BookPeople and AISD celebrate Grandfather Gandhi in the classroom!

~Post by Meghan G.

As part of our mission to foster a love of reading in Austin and actively engage young readers in our community, BookPeople is so pleased to announce we’ll continue to partner with Austin ISD’s Office of Academics to develop in-depth curriculum tie-in resources that bring great books to life for Austin students.

We launched our program together with AISD and local author Shana Burg during the 2013-2014 school year to build on Burg’s novel Laugh with the Moon. Together, we created art, social studies, and music units and connected students in classrooms from 40 schools with Malawi pen pals. The program culminated in a special event at BookPeople that connected Austin student ambassadors with a select group of pen pals via Skype. This rewarding program showed us how much could be gained by working together.

This year we had the great fortune to collaborate with a large committee from AISD’s Office of Academics as well as Austin author Bethany Hegedus to develop programming around Grandfather Gandhi, the book Bethany co-wrote with Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi. We could see early on that this story was perfect for our program, offering an introduction to the personal side of a great man as well as prompting all of us as readers to think about our own formative relationships and challenging us to channel negative emotions into positive action. Bethany has been incredibly generous with her time in order to make this program happen, saying, “Knowing the book has such day to day applications and brings the work of Gandhi to life for kids never fails to make all the work on the book more than worth it.”

We have been so happy to see over 50 area schools run writing workshops, art programs, social studies units, and a variety of other projects that all tied into the district-wide No Place for Hate campaign and Arun Gandhi’s national Season of Nonviolence.

Amanda Braziel, participating librarian from Maplewood Elementary, tells us that she has been sharing “…background historical and geographical information on India and Gandhi with every grade level and read the book to each of the upper grade classes during their weekly library visits, while the lower grade teachers are reading it to their students and conducting lessons in their classrooms. Even the art teacher is using the art lesson plans and reading excerpts of the book to Maplewood students. We’re also hosting a school-wide Peaceful Heroes door decorating celebration to extend the idea that individuals can channel their strong feelings to create lasting improvements to ‘be the change’ they wish to see in our world.”

Bethany Hegedus, Arun Gandhi, and Evan Turk (the book’s incredibly talented illustrator) were able to go around to a number of Austin schools this week and shared some photos from their events.

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And they came by the store and signed a huge pile of books for BookPeople customers too. Signed stock will be available instore and online as long as supplies last!

stock signing

Reflecting on the success of this year’s initiative and looking forward to our plans for next year to celebrate The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, local author Jacqueline Kelly’s sequel to the Newbery Honor book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, program committee member Angela Ward, Austin ISD Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness adds that this program, in her mind, helps “…push our campuses to have hard conversations about difference and encourage our students to embrace difference in their daily lives. We are looking forward to Calpurnia Tate next year! Thanks, BookPeople, for encouraging our students to learn about multiple perspectives!”

And we say thanks right back! This kind of literary collaboration is really what makes Austin the vibrant community of readers that we are so proud to be a part of. If you aren’t familiar with Grandfather Gandhi yet, come in and grab a copy signed by all three collaborators while they last!

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