Children, War and Books

History classes in school weren’t very interesting. Though the books had all the events covered, falling between timelines, classes were mostly filled with bland readings and pages full of names, places and numbers. History became more of a learning subject rather than understanding.

Leaving aside these books of facts and information,… monuments and palaces on trips, were eye-openers. For the young eyes, they were a proof of all the things mentioned in the books. The lives lived, the men killed and the battles won (or lost). However, as I grew older, the extraordinariness of the characters, the kings and queens, faded a great deal. (Like how we come to terms with celebrities being normal people as us.)

At the age of 27, I made a decision to begin reading again. And the best way I thought, was to start off with children’s books. I strongly believe, that when you are about to pursue something seriously, let go off your ego and begin from the foundation. Go through the ABCs before ‘acting’ your age. So, Ruskin Bond and Roald Dahl it was.

Soon, the track shifted as I came across ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas ‘ under Amazon recommendation. ‘I haven’t read a book like this’, I thought, going through the description. (I hadn’t seen the movie too).

Ordered. Read. And spellbound at the new revelation I was absorbed in… War plus children! Children and their perspective! The situations they dealt with at such a tender age in those difficult times. Grave realities mixed with innocent questions and unaddressed feelings. The fantasized imaginative minds seeing the real horror and uncertainties! Still making friends, still smiling, still getting into all sorts of naughtiness…

History came alive again. This time not through monuments or facts. But through lives of really simple and ordinary people. This time I could really empathise at the loss or win. Because this time it wasn’t about territories won or wealth. It was about relationships lost. About children growing up too fast. About the effect of the greatest events of history on the tiniest households.

I realized, I needed more study regarding the Wars. I ordered few more books, all revolving around the same.

Little Women. Skylarks’ War and The Dollmaker of Krakow.

The Skylarks’ War broke me into tears but stitched me up at the end.

Little Women is a little on the tough vocabulary side, yet to finish it.

The Dollmaker of Krakow as per reviews is another brilliant book. I didn’t begin reading it.

I would say, if you are looking for good books on War, these are some of them.

Next, I am planning to buy, ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’.

As happily as I would again go back to read Ruskin Bond, Wodehouse, Enid Blyton, I would love to gather deeper insight on Wars. So, please suggest more!

This is an enriching journey!

Illustration for this post…dedicated to children:

Original illustration by Rajendrani Dutta (me) .
The Play Gun

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