Arun and his family have traveled to his Grandfather’s village for an extended visit. While there, Arun is respectful, eats food he doesn’t really like and tries to work hard doing his chores, like weeding the garden. Although it is difficult, he also tries hard at his lessons. But the truth is, Arun would rather be playing!
He’s a kid, what kid wouldn’t? Arun feels especially bad about feeling restless and impatient during his lessons because his Grandfather is Mohandas “Mahatma”(great soul) Gandhi. Really. This book is written by Gandhi’s real grandson, Arun.
If you have not heard of Gandhi before, he was a man who fought for the end of prejudice in India as well as for Indian independence from Great Britain. He taught change through non-violence and he won! Gandhi might remind you of someone else you have learned about – Martin Luther King Jr.. Gandhi’s teachings inspired Martin Luther King’s nonviolent civil rights movement in the United States as well as Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
Gandhi was a man known the world over for his wisdom and patience. Arun can’t imagine his Grandfather being anything other than old and wise. Arun wants his Grandfather to be proud of him. But it would be hard, wouldn’t it, to be Gandhi’s son or grandson? It would be hard to feel good enough to have the family name Gandhi.
When Arun loses his temper during a soccer game he feels terrible, like a failure for feeling angry. But then his Grandfather says something amazing, something so amazing it can’t possibly be true – Grandfather says that he sometimes gets angry too! Gandhi! He actually tells Arun he shouldn’t feel bad about feeling angry. He says that everyone feels anger. Everyone.
‘Even you?” I asked.
“Even me,” said Grandfather.
Because it isn’t what you FEEL, it’s what you DO. Arun almost threw a rock at someone out of anger during the soccer game…but he didn’t. Making a choice like that – now that’s something both kids and adults can do! You can make choices to create peace too, just like Arun and his Grandfather. Take the Pledge. #Stand4Peace
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Sometimes feeling angry isn’t the only thing you might have in common with Arun and his Grandfather, there are many things, even though the Gandhi’s are from India. You can see what some of those things are in the book Same, Same, But Different. Pen pals Elliott and Kailash discover that even though they live in different countries–America and India–they both love to climb trees, own pets, and ride school buses.Young Hoosier Book Award, 2013-2014, K-3 Nominee.
If you wonder about what it would be like to live during Gandhi’s time, try the novel, Small Acts of Amazing Courage. It takes place in India in 1919 at the same time Gandhi was alive but before India’s Independence. It is the story of Rosalind, a British girl who lives with her family in India. Her father is an officer in the British military. Rosalind loves India and its people and becomes interested in the message of a man named Gandhi who travels the country inspiring people for non-violent change. Gandhi is fighting for and end to prejudice and for India’s independence from British rule…but he teaches non-violent, peaceful protest instead of actual fighting.
When Rosalind sneaks off with her friend to hear a speech by Gandhi, Rosalind’s Dad finds out and boy is he mad! What kid wants to hear this:
“…you are not to involve yourself in any way with what goes on in this country. Those who are older and wiser than you are have things well in hand. Is that understood?” (page 68)
What if you DON’T think those who are older, are wiser? What if you think they are just plain wrong? This headstrong girl has the moxy to stand up for what she believes in, even to her Dad. The heated debates between father and daughter are some of the best parts. I also loved Rosalind’s relationships with her Indian friends and how she developed her own thoughts about Indian freedom from British rule. She bases her thoughts on her own experiences and not solely on what she reads or what other people tell her. This book reveals the dramatic changes Gandhi inspired that eventually lead to a free India. The sequel is All My Noble Dreams and Then What Happens.
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