Mothers publish interactive books for children

While the Covid-19 pandemic made many people inactive and bound them to their homes, it did not stop two young mothers from creating and publishing interactive Tamil books.

Ms Usha Kumaran and Ms Razmiah Banu, who have been friends for more than 14 years, felt there was a need for such books when they met at Ms Usha's house for tea on Dec 21, 2020.

Their conversation touched on the topic of the vast availability of simple interactive books in English, while there were only a few in Tamil.

Both wanted their children to learn Tamil in an interactive manner.

Ms Usha, a civil engineer, has a two-year-old daughter, while Ms Razmiah, a marketing professional, has two sons, aged one and two.

The casual conversation soon led to the pair deciding to create and publish interactive books for children in Tamil.

They researched the various aspects that are needed to make such books.

"Sight is not fully developed in newborns, so we experimented on which colours will be best suited to them," said Ms Razmiah.

"We found that high-contrast colours are best."

Interactive books are known to be highly efficient in engaging toddlers because of their sensory elements.

Eye-catching and colourful, they evoke sights and sounds that attract children.

This was the primary aim of Ms Usha and Ms Razmiah who wanted to introduce two books, Nila Nila Odi Vaa and Thosai Amma Thosai, which are traditional Tamil rhymes.

But it was a challenge as they had to find their own funds and pool resources to tackle issues such as choosing a storyline, selecting a suitable illustrator and finding a printer and publisher.

"We went through every detail on each page of the book as we wrote it," said Ms Usha. "For example, in the Nila Nila Odi Vaa book, we decided to add elements such as a train set and a telescope and not just dolls, which are generally associated with girls, to break the stereotype and portray a more inclusive theme."

Their task became more challenging as they were unable to find a Tamil printer because of the Covid-19 situation.

"We tried as much as we could to involve Indians in the bookmaking process and support Indian printers and illustrators," said Ms Usha.

In December last year, they finally published 2,000 copies of their interactive books.

Ms Usha and Ms Razmiah aim to publish more books with original Tamil rhymes in the near future.

For more details, visit their website: http://www.chellameybooks.com.

 tabla@sph.com.sg

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