The second book I picked out is the recently released “A Children’s History of India” by Subhadra Sen Gupta and illustrated by Priyankar Gupta, brought out by Red Turtle, the children’s wing of Rupa Publications. This book is a composite work on Indian history, starting from the Harappan civilization in 2600 BCE to contemporary India. When it comes to history, what are the choices for children/young readers today? Well, it’s either the exam-oriented textbooks or the rhetorical over-simplified versions of history that hardly sound credible, or the big-fat reference books that the children/young readers tend to steer clear from!! Not anymore! What if there were to be a book that presents historical facts, sources and analysis in a non-text-bookish manner and without running into the danger of information overload? “A Children’s History of India” does exactly that!
This is a thorough work of non-fiction and is divided into four sections that trace the rich history of our country from ancient times to what we now know as modern India. The author details the rise and fall of various dynasties chronologically during each period, elaborating on the political milestones, prevalent lifestyles, and social and cultural trends of the times that were. Presented in an easy-to-follow narrative, each chapter is also interspersed with interesting trivia, summary boxes, relevant online and offline sources for more information and a brief note on parallel developments in other parts of the world around the same time. For instance, who knew that not all poems in the Vedas were solemn prayers but also included funny rhymes and limericks; or about a traveler named Thomas Coryat during Mughal times who supposedly walked all the way from England to India!! Accompanied by minimal illustrations of the highlights of different eras, the author also helps the reader understand the empirical analysis of historical data that separates facts from legends. Not very often do you come across a work of non-fiction that appeals to both children and adults alike. “A Children’s history of India” is definitely one of them and a must have for anyone interested in history!