A profound storyteller, journalist and one-time teacher, Pratibha Nath lives in Delhi but insists she is not the city type. She loves to travel across places and her traveling experiences have finally weaved into stories for children. The Progressive Teacher traces her journey to the authorship of wonderful reads for school kids in a lively chat.
Believe it or not, Pratibha Nath started scribbling stories at the tender age of six when she could hardly hold a pencil. Seeing the child’s potential, her father often used to say she would someday be a journalist. Though she had no clue what ‘a journalist’ was at that age; she just loved the sound of the word. Her father passed away before she completed college. ‘It was a great mental shock for me and I promised myself to become what my father wanted me to be—a journalist!’ recalls Pratibha.
After her marriage, Pratibha moved to various places including Kolkata, Himachal Pradesh and others with her husband where she started writing articles for newspapers and magazines viz The Statesman, Hindustan Times, The Times of India, Swagat, Discover India, to name a few. Her dream of becoming a journalist was finally fulfilled. ‘My husband who worked as an engineer in different places was a good photographer too. He clicked photos for most of my travel articles. And it was also the time I started writing short stories for children based on my real life experiences,’ shares Pratibha.
Parallel to writing books on children’s literature, Pratibha taught in schools in those cities and towns where she was temporarily stationed with her husband. Finally, she retired from Delhi Public School (RK Puram) in the late 1970s before plunging into fulltime venture of story writing. Most of her books are now recommended for school curricula in different parts of the country. On her books on value education and children short stories, Pratibha explains, ‘I don’t imagine or embroider on things all the time. I write using what I have experienced and anything happening around me can be turned into a story happily.’
So far, Pratibha has written 60 books published by a string of renowned publishers, such as S. Chand, Oxford University Press, Puffin (Penguin), Pearson, Children’s Book Trust, Rupa, Madhuban, among others. Her books are something children can enjoy reading even out of their classroom. Pratibha agrees to the fact that school curricula must provide children the pleasure of reading. Her opinion on the current CCE pattern is that it is a little burdensome on students as well as parents throughout the year.
S. Chand’s Living with Values (I-VIII) is one of the popular series amongst all the titles from other publishers, such as Friday Afternoon Compulsions, Indian Folk Tales & Legends, The Little Blue Kites, Barber at The Zoo and A Bowl of Water, which have been part of syllabus in various schools. CBSE has recently selected her book A Time to Celebrate Festivals of India for Classes V-VII. To young people who wish to be authors, Pratibha has a piece of advice, ‘It requires a lot of hard work and application. You must have an inclination to writing; and keeping a diary is a good plan. So many good ideas come and disappear before you can catch them or maybe after ten years you may find something that clicks from your diary.’ While writing Living with Values, she divided her time into two parts—household chores and writing. Whenever she found a spare moment she sat down and started writing and she carried around the manuscript even at 2:00 am after everyone in the family dozed off. So, if you are not prepared to burn the midnight oil, Pratibha suggests, you should never get into writing.