Here are two books that will take you back in time and give you a better understanding of how India won her freedom.

Here are two book that would give you a glimpse of India’s rich and varied history. One is titled When Children Make History: A Tale of 1857. The story begins with a prophecy. The old woman had said, “A lucky child. He is destined for something. Something that will cause change. He will set the world on fire!”

Hari’s father works in the Big House and much to Hari’s consternation his father has fixed up a job for him too. He is now the punkah wallah. While his friends Moti, Sitaram and Krishna go for a swim in the morning, Hari has to rush to the Big House to pull the punkah for Jenny Baby. The first day, he had waited for someone to enter the room for him to pull the punkah. He was surprised when a little girl as old as his sister Tara glared at him through the slats and shouted at him. That was when the girl’s ayah had come and consoled her and told Hari that it did not matter if anyone was in the room, he just had to pull the punkah. It is a dull, boring and monotonous job and Hari dislikes it.

One day, he discovers he is being watched. It takes him a while to discover who his watcher is. And when he does he is just a bit puzzled as well as interested, because it is Harry the son of John Sahib. Soon, the two boys strike up a friendship — if it could be called that.

However, everything comes to head when violence breaks out in British India. It is 1857. What will Hari do?

A simply written story that grabs your attention at the very beginning with the prophecy. A good book to read if you want to know more about the First War of Independence.

Travel back

Discover India’s past in the company of Maya, who likes to think of herself as a detective. Her favourite hobby is rooting through her grandmother’s things and discovering their history. That is when her grandmother gave her the idea of trying to discover India’s past.

“Dadi as usual had a solution. She offered to produce sepia-toned pictures of India’s past and let Maya investigate the life behind those pictures. ‘Every age has a keyhole through which you can look,” she said.

And thus begins Maya’s adventures. The first key hole she peeked into took her back to 2500 B.C. It was the Indus Valley Civilisation. Her journey takes her through many kingdoms, rulers and empires until she arrives in Free India.

It is an interesting book that gives you a quick recap of India’s past. Interspersed in the chapters is the Know Your Facts corner which carries interesting snippets of that age. For example, in the chapter dealing with Harshavardhana and Pulakesin II, the Know Your Facts section carries information about the Nalanda University. Did you know that in Nalanda Univesity, for every six students there was one teacher! An ideal situation, would you say?

When Children Make History: A Tale of 1857 by Nandini Nayar, Mango, Rs. 95

Indian History, Fun and Facts, by Piali Banerjee, Mango, Rs. 95