Dear Diary – An interview with the much loved children’s author Nandini Nayar!

Your diary will listen intently to everything you wish to share, whether it is tidbits about your day or the things you hope to accomplish in the future. Many times you will feel better about things if you can pour out your feelings and your diary is the perfect place to do that. 

Dear Diary Day is celebrated annually on September 22. This is a day to celebrate that one place where it is safe to pour out all your secrets, wishes, hopes and dreams because your diary will keep all your secrets.

From the Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Nandini Nayar’s  Apoorva series featuring The diary of an Indian School girl, diary books offer a unique insight into someone else’s head whether real or fictional.

Recently we caught up with Nandini  Nayar who is the author of over thirty books for children of all ages. We discussed her books, her writing style and how maintaining a diary could be a fun and a helpful habit for both kids and grownups. Read on for her full conversation.

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How and when did you start writing children’s books and any particular reason why you choose to write for children?

I started writing children’s stories around 15 years back. At this point, I was writing for older children. This changed when my son was born. Now I was making up stories that he would like and that’s how I began to write stories that were eventually published as picture books. I like writing for children because childhood is a time of intense emotions and from my point of view, filled with story opportunities!

How can writing a diary/journal help children?

I am a little wary of saying anything will ‘help’ children. For one thing, this instantly puts them off the activity. Also, I feel that we stress the ‘useful’ aspect of every single activity and this effectively makes it a tedious chore for children. I personally love writing a diary and kept one for several years during my childhood. I’ve started a diary again, where I jot writing ideas and my reactions to things around me. I think if children can be made to see what a wonderful friend a diary can be, always ready to listen and never demanding attention (!), they will be hooked for life.

What prompted you to write the Apoorva series in a diary writing format?

Long before Mango asked me to write a story about the problems that children face, I had dreamt of writing ‘The Diary of a Fat Girl’. So, there never was any debate about the format of the Apoorva books. A diary gives the readers a sense of immediacy. You understand what the person is going through and you feel privileged that you are privy to the innermost thoughts of the character.

What is the one take away that young readers should take from Apoorva’s life?

I will have failed in my writing if I have to hand out the lesson to children!
I want children to enjoy Apoorva and her life, laugh at her jokes and her family. If at a later date, even years after reading the books, they are able to think, ‘Oooh, now I understand why Apoorva felt that way!’ or ‘I hated what happened to Apoorva. I must make sure I am not mean to people!’, I will have succeeded, in the nicest way possible, of having got them to understand something. I think, as a writer, I can then die happy!

What advice would you offer to the young readers of all your wonderful books?

What I tell all young people- read, read, read. But really, it is the parents who should be bombarded with this message. I’ve seen parents who are reluctant to buy books, parents who think it is a waste of time, parents who actively discourage their children from reading.

Last, but definitely not least, what are your new books we can look forward to?

There are a couple of books that should be out soon. One is The White Elephant of Cleanliness and the other is called The Great River Magic.

You can also buy all of Nandini’s book online at KidEngage Store.

 

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