A Children’s History of India [Book Review]

Posted: November 1, 2015

Our youngest reviewer Arya, reviews the book ‘A Children’s History of India,’ and she says that you will definitely love history once you read this book.

Yes, it is a book about History. Yes, it has dates and timelines and names of kings and queens. Oh, okay. In that case, it is obviously highly boring, so there’s no need to waste time reading it…no. It is not, in fact, boring at all. It is told like a story, and has great illustrations, little boxes containing quirky facts, and it is even funny at times.

I am one of those rare teenagers who don’t run away from History textbooks. Our teacher at school brings the subject alive. Most people, however, absolutely dread it. I didn’t like Mathematics in the fourth grade, but then I read The Number Devil, and since then, I’ve loved the subject. A Children’s History of India is rather like that. Reading it may change how a child thinks about History. And I used to think that The Horrible Histories had the monopoly in the field of fun history books!

Did you know that Mumtaz Mahal was Nur Jahan’s niece? That some Indian kings and princes supported the British and opposed the freedom movement? That the common people were afraid of the trains set up by the British? That a British person organised and started the Congress which later led the freedom movement? No, I didn’t either, until I read this book. It is full of such extra titbits of information that are interesting and unlikely to be found in textbooks.

The book is divided into four sections based on the four major periods of India’s history: Ancient India, Medieval India, British Period, and Independent India.

The book is divided into four sections based on the four major periods of India’s history: Ancient India, Medieval India, British Period, and Independent India. At the end of each of these sections, there is a timeline showing all the major events of that time period. This is very useful to get a sense of the chronology of these events, because each chapter in the section usually discusses a different dynasty, or some other aspect of that time period, and often, these dynasties/kingdoms have overlapping dates. The timeline straightens it all out and makes it easy to put the events in perspective. The small “Elsewhere in the World” box at the end of each individual chapter gives an idea of what was happening around the world during the same time, to see how well the Indian subcontinent was doing in the worldwide race for power. Also, the “Museum Visit”, “Walkabout”, “Fort Visit”, and ”On the Net” boxes give the reader a lead for more research. The maps showing kingdoms are also very useful.

Subhadra Sen Gupta has written another book called Let’s Go Time Travelling. In this book, also about India’s history, each section begins with a short story from the point of view of a common person living in that particular period. This was not there in A Children’s History of India, and it would have been fun to have it there. However, there is a chapter at the end of each section discussing the culture, food, art, etc. of the time.

I most enjoyed the last section, about Independent India. It has many anecdotes from the time, and I had never read the history of that time before, so I found it very interesting. Such stories are never found in textbooks. But then again, this book was never meant to be a textbook. It was meant to kindle interest in the subject of History, and it has achieved its target.

I would certainly recommend this book for anyone my age who would like to learn about our history in a fun way.

If you’d like to pick up A Children’s History of India by Subhadra Sen Gupta, do consider using our affiliate links at Flipkart and Amazon.

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Arya is a 9th grader. She is an avid reader, a poet, and a writer of stories. Her interests are languages, literature, history, psychology, anthropology, and mathematics, and hopes to be able to work with all of these in the future.

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