BENGALURU: Divya B A, an early childhood educator, noticed how much children absorbed from their immediate surroundings.
She was a Waldorf kindergarten teacher before she quit to be a full-time mother. “We emphasise this kind of learning,” says the educator, who follows the Waldorf method.
In Puducherry, as a teacher, she had seen how much children connected to characters in books by Indian publishers.
“In My Mother’s Saree, the boy goes searching for his mother,” she says. He keeps looking, inside the fridge and behind cupboards, asking: “Where is amma?”
Divya says it is easily relatable. She has been wanting to reach such books to children since then. “Our children are otherwise given more books on snow and Christmas, also enjoyable,” she says.
So last year, out of the blue, she called up one of the top Indian publishers of children’s books, Tulika, and said she wanted to be their distributor.
“I started it as a hobby,” she says. “They were immensely supportive.”
Divya started with five titles, 10 of each. “Maybe with Rs 5,000,” she says with a laugh.
Today, her My Little Bookshop has more than 5,000 members. It is a closed Facebook group through which she sells books by Indian publishers.
She had never run a business before but she went with her gut in the first selection.
“It was July, and there were the rains. All the titles I ordered were about the monsoon,” she says. Divya sold it all in a month.
She had planned to sell books based on seasons and festivals, but the demand was overwhelming. Then she added 10 more options.
“I also picked up Bhakti Mathur’s series on Hindu mythology,” she says. Mathur is a Hong Kong-based writer, banker and a mother of two. She writes the Amma Tell Me series, picture books about Indian festivals and mythology.
To her catalogue, she added Pratham Books’ collections. Her own store now keeps 40 to 50 titles.
Right now, My Little Bookshop is an online group but she is set to launch her store at www.mylittlebookshop.in. “It isn’t open yet,” she says.
“It is very tempting to sell Western publishers,” says Divya. She could sell ‘50 per cent more’ if she went with them. But she sticks to her resolve of keeping it desi.
Western books are tempting because they have more variety in hardcovers while Indian publishers mostly go with paperbacks.
“Parents are concerned about the books’ durability,” she says. “They are also not exposed to Indian authors. Western writers are more popular because they have been at this longer.”