AdiDev Press: Illuminating South Asian Heritage
Publisher Chitwan Mittal, who has a degree in English Education from Boston, has promised a string of book releases this year. (IANS photo)
By VISHNU MAKHIJANI
Growing up in Kanpur, Chitwan Mittal heard “wonderfully imaginative stories” from her ‘dadi at mealtimes and from her convent-educated mother’s vast collection of storybooks. Moving to Boston for an undergraduate program in English Education, she spent her weekends browsing the children’s section of giant bookstores longing to connect with her home and culture, to “someday stumble upon books with pictures and stories native to South Asia” but sadly, it never happened.
After she chose to pursue a masters in Values in Education in London, she was determined to be involved in curriculum development for school children and for the past decade-and-a-half has been doing just that, culminating in the establishment of AdiDev Press, an independent publishing house that has just released two new titles that celebrate the diversity, values and unique inner selves of children and has lined up another 20 books for release during the year.
“In 2015, we moved to Singapore and as a young mom and I started my hunt for culturally relevant content for my two boys – Aditya and Dev. I soon realized that not much had changed and South Asian storybooks were still hard to find. I decided to stop looking and start creating the very books that I always missed stories that represent South Asian people and culture. And, AdiDev Press came into existence, based on the names of my sons,” Mittal said in an interview.
Its two new books are certainly the right fit.
“My First Hanuman Chalisa” is an illustrated translation of the devotional hymn, each page including the original text in Awadhi with an English transliteration that children can read, understand and enjoy. There is also a QR code on the back cover that enables parents and children access verses and word meanings being read aloud.
“Are Your Emotions Like Mine?” with its simple text and magical illustrations, not only helps young children identify their emotions, but also teaches them how to cope through the simple strategy of taking a deep, deep breath.
Mittal has managed to put together a pretty formidable team, with social media being a great boon.
The company has added several award winning authors just in the last one year including Nandini Nair and Pervin Saket. Chief Editor and resident poet is Sarita Saraf, a writer with an intense passion for philosophical literature. Ashwitha Jayakumar is the historical researcher who ensures that the text and visual representation for each book, especially those based on historical characters, is based on thorough research and analysis.
“We have a very exciting line-up of books releasing in 2022,” Mittal said adding: “We are launching our series of biographies for children called ‘Learning TO BE’ that introduces young children to big values in an engaging manner.
The first three titles to be released are “Kindness with Mahavira”, “Service with Guru Nanak” and “Peace with Buddha”. There is a series on Women in Science that includes “Passion” on oceanographer Aditi Pant, “Courage” on Anandibai Joshee (one of the first female doctors of Western medicine), “Perseverance” on botanist Janaki Ammal, and Commitment with physicist Bibha Choudhuri. The set on sportswomen includes “Trust” on P.T. Usha, “Resilience” on Bhakti Sharma (the first Asian woman and the youngest in the world to set a record in open swimming in Antarctic waters), “Adaptability” with Arunima Sinha (the first female amputee to climb Mt Everest), and “Transformation” on (Revolver Dadi) Chandro and (sister-n-law) Prakashi Tomar.
“We believe that biographies can be powerful tools to inspire and uplift. And we are committed to developing this series by writing books on performing artists and change makers,” Mittal explained.
In addition, there are a plethora of other books on South Asian mythology, festivals and culture under development.