Going to School in India

Going to School in India

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By: Lisa Heydlauff / Designed by: B.M. Kamath / Photographs by: Nitin Upadhye

Do you cross a rope bridge to get to school? Does your school meet in the middle of the desert? Does your school bus double as a classroom? If you lived in India, you might answer "yes!" In this inspiring book, meet students who overcome these and other challenges -- all for the chance to learn.

Captivating photographs, engaging text and a contemporary, innovative design open a window to this vibrant culture.

With a foreward by Indian actress and education activist Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe 1994.

Look Inside the Book:

Author Bios:

Lisa Heydlauff, author

Lisa Heydlauff believes that our imaginations can change the world. She grew up in England, Canada, and the United States, and now calls India home. Going to School in India was inspired by a seven-year-old British student who asked Lisa, his teacher, "What is it like to go to school in India?"

Read more about Lisa Heydlauff.

B.M. Kamath, designer

B.M. Kamath is a graphic designer, sculptor, painter, illustrator, and animator who lives and works in New Delhi, India. In between projects, he paints on walls, washes them white, and starts again.

Read more about B.M. Kamath.

Nitin Upadhye, photographer

Photographer Nitin Upadhye grew up in the coastal villages of South India. He has traveled around India, taking photographs from mountaintops and practicing Buddhism.

Read more about Nitin Upadhye.

Editorial Reviews:

Washington Post Book Review

"Every school day millions of children go to school in India," begins the foreword to this colorful, eye-opening book. "But each day, at the same time, millions of children in India do not go to school." In response to a question by a 7-year-old English boy, author Lisa Heydlauff set out to show what it's like getting an education across the vast subcontinent. The chapter headings tell it best: We see kids going to school on a mountaintop, after an earthquake, under a mango tree, in the middle of a lake; we see girls going to night school in the dark, boys learning on a railway station platform. Suddenly, school seems a privilege. Part of the proceeds from this book will go to the Global Fund for Children to support community-based education programs worldwide.

School Library Journal

This captivating nonfiction book is filled with a collection of photographs, first-person narratives, and cultural information woven into a multifaceted examination of how children go to school in various parts of India. Some students take cable cars across craggy mountains while others have class in a bus termporarily parked in a city neighborhood. The bright foldout pages, textured backgrounds, and snippets of children's comments contribute to an appealing format for young readers.

Kahani: A South Asian Literary Magazine for Children

While some of your cousins in India may take the bus to school, eat sandwiches and fruit in the cafeteria, and play after-school sports -- not much different from the way you do -- many children in India experience school in a much different way.

In the many stories in Going to School in India, children talk about going to school on a mountaintop in Kashmir or going to school on a railway station platform in Orissa. They share an issue of Wallpaper, a newspaper written and edited by 12 boys who live and work on the street. Wallpaper is pasted on the walls of New Delhi for everyone to read. They describe government session under a mango tree where Suresh, age 9, from Pura Village in Madhya Pradesh says, "In my opinion, all children in India deserve a chance to go to school and to learn things that they would like to learn." Most importantly, they reveal their lives outside of school, their likes and dislikes, and the changes they would like to bring to their communities.

But each day, at the same time, millions of children do not attend school. Many children have to work to help their families survive. Some cannot afford textbooks and pencils. Some children find that the school is taught in a language they cannot understand. And others are treated differently because they practice another religion.

All the stories in this book can help us learn to see and appreciate the many difference that exist among children in other parts of the world. The book is a celebration of what school can be. "What is it like where you go to school?" says Suresh.

Through The Looking Glass

Every day millions of children all over India go to school. Each and every day "they come because they believe going to school can change their lives." This may not sound like much, but it is monumental when you consider what many of these children have to do to be able to have an education.

Getting to school can, in and of itself, be a challenge for Indian children. In the west, most children get to school by bus, car, on foot, or on a bike. In India, you also see children travelling to school in a contraption called a Chackara, in a man-pulled rickshaw, in a horse and carriage, in a cycle rickshaw, in an auto rickshaw, in a school bus, in a camel cart, in an army truck, on a bicycle, in a bullock cart, and in a vallam (a kind of small boat). In addition, children in parts of India have to cross rivers on bamboo bridges, rope bridges, and even in a "wooden swing attached to a long cable by two giant pulleys."

The unique ways in which Indian children get to school is not the only unusual thing that readers will read about in this special book. There is the story of Stanzin, an eight-year-old boy who lives in Ladakh, a mountainous area in northern India. Stanzin and his classmates have to climb more than two kilometers uphill to their school, which has no electricity. In winter, a firewood stove barely keeps the school warm.

In Gujarat, an earthquake destroyed numerous houses and schools. Biku Bhai and his friends got tired of waiting to have a new school built, so he and his friends decided that they should have their school in the courtyard. The teachers agreed, and now the children "sit in the scorching heat in a place with no ceiling." Harsh though it is, it is still better that not going to school at all. At school the children talk about the earthquake, they make little model houses, and they dare to believe that one day they will have real homes of their own again.

Packed with inspiring stories, and full of gorgeous full color photos, this is a book that will help school age children to better understand and appreciate what it means to go to school in India. Through the words of the children who appear in the book, readers will discover that going to school may at times be a trial, but it is also a gift.

This book was developed by the Gobal Fund for Children, a non-profit that "provides capital to strengthen innovative community-based organizations serving the most vulnerable children and youth," and that harnesses " the power of children's books, films, and photography to promote global understanding."


Millions of children in India go to school, though the circumstances of their education are often very different. Readers will learn how various young people in that country get to school, how they dress, what they eat, what they learn, and more in this browsable Global Fund for Children book featuring colorful photos and a vibrant design.


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ISBN: 978-1-57091-666-3

Ages: 9-12
Page count: 98

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