Last weekend was movie time at our house. Everybody was down with the flu, including my two toddler-aged children. When nobody feels like moving (not even their eyeballs), movies are an easy choice. But a tougher choice is which movies to watch.
For example, my boy loves dinosaurs. I mean, he is absolutely obsessed with dinosaurs! He can identify and pronounce all of them in his books, knows when each of them lived, distinguishes between carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores, and can even describe how big they were compared to modern objects. When we go to the library, he checks out dinosaur books. When we go to the museum, he looks at dinosaurs. When we get sick, he watches dinosaur movies.
But there’s one problem. He doesn’t want to read books or watch movies about cartoons or “unrealistic” dinosaurs. On the other hand, books and movies with “realistic” material are also chock-full of grisly death scenes, such as T-Rexes ripping each others' arms off, or a Gallimimus sticking its entire head into the carcass of a Brachiosaurus. Then there’s the endless discussion of the infamous asteroid that “wiped out the dinosaurs.”
Sure, it’s all science, but my boy doesn’t yet know how to make sense of sword-fighting, let alone cannibalism or apocalyptic destruction… and certainly not when it’s on every page or in every other movie scene. (Can you imagine what happens when an intellectually curious and emotionally sensitive toddler latches onto the idea that an asteroid could theoretically crash into the earth and kill every human on it?)
I’m not for a minute claiming that it is the responsibility of books or movie designers to tailor material to my boy's needs. But what I am highlighting, once again, is the difficulty of finding suitable material for young children with advanced intellectual interests.
It is with this challenge in mind that I wrote Chaturanga – a book that contains adult-level intellectual concepts but without violence or adult “emotional” themes. And I don’t think my family is alone in wanting these types of books. Just a few days ago, I received a message from a dad who is reading the book with his 10-year-old son! This testimonial pleased me beyond words – this is exactly the niche group I had in mind when I wrote the book.
So, to all you parents out there: Chaturanga is a book your young reader will be able to read and enjoy – and come away with a good understanding of history, geography, and current events – without you having to worry about any adult “surprises”!