Want your brats to be better citizens?

As we shamefacedly hand over this messed-up world to the next generation, aren’t we obligated to equip our children with skills that’ll help them make better decisions than we did? Here’s where books come in handy, says Shruthi Rao
Last Updated : 28 December 2019, 18:45 IST

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Season’s greetings, happy new year…yawn.

I get it. It’s hard to summon good cheer and be optimistic about the future, if breaking news is causing you to break down. ‘Headline stress disorder’ and ‘Climate Change anxiety’ are real problems affecting people, and some are in therapy for it. I’m not joking. It’s not too surprising, if you think about it. 2019 came with a deluge of disturbing news from around the world about political upheavals, hatred, violence against women, human rights violations, climate change disasters — it can get to you.

We adults have expertly wrecked the earth. As we shamefacedly hand over this messed-up world to the next generation, aren’t we obligated to equip our children with skills that’ll help them think for themselves and make better decisions than we did? Shouldn’t we nudge them towards being valued and valuable citizens of the world? Give them the information that they need and seek?

But where do we start? Here’s where books come in handy.

For example, perhaps you want your children to know that they are never too young to step up. ‘I Am Malala’, and Malala’s Magic Pencil by Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai is a good place to start.

‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the story of William Kamkwamba, a Malawi teen, who made a wind turbine out of scrap and brought renewable energy to his little village.

Greta Thunberg’s ‘No One is Too Small to Make a Difference’ is a collection of speeches by her on climate change.

On that topic, if your kids are curious about climate change but don’t like non-fiction, Bijal Vaccharajani’s ‘A Cloud Called Bhura’ is funny and informative at the same time.

‘The Case of the Missing Water by Shalini Srinivasan is also a fictional story about a little girl trying to solve the water problem in her village, available for free on the story platform storyweaver.org.in

Perhaps all you want is to make sure your children become responsible citizens of the world, who are aware of their rights, and the rights of their fellow human beings.

‘We Are All Born Free – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures’ is a lovely book suitable for all ages. The title is self-explanatory, and is full of illustrations by some of the world’s best illustrators (including Axel Scheffler of The Gruffalo fame).

Menaka Raman’s I Know My Rights’ is an e-book on storyweaver.org.in. It introduces children to their basic rights.

We, the Children of India by Justice Leila Seth is a great little book that makes the preamble to India’s constitution simple and interesting for even little readers.

Little steps, with good books as our guides. Let’s hope our children do a better job than us as caretakers of the earth. On that note of optimism, wish you a happy, book-filled new year!

The author got a master’s degree in energy engineering and worked in the IT industry until her daughter dragged out the writer lurking inside her. She has written eight books for children and can be reached at www.shruthi-rao.com

GobbledyBook is a fortnightly column that will give you a peek into the wondrous world of children’s books. Hop on! Or like Alice did, just plunge into the rabbit hole.

Published 28 December 2019, 18:43 IST

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