A Practical Biography for Children(For the agegroup of 3 to 12 years)
By: Stephanie N. Van Hook
Illustrations: Sergio Garzon
First Published : August 2016
About the Book:
Gandhi Searches for Truth is subtitled, A Practical Biography for Children, and that is exactly what it is. It uses the lens of Gandhi’s search for truth to walk children through the spiritual highpoints of Gandhiji’s life and unfold its great significance, emphasizing its power to inspire them in their own searches. It therefore fills an important niche, on at least two levels: it is informative on one of the greatest, if not the greatest person of the 20th Century, which is covered very inadequately if at all outside of India (and not always with the needed sensitiveness anywhere). It also inspires and empowers children, in the best Montessori spirit, which can be vitally needed in this dispiriting world. As information it fills a space left by, for example, Sri Eknath Easwaran’s Gandhi the Man, which takes a similar spiritual approach but is designed for high-school children and adults.
The book is visually quite beautiful, with excellent original artwork and a pleasing layout. Each of the twelve chapters begins with an inspiring quote from Gandhiji that encapsulates, in an easy-to-remember form, the significance of the chapter itself. The book does not fail to include an age-appropriate introduction to the use of a mantram, which after all was the first practice that Gandhi himself took up in his great transformation. A page is included at the conclusion where children can practice the mantram, after a similar page where they are invited to draw Gandhi as he appears to them: in this and other ways Gandhiji is presented not just as an interesting figure from history but a role model for their own lives. He is not put on a pedestal, yet given his due admiration by the presentation.
While no attempt is made to “sanitize” the struggle the Mahatma faced or minimize its difficulty, it is done tactfully so that there should be nothing that children will find in the least disturbing. On the contrary, as mentioned, children (and perhaps their parents) will find that they have been introduced to a wonderful friend.
About the Authors:
Stephanie Van Hook is a certified pre-school teacher in the Montessori system, and this book springs from her work with and obvious love for young children. It “speaks their language,” but at the same time is designed for parents and teachers to guide the children through it, and will benefit both in the process.