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Winning the Wean Mind: An account of Bengali Children’s Literature



It’s only a handful of literary genres that could survive the test of time and Bangla children’s literature, in spite of the presence of its counterparts in many other languages still holds strong. A trend that was once rooted deep within the traditional Bengali joint family, Bangla children’s literature saw the daylights through the storytelling sessions of the grannies and other elderly ladies, who inherited the same from their former generation. Now, the most astonishing part is, though meant for entertainment, the children’s literature of yore were often used as the weapons to tame the unruly child; it was the fear of the demon or the wizard that used to quieten the juvenile troublemakers, a much-opted result that even these old ladies used to crave; else there would be no rest for the ones weary after a hard day’s work.  



So far, the above accounts narrated a trend that passed from generation after generation in a spoken form; it was the Ray-s who actually thought of penning down the thoughts on paper; parallely, the Tagore family can also be held responsible for the same. Abanindranath Tagore took the idea a step further; his endeavours created two periodicals – Deyala and Swapne’r Morok (pack of dreams) that were written by children for children. The Ray family, of whom, Upendrakishore Raychowdhury was the pioneer, o started a trend that passed down to the next two generations before coming to an abrupt halt after the death of Satyajit Ray.

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However, if we have to mention the literary expertise of the masters of yore, the felicitation must go to Sukumar Ray, the second generation writer of children’s literature in the Ray family; not only for the great penning but also for inspiring a legion of established authors without whom, it would have been a lost stream by now. 


The new generation of writers followed the footprints of Sukumar Ray including his son Satyajit Ray; instead of churning out baseless stories like Dosshyu Mohan (Mohan the Dacoit), they embarked upon spreading general knowledge and information on relevant advancements of the society in packages that we refer to as short and long stories, novels, plays, fantasies, satire, humor, science fiction and poetry. 


 Noted ones among the whole plethora of the new generation writers are Annadashankar Ray, Bimal Mitra, Ashapurna Debi, Premendra Mitra, Narayan Gangopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay and Adrish Bardhan; while most of them created their works based on the realistic ground, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay took the genre to the domains of magic realism along the path shown by the Latin American writers. And as of today, not only do we get the books readily available in the market singly, anthologies and special edition festive season magazines comprising works meant only for children have become a steady source of revenue for the publishers. That way, the door has also opened up for the Bengali translations of well-known classics to escape into the big, hungry market of both West Bengal and its adjoining Bangladesh.For Bengali translation by native translator contact 

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