Gandhi: A March to the Sea

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Gandhi: A March to the Sea Book Poster Image
Lovely, poignant look at key moment in Indian history.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
The story is a primer on Gandhi and the independence movement in India. It touches on Gandhi's principles and methods, the political situation, and the religious diversity in India. Additional material -- including an introduction, map, and source notes -- provides opportunities to explore further.
Positive Messages
Gandhi's march illustrates that not all laws are just and fair, and such laws deserve to be challenged. Gandhi's path tactfully focuses on a pernicious law with a message of empowerment and minimal confrontation.
Positive Role Models & Representations
Gandhi, of course, exemplifies the power of peaceful protest. He lives his principles, even taking unpopular stands by reaching out to the lowest Hindu caste. He's purposefully breaking the law, but with good reason and with great care and consideration. His goal is clearly better living conditions for Indians.
Violence & Scariness
There's no violence, but the threat of danger hangs over the march. Protesters are worried they might be confronted with guns. The story notes that protesters in India are arrested and jailed. The book does not mention Gandhi's assassination.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gandhi: A March to the Sea is a beautiful, broad-stroke depiction of this pivotal event in India's path to independence from British rule. Young readers probably will need help filling in the details and understanding both the context for the march and what followed. Gandhi sets out to break an unfair law and protest for change, which will surely provoke discussion about laws, fairness, and advocating for change.

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Adult Written byEllaK August 10, 2013

Gandhi for Beginners

This short and gentle introduction to Gandhi highlights just one of his many struggles -- the fight for colonial India to gain access to the salt in the sea. Be... Continue reading

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What's the story?

In 1930, Mohandas Gandhi and scores of supporters take the first step on a 24-day walk to the sea to make salt in defiance of the British salt laws. They set out to break the law, but their goal is to win freedom peacefully. Rumors persist that trouble is brewing, but Gandhi keeps going. Along the way, he teaches people how to spin their own yarn, another way to defy taxes on cloth. He even defies traditional belief and bathes with water reserved for the Untouchables. When he reaches the shore, he scoops up sandy mud to show the salt. He and thousands of Indians are arrested in the ensuing protests, part of India's long march to freedom.

Is it any good?

Author Alice McGinty walked Gandhi's path to the sea and worked closely with his grandson on this story; her feeling for this subject infuses the book. Her gentle verse, moving in rhythmic waves, and softly shaded illustrations by Thomas Gonzalez combine for great sensory appeal. Together they distill a complicated subject down to an emotionally resonant story that will connect with kids.
The book is marketed to ages 8 and older, but it's fine for younger children. If they aren't already acquainted with Gandhi and Indian history, however, be prepared to answer a lot of questions during the first few readings. The publisher's website offers a helpful educational guide, including hands-on activities.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about rules and fairness. Is it OK to break a rule you think is unfair? Does it matter why or how you defy it? Who decides when a rule is unjust?
  • Gandhi and his supporters protest what they feel are unjust laws imposed by the British government with nonviolent action. How is this similar to -- and different from -- the American Revolution? Do you think nonviolent protest would have led to American freedom? 

  • Do you like picture books about real people? What other picture book biographies have you read? 

Book details

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