Books and music: A summer reading list for kid-lit

first_imgBooks and music: A summer reading list for kid-litChildren’s literature has evolved in India. We have a variety of books for children these days: From edgy fiction to reference books that do not just aim to ‘educate’ kids.advertisement Next Antara Raghavan New DelhiJune 23, 2019UPDATED: June 23, 2019 03:00 IST Despite the myriad claims on children’s attention spans reducing and the numerous distractions such as YouTube and Netflix, the reading habit has managed to stay alive. In fact, many children can look forward to a variety of books this summer.This is the considered opinion of a cross-section of children’s publishers and writers in Delhi, though warning notes are also being sounded. According to well-known children’s author Paro Anand, best known for The Other and Wild Child, the number of children reading has not decreased.”Despite the new internet distractions, when I go to schools for workshops to talk about books, the level of interaction and engagement is often quite phenomenal.” She adds that schools across India have shown great interest in author visits, and therefore reading.She describes how many students ask critical questions on books ranging from transgenders to bullying. Anand adds that children do not accept things at face value. Echoes Deepa Agarwal, author of more than 50 books including Caravan to Tibet, and Blessed, “The Internet actually enables children to find a wider choice of reading material. With the proliferation of websites such as Amazon and Flipkart, online forums, and other social media disseminating information about new titles and many literary festivals celebrating books are booming.”Anand agrees, saying “My book sales, and that of many others, are actually going up, and a lot of that is due to digital over the past 5-10 years. “Is it enough? No. But it has increased.”Agarwal adds, “Parents and educators are now more conscious of the benefits of leisure reading. And, because of the demand, publishers are bringing out a vast variety of titles. This translates to more choice in terms of genre. Trends in Indian children’s books have undergone a sea change. There is much more imaginatively written non-fiction, historical fiction, and mythology retold in engaging new styles, as well as sports stories and fiction that reflects the lives of children.”advertisementSharon Fernandes, author of The Mystery of The Missing Crown- A Goa Story, agrees, saying, “Kids are reading more regional stories, with local history and mythology thrown in to the mix.” She adds, “Young minds today love nuanced stories, more than what we give them credit for.”Harper Collins Children’s Books publisher, Tina Narang dwells on the impact of technology. “There’s a wider variety of books to choose from and greater access online, but there are also a greater number of distractions. The challenge today is not so much creating books as it is creating readers. But, that’s not to say that young readers are not charmed by books anymore.”Despite this generally optimistic stance, Vatsala Kaul Banerjee, Publisher of Hachette, Children, has a slightly different take. “Children in India tend to get their cues early from the adults around them and very often they are directed to read more non-fiction and reference books that, it is hoped, will translate into marks, prizes or enhance exam performance.”While this is certainly true, the fact is that children’s writing has come a long way in the past couple of decades. Acclaimed children’s writer Subhadra Sen Gupta, author of many books, including Lets Go Time Travelling, calls herself, “a battle-scarred veteran” in the area of children’s writing in India.According to her, it all began with a “magical magazine called Target [published by India Today]. It had an extraordinary editor, Rosalind Wilson, who was responsible for the move away from producing copies of Enid Blyton to doing more Indian stories.Sen Gupta adds, “Indian writing has evolved and it began with a change in the attitude of publishers. We were treated like bored housewives doing cutesy picture books about smiling crocodiles.”The trends in children’s writing in India are indeed encouraging. Sohini Mitra, associate publisher of Puffin, at Penguin Random House India, points to a new custom, which also enhances the reading habit.”There is a lot more focus on doing more parent-child books/activities where they are able to spend quality time together.” She goes on to add, “With a flourishing market for quality children’s books now, especially with so many fabulous new voices and ideas around us, we have a variety of children’s books these days -from edgy fiction to reference books that do not just aim to ‘educate’ kids.”As Anand says, “The bottom line is children want well-written and gripping books, beyond categorising of age groups and genres.” She concludes, “I for one refuse to be all gloom and doom about kidlit.”Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. 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UN aid official calls for lifting of blockade on Lebanon to allow

Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Margareta Wahlström told the Security Council that the end of the fighting five days ago has already allowed rapidly expanding access for the humanitarian community to many of the affected areas, but that the damage inflicted on road networks was making things very difficult.“Despite significant progress within the first days of the ceasefire in reaching people previously cut off from aid supplies, massive access problems remain the key obstacle to further accelerating the humanitarian response. The enormous damage to most road and bridge infrastructure leading to the south requires an immediate lift of the continuing sea and air blockade on Lebanon.” Ms. Wahlström also spoke of the danger to the returnees, who number around 400,000, of “unexploded artillery, airborne missiles, and cluster ammunition, including in residential areas and public buildings.”“In the days since the truce went into affect, reports of civilian casualties, most notably from cluster bomblets and sub-munitions, have already been reported. The contamination presents a significant obstacle to humanitarian efforts and a risk to men, women, boys and girls returning to their homes and daily activities.”The UN Mine Action Team, coordinated by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), is working with the Lebanese Government and civil society on this problem, she said, while also calling on Member States to provide contributions for this vital work. Despite the challenges, the humanitarian community – both the UN and other agencies – was working closely with Lebanon’s Government on all aspects of emergency assistance, she added. Ms. Wahlstrom also highlighted the resilience of the Lebanese people and listing several key priorities for the aid effort over the next two months.These priorities include providing assistance along routes of return and to home communities, including shelter materials; securing sustained access for humanitarian convoys and speedy aid distribution to the most vulnerable; addressing the prevailing security risks for relief workers and returnees – due mainly to unexploded ordnance; and carrying out repairs to basic infrastructure.Ms. Wahlström said there has been a growing response from the international donor community to last month’s flash appeal for Lebanon, with more than $87 million received against the $165 million requested. UN agencies and partners will revise the appeal over the next week to more accurately reflect and effectively address the changing needs of the affected populations in Lebanon and Syria.In related news, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that four UN humanitarian convoys were dispatched today in Lebanon with supplies from the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).UNHCR staff are now on the ground in the port city of Tyre, helping in the assessment of the worst damaged areas of the south, a spokesperson said in Geneva, adding that the agency will join a five-day survey led by Lebanon’s Government this weekend to determine the precise humanitarian needs.WHO, which is coordinating the health sector response in Lebanon, will work with the Lebanese Ministry of Health and the American University of Beirut over the next four days to assess some 800 health facilities to get a picture of the needs, it said today. read more

Passengers recall days of misery as cruise ship arrives home to NJ

BAYONNE, N.J. – Passengers aboard a cruise ship on which hundreds fell ill recalled days of misery holed up in their rooms as it returned to its home port Wednesday from a Caribbean trip cut short by what is suspected to be among the largest such norovirus outbreaks in the last 20 years.Travellers aboard the Explorer of the Seas recounted hundreds throwing up, and stricken passengers having food brought to their rooms. Others were served from covered buffets by crew members wearing gloves and masks during an outbreak that sickened nearly 700 passengers and crew on the ship operated by Royal Caribbean.Kim Waite, 50, of London, England, was on the cruise with her husband, Fred, to celebrate the end of her cancer treatments. She got severely ill, and barely saw her husband the whole trip.“My husband had to put me in a wheelchair and take me to the infirmary. The door opened on the lift and there were just hundreds of people being sick everywhere,” she said. “They were throwing up in buckets and bags — I started crying, I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock.“I’ve never wanted to go home so much in my life. I’ve never slept so much in my life, and I’ve got no sun tan.”The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its latest count puts the number of those sickened at 630 passengers and 54 crew members. The ship, on a 10-day cruise that had to be cut short, was carrying 3,050 passengers.Health investigators suspect norovirus, but lab results are not expected until later this week. If norovirus is to blame, it would be one of the largest norovirus outbreaks on a cruise ship in the last 20 years, the CDC said. A 2006 norovirus outbreak on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship also sickened close to 700.Retiree Bill Rakowicz, 61, from the city of St. Thomas in Ontario, Canada, said he thought he was just seasick when he began suffering from vomiting, pain and diarrhea.“Then I went out of my room and saw people with gloves and people sick everywhere,” he said, adding that he saw a man in a wheelchair vomiting, then falling on the floor and hitting his head.He said he had the symptoms for five days starting Jan. 22, the day after the ship departed Bayonne. “It was awful. You feel like you want to give in,” he said.Rakowicz gave high marks to Royal Caribbean for going “above and beyond” in its efforts to help passengers. A female travelling companion did not get sick, he said, which he said was not unusual. He said he was aware of a number of cases in which one person in a room got sick and the other didn’t.Pastor Sue Rogutski, of Bloomsburg, Pa., said she got so sick she was quarantined for three days. She said her husband, Leonard, a nurse who only fell ill toward the end of the trip and less severely than her, had to carry her down from their room to the sick bay.“When we were in the sick bay, people were getting nervous and they started showing up there to try to get help,” she said. “Suddenly, there was influx of 150 people. That puts into perspective what this crew was facing — that it was epidemic.”Rogutski said the ship’s buffets were all covered and no passengers could touch them. They had to be served by crew members wearing gloves and masks, including entertainers who pitched in. Sick passengers were brought food to their rooms.Norovirus — once known as Norwalk virus — is highly contagious. It can be picked up from an infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces. Sometimes mistaken for the stomach flu, the virus causes bouts of vomiting and diarrhea for a few days.The cruise line said most guests who fell ill were up and about as the ship headed to port. It said seven people were still sick when the ship reached Bayonne, but that none of the passengers had to be hospitalized.The CDC said it recommended to Royal Caribbean that people who still have serious symptoms be linked to medical care, and perhaps given the option of staying in nearby hotels before travelling home.CDC investigators boarded the ship during its U.S. Virgin Islands port call on Sunday. They said no single food or water source or other origin has been identified.Royal Caribbean is providing all guests a 50 per cent refund of their cruise fares and an additional 50 per cent future cruise credit. It’s also reimbursing airline change fees and accommodations for guests who had to change plans for travelling home.Stricken guests who were confined to their staterooms are being provided a credit of one future cruise day for each day of confinement.The ship will be sanitized and no one will be allowed aboard for a period of more than 24 hours as an extra precaution, the cruise line said.Rick O’Shea from Miami-based ByoPlanet was at the dock to greet the ship. His company was going to use sprayers that produce electrically charged droplets to help sanitize the ship. He said it would take eight to 12 hours to complete the job.Explorer of the Seas is on track to depart at its originally scheduled time Friday afternoon on its next cruise, a nine-night trip with port calls in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman said.___AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe in Atlanta contributed to this report. Passengers recall days of misery as cruise ship arrives home to NJ after nearly 700 sickened by Samantha Henry, The Associated Press Posted Jan 29, 2014 1:02 am MDT The Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is docked at a berth after arriving, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in Bayonne, N.J. The number of passengers and crew reported stricken ill on the cruise ship has risen to nearly 700. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday its latest count puts the number of those sickened aboard the Explorer of the Seas at 630 passengers and 54 crew members. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more