Does your six-year-old know who Yajnaseni was? Probably not — she has neither her grandmama, nor you, to read out stories from the Ramayana or Mahabharata. She might watch Little Krishna or Hanuman on the kiddie channels, but nothing beats being read to or, for slightly older children, reading it yourself.
For a long time, there was only C Rajagopalachari’s editions of the epics — wonderful versions but children today would be put off by the dominance of grey text. And there was good ol’ Amar Chitra Katha, of course, but little else.
Well, check out the bookshelves in stores today and you’ll find that lately, there have been lots of additions in this category — well written mythological stories in large fonts and with attractive graphics. Even Amar Chitra Katha has smartened up, with its redesigned five-in-one digests (Rs 195 apiece) and significantly better production values.
Puffin came out with a big-ticket release — Namita Gokhale’s Mahabha-rata — a few months ago. It’s wordy, good for children above 12 or so, and has beautiful illustrations. The imprint also shortly plans to release Where’s Hanuman, a set of 12 picture puzzles (Rs 125 each).
Then there’s the Wisdom Tree series called Little Monks, which comprises four attractively hand-bound titles on Ganesh, Hanuman, Krishna and Buddha — uncomplicated text, good pictures (Rs 150 per title).
Even smaller publishers like Shree have now jumped on to the bandwagon, with titles like Gods and Demons from Indian Mythology and Stories from Indian Mythology (Rs 175 each).