The response, emails, messages, new friendships and the love after the previous blog has been extremely heartwarming. So I thought, why not keep these conversations going and give you a little more insight into my process of curation.
Think about the biggest curators in a child’s life…parents! As parents we try our level best to curate the experiences, toys, books, people, surroundings, food, teachers and everything. That is exactly how I started curating, with a mom’s lens. The world’s most powerful magnifying lens.
About 400 books, purchased and shipped from India as I embarked on this process. I went through them for various elements, before coming up with a small set of books for Ayaan. So what exactly are the elements that I looked for?
• Illustrations: One of the most important things that a child gets attracted to is a picture. It really speaks a thousand words as they visualize and learn about their surroundings. I look for authenticity, attractiveness and age appropriateness in the illustrations. Mythology contains violence and I want to ensure the graphics are not gruesome or bloody for the little ones.
• Language: The language that we expose our children to early on in life is very important. The stories that really appeal to me are the ones with age appropriate language. A gentle and playful approach for little ones and more realistic tone as a child turns a young adult.
• Story line: As Indian immigrants living in America, I want to pass down my heritage and culture but don’t necessarily wish to pass on some of the societal elements I grew up with. I look for stories with strong female characters, depiction of an equal society and strong morals that my grandparents talked to me about while reading us bedtime stories.
• Printing Quality: The books need to survive a toddler’s love! They get chewed, pulled, thrown and go through other things that we adults can’t even imagine. The paperbacks have to be on good quality paper. I prefer hardcovers to last the test of time as kids tend to read the same books over and over again. Since this is so important and so well curated, the libraries have been able to shelf these books without getting them re-binded.
• Publisher: A publisher or author’s vision, mission and love for children’s literature are extremely important to me. If we both have the same love for kids and reading, same love for culture, same values of doing business without making it all about business; we are going to form a long lasting relationship that transcends numbers.
• Expert opinion: Folks in the book’ish world, librarians, parents, teachers and folks that are avid readers usually love to share their thoughts about books. I try to get their opinion before adding these books to my warehouse. After all, isn’t that similar to listening to my clients? What better way to curate than to involve them in the process?
• Duplication: There needs to be a good reason to carry 2 very similar books for me; otherwise it does not serve the readers, the publishers or I. I try to ensure each books in its category adds a unique value to the collection. This allows for all of us to get breadth of stories and content.
All in all, when I curate I give my personal voice to these books. This entire process is an ever evolving one which I become personally invested in. It is similar to the experience I have when reading Harry Potter books and pretending I can fly everywhere on my broom :) Had to throw in a HP reference :)
Curation will eventually lead to creation and more collaboration. The goal is to give these cultural gems, be it books, materials, maybe even games; the medium to reach more people and homes. Sharing culture, fostering it, living it and providing a platform for others to share their cultural khazana (treasure) is what Kulture Khazana is all about.