Educational Value: 4/5
Role Models & Attitude Portrayal: 4/5
Age Band — 10+
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Author: Sudha Murty
When someone like Mrs. Sudha Murty sets out to write short stories that are semi-autobiographical in nature, it is bound to take its readers on a journey of learning and wisdom. The book “ How I Taught My Grandmother to Read and other short stories” contains 25 beautiful stories that are packed with values from the past. Many of the stories are from the revered author’s own life experiences but there are also some from popular folktales.
Many of the stories are simple and touching, I choose to present two that I really fell in love with. “ How I taught my Grandmother to read” is a very touching story about the author’s Grandmother’s journey to becoming literate. Born at a certain age in India, women rarely had the chance to do anything beyond taking care of the family. Krishtakka Avva, the author’s Grandmother was no different. During her time, a popular novel called “ Kashi Yatra” was appearing in a Kannada weekly Karmaveera and the grandmother used to make her granddaughter read it for her. As it happened, there was a wedding and the little girl had to go away for a while, so Avva had no one to read to her. By the time the granddaughter had returned, Avva had made up her mind that she would learn to read and with the help of the little girl successfully managed it also. Inspiration can come at any age and from anywhere, this story brings this message out in a very non -preachy and light way.
Gender and the social messages around it are plenty and confusing. It also a debate about where nature stops and culture take over. Mrs. Murty teaches students in engineering college and on one occasion made them debate on this topic. As the reader would have guessed by now, the debate did take a destructive direction and madam put an end to it. She took this opportunity to tell the students a story from mythology with a clear and simple message. It is not about who is superior or inferior but it is about balance and compromise.
Summer vacations are a time for us to figure out what to do with children — camps, activities, travel, and of course reading. Depending on the reading speed of the child, this book can last between a week to 10 days. It is very tough to find a light read that is heavy in wisdom; this book manages to do just that!