Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman

Book Summary

Vidya lives in India with her family, and British soldiers still march through the streets. Vidya's father, a doctor, believes in non-violent protests, and supports the cause of demonstrating against the British for an independent India. As World War II rages, a tragic injury changes Vidya's personal life, and the family is forced to move in with her very traditional aunts and uncles. Vidya had dreams of attending college, but now her days are full of housework. Is it better sometimes to let go of our dreams? Is nonviolence always the best answer?

Climbing the Stairs book cover
Climbing the Stairs

Book Review

This book starts a little slowly, but the pacing moves faster after the crisis. Although the story is somewhat predictable, the Cinderella nature of Vidya's life is compelling - she is an underdog who is treated unfairly and hopes for something better out of life. The historical and political threads are good for readers who may be unfamiliar with the time period; such as the threat of Japanese expansion toward India, and the conflicted relationship between Indians and the British.

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Nonviolent Civil Disobedience; British Occupation of India
  • WWII
  • Feminism
  • Caste Systems
  • Family Relationships; Patriarchal Societies
  • Resilience
  • Being True to Yourself

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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