Children probably read less for leisure now: Aussie author

New Delhi: Penning and illustrating over 35 children's books published throughout the world does seem to lend weight to Australian author Frane Lessac's opinion that kids nowadays probably tend to read less for leisure.

"Children are reading more now they might be reading more on the Internet, maybe more of graphic novels etc, but they are definitely reading. What may be happening is they might be reading less for leisure," says Frane, who was in the city for the just concluded Bookaroo Children's Literature Festival.

The author who is well known in the US, Australia, UK Carribian Islands among other places is no stranger to India too, a country she has now visited four times in total.

"This time I went to schools and had events in Kolkata, Chandigarh, Gurgaon and am overwhelmed meeting so many children. They are warm, polite, gorgeous and some of them have voracious reading habits," Frane told PTI.

Every visit for the 58-year-old storyteller is an adventure. She has been to Varanasi, Rajasthan, Kochi and Punjab among other places.

"India is an adventure. One of my bestselling books called 'The Bird Who Was an Elephant' is a story based here and the book has come out in five different versions including Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Urdu," says Frane who was also participating in a multi-city tour organised as part of the Oz Fest, the ongoing Australian cultural festival in India.

"Nine O' Clock Lullaby" and "Simpson and His Donkey" are her other books capturing stories from India that she has written and filled with beautiful and vivid watercolour illustrations.

Born in the US and raised on the small Carribbean island of Montserrat, the who has later lived in London before moving to Australia is a collector of stories too.

"I collect stories especially folk tales from all the places I have been to. In Chandigarh the children loved hearing folk tales," says Frane. The author says she immerses herself in the story be it a histroical figure, an animal, or a place.

"When I write a story I become passionate about the subject matter, detailing the language used by the characters. It is the idea that comes first, detailed illustrations follow." The advent of ebooks has changed the traditional format of reading but Australian author illustrator France Lessac says it is but inevitable.

"But at least they are reading," she says with glee.

"Wherever I go in the world I have met children doing some reading. In aeroplanes I have seen small kids with tablets or mobiles poring over picture storybooks. It is a delightful sight," says the author.

Being an illustrator, France says is tough in the current times of ebooks. "For picture book people this period it is very expensive to create illustrations because the technology is very expensive. That is the reason picture books are costly," says the author who has been painting from her early 20s and brought out her first picture book "My Little Island" in 1984.

Frane is working on next two books that is expected to release soon.

"Of course I have a couple of stories that I would like to include from my visit to India too," says the author who wants to "inspire children with a good book".