The other day, a book meant for toddlers came my way. It was an alphabet book. The two-year-old at home assimilated whatever she could from the book and as usual, tore it to pieces…..The alphabet book has undergone several changes with changing times. Although the book that came my way was not so uptodate, it had certainly several new features and it had made drastic departures from the old world examples of apple, bee and cat. For instance, the first letter of the alphabet, children are told, stands for aeroplane. A difficult word, if you ask me. But children have got accustomed to the sight of the aeroplane…..In a city like Bombay, it can also be appreciated that it will be difficult for a baby to understand what the bee is: and therefore the change to ‘B for boy’ is quite welcome….Dog is still popular with the alphabet-makers. Must be because it seems to have stolen a march over the mere man….It is needless to go into further details in this manner. But the task of learning the alphabet, which should in the case of English be easier than say any Indian language, is needlessly being complicated. In the context of the paucity of books for children it is strange that new ventures, on which money is being spent liberally, should go astray….

(From an Easy Chair, May 3, 1957.)

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