Mumbai: The Big Little Book Award (BLBA), a first-of-its-kind award to honour contribution of Indian authors and illustrators to children’s literature, is inviting nominations for its second edition. Every year, BLBA selects one Indian language to award an author or illustrator. The award has selected ‘Bengali’ as the language of 2017. Authors writing extensively for children in Bengali, with significant contribution to literature are eligible for nomination, whereas awards for illustration are not language-specific.
The inaugural awards were announced at the Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest in 2016.
Internationally renowned author-illustrator Ms. Madhuri Purandare received the Author award for her contribution to Marathi children’s literature, while illustrator and cartoonist Atanu Roy received the Illustrator award.
“It is the first time in India that creators of picture books – both the author and the illustrator, have an award to vie for. Recognition of this as mainstream literature and artwork as a distinct genre has been an area of extreme neglect in our country. Hopefully this award will go a long way to change that,” said Roy.
On this year’s choice of Bengali as the language for authors, Ms. Swaha Sahoo, who leads the Tata Trusts child literacy initiative Parag, said, “Bengali literature has a rich history with eminent people writing and illustrating for adults and children. Unlike many other Indian languages there are still many illustrious names writing for children. Some of the contemporary work that has come out in the recent years is also noteworthy.”
The award aims to recognise and celebrate authors and illustrators who have created outstanding children’s books in Indian languages. The award seeks to gift every child the joys of reading and reading good books in multiple Indian languages, while encouraging new authors and illustrators to contribute to the field.
In 2016, the Tata Trusts’ Parag initiative conducted a series of events across Maharashtra. This included book discussions with children in libraries, workshops with children by children’s authors and illustrators, and panel discussions with students of art and design and story reading sessions. This year, Parag initiative will start the ‘Big Little Book Talk’, which will be a series of talks across the country on children’s literature in India, around rich history of Bengali children’s literature, role of illustrations in children’s books to name a few. BLBA will also collaborate with major literary festivals to advocate for children’s literature in Indian languages and create platforms for children’s authors and illustrators to present their work and thoughts.
“The events that were conducted in Pune and Mumbai with children as part of the Big Little Book Award helped spread the word about the award and also Marathi literature. But more people should know about this. Since Bengali is the language this year, the events should not be limited to West Bengal. Let children across India read translations of Bengali authors if possible,” said last year’s winner Madhuri Purandare.
“Inaugural edition of Big Little Book Award in 2016 had excellent response and generated immense interest in the importance of quality children’s books in Indian languages, and the role of authors and illustrators in creating lifelong interest in reading for pleasure. We hope the 2017 edition helps reach many more children, parents, and teachers while celebrating the talent by recognizing an author and an illustrator who have made significant contribution in pushing boundaries of children’s literature in India”, said Amrita Patwardhan, Head of Education, Tata Trusts.
The ‘Big Little Book Award’ award has been instituted by the Parag initiative of Tata Trusts and Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai Litfest’. It recognises authors and illustrators who have written and illustrated stories that connect with children, make them laugh, encourage them to think, introduce them to new ideas and cultures, are inclusive and balance the traditional with the contemporary. More information can be accessed at http://biglittlebookaward.in/