The month of exams have started and it’s causing a huge rush in the bloodstream of both students and teachers. Assignments, revisions, reviews, test series and what not. We all wait for this deadly month to get over and wait to welcome summer vacations and the months ahead till June. You know why? Because to talk about summer vacations is super fun indeed. The way the exams unfold and get over, the way the new month brings in more possibilities, opportunities and wishes.
I, as a teacher, crave for this 2 month super fun period where only the list of fun activities have a special place. Some children love to travel, some join few activity and skill development classes, and many others stay at home and enjoy the sunset and sunrises. Whatever it is, the calmness and soothing experience of the vacation cannot be matched to any other fun in life. Nowadays, technology has become a priority over everything and children don’t want to get out of the zone of computers, video games and mobile games.
I really miss those days when we used to play outdoors, go to the woods, read library books, tell stories to each other, sit on trees and eat grapes. Such were our days. Today’s children have forgotten the act of playing outside and want to get trapped within the walls that technology has built. I remember when I asked my student what she does at home as her parents are working. Does she go out to play after school hours? Or does she invite her friends at home and play together? She said I don’t do any of those things as I like being alone.
This is a serious disorder that our young minds are developing. In this tender age, they want to be alone and feel comfortable with the virtual world. Alone means they are only physically alone but there are many virtual games and friends who keep them engaged. Human to human interaction and being one with the nature have lost their game to technology already. Text and social networking have tied up young and adult minds so tightly that they feel comfortable in this new form of captivity. Nevertheless, I don’t want to digress from the topic I thought of writing.
Summer vacations give one an opportunity to explore different set of books. A bibliophile finds it the best time to indulge in more and more amount of books. The book exchanges, writing blogs on the stories read, building a piece by yourself brings in more fun to the table. So every year as a tradition set by myself, I purchase books for my students. This is a small effort from my side to encourage them to read and use their time productively. The fiction world is super awesome when they feel it. You can travel to many places at the same time, know many things, get new perspectives, and discuss these things with your family members or your peer group. Such is the beauty of books. So this year I chose to give ‘Little Women’, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and ‘Sudha Murthy’s Short Stories.’
There are books which talk of human nature in a humorous way and there are some which give us serious food for thought through a plot based on children. So I would like to talk about these books which have an interesting theme and all these are plotted differently with great style.
1. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott:
Author Louisa May Alcott has written this novel with the purpose of bringing out her own childhood story. The story is based on a family named March which consists of 4 daughters and a mother and father. The mother takes care of the 4 children while the father serves in the army. This story is loosely based on the author herself and her three sisters, the passage from childhood to womanhood is strongly depicted with some sorrowful moments in between. The four daughters are special and talented in their own way. While one is a great and budding artist, the other sizzles in playing music. While one is a bibliophile and immerses and finds bliss in the company of books, the other is a dreamy eyed with a profession of governess.
They all get into fights and little wars but manage to get through skilfully. The ending can come as a surprise as you might have expected a different end to the book but you will not get disappointed as the author has mixed drama and reality with elan. The author narrates a gripping tale that values comfort, literature, and the beauty of natural world. Some of the learnings that Mrs. March provides them with speak the reality of the outer world. Some sorrows like Beth’s illness and the bird’s death bring sense to their existence and they become each others’ strength. The writer in me finds the following quote amusing and inspiring – “I want to do something splendid, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I am dead. I think I shall write books.”
2. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee:
Another book that I gave my students is this brilliant novel which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Harper Lee, one of the most brilliant authors of all times. This is set in a sleepy Southern town and throws light on the Southern literature. The author draws a parallel between compassion, idealism, and conscience and portrays a novel mixed with childhood, drama and serious elements. I love the character Atticus and how his character has a deep seated meaning in this whole novel.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This quote hits the nail on the head and talks more on empathy. In fact, the whole novel, which talks about how to kill the notion of racism and other social evils that have stuck to our blood and flesh, goes beyond the word empathy. Mockingbirds spread joy and are not to be harmed is a fact which we always knew. An undisputed classic with a message is what this this novel is and surely can qualify to find a coveted place in your book shelf.
3. How I Taught My Grandmother To Read And Other Stories – Sudha Murthy:
Having gone back to classics and discussing serious aspects, we come to an easy read of a well-known and established author of this generation. This book has 28 stories in total and portrays the little aspects of humanity and their importance. It is a book written keeping in mind the understanding level of children and also serves as good company for adults. In this book she she stresses on hard work, humility, and sacrifice. The stories which I loved are “Hassan’s Attendance problems”, “Who is Great” and “Gowramma’s Letter”. All in all, an inspiring book for the younger lot and a thought provoking one for the older lot.
As everyone knows, we all are judged by the books we read and the company we keep. Books shape our life and our mindset as do our friends. Summers are the best way to pamper ourselves with fun, laughter, friends and lots of reading. So a tiny motivation from my side to my students and future torchbearers has always helped them to connect with me and their minds at large.
Saranya Iyer is an academic tutor and Spanish trainer. She also teaches creative writing to children. After working for 5 years in the corporate sector as a Marketing Manager in financial services, she quit her job to pursue her passion of teaching and writing. She has co-authored the book Plantain Leaf and Winged Heart. Her inspiration is Jane Austen, one of the leading authors of 18th century. Her interest does not rest only with books but also extends to music and art. She believes in the Spanish saying, “One who reads much and travels much, sees much and knows much”. The author stays with her techie husband in Mumbai.