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April 22, 2022 Friday 10:39:50 AM IST

What Books Children Must Read this Summer Vacation

Parent Interventions

Summer vacations have started. It is an integral part of a child’s life where he/ she unwinds and recharges oneself after the strenuous routine of classes and exams. As a child during the holidays, I used to spend quality time with friends and cousins who would gather around for fun and frolicking, but also at the same time, I also would have had a huge list of books in my mind to be read. It gave me immense joy to open a book and read it undisturbed, which all bookaholics can relate to. The journey to the library and the huge shelves of books fascinated me. Even today, I love to visit a library and the shelves of books are a treat for my eyes. 

Long back, during summer vacation, a relative of mine fondly gifted me a voluminous book, which was my very first acquaintance with the marvellous writer or perhaps the most loved author of the “Duns” or rather Dehra which has become synonymous with the writer himself. I think many of you might have guessed the writer from the place. Yes, it is none other than Ruskin Bond, who wrote several stories centered around the town of Dehradun. He has a strong connection with the town as he was raised in Dehra which was his home for many years and has many fond memories attached to it. 

The first story which I vividly remember is the Ghost Trouble, where a friendly ghost starts to reside in the house of a small boy when its home ‘a peepal tree’ has been cut down. The ghost plays pranks on the family, but ultimately they realise that the ghost has no bad intentions and happily co-exists with them. This supernatural story gave me goosebumps and many nights I wished I had a friendly ghost with me to prank my cousins. It was then a ritual for me to read more stories written by Bond. His other famous works are The Cherry Tree, The Night Train at Deoli, The Blue Umbrella, The Room on the Roof which gives a picturesque description of the small city. His stores talk of simple people and small hamlets where life goes uninterrupted and is corrupted by external factors. The plethora of characters touched upon by mythology and folklore gives us a glimpse of the pahadi life. The pure and unblemished scenic beauty of the place adds charm to his stories. His stories take us to the quaint villages of Mussoorie and Dehradun where we experience walking along the streets holding the Blue umbrella. 

Heartwarming Tales

Another of legendary children’s author is Sir Rudyard Kipling, who explores the innocence, curiosity, and exuberance of childhood through his writings. His children's books are classics of children's literature and many praise him for his luminous narrative ability. We are more familiar with his work The Jungle Book (1894) which narrates the life and adventures of Mowgli, a human child brought up amidst a wolf pack. The story is set in India and Mowgli has remained one of the most memorable characters in the minds of the readers for his simplicity and innocence. The novel and its subsequent adaptation into movies still fascinate children and grown-ups alike. I love to narrate the story of Mowgli and his friends Bageera and Balu to my kids who eagerly listen to it with great enthusiasm.  

Apart from the Jungle Book, there are a number of other stories by Kipling which are still popular. Kim (1900), tells the story of a poor boy who lives on the streets of Lahore. Puck of Pook’s Hill is another fantasy story that is narrated by an elf- Puck. The whimsical and magical world of Rudyard Kipling captivates the readers of all time.

Come, Let us Visit Malgudi!

Today’s kids haven’t heard of the fictional world of Malgudi or about Swami and his mischievous friends who made our childhood teeming and exciting. RK Narayan, the celebrated Indian writer, famous for his Twainian wit and humor has charmed us with stories and novels revolving around Malgudi. As a child, I was fortunate enough to read his books at a very young age. His stories are deeply rooted in Indianness- a value which I could easily relate to as a child and his characters like Swami were one among the neighborhood children whom you could easily spot around. Swami and Friends (1935), the very first book published by RK Narayan introduces us to the fictional land of Malgudi, just like Thomas Hardy’s Wessex. It narrates the story of a small-town village boy Swami and his friends who become the embodiment of childhood mischief and friendship. When the adventures done by the Famous Five were unimaginable to a small-town girl like me, the adventures of Swami and his friends were the things which I could connect with. Thus engaging with the works of RK Narayan was like a ritual for me. The Man Eater of Malgudi, The Vendor of Sweets are some of his other novels for young children.

Grandma Tales

The Grandmother’s Tale and Selected Stories was the first collection of Narayan’s fiction that attempted to give a comprehensive overview of his more than fifty years of productivity. The Grandmother’s Tale is adapted from a tale Narayan’s mother told him about his own great-grandmother. The story is narrated in a winding fashion by a young boy who is sent to live with his strict grandmother. Although he resents his new situation at first, he gradually comes under the spell of the story she tells him, in bits and pieces, about her own grandmother’s life. These stories could be read as easily as they would be narrated by our own grandmother. Simplicity and subtle humour were distinctive to him and the stories taught us values like compassion and simplicity. Even now I become equally excited to read his book as I was some twenty years ago. 

So, eventually, there arises a question about the benefits of reading and the primary answer is that it provides enjoyment and pleasure. Stories open our minds to a new world and expand our horizons. It gives us a sense of belongingness we all need as individuals. And finally when you read a good book is like breathing fresh air, it fills us with energy and passion.

These are some of the books I suggest you read this summer-

•Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
•Alice’s Adventure in the Wonder Land by Lewis Carrol
•Grandparent’s Bag of Stories by Sudha Murthy
•The Cherry Tree by Ruskin Bond
•Swami and Friends by RK Narayan
•Butterfingers series by Khyrunnisa A

Parvathy Nair

Parvathy Nair is a Project Manager of Pallikkutam ISchool. She holds an MA in English Literature, NET-qualified, Research Scholar, MG University)

Interest Areas: Language and Literature, Creative and Academic Writing, Gender and Women Studies.

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