The ‘not-for-exam’ books!

The ‘not-for-exam’ books!

Today's children are lucky to have access to books that help them look at the Constitution not as something to learn for an exam but as a living, breathing entity.

The Constitution of India.

When I was a child, I thought of the Republic Day as ‘the other Independence Day’, differentiated only by the Republic Day Parade on television. As for the Constitution of India, it was a vague, complicated big-people document that had no connection with me. We did learn about it in Civics at school, but honestly, all I could tell you about the Constitution was a couple of dry lists and numbers, essentially whatever I needed to know by heart in order to pass the examination.

Today’s children are fortunate enough to have access to books that make the Constitution accessible; books that help them look at the Constitution of India not as something to learn for an exam, but as a living, breathing entity that shapes our country and our lives.

‘The Constitution of India’ by Subhadra Sen Gupta is a new release, and gently introduces the Constitution to children. It speaks of how the Constitution came about, the people behind it, the Preamble, details about the constituent assembly, and much more, and is written in a simple, easy-to-understand language. Tapas Guha’s brilliant and funny illustrations contribute greatly to enliven the subject.

‘Our Constitution’ by Rohini Oomman is another book with fun facts and activities. The author has also written The Legislature and The Executive, for children who want to learn more.

For younger children, Leila Seth’s ‘We the Children of India deconstructs the Preamble to the Indian Constitution for children. Each phrase of the Preamble is explained, and the lofty-sounding words are made relatable and completely understandable. The illustrations by Bindiya Thapar are lovely too. The author has also included a sweet, short poem at the end that captures the essence of the Preamble.

For an account of the history of India, or to know more about how we as a country reached the point where we need a constitution, there are some well-written books. In lucid, conversational tones, Subhadra Sen Gupta’s A Children’s History of India leads us on a journey from the Harappan times up to Independence. Also on the same subject are Roshen Dalal’s two volumes of ‘The Puffin History of India for Children’ and Shruti Garodia’s two volumes of ‘The History of India for Children’.

Most of the books mentioned above speak about the people who worked to create our Constitution. To know more about the main architect of the Constitution, you could start with ‘The Boy Who Asked Why’, a picture book on Dr B R Ambedkar. The Puffin Lives series has a book on Ambedkar too, as well as on many other great Indians. If you prefer graphic novels, Bhimayana’ comes highly recommended.

As we observe our 71st Republic Day, here’s hoping that the children of today will continue to uphold the principles on which the Constitution of India stands.

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.