Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

Summary:  In this companion to Grandfather Gandhi, Arun Gandhi tells of his experiences as a child living in the ashram started by his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi.  The ashram, devoted to living simply and nonviolently, had eleven vows.  The one young Arun struggled with the most was the vow not to waste.  One day, he threw away a stub of pencil and went to his grandfather to ask for a new one.  Big mistake. Grandfather told him he had to look in the tall grasses where he had thrown his away to find it.  His grandfather then had Arun create a tree on the wall where he would add “leaves” that were acts of passive violence, like wastefulness.  As the tree grew, so did Arun’s understanding of how his actions, even ones that seemed harmless, could create violence in the world.  Eventually, he came to see the truth of some of his grandfather’s most famous words, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  A note from the authors explains more about not wasting resources, and there is a “Be the Change Pledge” for readers to make.  48 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  Difficult concepts are related from a child’s perspective, strikingly illustrated by Evan Turk.  With adult guidance, kids will come away from this book with new perspectives on what constitutes nonviolence and how they can help create peace in the world.

Cons:  There’s a lot for young readers to grasp.

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