Katha’s Thinkbook Series is a great tool to set the minds of young readers thinking on themes beyond their immediate lives. The series has five books: My Big Book of Earth, My Big Book of Global Warming, My Big Book of Kindness, My Big Book of Girls and My Big Book of Dogs.
The ‘big book’ tag is apt for another reason: Each theme is introduced to the reader through an anthology in various formats- poetry, non-fiction, fiction, long-lost folk tales, apt inspirational quotes from leaders, real-life stories about strife and victory- bringing their StoryPedagogy philosophy to full life. Not to mention that each of these pieces is accompanied by some inspiring illustrations for the young imaginative mind. The real-life stories are accompanied by photographs.
Katha’s core philosophy is hinged on the premise that it is never too early to sow the right ideas in the minds of children-the younger they are, the more fertile they will be to grow it into something much larger. Launched with the support of Ashoka Changemakers for the Public and Oracle Giving for Young Changemakers, the Thinkbook series carries ‘Theme Talk’ at the end of every book that serve as classroom conversation starters and project discussion material.
Another spectacular feature of the books is that contributors of stories, art and design to the books are artists of international repute(think award-winning worli painters and international folklore story-writers!)
All books are for reading age group of 5+ years and edited by founder of Katha, Geeta Dharmarajan.
Here is a detailed review of each of the 5 books in the Thinkbook series:
My big book of Global Warming
My Big Book of Global Warming explores pertinent issues of environmental protection and conservation and examine the effects of global warming. Record winters, heat waves, droughts, floods and cyclones – these are the extreme conditions caused by erratic climate. But WHY and HOW does it all happen? The book answers these questions through simple explanations accompanied by illustrations and images making it easy for kids to understand the gravity of the situation.
This book begins with an explanation of the term Global Warming by showing a cause and effect relationship between human actions and climatic changes. With hardcore facts told in the form of poems and little snippets, it not only speaks of the problems at hand but also provides shows hope by demonstrating that solutions are not unachievable.
- It begins with a glimpse of one of the coldest deserts in the world: Ladakh, its people and their lifestyle. Human intervention through felling down of trees leading to pollution and disruption has the glaciers melting at an alarming pace today.
- ‘Beach Blues’ is a poem highlighting the difference between the clean and inviting beaches earlier and the dirty and overcrowded beaches now.
- The reader is introduced to the agricultural techniques of Baigas, an Adivasi group found in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and parts of Uttar Pradesh known as ‘Shifting Agriculture’; known to provide solutions for the situation arising from drought.
- This is followed by the famous snippet by Paulo Coelho known as ‘the cracked pitcher’ emphasizing the importance of growing plants and trees.
- ‘Earthsong’ is a small poem that shows that planet Earth is home to so many living beings other than and it is our responsibility to take care of them as well.
- The poem ‘Landscape’ depicts how the environment is getting harmed by pollution and cutting down of trees.
- A ray of light is then provided in the otherwise gloomy situation by an organisation called Green Hope started by Kehkashan Basu (then 12 years), for protecting the environment, planting trees and spreading awareness about climate change. Green Hope has spread to over ten countries and has more than 1000 members. It is composed of and funded by children.
Towards the end, the book enumerates several solutions to prevent global warming which can be easily adopted by children in their day to day life.
My Big Book Of Girls
My Big Book of Girls is a book that challenges gender stereotypes and provokes with its galvanizing words and illustrations.
- The book begins with a short story called ‘My Magic Pot’ narrated by a little girl who dreams of going to school and how her dream comes true due to a simple pot!
- ‘Salma’s Song’ is a short poem that spells the hope and belief of a young girl in her own abilities to carve out a bright future for herself.
- ‘Rebel With a Cause: Savitribai Phule’ narrates the realities of girls’ lives not so long ago( which might be unbelievable to today’s urban kids.) But there was hope because of heroes like Savitribai Phule and her husband who believed that education and knowledge can never be owned, even though they came from a small, non-descript town in Maharashtra.
- ‘I, Lalla’ is a poem about how no external boundary can stop a girl willing to learn!
- ‘Why Waste’ is a story about two young innovators(girls!) who buckled up and ran a campaign called “Why Waste” to save water in restaurants, even though they were still young.
- ‘Just Like You’ is a short poem about embracing our differences in how we look and loving our appearances.
- There is also a short snippet about Malala who stoop up for girl education even in the face of danger.
- ‘Earrings for Nina’ is a short story about a young girl called Nina who develops a different and unique ability because of a disability. She finds a great opportunity to use this unique and different ability and gains all her lost confidence back!
My big book of Earth
My big book of Earth is a collection of poems, short stories and factual data relating to Mother Earth and our relationship with our environment. It throws light on how the planet’s delicate ecological balance has been disturbed by our irresponsible behaviour.
- The book begins with a poem ‘Song of the Earth’ which is from the Rig Veda. The poem is an appeal to the MotherEarth to always take care of the human kind in any situation and to never let
- Next is a short folk story about the creation of Earth. The Sanamahi and his wonderful World of Colours is a Manipuri legend about how the Earth was created and how Sanamahi decided to make the Earth a beautiful place.
- ‘Dear Earth’ is a poem asking Mother Earth to be happy and kind always!
- ‘A Spaceship called Earth’ compares the Earth to a spaceship on which resources can deplete. It provides a reality check on the rapid usage and wastage of Earth’s precious resources.
- The poem ‘A Space to Live’ is in the form of a monologue by the animals regarding the massive deforestation efforts by human beings to acquire land for their farms and houses.
- The ‘Young Innovators’ section lists the inventors and their cool inventions to make the world a better place. Each invention is unique and has an inspirational story behind the thought process.
- ‘The Glass Tree’ is a story of a little boy, Unni, whose stories put his grandma to sleep. The story gives an account of how mankind is replacing the natural resources with artificial ones.
- At the end is an inspiring tale of three kids from Daman and Diu, who have created special sensor-laden dustbins for degradable and bio-degradable waste. As soon as the bins are full, their sensor sends a message for collection to avoid overflowing and preventing mosquitoes and flies from breeding. Their innovation was awarded the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam ‘IGNITE’ Award 2015.
To this end, the book suggests the young readers create Earth-Carers Club in order to protect Mother Earth. It lays emphasis on the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
My Big Book Of Dogs
My Big Book of Dogs is about the presence of canine friends in our lives.
- The book begins with a dog called Inji(Ginger in Tamil) introducing himself to us.
- ‘Runaway Puppy’ is a short story about a dog called Malli which gets lost but fortunately finds a loving family to take care of her. It could come as a surprise to many of us that dogs can get lost too!
- ‘I am Ka’ is a simple guide about fitting a dog’s needs into our daily schedule.
- ‘After my bath’ is an ultra-short poem about an amusing activity with dogs- their bath-time!
- ‘Sundari’ is a short story narrated by a girl whose days are filled with happiness and love because of her dog!
- ‘The story of Majnu and the stray dog’ is a pick from art depicting ancient folklore that featured a stray dog in a famous legend.
- ‘On the day my dog died’ is a short poem again about the sense of loss a dog can leave in our lives when they go.
Also Read: Stories For Boys That Dare To Be Different: Upholding Non-Toxic Masculinity One True Story At A Time
- ‘Friend!’ is a true story begin with the narration by a helper dog called ‘Great Pumpkin’ that works in a hospital for children. Great Pumpkins’ job is to help children feel better while dealing with their sickness. The story introduces us to the concept of helper dogs and follows it up with several other dogs that help people feel better.
- ‘Life is better with a dog’ illuminates us with real incidents where people have bonded with stray dogs and rescued them.
- The book ends with a short chapter on ‘dog language’ telling us what it means when they try to talk to us with their tails and muzzles.
My Big Book of Kindness
My Big Book of Kindness will help young readers understand that being kind is not only a choice but an easy and important one as well.
- It begins with a short but meaningful poem called ‘Me and We’ that shows our interconnectedness by demonstrating that the flip of ‘M’ in ‘Me’ yields ‘We.’
- ‘Kindness Gets Kindness’ is a simple Japanese fold tale about the relationship between a snake and a little girl.
- ‘The story of a Hummingbird’ is a story about a little bird that strives to do it best in a crisis without stopping to think about the magnitude of the difference it was making. To the bird, all that mattered was ‘doing the best we can.’
- ‘Two Doctors’ tells us the real story about a doctor couple -Prakash Amte and his wife Mandakini who won the trust of the Madia-Gond tribe that lived in the village of Hemalkasa in Bhamragas.
- ‘Being Kind To Our Animal Friends’ is a little checklist of things to do in order to shown kindness around animals.
- ‘The Cowherds’ Song’ is a little folk poem about the days of cows, cowherds and their predators.
- ‘Get Inspired’ is the real story of a young innovator who used technology to impact the lives of farmers in Mengaluru, his hometown.
- The books ‘Theme Talk’ introduces various ideas to perpetuate kindness in our daily lives. A journal, a kindness pitara(box) to keep track of community kindness in a classroom came across as great ideas!