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Monday, January 23, 2017

Saraswati's Way -- Multicultural Children's Book Day Review

Disclosure: Monika Schroder gave me a copy of this book free of charge for this review in return for an honest review. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation.  As in all my reviews I am providing links for your ease, but receive no compensation.

Can you believe Multicultural Children's Book Day is on Friday? I cannot wait to see all the great books reviewed in the link up on Friday. I am a co-host so you can see them here!!
http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/

Today I get to share a book that is for ages 11-14 though I think even older kids and adults will enjoy this one. The book itself gives the reader a glance at what life is like for people in poverty in India. In fact the main character, Akash, ends up living on the streets in Delhi. The book is Saraswati's Way by Monika Schroder.


https://www.amazon.com/Saraswatis-Way-Monika-Schroder/dp/1250044200/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485223229&sr=8-1&keywords=Saraswati%27s+Way

We follow Akash through life with his poor family, losing his father and being sent to work to pay off the family debt. Akash has a gift with numbers and wants to continue school but his family does not have the money to make this happen. In fact after his father dies they do not have the money for him to go to school and not work. This book looks into the troubles of life from drugs to being dependent on the weather as farmers, to child labor and needing money for a dowry for his female cousin. 
A Saraswati Statue in park
Saraswati Statue in Park By Richard Friedericks (Saraswati) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Throughout this story is information about Hinduism. Akash is Hindu and he follows his religion and prays to the gods throughout the book. He keeps hoping Saraswati, a Hindu goddess, will help him find away to go to the next school.  The book also introduces the reader to the culture of India. The social classes as well as the various rules about marriage, mourning, and more. There is also an introduction to Vedic Math. Numbers are often where Akash turns for normalcy and he uses Vedic Math methods to mentally calculate.

Vedic Math are methods that were reconstructed from Sanskrit texts by Sri Bharati Krsna Tirthaj between 1911 and 1918. In the author's note, Schroder suggests visiting Vedic Maths Now the math teacher in me is fascinated with this. I haven't had much time to really check it out yet but love the methods for quick mental calculations. To go with this book I recommend checking out Vedic Maths and trying some of their tutorials

Overall I have to say I really enjoyed this story. There were times when I was brought to tears and others when I could not believe how hard life is for some people. This book gives a look at life many do not think about but many live every day. Schroder lived and taught in India and this book is based on some of the things she saw and learned while there. I am going to pass my copy on to the fourth grade teacher at Hazel's school because I know she has a special interest in India (and has visited there). I also know she will know who to pass the book on so it can get added to a curriculum or the school library. It is a great book with a sad yet hopeful story and a look at a culture different than your own (most likely). 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books



We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:
MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i