Shipra Mittal tells young ones of Indian mythology through interactive apps

Shipra Mittal once had to recount the story of the Ramayana to a class full of kindergarteners of mixed ethnicity in America, during Diwali. She tried working with the Amar Chitra Katha books to narrate stories from Indian culture to her children, but this ‘could not keep them glued to reading or listening to it’. Inspiration came when one day she saw her six-year old son reading Peter Pan on an iPad. She mused, “If only someone would make apps on the stories from our Indian epics, so our kids could enjoy them.” Her son responded by asking, “Mom, why don’t you do it?” That was how it all started for Shipra.

She had moved to the United States of America 12 years ago, to do her Masters in Special Education from the University of Texas. She later shifted to California and worked as a program supervisor for children with Autism in a private company, where she provided in-home training and guidance to parents and taught children skills through Applied Behaviour Analysis. She loved her work and was completely dedicated to it when, the idea of app-making came in.

The Ramayan app is an interactive story book that has three modes of Play — Read to me, Read myself and Auto play. The ‘Read to me’ and ‘Auto play’ options also have a choice of selecting English or Hindi. The app also comes with jigsaw puzzles and memory games in between the story-telling.

Shipra’s children and their classmates loved the app. They now know more about the Ramayana than just that ‘Diwali is celebrated for new clothes and parties’ as her son explained to his kindergarten class. Her children have been involved in the entire process by giving her feedback for sketches, testing builds, and informing her about what they like or do not like about an app.

After the response she received for the Ramayan app, she moved on to make apps on stories such as Fearless Frogs and Arjun and Bird’s Eye. Her latest app is on Rani Jhansi. Shipra explains her choices stating that she picks stories that her close to her heart. She hopes that the story of this warrior queen whom she terms as the ‘Indian Mulan’ would be something that girls would find inspiring and encouraging.

Shipra says that her husband was the one who encouraged her to learn about how the apps are made and how to go about the whole project. She recalls today that, “From then on, I just couldn’t stop myself. Each day, I learnt something. And I continue learning new things by trial and error.”

All the apps are available in Apple stores all over the world. They work on all versions of iPads, iPhones and iPods. By August they will be available on the Android platform too. For more details about the apps, visit www.peacockbookstore.com.