Manorama Jafa
SpouseVirendra Singh Jafa
ChildrenAsim Jafa , Dr. Navina Jafa
AwardsPadma Shri, Order of the Rising Sun

Manorama Jafa is an Indian author of more than 100 books for children, as well as feminist novels for adults, and academic research and writing on children's literature. She has served as Secretary General of the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children and as the Secretary General of the Indian National Section of the International Board on Books for Young People.[1] She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2014, and the Order of the Rising Sun in 2016.

Early life and education

Jafa was born in 1932.[2] Jafa completed a master's degree in Geography from University of Allahabad.[1] She also later completed a course in writing for children at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1]


Creativity starts at a very young age. To garner and hone it further, it is very important that it is polished and harnessed right from the very beginning, says Manorama Jafa.[3]

Jafa began writing in the late 1960s, first for local newspaper columns, but then began developing stories, and her first book for children was Donkey on the Bridge.[1] Other works for children include The Parrot and the Mynah, Laughing Parrot, and The Ladybird and the Butterfly, which according to Dipanita Nath of The Indian Express, make "clear that Manorama sticks to earthy values, especially unity in diversity."[1]

Some of her works, such as Gabbar and Babbar and I am Sona, are designed for children with special needs.[3] She has said I am Sona was inspired by a visit to South Africa and addresses children with HIV,[4] and her book Toru Nanu and Hipu is written for children who became orphans after the Indian Ocean tsunami.[5] In a 1996 discussion of her 1995 book Gandhi: The Man of Peace in Indian Review of Books, she is referred to as "one of the pioneers of children's literature in English in India."[6] Her books written for adults, including Devita, were described by Nath as having "a strong feminist accent."[1]

In 2011, Faisal M. Naim of The Hindu wrote, "over the past three decades, Jafa has been pioneering a movement for better books for children in India."[3] In 1976, she began conducting workshops for authors of children's literature.[3] Jafa has also produced many research papers on children's literature.[7] She also co-founded the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) with the cartoonist Shankar Pillai,[3] and served as director of its Children's Literacy Project beginning in 1995.[4] She has written a book about technical writing for children,[3] Writing For Children, and edited the AWIC quarterly children's literature journal Writer and Illustrator,[5] which was founded in 1981.[8] By 2006, she was the head of the Khaas Kitaab Foundation, a publisher of children's books.[4]

From 1999 through 2001, she served as a jury member for the UNESCO prize for Children's and Young People's Literature.[4] She was also involved with the Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO, as its children's book specialist.[citation needed] She has served in the juries of the IIY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award (2000-2001) as its chairperson and the UNESCO Prize for Books on Tolerance (1999-2000) as a member.[citation needed]

Around 2010, she founded Book Therapy, an initiative to support children who have experienced trauma, which has included the distribution of books to Afghanistan and areas of India impacted by tsunami.[3] She has also served as a consultant for the Children's Book Trust.[9][3] She has also been associated with the National Book Trust, New Delhi as its editorial consultant.[citation needed]

Jafa is the General Secretary of the Indian National Section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).[10] She presided over the 26th Congress of the IBBY, conducted in 1998, as its Chairperson.[11] In 1998, Jafa invited Empress Michiko of Japan to give the keynote speech at the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Congress in New Delhi and later visited Empress Michiko in Japan.[12] In 2013, as Secretary-General of the IBBY India section, she met with the Empress and introduced her to members of the group, after previously meeting her in Japan in 2004.[12]

The Manorama Jafa Collection on Children’s Literature was donated to Ashoka University by her husband, Shri Virendra Singh Jafa.[13] The collection includes technical books on children's literature, some of her correspondence, her Hindi novels for adults, and other materials related to children's literature.[13]

In November 2020, she donated her books for thousands of children in the name of her life companion Mr. Virendra Singh Jafa at various NGOs like Deepalaya, Community Project Library, and various other schools including the Aaganvadaddi schools in Haryana under the Ministry of Child and Women Development.[citation needed]

Honours and awards

In 2014, she was awarded the Padma Shri from the Government of India.[1][14] In 2016, she was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, the highest civilian award in Japan.[15] Her Hindi novel Devika won Sahitya Kriti Samman from Hindi Academy, Delhi (2008).[citation needed]

Selected works

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Nath, Dipanita (13 May 2014). "A Life of Stories". The Indian Express. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  2. ^ Zipes, Jack, ed. (2006). The Oxford encyclopedia of children's literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 316. ISBN 9780195146561. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Naim, Faisal M. (19 January 2011). "No child's play". The Hindu. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Tandon, Aditi (10 August 2006). "Life-saving knowledge: AIDS awareness fiction from an acclaimed children's writer". Tribune India. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  5. ^ a b "'Children's literature is not just entertainment. It's a vital tool'". Times of India. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  6. ^ Indian Review of Books. Acme Books Pvt. Limited. 6: 80. 1996. ((cite journal)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ STP Team (5 May 2015). "Female Children's writers your kids should read". SheThePeople.TV. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  8. ^ Jafa, Manorama (1994). "The Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children". The Book Review. C. Chari for Perspective Publications. 18–19: 23. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  9. ^ "A Politically Correct Padma List". The New Indian Express. 5 January 2014. Archived from the original on 1 August 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  10. ^ "IBBY". IBBY. 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  11. ^ Maissen, Leena. "1998 in New Delhi". International Board on Books for Young People. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Emperor, Empress revisit India center after 53 years". Japan Times. 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Recent Acquisitions". Ashoka Bulletin. Ashoka University. Retrieved 9 July 2021.
  14. ^ "Padma Awards Announced". Circular. Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 25 January 2014. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  15. ^ "Manorama Jafa gets Japan's highest civilian honor". United News of India. 6 November 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2021.