Disgustingly Cool Books for Kids. Hearing the title, I was certainly curious to know more. I decided to meet Poonam Bir Kasturi (founder of Daily Dump, which offers home composting solutions in Bengaluru through a range of services and products), the person responsible for these publications.
The sleek set of five booklets, published by Daily Dump, introduces concepts of environment-friendliness, waste, sustainability, consumerism et cetera to children in an interesting and engaging manner.
Poonam firmly believes product design must always intersect with sustainability. The primary design consideration for this set of books was that children must start thinking about issues related to ecology, democracy and sustainability very early on. The age between 8-12 years is critical as this is when children start developing their ideas. What’s more, what ever has to be said must be in the children’s language, rather than as a textbook or sermon.
Before actually designing the books, Pallavi Agarwal, the student helping Poonam on this project observed the environmental studies classes in various schools and found that in most instances, it is not treated as a serious or main subject by both the children and the school. In today’s urban context, she found parents want to be more involved with their children’s learning and thinking process. However, working parents often lack time.
The brief to themselves was, thus, to make literature that is crisp and provocative; and serves as a conversation starter for parents and educators.
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This set of five books (together priced at Rs.100) encourages young children to question some of the choices in their daily lives, discover the connections between these choices and issues of ecology and sustainability. For instance,
Where do you think the cleanest water comes from?
What is yucky?
Why do pizzas seem cooler than rotis?
What if I don’t say enough?
What are the not-so-cool stories behind every product we buy?
The interactive format of the books enables children to see it as an activity book (where they need to tick their choices) and the striking visuals make it exciting, fun and provocative. The ideal expectation from these books would be that children are triggered to think about such issues.
The books are currently being sold by word-of-mouth to schools and individuals. Poonam is wary of selling through large bookstores as it may affect the price and, therefore, the accessibility of the books. Poonam is keen to have the books widely disseminated by getting them translated into a few Indian languages. Some schools are already using the books and Poonam is keen on feedback from the general public, too.
Poonam has adopted the “open source” concept here also, similar to the Daily Dump clone format. She is open to other publishers’ reprinting, translating into different languages and distributing the books. Poonam believes that distributed ownership without any legal payback obligations may spawn a richer way of looking at work, and of knowledge dissemination. “My interest is to try and change behaviour and creating a large centralised business is not the priority,” she says. “So when you set such a goal, you view traditional ideas of competition, market share, wealth et cetera through a new lens.”
Those interested in buying, translating and/or distributing could get in touch with Daily Dump. And for parents like me with younger children, do not despair! Poonam promises that there is plenty more books in the offing. ⊕