Kids’ Reading on the Rise in India—What’s the Secret?

After browsing the Times of India article “Writing kids’ books is tough,” a profile of author Shubhadra Sen Gupta, I thought: I wish more people had that bent of mind in Egypt. Or heck, anywhere.

I wasn’t sure if this was just Sen Gupta’s opinion, or whether it was widespread in India—the idea that writing good children’s literature is intellectually and creatively difficult, and worthwhile, and worthy of celebration. In any case, it seems there are a plethora of children’s books available in the nation: in Bengali, Hindi, English and other languages. The piece also mentioned children’s magazines, children’s book events, and lots of YA material.

Sen Gupta has apparently recently been able to give up her day job and live solely on the profits she makes from writing children’s books. (!) She attributes the rise in reading in India to: “well-read Gen X parents, who can advise their children.”

The cost of children’s books in India was not mentioned in the piece, although I assume—from the (low-quality) imports I’ve seen in Cairo—that some of them must be fairly inexpensive. The piece also doesn’t mention literacy rates, or where reading succeeds most (and where it doesn’t).

It’s good news, of course. But I’m not sure which is the chicken and which the egg: Do we need parents to become better readers before their children will pick up books? Or children before parents? In any case, both are important, and I doubt we can really have one without the other.

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