It is 2nd October and we are talking about Mahatma Gandhi again. We as adults reflect on the values he lived by and relearn the lessons he taught the world. But, the children might not know much about what he stood for. Apart from his own writings, there are a number of well-written books that can help introduce one of the most important figures of Indian history to children. From picture books to middle-grade novels, here are titles that children will both enjoy and learn from.
Being Gandhi by Paro Anand
Being Gandhi is a young adult novel that should be a part of every school’s curriculum, instead of the boring, generic stuff that we’ve been reading on Gandhi all this while. Set during the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984, it’s a story about Chandrashekhar, who’s asked to act like Gandhi for a school project. He couldn’t even have imagined how his role in real life would change as the days go from bad to worse.
Picture Gandhi by Sandhya Rao
This picture book beautifully captures the life and times of Gandhi in brief for children. Real photographs from the Mahatma’s life, sourced from Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Smriti, have been used in this book with some playful add-ons and speech bubbles. Picture Gandhi begins with these simple lines which encapsulate his life well: “Once upon a time there was a man who lived a life so ordinary, he died without a paisa to his name. He was a man of peace who believed in the force of truth and love…”
The Mahatma and the Monkeys edited by Anuradha Kumar
This book covers various aspects of Gandhi’s life and is spread over 20 succinct chapters. There are chapters titled caring for others, telling the truth, the wonder years, doing things yourself and everyone is equal. Each chapter concludes with a few pages of interesting and relevant quotes from Gandhiji and there’s also a fun quiz for children towards the end of the book.
Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar
Written by a screenwriter and producer for both Bollywood and Hollywood movies, Ahimsa is a historical novel for middle-grade readers. Set in the pre-independence era of the 1940s, this book explores the life of 10-year-old Anjali and the challenges that creep into her life at the brink of India’s independence.
Mahatma Gandhi: The Father of the Nation by Subhadra Sen Gupta
This children’s biography of the Mahatma is told in an engaging tone that would make both children and adults wonder how Gandhi’s times must have been, laugh a little as well as think and reflect deeply. Gandhi’s ideas on equality, secularism, humor, and childlikeness, kindness, a life of simplicity, non-violence, self-dependence, education, and empowerment are described throughout the book in an interesting manner. In the book, the author describes Gandhi’s food habits like this: “His diet was so boring that people avoided sitting next to him at meals because he would promptly offer them his bland mash of boiled vegetables cooked without salt, oil or spices and bitter neem chutney that he insisted was great for digestion!” However, the extraordinarily popular man that Gandhi was, ‘people would walk for days and then wait patiently under the hot sun for hours just to catch a glimpse of him.’
Gandhi in 150 Anecdotes by Arthy Muthanna Singh and Mamta Nainy
Several little-known anecdotes from Gandhi’s life fill this beautifully illustrated book. An incident in the book describes how kind and compassionate he was. Once as a little child, Gandhi’s elder sister saw him climbing up a guava tree in a neighbor’s backyard with pieces of torn cloth. The fruits on the tree were pecked at by birds and seeing this, little Bapu tried to bandage the seemingly injured guavas!