Published: 04th December 2019
Children's book author Katie Bagli speaks about the 'Many Secrets of Mangroves' in her latest work
Author Katie Bagil released her latest book, with Godrej, Many Secrets of Mangroves and this is what she has to say about it
Katie Bagli has written 21 books for children and most of these books tell the tales of our wildlife, forests and so on. Though she has no idea how she managed to write so many books in just seven years, she is extremely grateful for the opportunities she was lucky enough to grab. She has now added another book to her list, titled Many Secrets of Mangroves. It was Godrej Group, the Indian conglomerate, who approached her to write this book. And she very happily obliged. For the book, she visited the Godrej mangroves in Mumbai and did a lot more research. She spills the beans on the secrets revealed in the book, writing for children and how her words have managed to captivate a new generation of children. Excerpts:
So, tell us about the journey of writing this book, especially about the research involved. Did you visit Godrej mangroves in the process?
Yes, I definitely did visit Godrej mangroves. They were conducting a walk for school children in the mangroves at Vikhroli and I joined them. It did enlighten me. And actually the process of the book was initiated or rather the seed was laid when the environment cell of Godrej approached me and asked me if I would like to write a book on mangroves for children. Because Godrej is all for mangrove, I just jumped to the idea because mangroves are also something close to my heart and to write a story for children and have Godrej publish it, wow, I thought.
Could you briefly tell us about the two secrets of mangroves that you talk about in the book?
Well, the secrets are, first, that mangroves stand as silent sentinels on the coastline and they guard the coastline, they guard the shore and they guard the inland against storms and cyclones and sea erosion. People don't even know about it so it's like a secret. Mangroves make you feel very self-sufficient. They provide you with everything you need, you don't even need to earn money, that's what I've mentioned in my story. Because you get food from the mangroves, you get timber to build your house, you get medicines from mangroves, you barely need to spend on anything else. They provide a living for you.
You've been writing about nature for children for a very long time. In the era of video games and social media, what does it take to captivate children's minds and engage them with books and nature.
Actually, I've been visiting a lot of schools also after writing these books. Schools invite me and they have author sessions, they have storytelling sessions and stories are the most valuable tool for conveying anything. Once you've heard a story, not only children, but for us adults too, you will never forget it. So that is how the message and the interest has been created through interesting stories for children about everything in nature and wildlife. So once they lay their hands on the books they get interested in spite of the video games and everything else. I also belong to certain library groups in schools and trying to improve their libraries is a continuous process. It's a big movement to have libraries becoming better and better in school nowadays. And there are awards given to the best librarians. So, the books are there for the children, after all, they have library periods too.
Cover of her book | (Pic: Godrej)
The question of climate change and the importance of trees is the trending topic now more than ever, and a lot of youngsters are coming forward for the cause. Thanks to personalities like Greta Thunberg. What is the best way children in India too can make a difference?
First of all, parents need to be educated. Then they can pass on the word to their children because there are many parents who have grown up without becoming aware of things. So parents and teachers in schools play a very important role in educating the children and bringing about awareness. And, of course, if children find out through films, documentaries and we have television programmes, and if they join NGOs like WWF and Bombay Natural History Society, they will definitely get motivated to figh for causes like climate change and many schools do involve children in the planting of trees. I know because I've been to schools. I've been part of the planting process. So that...playing with the soil and being close to Earth, definitely inspires them.
What have been your biggest takeaways in your journey as a children's book writer?
My biggest takeaways has been the gratitude, the smile on the face of children. They tell me that they loved reading my book. I don't even know the children who approach me and tell me how much they liked it! Sometimes it's out of the blue. It's very gratifying and children also write letters to me. And they send messages to me. That is gratifying.
Is there anything else that you'd like to share.
Oh, yes! Actually I started writing for children very late in life. I wish I had started earlier but at least I did find my niche even though it was late. Better late than never. I started in 2012. And so far, I don't know how I managed to write 21 books in seven years. I do hope to write more and more in the years to come.