2200 words | 16 mintue read | Flesch–Kincaid readability score: Grade 7

An individual booklist is found to reflect the compiler’s own interests and biases. To that extent this booklist does not lay claim to any objectivity. It contains some extremely fine books on education, popular science, maths and children’s stories. Over the years, I have been actively involved in translating and popularising many of these books. At times we have been successful in bringing out low-cost, Indian reprints like for instance The UNESCO Source Book for Science in the Primary School, Publisher : National Book Trust, India.

There is a general dearth of good books on science activities, toy making, origami, and how-to-do-it books. I am against slotting books for specific age groups, for I feel that a good book is a joy for one and all. Suggestions for widening this booklist would be heartily welcome.

Divaswapna – Gijubhai Badheka
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

The Man Who Planted Trees – Jean Giono
(Publisher Timbaktu Collective, PO: Chennekothapalli (A.P.), India.

Mahagiri – Hemlata
(Publisher : C.B.T.)

The Joy of Making Indian Toys – Sudarshan Khanna
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

The Blackboard Book – Eleanor Watts
(Publisher : Orient Longman)

Picture Stories – Radlov
(People’s Publishing House)

Snake Trouble – Ruskin Bond
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

Guess What Am I Doing
(Publisher : N.B.T. Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO)

Our Tree Neighbours – Chakravarti Venkatesh
(Publisher : N.C.E.R.T.)

Aakash Darshan Atlas – G.R. Paranjpe
(Publisher : N.C.E.R.T.)

Soap Bubbles – C.V. Boys
(Publisher : Vigyan Prasar, ASCI Building, New Delhi)

The Chemical History of a Candle – Michael Faraday
(Publisher : Vigyan Prasar, ASCI Building, New Delhi)

Environment and Self Reliance – Yona Friedman & Eda Schaur
(Publisher : Human Research Development Foundation, New Delhi)

Riddles in a Tea Cup – Partha Ghosh and Dipankar Home
(Publisher : Rupa)

Who’s Who at the Zoo – Ruskin Bond
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

Idgah – Premchand
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

Madam Rides a Bus – Villikannan
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

One Straw Revolution – Masanobu Fukuoka
(Publisher : Other India Bookstore, Mapusa, Goa. Pin 403507)

The Little Prince – Saint Antoine De Exupery
(Publisher : Piccolo)

Number Fun with a Calendar – P.K. Srinivasan
(Publisher : Alarsri, Plot 5, Street 25, Thillaiganga Nagar, Chennai)

Water – Rama
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

UNESCO Sourcebook for Science Teachers
(Publisher : Oxford University Press)

Days with Grandfather – Shankar
(Publisher : C.B.T.)

Sujata and Her Elephant – Shankar
(Publisher : C.B.T.)

Mama Moo On The Swing – Jujja and Thomas Weislander
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

Dear Pichy – Simret Kaur
(Publisher : C.B.T.)

The Child’s Language & the Teacher – Krishna Kumar
(Publisher : UNICEF/ N.B.T.)

Teacher – Sylvia Ashton Warner
(Publisher : Arvind Gupta, C 7/ 167, S.D.A., New Delhi-16)

The Song of the Bird – Anthony de Mello
(Publisher : Gujarati Sahitya Prakash, P.Box 70, Anand, Gujarat )

Swami and Friends – R.K. Narayan
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

Joy of Learning Part I & II
(Publisher : Centre For Environmental Education, Ahmedabad)

Spiders — An Introduction – Vijaya Laxmi
(Publisher : CRE — A, 268, Royapettah High Road, Chennai)

The Indian Elephant – Ajay Desai
(UBS Publishers 5, Ansari Road, New Delhi- 110002)

Bahurup Gandhi – Anu Bandopadhyay
(Publisher : N.C.E.R.T.)

No-Cost, Low-cost, Teaching Aids – Mary Ana Dasgupta
(Publisher : N.B.T.)

Danger School! – IDAC Document
(Publisher : Other India Bookstore, Mapusa, Goa. Pin 403507)

UNESCO Sourcebook for the Science in the Primary School –
Wynne Harlen Jos Elstgees (Publisher : N.B.T.)

To Be a Slave – Julius Lester
(Publisher : Scholastic India.)

Against All Odds – Stephen Krensky
(Publisher : Scholastic India. 29, Phase I, Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon)

Divaswapna – Gijubhai Badheka
Originally written in 1928 by a contemporary of Gandhiji. This book is probably our country’s most original contribution to world pedagogy. A must for every teacher.

The Man Who Planted Trees – Jean Giono
A green classic. A deeply inspiring story of an unlettered shepherd, who plants 100 oak seeds everyday for over 50 years and greens up a totally barren valley. Already translated in 8 Indian languages.

Mahagiri – Hemlata
One of the finest picture books for children printed in India. Written by the famous Malayalam writer Thakazhi Pillai under the penname of Hemlata, it has been illustrated superbly by Pulak Biswas — a great artist.

The Joy of Making Indian Toys – Sudarshan Khanna
India has a long tradition of making toys. This book contains more than a 100 simple folk-toys collected from far flung melas of the country. A historical collation as most of these toys are fast disappearing by the on march of mass-produced factory toys.

The Blackboard Book – Eleanor Watts
If there is one teaching aid which is to be universally found, it is the blackboard. Most teachers do not know how to use it optimally. This book shows the most amazing possibilities of using the blackboard for teaching language, math, science, geography and history. That one could do so much with a simple blackboard comes as a revelation.

Picture Stories – Radlov
I first read this book as a child and can never forget it. It contains 40 picture stories, which do not preach morals or sermonise. The stories are very intelligent and full of fun. This indeed is the best picture book in the Indian market for the last 35 years.

Snake Trouble – Ruskin Bond
A delightful story of days spent in grandfather’s menagerie. A sure shot hit with children.

Guess What Am I Doing
As you open the cover of this panoramic book you find 40 children from different countries saying a “Hello” to you, in their mother tongue. Its amazing pictures give you a good feel for different lands. There are simple activities in each chapter.

Our Tree Neighbours – Chakravarti Venkatesh
Written by a professional botanist and a great lover of trees who worked with the forest research institute. Hundreds of copies of this gem of a book are still lying dumped in the NCERT godown. It is never displayed by the NCERT, nor is it in their current booklist. Grab a copy while you still can!

Aakash Darshan Atlas – G.R. Paranjpe
A life-time work of a great science populariser. Only once printed in 1978. A first rate, authoritative book on the night sky giving Indian names of all the stars and constellations. Insist on a copy at the N.C.E.R.T. counter and with tenacity you will get one.

Soap Bubbles – C.V. Boys
A popular science classic. Boys gave a series of 3 lectures along with practical demonstrations to a juvenile audience at the London institute in 1889. Reprinted for the first time in India. It is simply a great book.

The Chemical History of a Candle – Michael Faraday
A stenographic record of a series of lectures supported by experimental demonstration that Faraday gave to children during the Christmas Holidays of 1860-61. A popular science classic for all times.

Environment and Self Reliance – Yona Friedman and Eda Schaur
A resource book designed to promote ecological sanity among the masses with topics like “Weed Into Wealth” and “Don’t Live With Garbage”. Produced in a comic form with matchstick drawings and simple captions, this book will endear itself to its readers.

Riddles in a Tea Cup – Partha Ghosh and Dipankar Home
A hundred phenomenon from daily life analysed by two outstanding physicists. This book was first translated into Italian and subsequently into several Indian languages.

Who’s Who at the Zoo – Ruskin Bond
Two outstanding people — a writer and a photographer have jointly produced this masterpiece. With beautiful photographs by Raghu Rai and a lovely text by Ruskin Bond, this book will delight all children.

Idgah – Premchand
This great story has been rendered by Kushwant Singh from the original Hindi into English. At the fair, poor Hamid, instead of buying toys buys a chimta for his old grandmother. A very touching tale.

Madam Rides a Bus – Villikannan
A delightful story of a village girl’s first ride in a bus to a nearby town.

One Straw Revolution – Masanobu Fukuoka
Without using any chemical fertilisers, pesticides, this remarkable Japanese microbiologist has produced the highest yield of rice for 50 years. A book strongly opposed to the industrial-military paradigm of development. A deeply philosophical book which has changed lives.

The Little Prince – Saint Antoine De Exupery
This fable has endeared itself to both young and old alike for more than 40 years. A deeply philosophical book.

Number Fun with a Calendar – P.K. Srinivasan
The calendar hangs on every wall. We see it but never very carefully. That an ordinary calendar has so many lovely number patterns is strikingly brought out in this book.

Water – Rama
A wonderful introduction to one of our greatest resources — water. A simple and lucid book.

UNESCO Sourcebook for Science Teachers

A bible for activity-based science learning. It shows how science can be made joyous and comprehensible for children, by doing simple experiments using ordinary materials used in daily life.

Days with Grandfather – Shankar
This delightful book was written by Shankar — the founder of the Children’s Book Trust. It brings alive the joys of childhood in a quaint village in Kerala. A wonderful book for children.

Sujata and Her Elephant – Shankar
A giant, ferocious, pachyderm responds to the love of a poor village girl. If an animal can respond positively to love and kindness, what about human beings? The book carries a message of love and peace.

Mama Moo On The Swing – Jujja & Thomas Weislander
The first Swedish picture book for children to be reprinted in India. It has lovely illustrations by Sweden’s best-known artist Sven Norksvik.

Dear Pichy – Simret Kaur
The author rears an orphaned baby squirrel. The book sensitively portrays the life and habits of a squirrel. A field naturalist’s insights have been woven into the fabric of the story.

The Child’s Language & the Teacher
The book contains extremely relevant ideas and activities on teaching language to children. These ideas have been distilled from the works of renowned pedagogues. The book is simple and lucid. A must for every language teacher.

Teacher – Sylvia Ashton Warner
First published in 1963, ‘Teacher’ was immediately acclaimed as a seminal work — one which radically altered the way in which we transmit knowledge to the young. ‘Teacher’ is essential reading for all those concerned with helping children grow into life loving adults.

The Song of the Bird – Anthony de Mello
This book is for people of every persuasion — religious and non-religious. It freely draws from the mystical traditions of Buddhism, Zen, Christianity, Hinduism, Sufism. Everyone loves stories with a subtle message of universal, peace, tolerance and freedom.

Swami and Friends – R.K. Narayan
A delightful book by India’s most reputed author. This book describes the pranks, escapades, school experiences of a young boy in a small quaint town in South India. A very popular T. V. serial was made on this book.

Joy of Learning Part I & II
Two extremely well produced books on activity based science and environmental studies. Relevant for middle school children.

Spiders — An Introduction – Vijaya Laxmi
This book introduces the world of spiders both to the layman and the amateur naturalist in simple terms but with professional insights and details. A great book on natural history.

The Indian Elephant – Ajay Desai
Written by a field biologist who studied elephants in the wild for over 12 years. This book is one amongst a series of books edited by the eminent environmentalist Bittu Sahgal on India’s diverse and enchanting wildlife.

Bahurup Gandhi – Anu Bandopadhyay
This is certainly the best book on Gandhi ever written for children. It has a foreword by Jawaharlal Nehru and some brilliant caricatures of Gandhi by the cartoonist R.K. Laxman.

No-Cost, Low-cost, Teaching Aids – Mary Ana Dasgupta
A comprehensive practical guide that gives instructions for making simple teaching aids for primary school.

Danger School! – IDAC Document
The most subversive cartoon book on schools ever written. It tells you how clever children are rendered stupid by the bureaucratic structures of the school. A must for all parents.

UNESCO Sourcebook for the Science in the Primary School – Wynne Harlen Jos Elstgees
This is simply a great book on activity based science teaching using simple materials. Just reprinted by N.B.T. at an unbelievably low price of Rs. 60/-. This book was available abroad for US$ 20. A must for every science teacher.

To Be a Slave – Julius Lester
A Newbery Honour Book. This book is about how it felt to be a slave. It is told through the words of men and women who lived as slaves. One of the most powerful documents to appear in children’s literature.

Against All Odds – Stephen Krensky
This is a book about 4 people who realised the peril to our environment and vowed to do something about it. John Muir saved the Yosemite National Park from ranchers; Rachel Carson, a biologist fought the pesticide industry; Lois Gibbs helped build a neighbourhood on a toxic waste dump and Chicho Mendes died saving the rainforests of Brazil.