Most kids love to read fairy tales but Sia Gupta, now 10 years old, went ahead to add a twist to the classic stories that we have grown up reading. She decided to tell the stories in her own words, in the verse form. At the age of nine, she started writing fairy tales in rhymes, now published as a series titled Tales in Rhyme by Om Books International.
Express Parenting took the opportunity to speak to Sia and her mother Ridhi Gupta about the book and the importance of storytelling and reading.
How Tales in Rhyme was conceptualised
“I have always loved writing poetry, but then I saw my younger sister enjoy reading fairy tales as well as my poems. So, I thought why not combine them and write poems about fairy tales? She has four favourite tales and I wrote all four of them in rhyme…I love the stories in fairy tales–there is someone evil and someone nice and good always wins. The stories are sometimes funny and sometimes scary. Fairy tales have everything that you need,” Sia expressed. Currently, she is writing two more fairy tales Little Mermaid and Rapunzel and is planning to write original poems in future.
Writing a book entails meeting deadlines and Sia was no exception. For her, writing, however, is more about enjoying the process and spontaneity. She does not want to enroll in a creative writing class, informed her mother. “I do not really prepare. I always carry a piece of paper with me and write whenever I feel like. I do not put too much concentration or it makes my work bad. I like to doodle and after I do that for a bit, I get ideas and start writing,” Sia said.
Tales in Rhyme, however, is not her first book. She published a book titled The Magical World of Poems in class 3. “I think I begun writing very early. I was listening to stories and creating my own. But I began poetry writing in class 3. I had a school assignment for which we had to write a poem. I wrote a poem called Rainy Day. I had so much fun writing it that I wanted to write more, and these were later published as The Magical World of Poems,” the student of class 6 recalled. Her mother Ridhi added, “We requested a friend to do basic artwork and we got the book published and we gave it out to friends and family just to encourage my daughter. Based on that book, she got inspired to write these fairy tales in rhyme. Her first poem was on Cinderella, for which she wrote 13 stanzas of four lines each, all in 30 minutes. It doesn’t take her too long to write. We approached a few publishers and the Om Books team showed interest and wanted to publish them as a series. It was a lot of hard work but Sia has enjoyed the process.”
Love for books
Sia and her sister, perhaps, owe their love for books to their parents, who introduced them to storytelling even before they could read. “I have always read to my children when they were younger and they started reading fairly early on their own. We made it a weekly activity to take our kids to the bookshop and pick up two books and read them. The kids are members of a library, they take part in school activities, and we as parents also do a lot of reading ourselves. I believe reading is the only way to help kids articulate their own ideas, and improve their communication skills and the ability to interact with other people,” Ridhi explained.
Not just fairy tales, Sia loves to read other books too. “I have always loved reading and listening to stories. I do not consider reading as a hobby but something you have to do. I like reading Percy Jackson. I love all kinds of mythological stories and classics,” she said.
Balancing academics with other activities
As a mother, Ridhi believes children should be inspired to invest in activities beyond academics. And so, it was a conscious decision on her part to encourage her child to take interest in several extra-curricular activities. Apart from writing, Sia has been learning ballet for the past five years; she has completed junior diploma and her third year examination in kathak, and grade 2 Trinity piano. She is also learning Spanish. “This is the time for her to explore options. She can choose later. It is for her to decide what to continue doing and what to leave,” said the proud mother.
Moreover, Ridhi believes children should not be forced to study or pursue any activity. In fact, there was a time when she had suggested that her daughter concentrate on writing her book and not her exam results. “Sia is actually fairly good with academics and time management. When she started writing these books, her final exams were coming up and she had to meet a deadline. I told her academics could take a backseat for a while but she was not convinced. So, she continued her studies and made time for the books as well. I never pressurise my children to study. They should want to learn, and I am lucky my kids do,” she added.