In the first grade Balbharati (the Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research) textbook, the rhyme “rain, rain go away” is modified to “rain, rain come again” to suit the Indian context. Indeed a sensible change! I really appreciate the sense and sensitivity shown by Balbharati. There are quite a few stories and rhymes which may not suit the local context or the current times. It won’t make sense to teach it blindly without adapting it to our place and time.
In the Cinderella story, her wicked stepmother makes her do all the chores while her stepsisters have fun. This part of the story makes it challenging to teach the value of doing chores and the dignity of labor. Hence, it needs to be modified as – “Cinderella is doing a good job! She cleans up the house and works hard. Her sisters are lazy and irresponsible.” Of course, that’s not all. The story needs further changes that could suggest that there is more to life than pretty clothes and finding a rich boy. Similarly, wouldn’t it be great to change the story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to “Dusky Beauty and the Seven Dwarfs”?
Many Indian stories and rhymes need such creative changes as well. There is a lot that can be sensibly and creatively rewritten. It would be great to see innovative adaptations in children’s books.