June 20, 2015

Grandfather Ghandi - A Picture Book with a Message for the World

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

This is my favorite quote. I post it in my classroom every year.  It embodies the kind of leadership I wish to model for my students and the kind of leadership I wish for my students to exhibit in and out of our classroom.


I couldn't believe my luck when one of the Texas Bluebonnet Book Nominees this year was about one of my personal heroes. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book and it did not disappoint!

Grandfather Gandhi
by Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus

Grandfather Gandhi is the story of Gandhi's grandson Arun.  Told through the eyes of a child, the story shows Arun struggling to be as "good" as his grandfather and live up to his family name.

I mean... can you imagine the pressure?!? Totally understandable.

He experiences many of the same frustrating situations all children (and adults) experience.  At times he feels forgotten and unimportant. He gets pushed and shoved on the soccer field. He has days where everything seems to go wrong. He is a totally normal kid and has a totally normal responses to things that happen in his daily life.
He experiences the same anger we all feel when an injustice has been done to us whether large or small. But he feels especially guilty for feeling angry because he is a Gandhi.

After a particularly bad day, Arun runs to his grandfather for help. He explains his horrible day and how the anger is bubbling up inside him ready to burst out.
The book beautifully captures Gandhi's explanation to his grandson.

"Anger can strike, like lightning, and split a living tree in two," he said. "Or it can be channeled, transformed. A switch can be flipped, and it can shed light like a lamp. Then anger can illuminate. It can turn darkness into light."          -Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi & Bethany Hegedus

What Gandhi so eloquently explains to his grandson is that we all feel anger. It is what we decide to do with our anger that matters. And we all have the power to choose how we handle our anger. We can lash out or we can channel our anger into making a positive change in the world. It is in this moment that Arun decides to channel his anger into light just like his grandfather. Powerful!

The illustrations in the book are incredible. They are mixture of watercolor, paper collage, cotton fabric, yarn gouache, pencil, tea, and tin foil.  Each page is a masterpiece to look at and allows the spirit of the story to jump off the page. It is truly captivating.

In the end, this powerful book leaves you with an incredible message.  Live your life as light.

I cannot wait to read this book to my class at the beginning of the year. It will tie in perfectly during the first few weeks when we teach the 7 habits. If you are also at a Leader In Me school, then this is a must have book for you too. It captures the essence of what it means to be proactive verses reactive and opens the door for incredible discussions with your class. It is an absolute gem of a picture book. And don't forget to read the author's note in the back. It is a powerful message to us all filled with compassion, love, and hope for the world.

"Be the change you wish you see in this world." - Mahatma Gandhi


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