Environmental Factor, December 2006, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Sharon Finds the Environment... in India
By Eddy Ball
The popular NIEHS read-along story Sharon Finds the Environment will soon be charming readers in India. The story was published in hard cover in 2001 and won that year's NIH Plain Language Award for author Tom Hawkins. Unlike some of the brochures, booklets, pamphlets, forms and newsletters recognized that year, Sharon has lived on. Now India's Allied Publishing will offer Hawkin's story of a young girl's journey to understand what "environment" means to a new generation of readers half way around the world.
Sharon has been a popular title from the beginning. Educators throughout the world have used the book in elementary school curricula, and the main character has received fan mail from readers worldwide.
One especially enthusiastic fan in Cameroon wrote to ask Sharon about her age and marital status.
Because U. S. government publications are not covered by copyright, there is no way to be sure how many times Sharon has been published by others. The book was issued at least once in England, and it was used as the basis for a puppet show script in Canada. A google search for Sharon Finds the Environment produced 73 hits, many of them at university Education Department curriculum development sites and several in foreign countries.
According to Allied's Publishing Manager Tripti Sachdev, Sharon offers Indians "child-friendly stories" to help children "meet the challenges posed for the protection of the environment." Sachev plans to publish an affordable edition of the story with new illustrations that will appeal to children in India. The first printing, due out in December, will be in English, but the publisher is also considering translating the text into Hindi.
Allied Publishers was founded in 1934 and acquired by the Sachdev family in 1947, the year that India achieved independence from Great Britain. Allied has headquarters in New Delhi, with nine offices in major Indian cities. It is a wholly Indian enterprise, which produces educational texts for all age groups in addition to technical, scholarly and popular titles, and imports books from a long list of foreign publishers.
With the help of this popular NIEHS publication, millions of readers in India soon will have a chance to "find the environment" for themselves.