Monday, March 27, 2017

Non-Fiction Monday: Be the Change: a Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi and Bethan Hegedus

Be the Change: a Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi and Bethan Hegedus. Illustrated by Evan Turk. unpgd. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August, 2016. 9781481442657. (Review from copy borrowed from public library.)

This was displayed on the top of the book shelf in the picture book section of the library. Since I've had picture book biographies on my mind lately, I grabbed it unaware that the authors had an earlier picture book about Grandfather Gandhi. I subsequently ordered that one through ILL and will review it soon.

I am a firm believer in "never too old for picture books." I have also been toying with the idea of getting kids into longer biographies through picture books.

This is the story Gandhi's grandson relates about how, after a year spent living on his grandfather's ashram, he continued to struggle with some of his grandfather's teachings, specifically how waste is a violent act. In fact, one afternoon, Arun impulsively decides to fling his pencil stub into the brush. When Grandfather Gandhi finds out, he sends Arun back to the brush, in the dark, with a flashlight to find the stub. Arun does so and feels shame but admits to his grandfather that he does not understand. Grandfather Gandhi spends an hour each day helping his grandson to understand.

When I think of the waste that occurs daily at my school, of lockers, at the end of the year, being emptied of unopened supplies and my students attempting to throw them out rather then cart them back home, I cringe! We teachers collect the supplies rather than allow them to be thrown away, but still the mindset is rather horrifying. 

Symbolism is embedded in both the language of this parable and the gorgeous illustrations making this a picture book to share across grade levels and subjects. This is a book to share to introduce the concept of nonviolence and/or to interest students in reading further about Gandhi. A note from the authors and an invitation to visit conclude this meditation on Gandhi's teachings. 

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