Going to School in India by Lisa Heydlauff (370.954 HeG 2005 PIC BK) is an interesting book to peruse. The illustrations are crazily bright and energetic, filled with photographs of children from across India going to school and sitting in their ‘classrooms’.
First off, getting to school is varied. A multi-page pull-out shows us that kids travel by every transportation mode possible. From rickshaws, carts that may be drawn by oxen, horses or camels, bicycles, buses, military trucks, boats or on foot, great effort is made to attend school since often schools are not located near where children live.
As varied as the way students get to the schools are the schools themselves. Some are located high in the mountains or inside of a bus or outside; others are in government-run one-room schools or in a tent in the middle of a desert. The book also shows us some of the things the students do, such as go on field trips, conduct interviews, write a small newspaper, and hold parliaments to discuss politics or how the school should be run. Another set of fold-out pages shows us the variety of food that Indian children eat at lunch.
We learn about the lives of the children too. Some are street children living in large cities, some are ‘tribal’ are don’t attend government schools but congregate on their own to learn, and some live the migratory lives of salt-pan workers in the desert. Girls and boys have different opportunities for going to school. One example is a night school for girls who must work during the day.
There is certainly lots of ‘flavour’ of India here. The book feels a little hodge-podgy -- a collection of bits of information, individual stories of children or schools, activities, food, and transportation. I do like it but I think this will be more of a browsing book for North American kids studying India, perhaps a good resource to initiate questions. India is studied in grade three social studies in Alberta but I don’t think this would be the first book I’d introduce to a class.. Having it as a back-up resource would be fine. Its bright colours and dynamic layout will draw interest.
Suggested reading level is grades 4-6.
100 Scope Notes. Check out the list of blogs reviewing nonfiction children's literature.