GRANDMA’S TALES: STORIES ON INDIAN VALUES by Children’s Book Trust, 2017, 88 pp., 90
November 2017, volume 41, No 11

I have liked most of the CBT books I have read. I have read them to my children, gifted them to other children. But this book needs to be kept away from children.

This is a compilation of prize-winning entries for 9–12 age received in the category of ‘Heritage and Culture’. However, there are several criticisms that may be levied against the book. I will briefly outline some of these here. Firstly, all but one story are retellings from Hindu scriptures. The last I checked, India still had over 25% population that was not Hindu, and even within the Hindu tradition there is a great diversity in the interpretation of the scriptures. At the outset, therefore, this book appears to be designed to exclude children of different faiths and backgrounds, and is certainly not deserving of the title, Stories on ‘Indian’ Values.

Secondly, the book is written in a style that may not appeal to the target audience. The stories are ostensibly narrated by a grand-aunt who has been given dialogues which would alienate most tweens at the outset—‘Why is she moving her jaws so much? Haven’t you taught her to do “pranam” to elders?’, ‘Let her spend few hours with me … and soon she will become like one of us!’

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