In a village in India, a young girl walks Aaji—the Indian name for grandmother—to her school. Dressed in her uniform, a bright pink sari, and carrying her abacus, reader, slate, and chalk, Aaji and her granddaughter make their way to a one-room hut built by a local teacher as a school for grandmothers. The women have many skills and much life experience, but they haven’t had the opportunity to learn to read, write, and count.
Though some of the village men think it’s a waste of time to teach elderly women literacy skills, many villagers support them. When Aaji learns to sign her name, read the alphabet, and count, her life is transformed. She’s no longer vulnerable to being cheated and mistreated. In an author’s note, Rina Singh explains that her narrative is based on a true story. In the remote village of Phangane, India, a local school teacher, Yogendra Bangar, noticed that almost all the people in the village could read, write, and count, except for the grandmothers. In March 2016, he established the Aajibaichi Shala—Grandmother School. Twenty-nine grandmothers joined that year and acquired new skills. Singh concludes, “These courageous grandmothers escaped the prison of illiteracy and no longer endure this shame.”
This sweet, inspirational, and brightly illustrated children’s picture book celebrates the encouraging, affectionate relationship between a child and her grandmother, and acclaims the life-changing power of literacy. (Orca Book Publishers)