Tara Books and Educational Outreach
Tara’s approach to publishing is rigorous and well researched. We aim to combine aesthetics with politics, without heavy handed pedagogy, and re-integrate beauty with social relevance. Since we originate most of our books in-house, coming up with such work sometimes involves a great amount of research and development. As a small independent publishing house, we have limited resources. If we were to cost all our research into the books we create, they would become prohibitively expensive.
To fund activities which feed into and lead out of our publishing agenda, we started a trust in 1998, called the Tara Educational Research Society (TERS). We are interested in concretely exploring ways of seeing, representing and thinking… especially in individuals and traditions which are overlooked or neglected. We conduct workshops, research and documentation, among others in the areas of critical pedagogy, indigenous and popular art, reading, art education, peace and gender studies. We also develop – and subsidize – vibrant and meaningful children’s literature in Tamil.
In 2012, we constructed our own cultural space in Chennai called Book Building where we hold children’s events, workshops, exhibitions and artists’ residencies to develop books.
Over the years, we have:
- published a range of children’s books featuring folk and tribal artists
- explored art education with folk and tribal artists as resource people
- researched global writing on peace and non-violence to bring to the Indian context
- worked with teachers on a Tamil Literacy Project, where we researched and developed a manual for teaching Tamil at the primary school level
- developed over 80 picture books in Tamil, along with the Govt. of Tamil Nadu, for Sarva Siksha Abyayan or Education for All initiative
- held design retreats to explore the connections between art, design, artisanship and bookmaking
- held reading and visual literacy workshops for children in Tamil and English
- created childrens’ exhibitions on books and art
- created a children’s reading corner
- offer book readings and art events for children
These activities were supported for 10 years through a major grant from Hivos, a funding agency in the Netherlands. We’d like to acknowledge our deep gratitude to them.
Currently, we fund ongoing activities through private contributions.