Writer and journalist Swati Raje’s picture books have now come out in the audio book format. She tells us how the two formats are complementary to each other
The colourfully illustrated picture books instantly catch your attention. While flipping through the pages, you realise the stories are charming and at their lyrical best. No wonder then that these stories are perfect for audiobook format.
Written by Swati Raje in Marathi, she received an offer from Book Ganga to narrate them in audio format. Says the writer and founder president of Bhaasha Foundation, “Stories are meant to tell and retell. I always wanted to narrate these stories, so when Book Ganga made this offer, I agreed immediately. My writing style is quite chatty, and not verbose, so it was easier to adapt them for the audio format.”
The former journalist has written five books so far — Pravas, Rasta, Paus, Na Aikleli Gosht and Phuga. Talking about her writing process, Raje says, “I take time in writing the story. In fact, I first tell myself the entire story and then proceed to write it down. For instance, the idea of Pravas was first sowed in my mind in 2001. I let it simmer for almost six-seven years, before writing it down in 2008-09, for Chhatra Prabodhan magazine.”
The picture books can be read by anyone from 8 to 80 year olds. The younger ones, says she, will find the stories very simple and magical. “Those who are a little older can read between the lines and adults will find layers of subtext — philosophy, magical realism, chaos and silence — in the stories. I think the books can be enjoyed and comprehended at different levels,” adds Raje.
Now that the books are available in both print and audio forms, the former journalist feels that it will help her in her pursuit of preservation and enhancement of regional languages. “Some Maharashtrian families from the USA have bought audio books and on my request also the print copies. So when the kids are listening to the Phuga story, they can simultaneously check the print and find out how Phuga (balloon) is written in Marathi. They can trace the curve of the Marathi alphabet. I think both these forms are complementray to each other,” she explains.
Closer home, the situation is no different. In fact, it is pitiable, because kids don’t know how to write their names in Marathi or read the books aloud. “Through Bhaasha, we have been organising Bhaasha Olympiad for four years now. And, we have included some of the books for rapid reading and comprehension passages. The teachers and parents are quite happy with the effort; we have got a good response from students too. But we have to work hard on improving their written and spoken regional language skills,” informs Raje.
Hopefully, the books both in print and audio, will make it a little easier.
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