Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A library for children

This is not exactly a parenting tips blog, but one thought that this information will help parents in general and uncle aunties in particular.

This post is about sourcing books for the infant/toddler without burning a hole in the pocket.

I have about 12 years of experience in setting up libraries for children - cheap, and nice. So thats my credentials for writing this post. :-)

Children have to enjoy their first books. For them, that means being able to eat them, tear them, use them as tablemats, or even as weapons against you. Therefore, Rule No. 1 is to have dispensible books. If a book is very imp to your child, please keep at least 3-4 copies of that book.

Rule no. 2 is to have cardboard based books that can be wiped clean. Till at least the age of 1.

Some inexpensive sources of infant and toddler books in India: (i have to mention them by name because these are not the front slots in a book store. No book store i know has kept value for money stuff up front. Unless you ask for them specifically, chances are you may never spot them. At Landmark in Gurgaon, these books were hidden in an almost inaccessible corner, and in that corner we found some other incredible value for money popup books as well)

1. Navneet Publications: Priced at between 25-45 INR, they are affordable and very nicely done. I especially love the Vikas Fun with Craft series. There are 6 books in the series.

2. Dreamland Publications: By far the best production quality and the highest value for money. Sadly, they are not easily available. But they are worth searching for. Anything from INR 30-60.
3. CBT (Children's Book Trust) - Easily among the best in terms of content. I recommend it more for older children though. They are also expensive now.

4. Amar Chitra Katha: When Ishaan was born, i gifted mahself the entire ACK ever published. At abt 10K, it was more than worth it. Ishaan knows stories of Hindu mythology that even we'd forgotten, and everyone else in the house loves reading them too. They are the most popular part of my library now!

5. Edited to add: Eklavya Books: Wonderful catalogue, and great Hindi books.. the one thing that i was missing. Thanks a lot Silbil for that comment that led me to this bookhouse.

6. The Depot: Store Brand at the Big Bazaar.. you will find all the standard activity books - coloring, magic paint, toddler starter books etc. - good quality and lower price than the rest of the market. The Catch? You should be able to stand shopping in Big Bazaar. (Sorry, it may be fine at other places, but the one at Gurgaon leaves me positively claustrophobic)

7. Imported second hand cardboard books: These are available at a second hand book stall near you. Ask for imported childrens books in particular. They are usually in good condition, are of good quality, and are priced at between 10-40 INR. You have to be careful in choosing though. The right books for the right age, and the best condition.

The disadvantage obviously is that you cannot have multiple copies of the same book, since most of these books are just not available in India. The second hand stores are the only place where i get them. "GoodNight Moon" included. Its just not available in India.
The advantage is that the child reads them for some time, does the activities in the books, and then the book can be easily discraded or given away when the child is bored. The quality is so good that the books will survive your child also and will stand another child in good stead.

At this time, Ishaan has a library of about 70 books and he is very possessive about them. We have had to discard quite a few (he got his first book at the age of 6 months). If you want, I will post some pictures of the books in his library in the next post.


silbil said...

please try eklavya and tulika also

Z said...

Although books for babies are bound to get damaged, we taught our children as young as possible that books are to be treasured as well as used so most of them remained in reasonably good 'well loved' condition. Books are expensive in this country though and you'd not really want to have to buy several copies of the same book!

Ooh yes, pictures please!

oo7 said...

ACK...were my fav's ...
i think i am going to pick one for me now...


The Phosgene Kid said...

We've got a couple nice used bookstores here with lots of kid's books. Mrs. Phos is a preschool teacher so she scoops up a lot of nice books for her kids.

Swati said...

I owe you a lunch for this post..i never knew that there are second hand book stores. Do you have them in Bangalore ...let me do some R & D :-)

I knew about some of these brands though and like them as well.

I did a post about kids library 2-3 days back :

EYE said...

interesting...opening a library for kids is one of my future projects.

hitchwriter said...

Amar Chitra Katha's are an eternal favourite...

I have all of them lined up for my son... i m sure he will love them.. !

(¯`•._.•[Raaji]•._.•´¯) said...

ahh... interesting advices :-)

BK Chowla said...

Very interesting.If I can ever be of any help in your venture,do let me know.I will be happy to do anything for the kids.

Ni (neihal) said...

my son just turned one, I have been getting him board books, and we have a dozen now, and he loves those books, he actually reads them ( the sound is zzzzzzzzzzzzzz oo zaaaa ooooooo :P) but mostly he plays with them. Thanks for this post, got to search these now. :D

Varun said...

I'll mail you the address of a good place in Gurgaon for getting custom-seized new/old books. Very good collection for kids. Plus, you know they come cheap!

On Sundays, there's always Daryaganzzz

May the bhook for book never die!

Think Tank said...

how about just pickin up enid blyton and roald dahl and those cute disney fairytale books?

Mampi said...

Geat info.
I still have books from my kids' littlest days. Grolier books also have good stuff for the kids as young as your little one.

soulbrush said...

oh wow, i didn't reaise you are still blogging...greetings from me in london.

How do we know said...

Hi silbil: thanks a ton for Eklavya. I have ordered already, but there is no response yet.

hi Z: I so agree. Maybe i shld try that with Ishaan too.

Hi 007: i think u shld pick one up soon..

Hi Phos: aah.. i love reading kids' books myself a lot!

Hi Swati: Already written a lot on ur blog in response to this comment :-)

Hi EYE: Great Project. All the Best!

How do we know said...

Hi hitchwriter: Yes, he will. I can guarantee that! :-)

Hi Raaji: Thank you. How have u been?

Hi Mr. Chowla: Thanks so much. I might request your help for Esha( - we need a lot of help there.

Hi Neihal: Gud to hear from u again! And yes, they do love their books, and its such a sweet thing to see!

Hi Varun: Where's the email dude? :-)

Hi Think Tank: A little later dear, a little later.. :-)

Hi Mampi: And i thot I was the hoarder! :-)

How do we know said...

Hi Soulbrush: And great to hear from you again too!! :-)

You Know Me Very Well said...

Hey, this is an amazing post. I am so used to reading atleast a few pages of a book every night, that my son also got on to this habbit. and he just loves reading ACK and he has already started sharing books with his cousins & friends to read... book reading is a an amazing thing to develop in your child.. thanks for this post dear...!

Id it is said...

A passion for reading is perhaps the best gift one can pass on to the next generation. However, without meaning to pontificate, it isn't the absence of books or libraries that prevents children from reading outside of the school curriculum. It is the lack of role models who are readers that is the real cause for poor reading habits. I can say this with conviction about children in the US which houses a public library that is accessible 9 - 7 at least six days of the week to every child in the neighborhood. It is usually within walking distance, is free, and you can issue as many books as you want. In addition, if there is a specific book or writer you are looking for and the book is not available in your local library, the library will make it available to you at the earliest and inform you when it arrives! Despite all this, the reading scores in the US are perhaps among the lowest in the western world. Clearly, there is a message here... children do as you do and not as you say.

Awfully sorry for this sermon like message :)

human being said...

interesting and very useful...
and happy to know about your job...

seeing those pics will be fun...

i also liked Id's sermon!
the point he's mentioned is absolutely true...

just don't be a bad role model for your child... like me...
we have lots of fight with my daughter to separate her from her books and send her to bed!!!!

How do we know said...

Hi id it is : True. And i agree fully. However, this post is more for parents who want their children to read, are willing to be role models, and just dont want to burn a hole in their pockets in the process... i realised that the low cost publishers are not kept in the front shelves in our bookstores, and not all parents know these publishers by name.. the point of the post was to disseminate that information only.. :-)

Hi human being: Are you lucky or what!! yes, we have started to have these " i want to read i dont want to sleep yet" fights already.. the Other has them with me, and i have them with Ishaan.. meaning, i want to read all the time and so does Ishaan..

Gud to c u!

Lynn said...

I too love and appreciate children's books. I buy them at garage sales when people are almost giving them away for free. For pennies (25 cents). The ones I buy are in top condition, good authors, stories, beautiful pictures, art, clean, not damaged. I bring them to my grandchildren and they LOVE them. Their parents have been reading to them literally from the time they were born. They appreciate a good story now at 4 1/2 years of age.

Thank you for coming to my blog today.

silbil said...

also those who stay in Bangalore, Bonbgay or Pune must try
they have a whole lot of kids books as well

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