Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Going to School in India

Going to School in India

Lisa Heydlauff
Photographer: Nitin Upadhye
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2005   ISBN: 1570916667

Every day millions of children all over India go to school. Each and every day “they come because they believe going to school can change their lives.” This may not sound like much, but it is monumental when you consider what many of these children have to do to be able to have an education.

Getting to school can, in and of itself, be a challenge for Indian children. In the west, most children get to school by bus, car, on foot, or on a bike. In India, you also see children travelling to school in a contraption called a Chackara, in a man-pulled rickshaw, in a horse and carriage, in a cycle rickshaw, in an auto rickshaw, in a school bus, in a camel cart, in an army truck, on a bicycle, in a bullock cart, and in a vallam (a kind of small boat). In addition, children in parts of India have to cross rivers on bamboo bridges, rope bridges, and even in a “wooden swing attached to a long cable by two giant pulleys.”

The unique ways in which Indian children get to school is not the only unusual thing that readers will read about in this special book. There is the story of Stanzin, an eight-year-old boy who lives in Ladakh, a mountainous area in northern India. Stanzin and his classmates have to climb more than two kilometers uphill to their school, which has no electricity. In winter, a firewood stove barely keeps the school warm.

In Gujarat, an earthquake destroyed numerous houses and schools. Biku Bhai and his friends got tired of waiting to have a new school built, so he and his friends decided that they should have their school in the courtyard. The teachers agreed, and now the children “sit in the scorching heat in a place with no ceiling.” Harsh though it is, it is still better that not going to school at all. At school the children talk about the earthquake, they make little model houses, and they dare to believe that one day they will have real homes of their own again.

Packed with inspiring stories, and full of gorgeous full color photos, this is a book that will help school age children to better understand and appreciate what it means to go to school in India. Through the words of the children who appear in the book, readers will discover that going to school may at times be a trial, but it is also a gift.

This book was developed by the Gobal Fund for Children, a non-profit thatprovides capital to strengthen innovative community-based organizations serving the most vulnerable children and youth,” and that harnesses “ the power of children’s books, films, and photography to promote global understanding.