As we say in the blurb of one of our children's books, if you want to know more, read, says Gita Wolf, Co-Founder of Tara Books. She adds, For women who (for all the progress we have made!) have to handle multiple tasks, lives, and roles, and who are badgered with commands and messages that tell them what to wear, how to be, what to think... reading can offer a window into worlds that show us the importance of freedom, creativity, equality.Over three decades ago, when Wolf was reading all those Anglo-American books, she felt that all fun and excitement happened elsewhere, and there ought to be books in India that were pleasurable to look at, to read, and set in our many contexts. And so, Tara Books was born. Ask her about starting out on this exciting new adventure at 40, and she says, This is irrelevant as far as I am concerned. You start out doing something when you are ready!The publishing house came to realise its philosophy in and through the doing, especially in its initial years. When we started out, we didn't really think we were going to do something that hadn't been done before. There were books that the National Book Trust and Children's Book Trust published, some of them nicely illustrated. There were also Soviet children's bookswhich were widely available in several Indian languages through the 1970s and 1980 and were visually gorgeous. So, it was not that there were no books at all.For over two decades now, Tara Books has been working with adivasi, village-based and rural artists. Many are from communities where women paint as a matter of course. They decorate walls and floors (for instance, Meena women of Rajasthan, Bhil and Pardhan Gond women from Madhya Pradesh) and paint walls and surfaces during specific rites of passage, such as marriage or childbirth (for example, Warli women, women from the Mithila region in Bihar). When we were working with these artists, we realised that women artists are not rare. Many paint and draw, but it is not recognised as art. We, on the other hand, were delighted by these women's creative and casual genius and talent and wanted to feature their sense of their lives, traditions and world views. As a result, over the years we built a list of books that feature women artists.The artists visit Tara Books, stay with them for over a week, and time is spent brainstorming, discussing and coming up with ideas for books. For us, the artist is not a person who executes what we want her to, or one who illustrates a pre-given text: she is the author of the book with her own story to tell, and even when she illustrates a story that is not hers, we see it as her bringing her own understanding to the tale. Our artists are respectful of the book form, and of us as book makers, and we all collaborate from our respective positions of strength and experience.Following My Paintbrush (2010) by Dulari Devi tells the story of a working-class woman from Mithila who transformed herself into an artist. Hope is a Girl Selling Fruit (2013) by Amrita Das is a portrait of a young woman as an artist, also from the Mithila tradition. Drawing from the City (2012) by Teju Behan is a fine instance of urban folk art, something that the artist, who came to the city as a migrant worker and singer, learned to do and became brilliant at. Durga Bai from the Pardhan Gond tradition has illustrated Sultana's Dream (2005), a 100-year-old feminist utopian fable. Moyna Chitrakar has done the stunning Sita's Ramayana (2011), where the epic is narrated from Sita's point of view. Gangu Bai from the Bhil tradition did Tree Matters (2014)which is about her memory of her childhood village, where trees and humans interact in ever so many ways. The Women I Could Be (2021) is the latest in a long list of books, written and illustrated by Sangita Jogi.To want to end patriarchy is the beginning of any form of addressal. Here, books and art can play a significant role, especially when it comes to being aware of how we see the world, as well as why and how we might challenge and transform what is around us. Learning to understand that there is something called the 'male gaze'; that women artists and writers have evolved radically different perspectives from which one might understand the world; that artists and writers from the margins, from contexts and communities that are not usually viewed as valuable, present meanings which challenge habitual ways of seeing and understanding. Books make all of this possible, and when books do this through verbal and visual means, the experience of reading can be truly transformative.Sustainability, both in terms of book printing practices as well as preservation of the folk arts through illustrations, has always been at the forefront of Tara Books, and production is as important as content. How does this work in a world where economics need to be considered? You pay for good work, which is fair and right, but we are also aware that this ought not to push up the price of a book in ways that an interested reader cannot afford it. So what we do is produce handmade books for domestic and global readers, which are high value, and use those to subsidise other books. We also have a line of stationery and prints of artwork from our books, which add to our income. Since we also pay generous royalties every year, our costs remain what they are. We are fortunate that our co-workers are not all bound only by market logic and a high consumption-driven notion of achievement, but also value the work they do in other ways, which means that we are all bound by a culture of restraint that helps keep the publishing going. While we have good partners in independent retailers across India and the world, schools and library suppliers in India, and organisations that curate books for schools, we are aware that they too have not found it easy to keep going and we can only hope that we all continue to pull together in creative ways.Wolf sees publishing as a collaborative enterprise. Every idea or visual that becomes the basis for a book is examined from several angles: authors and artists, designers, production, marketing... In some cases, the designer's role is central, in others, the editor's and in many books, it is the author, illustrator and designer, working together that makes the book what it is. As an author, humour, narrative, and the possibilities of the visual excite her the most. I am a fan of the illustrated book for adults, and also books that lend themselves to art education. I don't like to preach, or teach morals. I think as Elena Ferrante says, 'Good books are stunning sources of vital energy' and they 'express a force capable of expanding autonomously in space and time'. The book, rather than I, is what I hope interests young minds.