Children First

Vidya Sagar (, Chennai, is hosting a panel discussion ‘Children First’ on 5 November 2016.

The participants at the panel discussion are authors Shobha Viswanath, Sujata Padmanabham, Zai Whitaker and Zainab Sulaiman, all of whom have written books featuring children with disabilities and Dr Namita Jacob, who has converted early reading books to make them accessible for children with disability. The panel is moderated by author and publisher Anushka Ravishankar.

Parag, an initiative of Tata Trusts, is supporting a writing contest, to be conducted by Duckbill Books. The contest will be announced at the event. For details:

While inclusive education and inclusion is a concept that very few argue with, what actually happens on the ground is a different matter.  There has to be awareness and a change of attitude if we are to accept differences.

For children, books where children with disabilities are treated like any other child–but with a disability–helps in fostering a healthy acceptance  of disability, thereby leading to genuine friendships and acceptance of differences. Early reading, which has a lasting impact on young minds, may bring in a more inclusive world, where differences are celebrated.

 The panelists:

Zai Whitaker has written a dozen books, most of them for children and young readers.
She writes about wildlife and conservation. Her latest book, Kanna Panna, is about young boy with a disability.

Sujatha Padmanabhan won the Hindu-Goodbooks Award for the best children’s book in 2016. She is a trained special educator and has worked with children with multiple disabilities in Delhi for ten years. Her book Chuskit Goes to School is about a young girl in a wheelchair.

Shobha Viswanath is the co-founder and publishing director of Karadi Tales Company. She has created brilliantly produced audio-books for children as well as illustrated books for the visually disabled (Dreaming Fingers), among other books. She is the author of Little Vinayaka, a touching allegorical tale about disability, featuring an elephant with a trunk that is too long.

Zainab Sulaiman is a special educator who has taught and raised funds in the non-profit sector. Her book, Simply Nanju, is a mystery set in an inclusive school for children with special needs.

The session will be at
Centre of Excellence Hall, Madras School of Economics, Gandhi Mandapam Road, Behind Govt. Data Centre, Kotturpuram, Chennai-600 085

Date: 5th Nov 2016 Time : 4.30pm  –  6.15pm  Tea: 6.15pm onwards



  1. Hi, Where can I find a detailed summary of the panel discussion proceedings, as promised in the post October 17? Really interested to know what was discussed, and also planning to enter the ‘Children First’ Fiction contest.

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