Pratham Books launches the ‘Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign that promises book launches, drawing contests and ‘green rewards'. Nithya Sivashankar reports

“… the King and his young prince stepped into the orchard. This was to be the first walk among the trees for the prince with his father. ‘Father, what is this sapling?' asked the prince, pointing to the new plant.”

Thus begins the endearing tale of the prince who explores his father's orchard and learns about the common trees of India such as the tamarind, mango, jackfruit, papaya, chikkoo and ber. ‘A Walk Among Trees', a picture book by Nimret Handa, will be brought out by Pratham Books as part of its ‘Awareness Today for a Greener Tomorrow' campaign.

Pratham Books is a non-profit organisation that publishes books for children in a variety of Indian languages. This year being the International Year of the Forest, it has launched this initiative in order to spread awareness among children and adults about the need for a green world.

Wildlife writer and film-maker Janaki Lenin's ‘A King Cobra's Summer' will also be released during this campaign, which will be held throughout December.

Says editor Mala Kumar, “‘A King Cobra's Summer' traces the life of a king cobra who gets lost in the forest in the Western Ghats . The story of his survival also tells readers about the conditions in the forests, how some people revere snakes and how some others are out to kill them.”

Walking among trees

Manisha Chaudary, head of content development, says that the books aim to sensitise children to the natural world. “We are doing this in a way that is natural and real, rather than teaching them lessons in morals and ecology.” Mala Kumar adds, “We hope the books will make readers respect wildlife. We want the children to know that like us, animals too have many dimensions to them. We can make children more sensitive towards them.”

Children will have a chance to learn about conservation and wildlife through interactions with people who work in the forests and through books written by experts.

Brand manager Purvi Shah says, “A love of trees is more easily cultivated in a child by letting her walk among trees instead of just telling her how vital trees are to us. We are planning a tour of Lalbagh, in Bangalore, in which children will get to know about the trees and read about them from the book ‘A Walk Among Trees'.”

Purvi goes on to add that the launch of ‘A King Cobra's Summer' will also see renowned herpetologist Gerry Martin demystifying myths about the snake.

People from all parts of the country can be a part of the campaign. An online drawing competition called ‘Art for children, will be held till December 12. Online entries are accepted for this event. Books on conservation such as ‘Narmada' and ‘Ganga' are available for sale on their website. ‘A King Cobra's Summer' and ‘A Walk Among Trees' are also on sale on their Conservation Reads webpage.

Managing trustee of Pratham Books, Suzanne Singh says children can take a green pledge online. “Pledges are meant to awaken the good citizen inside us. When children write or articulate a pledge voluntarily, we believe that they will always try to be true to those pledges.”

Purvi recalls the water conservation campaign that Pratham Books had organised in 2009. “As a run up to the book launch of ‘Cauvery', we had a campaign just like this one. We received 1,22,000 pledges from across the country in multiple Indian languages.”

Spread the word

Suzanne hopes that parents and teachers of children who cannot make it to the events in person will talk to the kids about these issues. “On our website (www.prathambooks.org) you will find five simple tips that the children can actually follow at home, and even make their family members aware of the same.”

The website also has interesting facts about forests. “We hope that children, parents and teachers join us to pledge their support towards conservation of our forests and wildlife,” says Suzanne.