INSIGHTS & STORIE The Challenges and Opportunities in the Realm of Children’s Literature: An Interview with Parastoo Souezi

The Challenges and Opportunities in the Realm of Children’s Literature: An Interview with Parastoo Souezi

The Challenges and Opportunities in the Realm of Children’s Literature: An Interview with Parastoo Souezi

Unveiling Imagination, One Tale at a Time: Iranian Children's Literature Global Expansion

In a recent interview with a prominent Iran Book News Agency (IBNA), Parastoo Souezi, the author and director of the “Zanboor” book series, shed light on the challenges and intricacies of children’s literature. Parastoo Souezi, who manages the children and young adult division at Gaj International Publishing, expressed her concerns regarding the impoverished state of writing for children and the pitfalls in translation that plague the industry. Here’s a comprehensive overview of the insightful conversation:

The Iranian Book News Agency (IBNA) believes that children's and young adult literature holds significant importance in nurturing the minds and talents of children, who are the future builders of the nation. Nowadays, numerous publishers are actively involved in producing and disseminating works in this field. In recent years, we have witnessed a substantial growth in the increasing interest of publishers from various other domains, including adult and educational literature, in venturing into the realm of children's and young adult literature. This trend may be attributed to various reasons. One such publisher making notable strides in this direction is Gaj Educational Publications, which has recently entered the domain of children's and young adult literature, releasing works under the title "Zanboor Books." In this context, we had a conversation with Parastoo Soozi, the editor-in-chief of the Zanboor book series (the Children and Young Adults division of Gaj International Publications), discussing the significance and position of children's literature in the contemporary world, as well as an exploration of children's literature topics in Iran and around the globe. You can read the full interview below.

Ms.Souezi, how is the mood these days at Zanboor (Bee) publications?

"The writing of children's books in the field of children and teenagers is so poor that it cannot be evaluated, and in the matter of translation, hurried translations, many mistakes, and incorrect selection of books without content and not being in line with the needs of the target market are among the pains of this field."

Our preoccupations are not limited to a specific physical location. Our drive and motivation in this way is to find and experience creative approaches that produce thought and knowledge. We don’t want a tree to be cut down in the bee to produce books, we have always tried to plant a book tree in the land of the bee; Trees that are planted, nurtured and maintained in a way that is the passion and motivation of the readers of the Water of Life book.

Parastoo Souezi

Given that you have recently entered the field of children's literature professionally, do you not have concerns or anxieties about the potential risks in this domain?

Our policymaking involves exploring diverse approaches to education and selecting strategies within the framework of advancing the scientific progress of students in this region. Now, with the support of such a foundation, we intend to enter the field of children’s literature. Our approach to children’s literature is not about replicating previous paths in this domain. Research and operational groups have spent years meticulously examining issues related to children’s literature, diagnosing the challenges in this area, and monitoring the approaches of active publishers in this field. 

With a child-centric perspective in all dimensions of this domain, we have focused on creating unique works in prose and poetry, reimagining and rewriting classic stories with captivating illustrations to contribute to the creation of captivating children’s literary pieces.

Where does Iranian children's literature stand in the world? Has contemporary Iranian children's literature grown in parallel with modern children's literature worldwide?

Literature is not a competition field or a means to fill personal showcases; rather, it defines a social phenomenon aimed at improving the collective quality of life. The literature of this land has deep roots in a cultural heritage spanning thousands of years, and children’s literature is a thoughtful subset of this vast domain. Oral literature or folk culture in the Iranian plateau, through myths, proverbs, tales, and most importantly lullabies and songs, refers to a foundation with a rich heritage.

Examining the historical trajectory of children’s literature in Iran from ancient times to the contemporary era addresses the ambiguities of this field. Perhaps in recent years, there has been some progress in the narrative and visual aspects of the children’s domain (mostly in its visual dimension), but this article tells another tale of pain. Take a look at the realm of writing and composing children’s texts in the contemporary publishing market of Iran; I’m not discussing a specific book or author, just count the number of writers and also the significant books in this field and see how few they are. My point is that the writing of children’s books in this field is so impoverished that it cannot be evaluated.

In the realm of translation, the situation is even more lamentable; hasty and error-filled translations, the improper selection of content-less or even meaningless books, and the lack of alignment with the target market’s needs add another layer of pain to the existing challenges in this domain. Some publishers in this field either face financial hardship or are preoccupied with superficial concerns.

Regarding children’s illustration, although we have taken some steps forward, there is still a long way to go. The field of illustration has a direct connection with the realm of writing. We must acknowledge that participating in the international arena comes with its own necessities.

What plans do you have for international participation?

As I mentioned, the literature of this region has deep roots in ancient and enduring cultures. We must recognize that we are the inheritors of a valuable treasure. The classical literature of this land is an immensely rich treasure. Rewriting, recreating, and various precise and child-centric illustrations constitute the unparalleled creation of the beehive of the bee in the Iranian publishing market. In the fields of authoring and translation, we move based on specific styles and criteria. We have laid the groundwork for our presence in this market, defining various sections of our collection to cover all the needs of children and the requirements for international engagement. Currently, Gaj Publications has registered its presence in Germany and inaugurated its store in the city of Bonn with a series of ten volumes of “Kelileh and Demneh” stories by Dr. Maryam Jalali and doll books by Asadollah Shabanian in the German language.

What priorities do you have in your planning for producing children's and young adult works?

Our sole priority is to institutionalize scientific approaches to child development based on culture and the needs of today’s society. The realm of children is a vast and deep ocean, and today’s child experiences their unique life. We must strive to distinguish the sweet from the unsweet. Modern concepts integrated with the space of modern children’s literature not only do not contradict its cultural climate but are also the life-nourishing water for a fresh start. Our approach at Zanboor is to create a sweet beehive for all children worldwide. Our priority is to meet the needs of children and foster their talents towards social adaptability and entry into the world of tomorrow. A child is a woven tapestry of a thousand colors, and the color and pattern are intricately tied to the fabric of society. Exploring a child’s creative discovery involves complexities and ups and downs. Our goal is to identify issues and adopt appropriate approaches to address the deficiencies and irregularities in this field.

How much do you think the written works by domestic authors can provide spiritual nourishment for the children of Iran?

See, publishers, when considering the publication of translated works, undoubtedly choose the best among the vast array of printed works from foreign publishers based on their access to up-to-date global information. However, we don’t solely focus on selected and award-winning foreign works. We also provide opportunities to support domestic authors and illustrators in the children’s literature domain to ensure that children do not miss out on native works. Our approach to foreign publications is interactive. This means that we are constantly striving to engage with foreign publishers and obtain at least the moral rights of the works with their consent. Regarding domestic works, we always welcome authors, poets, and illustrators in the children’s literature field.

Given the existence of traditional economic structures in the publishing space in Iran, particularly in areas such as production, printing, distribution, and sales, how is your policymaking in this regard?

Economic activity in the publishing sector comes with its own risks. Ensuring a conducive environment for growth and nurturing of children without distraction and effective planning is not possible. We have always strived to align our policies with global developments, as traditional economic structures face challenges in handling the reception and transfer of large volumes of economic goods and maintaining continuous and effective competition with economic giants.

In your opinion, how practical is commercial competition in the international economic space? Large global economic enterprises have virtually monopolized the entire volume of international trade with substantial investments and specialized workforce. Is entering this space economically merely an inevitable experience of failure?

The book economy has its own distinct definition and position in the world. Soleyman Gaj’s tapestries represent those symbolic and invisible shops. In this path, piecemeal actions are not effective. We need to move in sync with the developments and experience a fresh transformation to achieve a new event. I say we must experience it because this experience should be the path to another experience. In this journey, even stopping is not stopped.

Wisdom has no limit in the path of transformation. Market players, goods and services, production approaches, marketing, distribution, and consumption play a significant role in the sales market and the volume of commercial transactions. Properly facilitating the online space and fostering the culture of online buying and selling are fundamental steps in this area.

 

Buying and selling transactions must be based on trust and secure participation from both parties. Perhaps when Michael Aldrich invented online shopping in 1979, he himself did not know what a tremendous transformation he was creating in the international economic sphere. Now, with a short span of time since the inception of this trade, it is rapidly moving and evolving. Electronic buying and selling technology in Iran is nascent and requires growth, strengthening, and nurturing. 

With knowledge of all these factors and an understanding of the current situation, we are striving to strengthen the existing assets and create a dynamic and modern business structure in the book economy. I believe that with patience, perseverance, fostering a spirit of participation and interaction, along with knowledge acquisition and mastery of modern technologies, one can become a significant and impactful player in the global business data sphere.

Market players, goods and services, production approaches, marketing, distribution, and consumption play a significant role in the sales market and the volume of commercial transactions. Properly facilitating the online space and fostering the culture of online buying and selling are fundamental steps in this area. Buying and selling transactions must be based on trust and secure participation from both parties. Perhaps when Michael Aldrich invented online shopping in 1979, he himself did not know what a tremendous transformation he was creating in the international economic sphere. 

Now, with a short span of time since the inception of this trade, it is rapidly moving and evolving. Electronic buying and selling technology in Iran is nascent and requires growth, strengthening, and nurturing. With knowledge of all these factors and an understanding of the current situation, we are striving to strengthen the existing assets and create a dynamic and modern business structure in the book economy.

I believe that with patience, perseverance, fostering a spirit of participation and interaction, along with knowledge acquisition and mastery of modern technologies, one can become a significant and impactful player in the global business data sphere.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *