Saturday, April 25, 2020

Book review of three children’s story collections by Author Kartikeya published in Braille script.

Review by Sarita Aryal, Edited by Nistha Shrestha

Kartikeya is a renowned author who has been working towards the promotion of reading and writing culture for children since the last two decades. Kartikeya, the leader of Mount Everest Storytelling Express is also a skilled story teller. He has already travelled more than 40 districts of Nepal in his storytelling journey. He is also the founder of Kartikeya Trust through which he has been providing Kartikeya Child Talent Award every year to talented children. Recently, author Kartikeya has published his three children’s story collections in Braille script from Children’s Literature Foundation Nepal (CLFN), including some of his best selections,as a valuable gift for visually impaired children from different background.
            It is a challenging opportunity for visually impaired children of Nepal to get any books published in Braille script. It is very difficult for them to get even the necessary course books in Braille script. In this context, it is a historic as well as a praiseworthy moment for visually impaired children that they have got a golden opportunity to read the best three children’s story collections published in Braille script by a single author at once. I think that they will be motivated towards writing the literary creations along with the entertainment and they will also get the real pleasure of reading literature on their own after reading all the three story collections.
            I got an opportunity to read all the best stories by author Kartikeya from his three children’s story collections published in Braille script and it was a quite new and different experience for me. I have been confronted with various difficulties due to the lack of course books since  my school time as I am also a visually impaired person by birth. During my school time, there were a limited number of course books in Braille script and we had to read them by sharing with classmates. Therefore, reading the literary books in the Braille script was not accessible. Though I had a great interest in literature, there was no option rather than listening some of the literary programs in radio to quench the thirst of reading literature. This time, I got a real pleasure of reading literature when I read the three children’s story collections by author Kartikeya in Braille script. I am grateful to him that he gave me the chance to present the analysis in the book launching ceremony of his three children’s story collections published in Braille script. I also went through the flash back of my beautiful childhood memories while reading the three story collections. I have also felt that the reading of these story collections has activated the awareness of literature inside me and tempted me to write children’s stories myself.
            The following are the children’s story collections by author Kartikeya published in Braille script:
1.     Waha! DunotPasalekiChhori” and other child stories
A.    WahaDunotPasalekiChhori”,
B.     Ram Ra Shyam Dubai Bessari Roe”,
C.     Cable Carko Katha”,
D.    Driver Uncle Kina Roe”,
E.     Duster Udyo”,
F.     Hanumanle Surya Nile
2.     Ma ChorHoina” and other children’s stories
A.    Ma ChorHoina”,
B.     Rajan Maya NamaraHai”,
C.      BidakoBela”,
D.    Didiko Maya”,
E.     Kanchhi”,
F.     Lau VaiHarayo
3.     Sacchaiko Hero Ho Krishna Bahadur” and other children’s stories
A.    Sacchaiko Hero Ho Krishna Bahadur”,
B.     ChhiKastoNaramro Hero”,
C.     PiririkoDesh”,
D.    ParikoKalpana”,
E.     NayaBarsha”,
F.     ChitileKhelyoHoli
All the above listed stories are the beautiful documentation for the entertainment and literary pleasure of children. There are altogether six stories by author Kartikeya in each story collection. children can be able to bring positive change in their behavior from the various literary elements in every story of author Kartikeya such as beautiful child psychology, meaningful message, healthy entertainment, social norms and values, satire against various discriminations along with the beautiful presentation of fantasy. Some of the stories, such as “WahaDunotPasalekiChhori” carry a deep lesson or message not only for children but also for the people of other age groups. One of the most interesting thing about author Kartikeya is that he has not given a direct message to children about what should be done and what should not be done. But children can automatically gain the hidden message after they finish reading every story. I think that this is one of the best feature and quality of a real author. Similarly, the imaginative story “Duster Udyo” has not only provided a full package of entertainment but also has provided an ironical message for both the teachers and the students.
            Author Kartikeyahas published these three children’s story collection in Braille script for free distribution to visually impaired children throughout the country in the memory of his beloved mother Durga Devi Ghimire, “Devanayakiramanujadashi.” To publish Braille book is very costly due to which Braille books are published in a limited amount. Similarly another misfortune is that most of visually impaired children are from poor economic background and they cannot afford the costly Braille books. In such a difficult scenario, author Kartikeya has taken a praiseworthy step by publishing his best story collections for visually impaired children. In this regard, I want to express my gratitude to author Kartikeya, Children’s Literature Foundation Nepal and his heavenly mother Durga Devi GhimireDevanayakiramanujadashi” for their courtesy to publish three children’s story collections in Braille script and distribute these valuable documents free of cost. It seems to me that author Kartikeya has also played a great role to inspire the concerned authorities of visually impaired group to draw their attention to this aspect which they have not cared about. I am sure that he will also give continuity by publishing his literary works in Braille script in order to develop the reading culture among visually impaired children in the days to come.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Good literature can induce positivity in children

In 1999, a young man decided to establish an organisation that recognises children with a knack for literature. Kartikeya Trust was established with the support from his friends and family and has been self-sustained ever since with the revenue generated from his own published children’s literature.
In 1999, a young man decided to establish an organisation that recognises children with a knack for literature. Kartikeya Trust was established with the support from his friends and family and has been self-sustained ever since with the revenue generated from his own published children’s literature. Fast forward two decades, the man, Kartikeya Ghimire, is today one of Nepal’s most prolific writers and the president at Children’s Literature Foundation Nepal (CLFN). His most popular works include stories ‘Ma Chor Hoina’, ‘Manko Mandir’, and ‘Pharsi Bahadurko Katha’. Also an avid traveler and a passionate storyteller, he has travelled to more than 40 districts in the country to facilitate storytelling programmes for children and adults alike. In this conversation with the Post’s Abijeet Pant, Ghimire talks about how children’s literature distinguishes itself from other forms for writing. Excerpts: 
For someone who has penned about 70 books for children, what was your childhood like? How did it nurture the writer in you?
Although I was brought up in a village in the Tarai, I had access to magazines such as Muna and Balak. One of the first books that I read was Panchatantra. I also grew up reading Hindi literature for children. Before I even knew, the bookworm in me had been stimulated, and the literary programmes organised by the schools and community only helped me improve my writing. I was in the ninth grade when a district-level inter-school poetry competition was organised in Sarlahi. Prema Shah, the famous children’s author, and a group of senior teachers from Sarlahi were among the judges who declared my poem ‘Kartavya’ the best. I was awarded a purse of Rs 2,500. I was really amazed by that extraordinary treatment I had received. The event had a deep impact on me. It was then that I considered writing seriously and sincerely.

You came to Kathmandu only in the late ‘90s. How did you begin your career as a writer? More importantly, why did you opt to write for children?
My literary career began with my work at the Balak magazine. Around the same time, I also got a job at Bal Mandir. I was always a very sensitive and an emotional person. I was very close to my mother who had gone through the unimaginable to raise her 12 children. Upon joining Bal Mandir, I came across so many children who never knew what the love of parents felt like. When I started living with those children, not only did I get emotionally attached but I also learnt a lot about their psychology. And then I started opening up to them myself, sharing personal stories which often motivated them. This is when the storyteller in me evolved and inspired me to write for children.
What distinguishes children’s literature from other genres of literature?
One of the most crucial aspects of children’s literature is its sensitivity. If good literature can induce positivity in children, it can also work the other way around. Children’s literature gives you the power to influence children. Both the stakes and responsibilities are high. Let’s say for example, providing a child with sufficient and the right amount of nutrition always takes so much effort. The food you prepare has to be special. Similarly, when you work on children’s literature, you have to work on the depth and length, diction, illustration and overall plot in a way that gives the children what they need, in healthy and correct dosages. It’s a lengthy and intricate process. You can make or break a children’s approach towards life with children’s literature—this is what distinguishes children’s literature from other forms.
Children’s literature also stands out because its content is not judged by literary critics. It is the children who decide how good or bad a certain work is.
Like you say, children’s literature takes a lot more than just creativity. Can you share some of your personal approaches to writing a new book?

Before my stories go to press, I often go to various places in the city and beyond to share my stories for reviews. I read the stories to groups of students from different backgrounds. If in the end, I find them happy and smiling, I consider my work a success. But, should there be a mixed response and I find the children emotionally drained, I immediately make changes to my story. If you want to come up with a good book for children, you have to go to them to judge your work and the impact it has.
In this tech-savvy age, YouTube and the internet have become the big sources of knowledge for children. What roles then do the books play in the lives of today’s children?
While children have access to the internet, they are also increasingly getting confined to their houses.
The children barely get out of their houses or go to a park and play with their friends like we used to. How then do they learn about our society? The importance of reading books has become more significant than ever before. It is from the characters of books that children learn the most. When reading, a child is engrossed with the life of that character, its sorrow, its joy, and its ups and downs.
When reading, a child learns to distinguish between the good and the bad and about the ways they can add positivity in the world around them. Reading increases their understanding of the world and builds up their confidence.
However, I am aware that it is high time that we digitise all the available literature. We need to make children’s literature accessible to the children in any way possible.
Other than the need for digitisation, what other challenges lie ahead?

One of the major challenges is reluctance on the parents’ end. In Nepal, we have the misconception that indulging in fiction or literature in general will hamper the academics of the children. There are very few parents who buy literary books for children.
In addition to this, we haven’t been successful in depicting much of our society in the stories. We ought to portray a myriad of backgrounds and characters coming from various corners of our society. We also have to work on portraying our history and cultures. In most cases, lack of originality is also an issue.
To the aspiring children’s literature writers, what would be your two cents?
Well, there are children from thousands of different backgrounds in our country whose stories haven’t been told. Besides, we haven’t been able to get to them to learn their stories first hand. New writers ought to be proactive and travel to various corners of the country and come up with original stories.

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