Title: Perseverance with Janaki Ammal (Learning to be series)
Author: Pervin Saket
Illustrator: Annada Menon
Publisher: AdiDev Press Pvt Ltd
Type: Board Book
Age Group: The Publisher recommends this series for 4-8 years. I think this particular book would be better understood by an older child.
Amongst the many qualities we hope our children imbibe, determination and perseverance are probably on top of the list. With the many distractions they face nowadays, teaching them about being focused and persevering towards their passion, is important, particularly because perseverance can be a hard concept to explain to a child. It is no wonder then that I was very keen to read the book “Perseverance with Janaki Ammal” to my 5 year old.
Janaki Ammal was an Indian botanist who was renowned world over for her knowledge on plant breeding, and her contribution has been extremely important in India’s agriculture sector – be it developing high yielding variety of brinjal or sweetened sugarcane. Most importantly, she did all of this, fighting against social odds at a time when girls were not allowed to go to school and when people from certain castes were not allowed to pursue certain professions.
As an adult, when I read about Janaki Ammal’s journey, I found it inspiring but when I read it to my 5 year old, I was met with a blank look because he found it very difficult to comprehend certain concepts. My son knows about the existence of a higher power, but has not been introduced to organised religion and is miles away from understanding issues of casteism. While I pondered over explaining casteism to him, I realised that it is not an issue I wish to introduce to a 5 year old, as he is too young to understand why certain sections of people behave in a particular way while others don’t – in his little mind, we are all the same and treat everyone the same, and I didn’t want to change that at this age, particularly when we strive so hard to practice equality. The book would be apt for slightly older readers though.
What my son did enjoy in the book were the illustrations and introductions to topics like World War and plant breeding. He was fascinated by the idea that scientists can change the taste of a plant, and make it sweeter! As a parent who is always looking for books with a strong female character, reading a book about a female Indian scientist, who made a mark globally, was wonderful.
There is another book on Janaki Ammal which Shipra has reviewed that I plan to read after this.
This book is part of a bookset called WOMEN IN SCIENCE. You can read reviews of other books in the series here:
Commitment With Bibha Chowdhuri (by Arundhati)
Passion with Aditi Pant (by Punidha)
Courage with Anandibai Joshee (by Kanishka)
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