History Resources

//aarohilife.org/home/sites/default/files/download (1).jpg

The list below is Complied from the discussion initiated from Aparna on alt-ed-india yahoo egroup. For sake of privacy we have only mentioned the contributors name not emails etc. Pl visit alt-ed-india yahoo group for more details

Here is Aparna’s email “My daughter is 11 and studies school textbooks as part of her studies at home. This morning she was reading a chapter on the ‘Important kings of India’, and found that only rulers — actually empire-builders from the North of the country had been covered. There was just one ruler from South, and great tribal rulers were left out. And I guess it was only to be expected that all the recorded rulers were male. I wonder if anyone can help me find good books on Indian and world history suitable for the age-group of 10-15. Books on history of tribals, cultural history, history of science and so on are also welcome”

From email by parvathi muthanna

Some writers that kids would enjoy reading.

Subadra sengupta, who’s been writing prolifically in this genre, covering many different periods in Indian history…both from the perspective of the rulers and elite, and from the commoner’s viewpoint. Some of these books might be out of print so chk second hand stores

‘Bishnu the dhobi singer’ and ‘Bisnu sings again’ are set in Mughal India, aboutt a dhobi boy who gets to be trained by tansen! ‘it;s from harper and collins

for scholastic books, she’s written 2 books in scholastics ‘princess diary’ series on Jahanara and Jodh Bai..

the diary that my daughter devoured (repeatedly, i must add) is sengupta’s “give us freedom: Diary of Keya

Ganguly” set in pre-independence calcutta…a family where the father is an uptight ICS officer and brown sahib, while keya’s brother is a dyed in the wool freedom fighter. great book.

Kartik’s War’ is about an out-of-a-job soldier (after ashoka renounces war!), a historical thriller with lots of action and masala

in scholastic’s series of ‘commoners’ diaries, is ‘the diary of Bir Singh’], 1647′ abt a young orphaned marble sculptor, who migrates from rajathan with his family to work on the Taj..it’s by Prathibha nath, well-written and abt a life of struggle in the labour camps.

shashi despande’s ‘the Narayanpur incident’ (Puffin) is pre independence and good

monisha mukundan’s ‘Sanghamitra’ (on ashoka’s daughter’ -scholastic) and ‘horses for vijayanagar’ thriller set in the Deccan, are worth looking out for.

deepa agarwal, a prolific writer for kids has written ‘caravan to tibet’ (puffin/penguin)…i haven’t read this book, but can vouch for the fact she’s a good writer, who’ll keep any kid engaged

in a book i’ve written, ‘Tenaliraman’ (by kavitha mandana)(penguin)…i’ve tried to put tenali in his historical context, which is really the peak of the vijaynagar golden age…so tho’ it has teanli’s stories, it’s also got a fair amount of history.

in a non-indian context, my favourite writter to get kids thinking is ‘Elizabeth Laird’…this

woman has lived and worked in all the world’s trouble spots that she writes abt…so her books are a great starting point for discussions. ‘A little piece of ground’ is set in Isreali-occupied palistine andis the touching story of a bunch of teenage boys trying to play football, but cannot because of the fear of Israeli tanks and rockets…a very good book, which created a controversy with jewish lobbies trying to have the book banned. ‘Garbage king’ is set in Ethiopia, where the author had lived, and is abt the street children…these are important books because it gives our kids a chance to view these countries in a new light, i.e, as culturally rich and vibrant communities with great histories, but that the current media tends to dismiss as ‘basket cases’. laird apparently also lived in india for a while, so there might even be a good book or two set here, but i haven’t come across it.

pratham books have also brought some interesting (more for younger kids than 11-13) series on history

couple of books that might make sense to stock in the ‘family library’ not for a

11-yr old to read on her own, but for the family to explore together are ‘The Mughal world’ by abraham eraly…very interesting regarding life beyond the rulers. (penguin) and Oxford University press’s ‘Women Writing in India’ 600 BC to the present day’…there are 2 volumes. more than the actual writings, the biographical notes on the writers will fill in many gaps in social history…so we learn abt the lives of buddhist nuns, tamil sangam poets, wandering bards and mystics, rebels, accomplished courtesans, freedom fights….it’s a classic. editors susie tharu and k laitha have accomplished a mammoth task and this book can be used like an encyclopedia…to be dipped into now and then, and not read thru in intimidating sessions….

For the era of Shivaji Maharaj as ruler, we can definitely refer to the films made by Shri Bhalaji Pendharkar in Marathi. Though these are in Marathi, I think visually also they potray the times and the history beautifully. There are many films based on this era.

if anybody is having access to these VCDs/DVDs or the source from where we get them please, let us know. Also, visiting the forts and places can be a good idea aprat from watching the movies, reading. As we can relate history in a better fashion if we actually first gather data (using net, books etc.) then see it.(movies, places etc.)

From email by Meena Ramji

We go from the “near to the far” …meaning we start off with something that is in focus for us right now…e.g recently we went on a trip to Rameshwaram/ Dhanushkodi and we have come up with a study unit which traces the history of Dhanushkodi from the Ramayana period to now! ๐Ÿ™‚ Another e.g. …Though we do not watch TV at home, the media’s influence does trickle down (through

neighbours, a casual glance at the newspaper somewhere etc), which in turn leads us to questions like – “Why is there conflict in the Middle East?” Again we use that as a cue to locate the regions on the map, trace the history (using the internet, talking to older people who were around when it “all” started…) and through all this we try and retain an open approach. We consciously refrain from qualifiers like good and bad acknowledging that there are two sides to a coin.

An added advantage is that history is not an isolated set of events that we study about. It is interwoven with Geography (we analyze hurricane patterns, names of oceans, distances) etc, English (report writing, editing, stories woven, comprehension etc), Art (pictures to illustrate our report, craft to simulate art-work of the region etc). I guess you can even tie in Maths and Science for good measure ๐Ÿ™‚

Now coming to the resources we use – based on the topic of interest, my husband and I do extensive research on the internet to find pieces of information which we then put together for a unit study. Maps are either hand drawn/bought depending on need. Talking to people who’ve been there/done that…is another approach we follow…e.g. Freedom struggle in India….our parents have a perspective to offer on this one!…

From email by Manju

Jodhaa Akbar” and felt that it does convey some of the main facts about Mughal rule at the time of Akbar though the main plot could be fictional. If you think it’s valid, lets try to compile a list of good films to watch. Obviously “Gandhi”, “Asoka”,(I did not watch it hence can’t comment on historical accuracy), “Garam Hawa”, etc.

Secondly, Amar Chitra Kathas are good for concise descriptions and incidents…the graphic medium is really good for memorisation I feel. They have compilations now like Rajput Kings, Woman Rulers of India and so on. They have modern figures too, like Kalpana Chawla.


Nehru’s books are written in very lucid style..if the child is a voracious reader, these will suit her.

The seed or trigger for this creative exercise would be a discussion arising out of a film, a book, an object – for example if we take a kanjeevaram silk sari

there is a history behind it, if we look at the President of the USA there is a lot of history to be understood! Then fiction can be a wonderful starting point. There are so many early American and Canadian children’s books, and of course so many British authors. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Last of The Mohicans, and many others. For a child who likes reading, its easy to absorb a lot of history even from the light fiction novels of say Nevil Shute (early air travel, World War Stories, futuristic tales of nuclear war aftermath) or Alistair McLean (many Second World War stories). One could discuss these aspects with the child after reading a certain book, then do some net research.

There is a series of books called the Magic Tree House http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/magictreehouse/ which is certainly suitable for a child who is not that heavily into reading. Do check them out. Another modern children’s author to check out would be Terry Cleary. You could also get her “The Lottie Project” by Jacqueline Wilson for a description of a very interesting history project.

The Children’s Book Trust (CBT) also has a few books on Indian history.

From email by Latha


Discovery of India is available on dvd too.

From email by Lalitha

For history, try


http://www.kamat.com/ – a really enjoyable site containing exactly what it’s name Kamat’s Potpourri promises!

From email by bhuvana

There is the 7 volume series published by the Institute of Culture called ‘The Cultural Heritage of India’. It is wonderful. ‘The Atlas of World History’ by Parragon Publishing is also excellent.

From email by aditi

A book on foreign travellers who came to India in the past – that seeks to look at the past in context – is a book I worked on that has just come out. Its published by Penguin and called ‘In the country of gold-digging ants -2000 years of travel in India’ (author Anu Kumar) .