the Trees. Take a look at the post at Saffron Tree and the cross-post at Life is a box of chocolates.

And at Pratham Books, ChoxBox writes a guest post where she talks about the Bandar Bindas Bandar compilation of Karadi Tales. You can read the cross-post at her blog as well.

At the Scholastic-Aviva Storytelling Night in Chennai on 19 February 2010, two Karadi authors, Shobha Viswanath and Kaushik Viswanath, read from The Seventh Kozhakattai, a hilarious soon-to-be-published story from Karadi Tales. Read a review of the night! And check our website regularly, because the book will be out soon!