Making history fun again!
History is great fun, and that’s exactly how it should be presented, feels Archana Garodia Gupta and Shruti Garodia, authors of The History of India for Children.
With a lifelong passion for books, languages, travel and history, Archana Garodia Gupta has a knack for weaving delightful nuggets of information into engaging tales. A leading national quizzer, she has won the ‘Champion of Champions’ title from BBC Mastermind India. She regularly writes articles on history and business for magazines, and was seen on national television as a member of the expert panel on Kaun Banega Crorepati. She was the national president of the FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) in 2015–16.
An incurable reader and writer, Shruti Garodia has an abiding love of history, especially through storytelling. She is a keen traveller, and loves new places and experiences. When not exploring historic sites and museums around the world, she can often be found trying new adventures – scuba diving in Egypt, trekking to Machu Picchu, skiing in the Alps, or learning to sail a yacht in Greece. Shruti is passionate about retaining the natural curiosity of children, and is developing modules to make history and complicated concepts accessible to young minds by crafting them into simple, fun stories.
Together, they have crafted The History of India for Children Vol. 1 & II, published by Hachette India. Here, Archana & Shruti share their experience of writing this book and more.
AABP: Tell us about your new book – the inception inspiration & reason behind it.
Archana & Shruti: We are both very passionate about history in general, and Indian history in particular. With this book, we want it to be not just a dull chronology, but a must-have and very readable reference book that is filled with the amazing events and people in India’s past that make our country what it is.
We also love storytelling, especially to children. It’s important to us that young Indians feel connected to what is around them – the buildings they see, the culture and atmosphere they experience, and even the food they eat. History is great fun, and that’s exactly how we feel it should be presented!
AABP: Describe your journey as an author, what were your best moments?
Archana & Shruti: We thoroughly enjoyed reading the hundreds of books we referred to in the course of our research, particularly the first-hand accounts and memoirs written across the ages, and frequently stumbling across a treasure trove of remarkable (and often forgotten) information that gives our history its texture and colour.
AABP: What age group of children will enjoy your book? What do you feel would be the most interesting part/element?
Archana & Shruti: The book is suitable for readers aged 10 years and above. However, we do believe that, with its 360-degree view, this book will appeal to all kinds and ages – students, competitive exam takers, quizzers and history buffs alike – as it is thorough, has been written in a chatty style and has hundreds of little known, fascinating facts.
AABP: How time-consuming was the research for the book?
Archana & Shruti: As our book spans the history of India and so has both great scope and great depth, it took a lot of effort to research, cross-check and verify each and every sentence printed in the book. It took years of research and writing, in which we referred to more than 500 books and publications.
AABP: Any difficulties or challenge you faced?
Archana & Shruti: One issue that kept cropping up was how to reconcile the often conflicting accounts of history that are available to us. By far the biggest challenge we faced, though, was that the first draft of the book was four times the length of the final 2-volume version. We found it heartwrenching to have to pick and choose from the breadth and depths of our history, and regretted whatever we had to leave out.
AABP: As writers, what do you aim to achieve when you start writing?
Archana & Shruti: We would love to see many, many children as passionate and interested in India’s history and heritage as we are!
AABP: What next can the readers expect from you?
Archana & Shruti: Archana has another book slated to release in the next few months called The Women Who Ruled India, about the life of 20 powerful women in Indian history, some famous, and some hardly known, also published by Hachette.
AABP: What writing/publishing advice do you give to aspiring writers of any age?
Archana & Shruti: One simple mantra – just start! The rest will follow eventually.
AABP: We live in a time when children have numerous choices. How to motivate children to read.
Archana & Shruti: Parents have to start when their children are young. They should make sure there are many interesting books around the house and make the time to read to their kids regularly. Of course, it helps if the parents themselves are keen readers.
Parents should keep connecting their children with books about topics they are already interested in, and also drop fascinating facts and quotes from books into conversation… to hook them!
Lastly it’s really important to move with the times and encourage children to read on whatever media they feel comfortable with.
AABP: How has been your experience with your publisher?
Archana & Shruti: It was a real pleasure working with Hachette, who were amazingly supportive throughout this long journey, and particularly our amazing editor, Vatsala Kaul-Bannerjee.