Teddy bears, move over. The booming book bazaar in India is enticing children who are barely out of their nappies.
Harper-Collins India has come out with a new toddlers' series aimed at developing reading skills for children aged between one and five years. The Big Cat Read at Home series, published in June, is divided into four levels.
While level one - called First Steps - strings a few simple words and pictures together for children as young as one, level two, Discover Reading, teaches two-to-three-year olds to read short sentences with colourful visuals.
Level three, Explore Reading, links stories with speech and developed characters. Level Four, Love Reading, stretches the stories a little more so that they can be read independently.
"Children are not reading these days and parents are working. They do not have the time or the energy to read books to their children. The USP of the toddlers' series is that one can go beyond the book. At the end of each book, there are notes for parents on how to use the series for various activities for kids," Lipika Bhushan, marketing manager of Harper Collins-India, told IANS.
"The books have been prompted by the 'Mom and I' and 'Dad and I' workshops we have conducted to promote reading habits among children and help parents and their children bond better," Bhushan said.
The marketing manager of Harper Collins said 2008-2009 has seen a spurt in the sale of children's books with business growing by 10-12 percent despite the downturn.
The price of the books ranges between Rs.75 and Rs.495.
The business model to sell the new series will be the same as general books - through the bookstores, retail channels and distributors who supply to school libraries, Bhushan said.
The publishing house is also promoting quality children's books by Indian authors.
"Last year we published books like the Kidnapping of Amir Hamza, Traveller, the Tiger and the Very Clever Jackal, In the Indian Night Sky and Captured in Miniature by Indian writers for children aged between one and five in association with Mapin," Bhushan said.
"This year, we launched a book, Monkey Tales and Raja: King of the Jungle for the same age group."
The publishing house has lined up children's titles by authors M. Mangaldas & Mistri, R. Sapre, S. Shirodhkar, Rohington Mody and Balraj Khanna for later this year.