Nandini Nayar gets candid about writing for children

Writing for children is tougher. Nandini Nayar has written eight titles for young children and another five books for older children. Launching her latest book with Tulika Publishers, Guddu’s Photo, Nandini believes in squeezing out creative juices when it comes to writing for the younger lot. “You have to get into the skin of that age-group,” she says. The art lies in sending out messages subtly. “Nobody likes preaching,” she laughs. “Children are perceptive and it helps to cater to their ideas of the world,” says Nandini.

Her latest book, Guddu’s Photo, is about a little boy Guddu whose mother wants to take a picture. Guddu puts in all his friends (toys) with him but the mother only wants Guddu in the picture. However, without his ‘friends’ Guddu won’t smile; so the mother eventually gives in. “Process wise, children understand things and you can always cash in on the child’s way of understanding the adult world,” says Nandini.

In Where is Amma, another one of Nandini’s books for younger children, she plays around with a child’s perception that becomes his understanding through observation. In the book, the child is looking for his mother. He finds her slippers outside the refrigerator and immediately assumes she is inside the fridge because he has seen many people leaving their footwear outside to go into some places. She puts forth the child’s worries when he asks his mother to not finish all the jam, chocolate and barfis. “There is always a way in which you can talk to the child instead of talking down. Children’s books gloss over things and I don’t believe in taking a moralistic stand; it’s best to explain things to children as is,” says Nandini.

Nandini’s What Shall I Make won the outstanding international book award in 2010 by the United States Board for Books for Young People. Her book Rani Lakshmibai won the first prize in the children’s book category by Federation of Indian Publishers last year. The author believes in the importance of reading to children, including infants. “Children get caught on to a habit like reading and it’s best to introduce them to reading while they are young,” says Nandini.