Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reading India

After a fun filled day of catching a movie, then hiking a nature trail and having a picnic lunch with friends, we made our trek to the library. It's a little early in the month for this, but our Panama books were due back and while we were there, we decided to get our India books. 

Some months, we hit the library and scour the shelves and leave with very few books or options. This month is not one of those months. I actually had to decide to leave some books behind. I mean, how many books about India can we read anyway? (Truth be told, probably all of them, but I try to make things a little less intense for my littles.) Anyway, as it is, I walked out of the library with six books. Yes, six. Since today was a long busy day for my littles, we only managed to read two of them after bathtime. So, I am going to tell you about those two and as the we work through the rest, I will tack reviews on to the end of other posts. Deal? Ok, good. 

The first one that we read was called "Elephant Dance, Memories of India" By Theresa Heine. It is about a grandfather who tells stories of living in India to his inquisitive grandchildren. This story teaches about the climate, "A rainbow in India, Ravi beta, is seven silk saris hung across the sky to dry..." it tells about geography, "'Is there snow in India, Grandfather?' said Ravi. 'Yes, Ravi. High in the north are the Himalaya Mountains. The snow on their tops is a giant ice cream, very cold and white, melting on your tongue.'" 

The story moves through family dinner, consisting of daal, fish and many wonderful spices, then focuses on Grandfather telling of elephants walking in a procession for the feast of Divaali. After dinner, the children sit down with their Grandfather and make a map, where Grandfather tells more of the geography, "'The shape of India,' said Grandfather, ' is the ear of an elephant." They discuss other wildlife and geographical landmarks. 

In the back of the book, there are five pages of facts, ranging from geography and religion, to animals and food. This book has made it to my top ten list (well, if I had a top ten list, it would be there). I absolutely loved this story and so did my littles. Wonderfully told with love from a grandfather to his grandchildren, we learned so much about India. 

The next book that we read is called "One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale" Retold By Demi. In this folktale, a village woman outsmarts the raja. 

The village people are going hungry and the raja refuses to give them rice, even though they gave him rice to keep in the event of a famine. The villager notices rice falling from a basket on it's way to the raja and when she gathers it up, she returns it to the raja, he in turn wants to reward her. He promises to give whatever she asks. She asks for one grain of rice today and then double the grains tomorrow, and each day for the next thirty days, she asks him to double to number of grains given the day before. 

This story follows as the raja initially feels that this woman is foolish for asking for such a small reward, but by the end of the thirty days, the raja sees all of the rice that he has stored being given to the villager, who in turn shares it with with the entire village. 

What a fantastic story! We found so many lessons tucked away in this one. First of all, the obvious mathematical aspect of multiplication, so fun to watch the grains of rice increase to such a large amount so fast. Then, the importance of keeping ones word, the value of being humble and the true gift in being charitable. 

Both of these books are highly recommended by this Mamacita and her littles. We are super eager to read the rest of out library finds. 

We have a fun outing planned for this weekend and I will be sharing the details of that with you on Monday. Until then, have you read either of these books? I'd love to hear your thoguths on them! Do you have a top ten book list, or does it change almost daily? If you have not read them, but decide to check out either of these books, I'd love to hear from you too! 


  1. These both sound like great books! With the boys wanting chapter books read to them, we've been reading out picture books less and less. Which makes me sad. And whenever we check out books from the library, we forget to read them until a minute before they're due! out of curiosity, what library do you go to???

    1. We go to Lithgow Library. As far as the chapter books vs. picture books, Aiden definitely would prefer chapter books, but El still likes the picture books, so we tend to get a fair amount of both when we go the library :)

  2. Ooh - I might have to use Elephant Dance with my 9th graders! I've found that even big kids love being read to, esp. picture books, even if they don't readily admit it at first. :)


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