Tulika's archives – a library of ideas and reflections on writing for children and their reading in general, which have appeared as articles or interviews, or been presented as papers at various forums.

As Tulika turns 20, managing editor Radhika Menon discusses the company's journey with The Hindu

“…the good vs evil, the wise vs foolish, the strong vs weak concepts and images are universal to stories, from the classics to folktales ... Very often writers and illustrators unconsciously reinforce these stereotypes even while the stories or illustrations try to break free of it”

Excerpts from an interview with Radhika Menon, Publishing Director, Tulika Publishers by Sanjitha Rao Chaini for Businessworld, March 2016

On taking the leap to publish the first ever book in Mishmi, and the first picture books in Khasi – the motivations and the challenges

“I don’t think there any two views about the value of children growing up reading in their own languages. And since we do picture books, which are the first books children are introduced to, it was logical to publish them in Indian languages as well – as many as we could handle”

“These are not the kind of stories told by mainstream writers for children, and as publishers we seldom come across them. For us they were extremely relevant, and at the core of Tulika’s publishing philosophy – to bring out the plural cultural worlds that children inhabit”

“As editors, engaging with narratives for children in different languages forces us to open our minds and take in the perspectives and shades of meaning that other languages bring. While the author and the translators each see a book in one language only, our editorial decisions are influenced by seeing the book in all nine languages—starting with the title of the book!”

“As publishers we don’t believe in taboos in children’s books. What matters is how sensitively and imaginatively such issues are dealt with.”

“Children are naturally empathetic to the issue (of environment). So if you tell it to them simply, like a story or a creative non-fiction narrative that’s not thrust boringly on them, and make it visual, they respond... if we take the trouble to bring it to them attractively, they respond, they understand.”

“Children do get attracted by covers and do judge a book by its cover”

“Because children’s publishing is growing so fast, there is a big demand for talent in all these areas and the publishing process itself is fast-tracked. This makes the learning or nurturing of skills difficult”

“There’s been a trend towards books that children in India can identify with – in terms of themes, settings, names… Also, perhaps, a more pan-Indian kind of children’s literature, as different from regional like there used to be”

The story behind the First Look Science series

Has the market for children’s books opened up in the last ten years?

“Many questions confronted us. How could we change prevailing attitudes to children’s books and create books that reflected a contemporary Indian sensibility?”

‘If a logo could successfully convey the message of a company, this would be it. For, what better entity than a busy, intelligent, ubiquitous bird in India, an integral part of its landscape, to convey the message that Tulika stands for – a multilingual children’s books publisher that tries to address the multicultural ethnicity that is an integral part of the Indian context’

“Stories are a wonderful way of crossing cultural and linguistic boundaries ... To see a familiar language in a book that looks interesting encourages a child to pick it up and try reading in the unfamiliar language as well”

The heightened interest in children’s fiction in India, the drive to make it more reflective of our diversity, and the challenges that lie ahead, seen from an independent publisher's perspective.

Tulika has been a pioneer in the field of original children's publishing. Radhika Menon talks to mindfelds: the journal about ideas and learning, on Tulika's journey...

Children know a lot more, want a lot more and are willing to understand many more complexities than we give them credit for...

Indian writers from around the globe are telling varied stories with identifiable contexts. But there is the constant challenge to give them not only what they want but what they don't have...

The contradictions inherent in children's publishing in Malayalam point to the need to fight orthodoxy, to use English and Indian languages in ways that give children a reading experience that traverses the familiar and the unfamiliar. And who says they don't respond to the unfamiliar?...

In a globalised world, is there a space for a vibrant, multilingual, culturally-rooted body of children’s literature?

Radhika Menon looks back...on growing pains, finding a niche and growing with Tulika in a chat with Sudhanva Deshpande of Leftword Books..

When we know that our children can and do engage with the complexities of our oral narratives, why, do we offer them trivialised texts in our books for them?...

Who sets the standards, and can there be any one fair set of standards to judge excellence in form and content in books for children, especially in a multicultural context?...

While globalisation has led to an unprecedented publishing boom in the Indian market, there is a real danger of books being seen primarily as 'products'...

“The focus on multicultural publishing has not quite translated into authentic and inclusive literature from all cultures. Who sets the parameters for multiculturalism?....

Stemming from a need to nurture the mother tongue, especially in cultures and situations where they are threatened by a language of power, bilingual publishing for children seeks to preserve the one while accepting the other...

nspite of the differences in the way we look, our languages. . . the need for Asians to think about 'Asianness'. Not in a parochial sense, but with a sense of belonging and sharing. Or else, the consequences…stories, and have our cultures and languages subsumed and standardised...

Creating a space for a culturally distinctive children's literature in a milieu that has little space for it, and in a market that doesn't set very high standards is a major challenge for independent publishers. But change is afoot...

Exploring the connections between storytelling and visuals — and how storytelling promotes not merely picture books but in a general sense reading through picture books, so that it culminates in a love of reading books for life...

'Commas and full-stops' or 'the fine space' between writer and reader? A straight-from-the-heart look at what sits behind the editorial desk — and in the drawers!...

Does the literary scene for children in India today swing between Harry Potter and monotonous parroting of the epics and folktales? A look at the history and growth of children's publishing in the country, and the need for some clear, critical thinking of the way ahead...

An overview of the perception of childhood and the socio-historical context of education in India to understand the influences they exerted on the growth and development of children’s publishing

Tulika recently conducted a seminar on education and children's publishing in India along with the Centre for South Asia, University of Wisconsin, USA. A quick look at ideas shared... .

The freedom to recreate a story and its characters in a way that is more meaningful to oneself is a right every child must have. Some useful pointers on how to tell stories...

With so little study of children's literature in India, we often first look to the West for models of multiculturalism and political correctness before we realise that, no, the same systems and standards don't quite apply here....

If the question means do taboos exist in children's literature, then yes they do. If the question is should there be taboos in children's literature, then the answer is a definite no...

Didactic literature to instill noble ideals, or an arena in which children and adults can engage in various kinds of shared and dynamic discourse?

Do parents, teachers or librarians who buy books for children look closely enough at what often passes off as books for children?...

Who sets the standards, and can there be any one fair set of standards to judge excellence in form and content in books for children, especially in a multicultural context?...

Comments on a comic-book series on India's classical heritage that loses out on the light and shade, the multilayered philosophical connotations...

“The focus on multicultural publishing has not quite translated into authentic and inclusive literature from all cultures. Who sets the parameters for multiculturalism?....

Can schooling measure children's successes rather than failures? A look at the hohostile circumstances and the creative ways in which so many make education incelusive and relevant...

The skills acquired while reading picture books contribute to the long-term growth of a reader...

What is it about reading literacy that is so empowering? Given the traditional gender bias, do girls find themselves in the books they read?...

Good, bad, indifferent, that's a question of discernment. But when bookshops are flooded with imported and indigenous books, why are children not reading?...

Reading is usually associated with improving vocabulary, writing skills and general knowledge. What seems to be missing is the understanding and awareness that books have a much larger and vital role to play...

We need to bridge the gap between adults responsible for selecting and providing books and children, the actual users — tackle adult attitudes to children's reading...

Grappling with the uniqueness of each language, learning them, tackling constraints of layout battling Murphy's law and negotiating with stubborn translators and purists who say no way...

To translate it's not enough to simply render a story or piece of writing from one language into another. You must love language, be moved by ideas and tell it like it matters, so children find themselves in all kinds of books from all kinds of cultures...

Learning on the job – writing, translating, editing, publishing – made us rethink cast iron theories and find creative approaches to tackle the little and big challenges of translating for children...

A conversation about children's books, language and identity with the well-known Zimbabwean writer reveals shared problems and strengths...

Despite the profusion of books – Indian and foreign – in bookshops, for some children, reading doesn’t go beyond the school’s prescribed reader? Shouldn’t we do something about it?

Names originating in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, are increasingly being seen on covers of books published in the US and UK as well. Obviously, something is happening...

What sort of books should be written for children? Are they reading enough? And the right books? Are the books themselves 'alright'? How much should they cost? So much has been analysed and discussed that quite often the wood is missed for the trees...