Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fresh air

KARADI TALES. A huge hit in our household!

We picked up our first Karadi Tales Audiotapes during one of our trips to India when my daughter was less than an year old. Since then the sounds of songs, music and stories have been a cornucopia of fun and learning for us. So, if you and your child are looking for an amusing dose of everything India - culture, tales, common sights and words, in my opinion, Karadi tales is a great pick!

We started off with a couple of audiotapes that had very creative songs based off of tunes and things very Indian. These days my 3 yr old loves to listen (with a copy of a book with colorful illustrations in front of her) to 'The foolish crow' and 'The Three Fish", simple stories narrated in an animated tone by popular small and silver screen personalities from India. From these, she has picked up names of a few Indian states, plenty of Indian names, names of places of worship and languages, trees and rivers, the Indian flag, sari, chai, sambhar, bhindi and so on.

Karadi Tales was conceived by an Indian couple who, on their return to India, was disappointed by the dearth of good learning resources (fun yet educational materials and tools) for young children. The series of books, songs and stories are available in a multitude of languages. The music is classic yet kid friendly.

The reason I like the concept is two-fold -

1. As most of us might agree, books and stories that we can easily get our hands on, in India, are primarily mythological in nature and are based off of epics and historic fables. Although, I was raised in the midst of these classics (and I have turned out OK:) , I believe that some of them are totally inappropriate for young children - in terms of being difficult to relate to, being very didactic and often moralizing (good vs evil). As much as I would love for the hand-me-down fables to be a part of a traditional learning experience I believe that there should also be other fun and more realistic flavors.

2. An alternative to the traditional option would be resources borrowed from the western world. Again, something a kid on the Indian soil cannot comfortably relate to. All rhymes and songs using names, places and things unheard of, unseen and hard to even imagine. It can pass off as fairy-tales or as a window to western culture.

I believe Karadi Tales is a commendable attempt at addressing the above issues and filling the void. Wholesome, realistic and a lot of fun!

A song about an Indian train journey, another about mangoes, and even one that goes "rain rain come our way" (satirical yet brutally honest in saying we actually need the rain in most of India as opposed to singing " rain rain go away" that was probably intended to be sung when it was damp in London)!

On a more personal note, although my motive was not to thrust 'Indian-ness' upon my daughter, she has always exhibited an awful lot of interest and enthusiasm in anything with an ethnic flair and hence Karadi Tales turned out to be a great source of joy and amusement for her. However, I sometimes wonder how she would have responded to the songs and stories if she was growing up in an Indian scene herself.

Where can I buy KT?
In India: Most bookstore chains have it. An example would be Landmark in Chennai, India.
In the U.S: Amazon and Target carry them.


More: An article here, , talks about Karadi Tales being used in schools as a resource for teaching a second language to children.


Praba Ram said...

Will check 'em out this time at Adayar Odyssey.

Nice analysis as to why you liked the concept.. High time we started creating our own fun and simple picture books and themes to inspire younger audiences - not that mythology is not inspring - but the heavy dosage offered in that genre seems a little too much - particularly for kids growing up now - it makes lot more sense for local themes and concepts to evolve from the system - we definitely need a lot of those!

Growing up, we also got a regular dosage of Monthly children's mags,(champak), mythology based comics,(ack) and newspaper columns (young world) - some of the main resources we had growing up until 10 yrs of age - which was great! But, we definitely need lot more books for the really young...

Karadi Tales is a neat start!

S would love it, I'm sure. She is so much into dancing and shaking her body kinda toddler dance - she would love the lilt and the rhythm.

For K - of late, panchatantra seems to have clicked really well ! At 5, her understanding seems much better than what it was earlier of those animal stories..It's fun to read those classics with her. Will she be too old for Karadi now. What do you think?

sathish said...

meera, I was thinking about a post on karadi tales for quite some time; but, you beat me to it! :)

we have two of karadi tales in audio format in Tamil. nasser's voice in the tamil audio is mesmerising and he kept me interested with his voice modulation.. but, I was not sure if sooraj enjoyed it as much..

Meera Sriram said...

Praba: The songs CDs/tapes, although considerd to be the equivalent of nursery rhymes, are fun for all ages; they are just songs about fun things set to Indian music. So, I think it can never be too late and K&S can enjoy them. R still listens to it because she has been listening to them all along and she still loves them. There are audio books for the 4-8 agr group now. You can check their website, they have their collection listed.

Sathish: I myself have been wanting to review KT for a long time now and I finally got around to doing it. So, you like them more than Sooraj, uh?

Yea, couple of things - whether the kid will ulatimately relish it is a gamble just like in the case of any other book that we, as parents sometimes find appealing but the kid might not seem to enjoy as much. Also, I believe, it might take a few times of listening before you start humming the tunes in the shower!

Choxbox said...

Lovely review!

Karadi Rhymes are a huge hit here as well. They are brilliant! We have gifted them to hordes pf desi friends living both in and outside India.

You are right - they don't seem to be THAT big within India. Its mostly the NRIs who seem to enjoy them more and that too possibly the parents ;)

Poppins said...

I've yet to try the audio but recently we picked up the book The Fox and the squirrel which is, I believe part of the Karadi Junior series, and Poppin really loved it. The simple rhymes, the indian names, definitely a hit.

Should totally check out the series with the CD's etc. I foresee a big hole in my wallet :)

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