‘Chil­dren are more in­tel­li­gent than what’s be­ing writ­ten for them’

Tehelka - - INTERVIEW -

would come to nar­rate sto­ries with morals. Af­ter lis­ten­ing for a while, they’d get dis­tracted and start talk­ing to each other, eat lit­tle things — one child would be suck­ing a tamarind, one would be run­ning off to dive into a river for a swim, oth­ers would be play­ing games. But the Pan­ditji wouldn’t mind be­cause the real ed­u­ca­tion was in in­ter­act­ing with na­ture. One good trend that has started th­ese days is that of in­ter­ac­tive play schools — they’re more dis­ci­plined and al­low chil­dren to min­gle with each other. But the draw­back is that chil­dren can’t re­late di­rectly with na­ture any­more. This gap has to be filled. The at­ti­tude to­wards sto­ries and lit­er­a­ture needs to change — some­one has to tell them that when you present gifts on a birth­day or an oc­ca­sion, you need not just give them eat­a­bles and mithai; food for mind is equally im­por­tant. The na­ture of our cel­e­bra­tions must change. In your new book, you are retelling a story that is im­mensely pop­u­lar in Ben­gal. How do you think it’ll re­flect with chil­dren to­day? Sim­ply be­cause th­ese are sto­ries — it en­ter­tains them, in­spires them and boosts their imag­i­na­tion. That’s why sto­ries have to be told and re­told. I chose a story in Bangla be­cause it is one of the rich­est lan­guages for chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture in In­dia, a lan­guage which has worked more for them than, per­haps, any other lan­guage in the coun­try. What about other lan­guages and trans­la­tions?

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