This time we have a conversation with Ms. Santhini Govindan, a respected Indian children’s writer. A special conversation has been held with her about writing and editing children’s literature. Let’s read her opinion.
1. Please introduce yourself. How did you become a writer?
My name is Santhini Govindan, and I am a writer of children’s literature based in Mumbai, India. I have written over fifty books for children (for recreational reading) and my books include picture and chapter books, poetry for children, short stories and non-fiction. I have also authored several series of English language readers (academic textbooks) that are widely used in schools across India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. I wrote a column on folk tales and historical fiction in the well-known children’s magazine ‘Chandamama’ from 2011 till the magazine closed down in 2013.
I have always loved reading books, and wanted to be a writer from the time I was a little girl. My first story was published in a well-known magazine in India when I was sixteen years old, and I still have that dog eared copy of the magazine which has gone out of print long ago!
2. What do you think are the characteristics of standard children’s literature?
Children’s literature is of vital importance, especially in the modern world which is filled with violence, uncertainty, and challenges. Thoughtfully written stories not only entertain and amuse children but provide them with knowledge about the world. Today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders, so if we want to teach our children about tolerance, compassion, democracy and honesty, we must necessarily expose them to powerful stories that portray these qualities in an engaging way. Children’s literature stimulates children’s intelligence and creativity, and helps their personalities to develop.
Good stories help children to confront their fears, and help them to face difficulties bravely. This is especially true when children identify closely with a character in a story.
3. What is the status of children’s literature writing in India? Are you happy to be a children’s literature writer and editor?
Children’s literature in India is growing rapidly, and is at an interesting stage. There are many new publishers in the field with imaginative and innovative ideas. Subjects that were not considered suitable for children’s literature earlier, like death, mental illness, terrorism and female infanticide are now being written about with sensitivity. Indian publishers of children’s books are now bringing out unique books on subjects that are suitable to contemporary Indian children (both in rural and urban settings) rather than blindly publishing copies of books that are tailor made for the Western market.
So, it is definitely exciting to be a writer and editor of children’s literature in India today, and though it has its difficulties, it’s never boring!
4. What is the subject of your prize-winning story in the book ‘Nothing is Impossible – Eight Inspiring Profiles.’ What kind of book is it?
The book ‘Nothing is Impossible – Eight Inspiring Profiles,’ is a non-fiction book of eight inspiring biographical stories published by The Children’s Book Trust, (CBT) New Delhi. All the stories won prizes in the category of ‘Creative Non-fiction,’ (9-12 years) at the XVI Competition for Writers of Children’s Books, organised by CBT. My story is about Abdul Kareem of Kasaragod, Kerala who developed a forest single handed on a barren, rocky five-acre plot of land that he bought with his savings. Despite numerous setbacks and failures in cultivating trees on his inhospitable tract of land, Abdul Kareem persevered, determined to build his ‘dream forest.’ Today, the forest, spread over 32 acres is a wonderful gift to the world, and to future generations.
5. Is there any special qualification in India to become a children’s literature editor? What should be the qualities of an editor who works on editing children’s book?
There is no specific eligibility criteria or academic path to be followed to embark on a career in editing in India. However, degrees in language and journalism will be useful. An excellent command over the language you are going to be working in, is a must. Good editors are usually very well read and knowledgeable, with a wide range of interests. Editors of children’s books have to necessarily have a love of children’s literature, and be aware of the latest trends in children’s publishing, both in the Indian, as well as the international market. Children’s books require excellent and well thought out illustrations, so editors need to have some interest in this area, and also the ability to visualise a book.
6. What are you writing now?
Currently I am finishing work on the last of a set of three English literature readers (academic texts). I am also working on two picture books and a second book of poetry for children.
For more :
Personal Website: http://www.santhinigovindan.com/
Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santhini_Govindan
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSanthiniGovindan/
Instagram Poetry page: https://www.instagram.com/lottle_kids_poetry