Children of paradise: Aparna Jain’s inspirational Like a Girl: Real Stories For Tough Kids
Following the example set by Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo which started a conversation about the representation of female characters in literature for children, is author Aparna Jain’s latest literary venture, Like a Girl: Real Stories For Tough Kids.
Talking about the same, Jain says that though she was inspired by Favilli and Cavallo’s book, her’s is meant for a slightly older demographic.
“While most stories are easy to read and inspiring, many require discussion. I hope parents take time to get kids to start questioning, debating, researching,” she says.
A compilation of 51 stories of influential Indian women through the ages, the book is an attempt to bring to the fore their stories, struggles and inspiring lives for the younger generation to have these powerful voices to look upto.
“I hope Like a Girl will introduce privileged urban kids to real stories which include stories on mental health, caste, persons with disability and transgender persons”, Jain says adding that there also needs to awareness about feminist icons like Soni Sori, Bhanwari Devi and Irom Sharmila whose struggles are situated far away from our urban realities.
Ask her about the criteria for the selection of these particular set of women and the Delhi-based author says that it was a “fairly weird organic process” which required lots of discussions and a bit of back and forth. “I’m really happy with the overall list. Even though some people will disagree with my choices, I’m okay with that,” Jain says.
What women want
In addition to the stories, the book also features powerful artwork by 26 female artists specifically chosen for this project helmed by Ayesha Broacha as the art director, thus imbibing the aim of the literary venture through the very form of the book as well.
However, in the process of shaping the narratives of the women listed in the book, one does run the risk of oversimplifying the facts and glossing over certain aspects for the larger purpose of giving an overall sense of women empowerment.
To this Jain simply states, “It’s not about fairy tales. It’s not about showing only what went right for women. It’s about them in their entirety. The good, the bad. The brilliant, the ugly.”
For Jain, girl power is not to be equated with happy stories about women in capes. “It’s about women who are brave, daring, break the mould, make a huge impact on others’ lives, are vulnerable and are entirely human in their imperfections.”
Context (an imprint of Westland), `799.