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Usmeet Kaur, Hindustan Times
August 29, 2013
While our own country is going gaga over technology and toddlers are catching up with iPhones quicker than adults, a British author — in Chandigarh to hold a one-day children’s workshop recently —  depends on books and colours to improve children’s ‘visual literacy’.


At British Council, Elante Office Block, on Tuesday, Emily Gravett, author and illustrator of children’s picture books — Spells, The Odd Egg, Wolves (winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal) Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears (winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal), Monkey and Me and Meerkat Mail — says she finds Indian children rather well-mannered, compared to kids back home.

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(British author and illustrator of children’s books, Emily Gravett, talks about the importance of ‘visual literacy’. Keshav Singh/HT)

“This is my first visit to India, and thus my first interaction with Indian children. Kids here are quite well behaved and polite, unlike kids in Britain,” she says. About her workshop, she adds, “My aim of conducting this workshop was to develop children’s visual skills and their ability to relate to stories. I made them understand how an author/illustrator develops his or her work. Later, I gave them the chance to take a piece of their art home.”

Ask her how she got initiated into the field and she says, “I was a victim of teenage rebellion; I quit school at the age of 15. But later, after my daughter was born, I used to read her to bed, which incited further interest in children’s books. Since my drawing skills were developed, I thought why not utilise them!”

About technology taking over our lives, she says, “Visual literacy is important for a child, be it through internet or books. But these technological mediums somewhat restrict a child’s growth, as they cannot touch or feel anything, which in-turn restricts their imagination.”