In this time and age when reading habits are being replaced by watching habits, children are naturally more exposed to movies and video games than to books. All those sleek gadgets or special effect-rich images of movies keep them occupied when they are not reading the textbooks. Ask any parent and they’ll tell you, “Where is the time for reading story books?”
For today’s kids, growing up with books is not usual as it used to be, say, two decades back. So, are there any need for thinking up alternative ways of designing and presenting a book with more pictures and soothing visuals that might take the kids back to the reading table from the HD images of a cartoon on TV?
Some say the decline of children’s reading habits is caused by the lack of quality books. Though hundreds of new titles are published during the Ekushey book fair, most of them are churned out to make some quick buck. Books that are considered good are imported in most of the cases while original works by indigenous writers are being ignored. Some others, conversely, blame it all on the present education system which, they say, puts huge pressure on the kids.
While this debate, it seems, will go on forever, a few creative minds have got together to surprise kids with books that have all the potential to take them back to the reading table. These are no ordinary books. When you open them, much before you are taken in by the story, you’ll be struck by figures of trees or huts or boys or girls popping up from inside them. If it’s a book about the spirit of the liberation war, then perhaps a wonderful artwork of the National Memorial, cut out of paper, will pop out.
Da Pop-up Factory started its journey in 2014. Their story started when Rumana Sharmin decided to buy her little niece a book as a gift. After moving from one shop to another, she failed to collect any quality book.
Being an architecture student, she decided to make a book on her own. Rumana thought a pop-up book would be a nice way of telling the story. She got on to work and that’s how the first Pop-up Factory book, The Dragon Prince originated.
“The result was amazing when I presented my niece with the book. She found it very interesting and was reading again and again,” recalled Rumana.
Thus enthused by the excitement of her niece, she began promoting her endeavour through facebook. “I got very good response from people. Within a few days all the books were sold out,” she shared.
The positive response on facebook led Rumana to think seriously about this? Pop-up books, she thought, already have an established market but there is no such initiative in Bangladesh. She wasted no time and took care of the legal formalities in one week. Now there are a number of writers working for Pop-up Factory.
Rumana herself does the book design and illustrations.
After finishing the legal aspect of publication within one week, she went for mass publication.
So far, design and illustrations of all the books have been done by Rumana herself. While speaking, she took out a book, The lost fairy, from her bag. When she opened it, a spiral of paper popped up, beside which was a flying fairy and her home. “Through this illustration, I hope the kids will get the taste of a dreamy world,” she said.
When Da Pop-up Factory first took part in the Ekushey Book Fair in 2015, it grabbed the attention of celebrated children’s writer Muhammed Zafar Iqbal. He not only appreciated the initiative but wrote a book on the liberation war for Pop-up Factory.
“Participating in the fair, we realised that children like our books. Responses from children and parents were tremendous,” Rumana said.
Pop-up factory has so far brought out seven books and except for three, the rest are written by Rumana. Some are short stories while some are dedicated to general knowledge and information.
The book prices range from Tk 250 to 600. “Parents often complain about the high price. Materials used in the books are expensive and all the books are handmade, so it takes a certain amount of time and skill to prepare these books,” Rumana explains.
However, Safeen Ahmed Anik, managing director of Pop-up Factory, said, “We have our own website where people can place their orders directly to us and enjoy a discount of up to 25 percent.”
For the upcoming book fair, the team has planned to publish 20 more books. This time they’ll introduce regular children’s books along with pop-ups. For more information about their books, please visit www.dapopupfactory.com