There was a time when authors wrote with honesty and dedication but got no recognition, money or awards but this dedication has now been lost, says Madhuri Purandare, the winner of the inaugural â€˜Big Little Book Award' 2016 for best author in Marathi at the Childrens Literature Category at the 2016 Tata Literature Live, Mumabi.
Instituted by Parag, an initiative of Tata Trusts, the initiative seeks to honour authors and illustrators, who have actively delighted young readers.
In an email interview with IANS soon after receiving the prize Sunday night, Purandare said: "It is very difficult to survive on dedication alone. They (Children's writers) need to work but at the same time they need support and encouragement. You cannot work in a cell, you have to have a certain ambience and create a dialogue, when there is no dialogue there isn't much encouragement to be part of this genre."
Purandare has written and illustrated more than 23 story books including the Yash Series, a series of six books that take us into the utterly enchanting everyday world of little Yash.
"I think it varies from state to state, people are trying to do something in this field now. A few years back the scenario was very bad; people are now realising that they have to do something for children, so even magazines and books are coming up in bigger numbers," she explained.
Children's literature and books have been a neglected category in Indian publishing, with only a handful striving to publish stories that reflect the multicultural and multilingual world that children grow up in today.
"The only thing I think is the effort that should go into it. There is some problem as enough work is not done, with regard to work in language and subject, quality and basic content. The production is good, but the problem lies in the content and authors should try to look at the world through the child's eye. There is a gap as they tend to talk about their own childhoods and not look at the children's world today. In our society, the lifestyle, the socio-economic levels are so varied, you cannot apply a one-size-fits all approach to storytelling, these things should be worked on", added Purandare.
Her books are about regular, ordinary things that children encounter in their everyday lives and are illustrated with great detail for small things.
Purandare further said that the problems with children's literature in India fall in a vicious circle. "I am thinking about the children's authors we grew up reading. They wrote with honesty and dedication but got no recognition, money or awards. But we read them and they taught us to love literature and this dedication has been lost. It is very difficult to survive on dedication alone. They need to work but at the same time they need support and encouragement. You cannot work in a cell, you have to have a certain ambience and create a dialogue, when there is no dialogue there isn't much encouragement to be part of this genre", said Purandare.
Her works include "Radhache Ghar", "Chitravachan", "Hana's Suitcase" (translated into Marathi), "Babachya Mishya", "Aunty Jui's Baby" and "The Hundred and Thirty-seventh Leg".
The author also said that those writing for children "are ready to work but they do not know how to go about it" and therefore some kind of training programmes or a little encouragement could go a long way.
At the same event, Atanu Roy was also awarded â€˜Best Illustrator' in the Children's Literature Category.
For the 2016 inaugural edition, nominations were invited in the category of authors writing for children in Marathi. Meanwhile illustrators' entries were not limited to any language. The author's award will focus on one Indian language every year henceforth.