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From picture books to Hook Books: Why your child needs Hook Books!

The Hook Books are early chapter books for very young readers, aged five and above (for being read to) and six and above (for reading independently). Written by award-winning and most-loved writers for children, and illustrated in exuberant colour by some of India’s best illustrators, these stories are set largely in non-urban settings.

Why Hook Books? Sayoni Basu, editor of the Hook Books explains why you and your child should be reading these.

Who’s There? || Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Anupama Ajinkya Apte

It is an accepted fact that every child reads at a different pace. Reading levels and grade targets and lexile levels work up to a point, but children’s actual reading abilities vary widely within these levels and frequently fall outside them on either side. This is especially true in India in the case of books in English—English might be the first, second or third language, and is introduced at different ages.

The challenge for authors and publishers is to therefore create books which can work for wide age groups. Books which are both simple and complex: with a vocabulary that works for kids of five and six, who are graduating from picture books to books with more words, yet with a story that would interest a reader who may be a lot older.

My Daddy and the Well || Jerry Pinto, Lavanya Naidu (Illustrator)

This was one of our goals in the Hook Book series.

The longer we work in children’s publishing, the more clearly we realise the impossibility of linking age group to reading ability. So we wanted to create books that satisfy the metro parents’ desire to fast-forward their child’s reading achievements, and yet allow children the pleasure of reading well-written stories that appeal to them.

Hey Diddle Diddle || Anushka Ravishankar, Priya Kuriyan (Illustrator)

The second goal we set ourselves is to have a diversity of experiences in these books. Many of our readers live in cities and are in many ways deracinated. Living within an urban bubble and interacting only with other children like themselves, it is easy for them to lose touch with the the fact that despite belonging to the same country, we are diverse in the way we look, the way we live, the religious practices we follow, and social habits. So one of our goals in this series was also to try to bring together stories of small towns from different parts of the country. This is done subtly, through the names of the characters and the lives that are depicted and through visuals. There is no explicit mention or discussion, but it brings the lives of people who are ‘different’ into the world of the reader.

A Quiet Girl || Paro Anand, Toposhi Ghoshal (Illustrator)

The third goal is an educational value addition. We strongly believe that reading should be for pleasure and pleasure only, but we are sadly aware that a lot of the world does not share this view. And because we want our books to sell, we have given in to market pressure and created one exercise for each book. These exercises are carefully chosen to fit in with what children learn at school, so parents and teachers will be happy. But we also wanted to make these as enjoyable as possible for the child. And instead of quizzing kids about what is in the book, we use the story as a starting point for the child to explore the nuances of language and its usage.

So the Hook Books tick many boxes: they are attractive, well-written, fun to read, and are also educational, diverse and carefully crafted. We hope they will be an exciting and groundbreaking new series in the Indian children’s market.


It’s not a book, it’s a hook!

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