Publisher: The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) Press
Price: INR 225
“Dung beetles? Ewww!” screamed my little niece as I tried to get her to listen to the very first story in the book. I firmly switched off the TV and showed her the picture. “What is it sitting on?” she asked. “Dung, of course!” I replied, but by that time her mind had already raced ahead to read the first words “I roll and roll, stick and fold, till it’s high, till it’s tall, big and bigger, a round dung ball.” The rhyme delighted her and she repeated it to herself. “Wouldn’t you like to hear beetle’s story?” I asked hopefully. “Ok,” she said as I rejoiced at finally managing to grab her complete attention.
What followed was a charming tale that introduced the little brat to a new jungle creature that none of her friends knew about. At an unconscious level, the story also impressed on her little mind important values of hope and perseverance.
Conventional school education does make an effort to introduce children to the environment around us; however, the syllabus is out-dated and boring. Students scarcely study the subject and merely end up reading the textbook one day before the exam. The rich and informative nature of ‘The Land of the Setting Sun and Other Jungle Tales’ by Arefa Tehsin and Raza H Tehsin could very well lend itself to be a part of the school syllabus for environmental education. The book’s lucid language blends fact and fiction to churn out eight entertaining stories about little known animals and their importance in the world. However, it would have been nice if the book had a few colour illustrations as well.
Thanks to the omnipresent digital screens and textbooks, school children do not even look up to observe the flora and fauna around them. The least we can do as parents, teachers and mentors is to introduce the kids to the environment through books and trails; the children will do the rest. As Bittu Sahgal once said, that it is not worrisome that we are turning our backs on nature, what’s worrisome is that it is the other way round.
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