When Bengaluru-based writer Bijal Vachharajani decided to write a book for children, she was sure of one thing: “It often perturbs me how grown-ups tell children that they are going to inherit the planet and should do something about it. I was pretty sure I didn't want to burden the children with a dos and don'ts list when it came to the environment – they already have enough homework!”
That informed the nature of her activity-filled book, So You Want to Know About the Environment. It has kids making smog meringues, keenly observing their family’s mood-swings in conjunction with the weather, and even taking quizzes on their own climate-savvy. Refreshingly, it’s also one that focuses on India. “Each section has stories, science, a postcard from someone working in the field, and actions,” she adds.
The non-preachy book has surprising facts for adults too. For instance, did you know that a crow’s beak is often called ‘the Swiss knife of beaks’? In the course of putting this together, Vachharajani has learned a thing or two as well. “In Odisha, I met a group of farmers – the women run a seed bank, saving organic and indigenous species of cotton, rice seeds, as a way of being independent from buying seeds from the market. All I could think was: Now that's a banker!”
The book deftly combines her various interests too. About five years ago, she was studying environment security and peace with a specialisation in climate change at the University for Peace in Costa Rica. The former editor of Time Out Bengaluru actively weighs in on books for children for The Hindu, and her recommended reads can be found on @Bam_Books – an Instagram account she cofounded with Maegan Dobson Sippy that spotlights books for children, especially those with South Asian inspiration.
After you pick up her book, go find some of her recommendations at Le Mill:
We are head-over-heels in love with The Visitor by Upasana Mehndiratta for @kokaachi. A wordless picture book, it's a story about a visitor (well), an unwelcome one perhaps, and then the story begins to unfold. It's about many things including getting over your fears or at least looking them in the eye. Plus we can make our own story with those adorable stickers sent to us. Look at those googly eyes!
Books at Le Mill courtesy Kahani Tree, Mumbai