Come June…and its back-to school time in many households! Believe me….as the kids’ summer vacations comes to an end …..it’s not just the kids who will have to gear up for the new academic year! Summer vacations also meant a welcome break from those ‘mad mornings’………..a break from color coordinating their uniforms……a break from checking on their school diaries for homework, from checking on their homework and assignments ….a break from coming up with innovative lunch box solutions….!!! A summer break from all the above seems long enough to get used to life without school! So I guess, it’s not only the kids, but we parents too need some time to get settled into the “school days” routine!
To help settle into a “back to school” mode….I have picked out two books. For the younger kids aged six to ten …..there’s School days, a collection of 16 short stories brought out by Children’s Book Trust publications. These are also concise enough to make interesting read alouds for children not yet proficient in reading on their own. Well written and easily relatable stories that depict the conflict, mischief, determination and distractions of mainly middle school students. Most of the stories could be anyone’s stories from their own school days ….from “The Boomeranged Prank” by Madhumita Gupta (a prank played by backbenchers backfiring on them) to the story demonstrating the anxiety of a student having left her homework at home in “The Forgotten Homework” by Manoj Thomas, or to the universal embarrassment any student goes through when wearing spectacles for the first time in the title story “School days” by Vandana Kumari Jena… these stories help start the new academic year with a bang!
Another compilation that is more complex and layered is School Stories by Paro Anand meant for kids aged ten and above. This collection brought out by Scholastic Publications sensitively portray the angst, confusion, trials and tribulations most adolescents face while having to grapple with various challenges in their school lives! It is interesting to note that almost all the stories are narrated in first person and this if not anything else is sure to strike a chord with the tweens and teens at home. Though the school years during high school seem tough….it is only when we are out of it that we realize that they were probably the best years of growing up! Each story by Paro Anand echoes such a sentiment ….. from the story of Pratap who almost succumbs to the temptation to cheat to Gita’s bold move of wanting to play the part of the protagonist in a play despite her stammering problem or the hilarious exchange of correspondence between parents and their son studying in a boarding school facing a cash crunch! Besides being brilliantly written all stories present a delightful inter-play of humour, reflection and reality-check for today’s youth!
To all the kids and their parents……..have a great school year ahead!