Monarose Sheila Pereira is a renowned children’s author. Her books are written in a lively and animated style. This makes the characters come alive and feel real. Her books offer plenty of scopes to do voices and dramatics, besides holding the children’s interest. She is truly India’s very own Enid Blyton.
What is your work profile?
I am an author, feature writer, and media professor. I have published several storybooks and two textbooks for the Bachelor of Mass Media degree course. I have written for all the major newspapers and magazines. I have scripted and compèred various programs for children and adults for All India Radio and Doordarshan. I also conduct story reading sessions, self-improvement, and media workshops.
When did you decide to start writing children’s books?
I used to make up my own stories and tell them to my family and friends as a child. I enjoyed the process. So one day, I had a good collection of stories. I decided to type them out and took them to a publisher. I am glad to be known as a children’s author. One newspaper even called me India’s Enid Blyton, and I think that is a great compliment. Today when children tell me that they enjoy reading my books, I feel thrilled. It is a great compliment. I had a beautiful childhood, and I guess that plays a vital role in my stories and creativity. My parents also encouraged my creativity. When I first started writing stories for children, they were more an
expression of the beautiful drama in my mind. Today I realize the importance of children’s records. They play a vital role in the education and development of a child, and I am happy to contribute to their well-being.
What makes a good story?
My books offer plenty of scope for dramatics. When I conduct story reading sessions with glove puppets for children, I always involve them in dramatizing the stories. I get them involved in the process. This process teaches them voice modulation, acting, and how to play different characters. My words are full of fun, and adventure and kids love it. I also try to avoid stereotypes. In my stories, sometimes girls are brave, and sometimes boys are timid and scared. I try to bring about a balance between the genders. I have taken my Mother’s name as my second name as a tribute to her. My surname is that of my Father. Mothers give birth to children and do so much for the family, but the Father gets the credit.
What do you keep in mind when you write children’s books?
It is important to keep the children in mind when writing for them. When I write a book for children, I am in touch with the child in me. You cannot write a book for children from an adult perspective. When I write children’s stories and books, I become a child. This way, I know exactly what will appeal to the child.
Have you written any books for adults?
I have published two textbooks for the Bachelor of Mass Media degree students of Mumbai University.
Which type of writing do you prefer?
Fiction and non-fiction both have a charm of their own. I enjoy both types of writing. Fiction allows you to use your imagination. Non-fiction requires much research, which I also find very exciting and enjoyable. I like analyzing and researching the nitty-gritty of a subject. Fiction is very close to my heart.
What do you like about writing a children’s storybook?
I love making children happy through my stories, books, and storytelling workshops. Our education system is about facts and figures. Children are our future, and I feel good children’s development and text is like an investment in a promising future.
What do you think is the purpose of a story?
You can teach through stories. You can educate through stories. You can entertain through stories. Levels can boost a child’s personal growth and development. They can inspire a child. So I think stories play a vital role in a child’s life. It plays a crucial role in everyone’s life. Even adults love stories. That is why they read books, watch television, videos, and movies.
Why is reading important for children?
Reading and outdoor games are both essential. They both contribute to the growth of a child. Stories play a vital role in developing a child – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Stories make your childhood very special and warm. Besides developing the vocabulary and the expressions of language, the very process of reading helps you develop patience and concentration. It fortifies your imagination and allows you to be creative. A reader participates in the story – by imagining the characters, their costumes, the backdrop, voice-overs, etc. It activates your thinking and creativity. It is also very participative. Other media have their advantages, but I think reading scores over them.
There are many cognitive benefits of reading a story. It helps to improve social perception and emotional intelligence. It enhances empathy and keeps the brain sharp. Listening to stories being read teaches children to learn to pronounce words, thus helping them talk better. It helps them with their diction, tone, and expression. Stories are a fun way to learn. If you weave a story around a subject, you are bound to attract the child’s attention, who will remember the content for a very long time. There are many reasons for this. Unlike a film, a story that you read helps a child to develop various faculties. When a parent or teacher reads a story to the child, they form a powerful bond. The physical proximity of sitting with the child and the mental connection that it creates brings you closer to each other. It is perhaps the first step in being disciplined. It teaches a child how to sit, listen, and pay attention. It also develops the habit of being a good listener, which is an essential skill throughout life. Later, children will benefit from the practice of reading – reading their textbooks, their notes, their scripts, presentations, etc. Reading is relevant to every profession. It teaches several more life skills. The very process of reading or listening helps to develop coordination in various parts of the brain. It is like an exercise for the mind and all its faculties. Reading books boost the imagination, which is yet another skill required in various professions. Your child becomes a casting director. He or she imagines and creates how the different characters look. Are they beautiful, healthy, scary, tall, short, brave, good, bad, funny, or triumphant?
How does reading boost creativity?
Reading boosts your creative energy. You are like a designer because you imagine the clothes and accessories worn by all the cast in the story. The colors and designs are all yours. It brings out the visualizer within because you visualize how the various characters behave in the information. They talk, walk, fight, argue, love, interact, overcome difficulties, achieve, succeed, and grow. You are a make-up artist. You decide the look of all the characters. You imagine the location, the sets.
You paint a picture in your mind. How does the house, the palace, the garden, the sky, the plains, the mountains, the birds, animals, trees, and various scenes in the book look? Watching a film is passive. You sit back like a couch potato and enjoy what someone has designed for you. A film tells you about the pictures and images that are in the director’s head. It is already made for you. You do not have to do anything. Films are a very passive medium, unlike cinema, storybooks, and story reading, to develop your creativity. With reading and listening to stories, it is different. Story reading or listening is an active process. You harness all your creative powers and energies. Your mind is always at work while you are reading or listening to the story. It leaves your child with a sense of achievement because it is his or her little creation. When you read or listen to a story, you use all your creative faculties to develop your story’s picture or imagination. You are like the director of your little film, in your mind. Ultimately it helps you to direct and create your career and life. Reading truly boosts and enhances your creative expression and energy.