‘PAKISTAN’ in English and Urdu appears in black at the bottom of the stamp. A thin black line encloses the stamp from all sides.
“Child is the father of man” says an old proverb. Childhood is the most impressionable age. It is at this stage of life that the bases of responsible adulthood are laid. No nation can afford to loose sight of the most important requirement of this age—the acquisition of knowledge by-the inquisitive child who has an insatiable craving for learning more and more about the world. Books play as important a role in dissemination of knowledge among the children as among the adults. The educational importance of children’s literature cannot, therefore, be over-emphasized. The type of books a child reads goes a long way in conditioning his mental attitude and behavior in adult life. An increase in the production of children’s literature as well as a careful watch over their content is necessary.
As has repeatedly been stressed by specialists in the field, children’s books must be conceived in terms of the young readers’ own universe so that he can understand his own socio-cultural environment. In Pakistan, however, as in other developing countries children’s literature was more or less confined only to fairytales. No organised effort was made to prepare and publish books for the citizens of tomorrow till 1973. It was then that the Government—sponsored’ ‘National Book Foundation’ under-took preparation and circulation of books for children on a mass scale. Subjects of interest to the child were picked up and in its First Book Probe the Foundation printed 6,000 copies each on 19 titles.
For the first time the children in Pakistan had books, written in their own national language, which were well written, beautifully illustrated and highly informative. The Second Book Probe launched in 1974-75 consisted of 52 titles and a print run from 86,000 to 1,93,000. The Second Probe included a Children’s encyclopedia—the first of it’s kind in Urdu with over 450 illustrations, more than half of which are in colour. The National Book Foundation is now embarked on a “Book a week” programme and the scope of the programme has also been widened with the increase in the number of titles.
The aim of these Probes is two fold: to inculcate reading habit in the rural child who has never had the benefit of any supplementary reading before this, and secondly, to change the reading habits of the urban child to whom the only books available so far have been Fairy-tales and Comics. It is time he was weaned away from Tarzan and Red-Riding Hood. Needless to say the emphasis is on original writing so that the child’s interest can be roused in his own language, literature and heritage. In keeping with this the illustrations of the children books are based on real life and our own environment. Even the imaginative pictures have some relation to the needs and aspirations of our children.
The first 19 titles in Urdu brought out by the National Book Foundation were accepted as some of the best in Asia by a Panel of Judges at the UNESCO exhibition of children’s Books in Tokyo in 1973. These are also now available in the Munich Children’s Library and have widely been acclaimed by experts here and abroad.
As part of a programme to promote children’s literature Pakistan Post office is issuing a special stamp of 20 Paisa on 15.12.1976.