Born in India 150 years ago, Kipling is well known for his books and poetry. He was educated in England, but returned to India in 1882. Kipling loved the sights and sounds of India and they form the backdrop to many of his books. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.
'The Jungle Book' and 'Just So Stories' are probably his best known children's books. Disney's version of 'The Jungle Book' means this tale is familiar to many; however, it is his 'Just So Stories' which I think have great potential for use in class.
I loved these stories as a child. The language fascinated me- the wordiness, the repetition, the unfamiliar place names- the stories just begged to be read! Being full of ''satiable curiosity', they led me to ask many questions.
Re-reading these stories as an adult, I have a very different view of some of them. Kipling's opinions were very much of his time and not ones I agree with. Some of the language used in the originals is completely unacceptable, but there are a number of revised versions in which this has been altered.
The stories can be used to discuss the issues and attitudes they portray. Children enjoy the opportunity of exploring and debating things from their point of view and sphere of reference and a teacher, knowing her or his class, could guide and challenge this. For KS2 in particular, this could be useful for looking at 'British values'- and how these have changed!
However, the stories can also be enjoyed as stories! Known as 'pourquoi' tales or origin stories, the 'Just So' stories explain why things are as they are. Children can have great fun creating their own tales and Kipling's great use of language and style of writing can be used as a model to inspire them.
Containing eight of the stories, this edition is a particularly attractive version as each one is illustrated in a very different style by a different illustrator. (Walker ISBN: 978-1844287321)
This picture is by Cathie Felstead from 'How the Leopard Got His Spots' whilst this
is by Jane Ray, illustrating 'The Beginning of the Armadillos' and this is 'How the Camel Got His Hump', illustrated by Clare Melinsky.
Other tales are illustrated by Christopher Corr, Jeff Fisher, Satoshi Kitamura, Peter Sis and Louise Voce.