Why Twinkle Khanna wants to tell tales of triumph over obstacles
Heroes don’t always wear capes, the popular saying goes. And a new book proves just that: anything is possible if you follow your heart. When I grow up I want to be (Book 2) follows on from the success of the first in the series and is filled with more inspiring stories of real heroes. Published by Twinkle Khanna’s Tweak Books with Juggernaut, and put together by his team of editors, the book is peppered with delightful illustrations by Aaryama Somayaji. Imagery, both visual and literary, strives to make stories, often layered and complex, accessible to children ages 8 and up.
In the 20 chapters, we meet Supraja Dharini, who has helped more than 18,000,000 baby turtles return safely to the wild, Showkath Jamal, a surfer concerned with keeping the environment clean, and young Saarang Sumesh, the creator. of the smart seat. belt, which can detect if a car is upside down and automatically unbuckles when passengers can exit safely. Khanna introduces children to the notions of freedom of expression through the story of Perumal Murugan and that motherhood goes beyond gender through the chapter on Gauri Sawant.
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In her previous interviews, Khanna has spoken of books as toolboxes, with hammers, chisels and more, borrowed from divergent lives. Through When I grow upâ¦, she wants children to see the world as full of possibilities rather than probabilities. âThere are other paths instead of the doctor-lawyer path, which we hear everywhere. There is hope and happiness even when the seemingly short life changes you. Our stories are about triumphing over obstacles, which may be physical in nature or erected by social perspectives, âKhanna wrote in an email interview.
The book is sprinkled with delightful illustrations by Aaryama Somayaji like this one about rickshaw driver Javed Khan. Image: courtesy of Tweak Books / Juggernaut
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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Is a question most of us have encountered in our childhood. However, the fluid and imaginative ideas of a child are often incongruous with what an adult society desires. The team, through the book, offers children identifiable heroes, who have chosen to forge unique paths. âThese are people the kids could look up to and say, ‘If she can do it, so can I.’ They had to be stories that would spark conversations within families about the environment, LGBTQ issues, women’s rights, resilience and determination, âshe adds.
The Tweak team scoured reports, documentaries and digitized lists of prestigious award recipients. After several conversations, Khanna and the team narrowed the selection down to 20 people, who had consistently contributed to their domains. They gave them nicknames, such as “Ballet Boy”, “Forest Man”, “Mama Kaur” and “Smart Banker” to imbue subjects with the aura of superheroes and to serve as memory tools to help. kids to remember a story instantly just by the title.
One of the most touching stories concerns Bibi Prakash Kaur, who runs Unique Home for Abandoned Girls in Jalandhar, Punjab. Through the chapter ‘Mama Kaur’, we realize the possibilities of having different types of families, which are not necessarily biological in nature. âWe clearly wanted the book to be inclusive in nature. Bibi Kaur’s story is also one of my favorites. And I remember wanting Perumal Murugan included in our list after reading about his amazing trip. He started out by reading scraps of newspapers, which served as wrappers for condiments and snacks, and is now one of India’s most beloved writers, âsays Khanna. âWe have included kids like Saarang Sumesh, who invented the smart seat belt so kids can find a hero among their peers. “
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It is not only a book for children or young adults, but also for parents. Often times, we tend to make complex topics too simplistic or avoid them altogether. When I grow up… provides parents with the opportunity to discuss the inspiring heroes / heroines of today and helps adults realize that there are different ways of thinking. âAs children we form preconceived notions of the world in large part because of what adults help us. I hope this book will help break this ongoing cycle, âsays Khanna.
And she hopes that by reading these stories aloud to children, or answering a multitude of their questions, adults will also be transformed. âI know that many aspects of my way of thinking about gender or colorism, or my own blind spots, have been reexamined by the questions raised by my children, and often through the books they read,â he says. -she. âI used to read The Little Prince aloud to my children. This was billed as a children’s book, but it was intended for adults. It was a simple story my kids could follow about a prince from another planet, stranded in the desert, and as far as I was concerned, an allegory about life, loneliness and love. I hope When I grow upâ¦ also works on several narrative levels.
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