Goa-based Aarati Gedam has ventured into the world of children’s book by introducing BOZO to the world. NT KURIOCITY gets to know more
Janice Savina Rodrigues|NT KURIOCITY
Children’s literature is gaining momentum across the globe and there are many books in the market that cater to the sensibilities of the pre teen and teenagers. Unfortunately by the time children grow to the age of 10 most are addicted to their tabs and game consoles and don’t really want to take up book reading as a hobby.
This was what Aarati Gedam wanted to change. She wanted to ‘catch ’em young’ and thus she brought BOZO to life through a series of books. Bozo is a very friendly bear who has very human characteristics.
“Children these days don’t want to read traditional books anymore, the only way to get their attention, is by introducing some kind of activities into the books,” says Gedam. The books are aimed at an audience of mainly two to five-year-olds.
“It teaches children about basic activities like getting out of bed, brushing their teeth and other such day-to-day activities,” says Gedam. The activities include changing Bozo’s clothes, and going to school and other fundamental concepts like farm animals, wild animals and writing alphabets.
It is an interesting concept that can keep children occupied and sometimes it also provides the parent with a way of spending some quality time with the children while teaching them some important facts of life. The books have cut out pieces that can be attached using the Velcro patch on the pages. “For example, in case of the animals books, the parent can mix up the faces and tell the child about the animals and let them figure out which face belongs to which body,” she states. The books also have puzzles that have rather big pieces with Velcro to avoid the loss of any component.
Also in case of children who are autistic and slow learners, these books have been very helpful.
With a two pronged approach of getting children interested in reading and also giving parents an excuse to spend more quality time with them, the Bozo book series has reached far and wide, finding takers in cities across India, the Gulf and in Europe, especially in local bookstores, kids libraries and playschools, all in a span of just a few months.
Inspired by the quiet or cloth books, a raging concept in the West, where one has to cut and sew pieces of cloth to the activity book, Gedam developed a much simpler, cheaper and user-friendly concept. “These books are designed and made here in Goa, right from the illustrations to the raw material and printing, everything is done in the Thivim Industrial Estate. These books have also given a lot of local women employment as they assemble the books,” she says.
Selling her books over the internet, Gedam also markets them on various social media sites. “When I get the orders, I ship the books directly to the customers. With no overheads or premises rent, this is an efficient and cost friendly business model for me,” she says.
A year’s research and many sleepless nights of sketching her ideas whenever they popped up in her mind, Gedam, got in touch with an illustrator Annalise Gouveia who put her ideas into form. And it took a good two months to set the books in proper order with the printing and the assembling. “Not many people know the effort put behind a children’s book. The problem of getting these books to a Goan, or rather an Indian audience is that not many people would spend more than `200 on a book and then they would go and buy a remote control car worth `2000; this is not the case in the West,” says Gedam.
When making books for children you have to come to their level and think like a three-year-old sometimes, this may be seem easy but it is a task only children’s book writers would empathise with. “You have to be careful with the kind of words you use and the type of concepts you introduce. Also, children get bored easily and thus may just chuck the book aside,” says Gedam about some of the downs in her journey.
The books are in the market already and Gedam has plans to expand and venture into new books. She is collaborating with teachers of special children to get their inputs too. With a dream of bringing Bozo books to every playschool and nursery across Goa and India and in major bookstore chains, libraries, waiting rooms or play areas in hospitals and hotels, the scope, Gedam feels, is limitless. “But most importantly, I want to see my books spread smiles like confetti. I want to bring nothing but pure joy in every household,” she concludes.