Award to highlight local children’s literature

Children’s literature in regional languages can be a treasure trove of culture and heritage, which is often lost in translation. Kannada children’s literature is no exception. To encourage more children’s writing in Kannada, the Parag initiative of Tata Trusts will be presenting one Kannada children’s author and an illustrator the Big Little Book Award this year.

Instituted in 2016, the award is given in recognition of significant contribution of Indian authors and illustrators to children’s literature in an Indian language While it was Marathi and Bengali in the first two editions, this time the Trust has decided to honour an author who writes in Kannada.

The award for illustrators is not language specific. Authors and illustrators with extensive work in children’s literature in Kannada can send nominations.

The award aims to bring regional language literature to the forefront. “Children’s literature in Kannada has a rich history and is thriving, but does not find place in mainstream discussions. We are translating two stories of Nabaneeta Dev Sen, one of the winners, from Bengali to English and Hindi to enable a larger audience to access her work. The idea is to promote the work of these award-winning authors in as many languages as possible,” said Swaha Sahoo, head of the Parag initiative.

According to author and poet Prathibha Nandakumar, who has studied the history of children’s literature in Kannada, during the Romantic period, authors who wrote for a mature audience also catered to children. “While mainstream writing for adults went through a lot of change in the last 100 years in the form of literary movements, children’s writing, however, has remain static. During the post-modernist period and the Dalit and women literary movements, children’s literature disappeared from the mainstream. Though this does not mean that writing for children has stopped, it cannot be equated to the volume of literature for adults,” she said.

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