November 09, 2016

Tata Trusts’ Parag Initiative hosts discussion with shortlisted illustrators of the upcoming Big Little Book Awards 2016

Swaha Sahoo (center), head, Parag Initiative, Tata Trusts, with illustrators Proiti Roy (left) and Nina Sabnani discussing topics focussing on 'Illustrating for Children's Literature in India'

Mumbai: Following the announcement of the Big Little Book Awards — a first-of-its-kind award, instituted to recognise the best children's authors and illustrators in India — in June 2016, The Parag initiative of Tata Trusts hosted an interesting discussion with the shortlisted illustrators of the awards at IIT Bombay's Industrial Design Centre in Powai on Wednesday.

Swaha Sahoo, who leads the Parag Initiative at Tata Trusts, moderated the discussion with Nina Sabnani and Proiti Roy, two of the three shortlisted children's illustrators on topics that focused closely on 'Illustrating for Children's Literature in India'. They also went over the delights and difficulties of illustrating storybooks for children and its prospects, and identifying the need gap for young talented illustrators and designers in this field.

The enthusiastic students from the Industrial Design Centre, Pearl Academy and NIFT were keen to understand the process of illustration and the hall was filled to capacity. Ms Sahoo began by sharing the vision behind the Parag initiative and its plans of reach more children by adding 350 new books and 600 libraries to children's schools across the country.

Nina spoke of her collaboration on various projects with traditional artists and storytellers. Being honest to the narrative and the artists' vision was important she felt. Digital technology has helped immensely in taking the work and stories of traditional art and craft in India to a larger audience. Proiti emphasised that children's books were filled with stereotypes of caste and culture, and understanding of diversity was lacking. As an illustrator of children's books, she strives to break stereotypes as much as possible and bring in fresh perspectives.

Both illustrators felt there was immense opportunity in the field for young professionals. However, one of the challenges highlighted was the lack of recognition for children's illustrators, which is reflected in various ways including remuneration and opportunities to work. Notably, the Big Little Book Award has been instituted to recognise the significant contribution of children's authors and illustrators and give them the visibility and exposure required to promote not only their books but also reading for pleasure.

To motivate the budding illustrators, Tata Trusts announced an inter-college design competition to create a campaign around promoting 'Reading For Pleasure In Schools'. The winners will be entitled to receive cash prizes of Rs25,000 and Rs15,000 each with an opportunity to get published.

The Big Little Book Award will aim to distinguish authors and illustrators, who have written and illustrated stories that actively delight their young readers, make them smile more, open their curious minds to new concepts and cultures, and inspire them to dream big.

The award was instituted to recognize and honour the significant contribution of Indian authors and illustrators in children's literature. The winners will be announced on November 20th at the 2016 Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai Litfest. The Big Little Book Award will be awarded in two categories — one for the author and the other, for the illustrator / artist.

Additional information is available at

About the Illustrators:
Nina Sabnani is an artist and storyteller who uses film, illustration and writing to tell her stories. Graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Vadodara, she received a master's degree in film from Syracuse University, NY, which she pursued as a Fulbright Fellow. Nina's research interests include exploring the dynamics between words and images in storytelling. Her work in film and illustrated books seeks to bring together animation and ethnography. Nina is currently a professor at the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay. Her films Mukand and Riaz, Tanko Bole Chhe (The Stitches Speak) and Baat Wahi Hai have been made into illustrated books. She has collaborated with traditional artists from Warli, Bhili and Kavad art forms, as well as artisans from Kutch to develop a rich body of storybooks.

Born in Shantiniketan in 1965, Proiti Roy graduated in fine arts from Kala Bhavan, Shantiniketan. She worked as a graphic designer in advertising and manufacturing — both in India and Bangladesh. She also worked with handicrafts in recycled mediums and taught art and craft to children in Kolkata for 12 years. Now living in Chennai, she spends most of her time illustrating storybooks, picture books and text books for children, as well as designing and illustrating for magazines and corporate clients. She has worked with several publishers from all over India including Tulika Books, Orient Blackswan Pvt Ltd, Ratna Sagar, Room to Read Trust, Johns Hopkins University and Delhi Press. Her illustrations for children's picture books successfully depict the cultural ethos of the stories and the context in a fun and engaging manner.

About Tata Trusts
Tata Trusts are amongst India's oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organisations comprising of Sir Ratan Tata & Allied Trusts (1919) and Sir Dorabji Tata & Allied Trusts (1932). The Trusts work in several areas of community development. Tata Trusts seek to be catalysts in development through giving grants to institutions in the areas of Natural Resources Management, Rural Livelihoods, Urban Livelihoods & Poverty, Education, Enhancing Civil Society and Governance, Health, and Media Arts, Crafts and Culture. For more information, please visit

Social Media
Twitter: @tatatrusts
Facebook: Tata Trusts
Instagram: tata_trusts

For more information, please contact:
Nikita Crasta | Rediffusion /Edelman