Authors

Writing books for children isn’t easy, says author Mohan Pathipaka

Sircilla-born Pathipaka Mohan is this year’s recipient of the Vedagiri Rambabu award, an annual token instated in honour of the littérateur whose emphasis on children’s literature sparked a movement in Telugu literary circles. An assistant editor at the National Book Trust, Hyderabad, Pathipaka, writer of over 15 books, is also a literary critic, specialises in poetry and promotes writing for and by children.

He owes his literary interest from childhood to his bibliophile aunt. “She was very good at re-interpreting the stories I read, my grandfather’s influence also had me learning Kabir’s dohas and Vemana padyalu quite early. Writers like C Narayana Reddy and N Gopi inspired me.” His teaching stint in Adilabad spurred the writer in him and he came up with a series ‘Mana Kavulu’ for children, in a vernacular daily. Poetry being his forte, his haiku, ghazals and other writing attracted young readers. “I felt magazines for children were going ahead of their target audience. I wanted to come up with more readable content. Books like Chandamama, Venne Muddalu earned me popularity as a writer. Winning the N Manga Devi award (also for children’s literature) instilled confidence in me,” says the writer who is also a part of the content team of pre-primary Telugu text books in Telangana.

Writing books for children isn’t easy, he clarifies. “It’s like readying a document for the future. The writer needs to think like a child and can’t afford to experiment with the language. It’s important to have a rhythm, not be overtly moralistic and weave incidents apt for their age.” It’s relatively easier to cater to regular readers. Mohan finds himself lucky to be in a profession that matches his interests and helps him read many books on a daily basis. “In the process, I know my mistakes better, understand what works and doesn’t in literature. National Book Trust comes with a pan-India reach with books in multiple languages translated into Telugu. This gives me scope to understand diverse cultures,” he states.

In his experience, he has found children’s literature attracting more adults than children. Adult readers come to him and say that books for children offer them better twists and have nostalgic value.

Pathipaka however insists that children need to write for their age group to produce quality literature in the longer run. Over 80 books by children writers were published in the Telugu states in the last few years, he shares. “It’s important that they produce content they’ll consume. Children are no longer attracted to stories of a farmer, poor family full of heart. This is the age of Chota Bheem, they know better what works for their generation.”

He says a phenomenal amount of work is being done in Telugu with children’s literature, yet more quality translators are needed to expand their reach. He cites examples of Odia writers like Sitakanta Mohapatra, J P Das, Manoj Das who come up with books in English and Odia. Pathipaka adds, “There is a demand for Hindi translations of Telugu and Tamil works, but not many do a satisfactory job. Kerala sees a lot of literary meets where they invite writers across the country to translate their works in vernacular languages. Their government has a centre that celebrates children’s literature, we’ll need something on those lines.”

Pathipaka has been instrumental in spearheading a lot of writing workshops to produce children’s literature. He feels more literature needs to be produced to address issues specific to metros. “Children from villages are coming up with stories because they are more connected with nature and observe their surroundings. We need similar awareness here. Literature helps children respect their roots better. Telugu short story translations in English textbooks will take us ahead.” His personal book lineup this year comprises Cinare Kadha, A..Aa..E..Ee and Akupachani Geyalu.


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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 5:07:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/writing-books-for-children-isnt-easy-mohan-pathipaka/article24047212.ece

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