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Pitching for reality

Author Paro Anand on taboos in children’s literature

Photo: S.Subramanium

AUTHORSPEAK Paro Anand Photo: S.Subramanium

Should there be taboos in children’s literature? Author Paro Anand says, “The easy answer is yes, but I would say no.” Paro, who introduced real ghosts in her stories, feels that at times we tend to treat kids as foolish. Ask kids o f any age group; they would never approve of censorship. But this doesn’t mean that authors should be careless.”

Giving example from her work “No Guns At My Son’s Funeral”, where the central character, 12-year-old Aftab, adores a terrorist, Paro says she expected the little readers to understand that this is his point of view. But the publisher felt it would amount to hero worship. “We sent the script to a school principal and finally we all decided to introduce a warning voice, which puts things in perspective.”

Personal experience

Sharing a personal experience, Paro says once one of her friends presented a few books to her daughter who was around 11 at that time. “While reading one of the books, my daughter would tell me she was unable to understand the content but when I asked her to show the book she said you would not read it. This kept on happening for a few days. Finally, one day I got hold of the book by chance and to my surprise found that the story was about homosexuality. Initially, I felt cheated by my friend but the story was so sensitively written that all my apprehensions gradually subsided.”

Paro points out the most positive aspect of the episode was that my kid grew up without any prejudices against homosexuals.

“That’s why I say kids don’t want Chandamamas all the time. All this Panchatantra stuff has been overdone. Kids are exposed to so much that they enjoy real stories. If they see terrorism-related stories on televisi on news, they don’t mind terrorist as a character in their stories.”

ANUJ KUMAR

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