While many people rightly criticize smartphones and tablets for keeping children indoors, staring at the screens, others are creating ways to use these devices to get kids to go outdoors instead. Publisher Pratham Books’ new ‘Phone Stories’ audiobooks have been specially designed to be enjoyed on mobile devices, with the aim of promoting reading and increasing children’s’ curiosity towards wildlife and nature.
The books have been written by wildlife writer Sejal Mehta, illustrated by cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty, and narrated by stand-up comedian Rohan Joshi in English and Purnesh Kumar Tripathi in Hindi.
First in the series was ‘Watch Out! The Tiger is Here!’ which was released on Children’s Day this year, followed by ‘Did You Hear?’ The two stories with gorgeous illustration and naturalistic sounds take listeners deep into the jungle and introduce them to Indian animals, insects, and birds.
In ‘Did You Hear’ for instance, you are treated to the sounds of myriad birds, which are described in terms of more familiar sounds (“the Brahminy Kite wails like a hungry baby”), so that children are better able to understand and remember them.
Similarly, in ‘Watch Out! The Tiger Is Here!’ the animals of the forest call out in distinctive sounds, warning each other about the tiger.
“As a child, I remember making strong associations with animals based on what I read, and a lot of children’s literature back in the day was steeped in incorrect stereotypes,” says Sejal Mehta. “Some animals were repeatedly evil characters, some were heroes, and the smaller creatures, never even got any lines. These associations stay forever ingrained in a child’s mind. Pratham Books is consistently breaking that pattern with innovative storytelling and editorial methods.”
The stories have been and will be released in multiple languages, so that children from all around the country can enjoy them, and learn to be more curious about India’s spectacular wildlife.
Check StoryWeaver for current and upcoming Phone Stories (‘Wild Cat! Wild Cat!’ is available to watch and ‘Who Ate All That Up’ will be published next), or simply follow Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver on Facebook to stay updated.
Written by Additi Seth
Featured image source: Illustration by Rohan Chakravarty, StoryWeaver