Showcasing emotions of young adults
Bal Sahitya Puraskar awardee Paro Anand has penned many books for children, young adults and adults Apart from writing Paro also works with children...
Bal Sahitya Puraskar awardee Paro Anand has penned many books for children, young adults and adults. Apart from writing Paro also works with children in schools and NGOs through her ‘Literature in Action’ programme. She also holds a world record for helping around three thousand children to make the world’s longest newspaper.
The author has come up with a new book titled ‘The Other: Stories of Difference’. In this collection of stories, Paro Anand showcases the secrets, sorrows and the courage that is part of young adults’ everyday life.
Excerpts from an interview
How was Paro Anand as a child?
I wasn't a great reader as a child, but there was a family reading time daily and there were many books in every room of the house. It's when I found the perfect book that fit me perfectly and I got hooked onto reading.
What inspired you to write for children and youngsters?
First of all, I love it, I live for it. Although it sounds a bit cheesy, children and life really inspire me. I want to create empathy and empowerment through my stories and interactions for and about young people.
Tell us about your new book 'The Other…’. It's a collection of stories that tells us of how we 'Otherise' people who are different. All stories are told through the choices of young people. Sometimes the 'Otherisation' is deliberate and some are those that we don't realise that we're doing it. I just want to flag our tendency to do this.
Did you face any kind of objections from adults?
Over the years and many books, of course, I have faced objections and withdrawals of some of my work. ‘The Other…’ is still too new for me to have had much reaction. But having said that, I have never once had a young child say to me that I shouldn't be writing what I write for young people. They are much wiser than we give them credit for.
What were your favourite stories/books growing up? Did any such story inspire you to write for youngsters?
The book that made me completely hooked was Joy Adamson's ‘Born Free’. As we had an open-shelf policy at home, I was reading Enid Blyton and Tennessee Williams at the same time. We didn't have much Indian contemporary writing though we read a lot of Russian literature.
What do you think is needed to keep the smartphone generation interested in stories?
Adults must read and must be seen to be reading by young readers. Have easy and open access to books. Don't over curate your child's reading. Yes, keep an open eye, but also an open mind. Find out what your child wants to read. Don't force your choice onto them. Look how popular the Harry Potter series was though they were not easy reading. Kids took to those books voluntarily. Because it was a well-written story. If books are exciting, readers are excited too. If they see you reading and enjoying your book, they'll wonder and maybe try it themselves.
What is in the pipeline for you in near future?
Exciting months ahead! Neev Literature Festival, giving the keynote at The Big Little Book Award, attending festivals and events at the Bangalore Lit Fest and Majha house Amritsar, giving a TED Gateway talk on December 2. Then Kolkata and JLF. And many exciting school events in between including Skype interactions.