Fauja Singh Keeps Going Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Keywords: 
Disability
Healthy Community
India
Perseverance
by Simran Jeet Singh - A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to celebrate the grit and determination of this 100-year-old man who ran a marathon and demonstrated persistence throughout his life.

Fauja Singh broke world records along the way to becoming the first 100-year-old to run a marathon. He overcame a disability, ideas about age, as well as bigotry related to his Sikh culture. The author, who is also Sikh, was inspired by the runner to run and be an activist. The author believes in the goodness of people and was inspired to celebrate Fauja Singh for his strength of mind, body, and soul, and to show Muslim culture positively in picture books.

Before Reading

Ask: Do you see many books that feature people wearing turbans? This true story is about a man who is a Muslim Sikh from India. There are not many books that feature people from this culture. Why do you think it is important to see yourself represented in books?

Show: The author's family is from the country of India and the Punjab. Find these locations on a map.

Connect: The author grew up Sikh in Texas and felt different from other families because they wore turbans and Punjab clothing. He wished he could find books with characters that looked like the people he loved. Why might this be important? How does it feel to read books with characters who look like people you love?

During Reading

Ask: Over the years, many people told Fauja Singh he was too weak and things were too hard for him. Sometimes people said hateful things about him because of his turban and faith. Why is it wrong to say all of these things to someone?

Show: Look at the pages showing Fauja Singh training for a marathon. Discuss whether it is more important to have a strong mind or strong body to run a marathon.

Connect: Look at the pages that show his mother's words to him, "You know yourself, and you know what you're capable of. Today is the day to do your best." What in these words do you think helped him keep going?

After Reading

Ask: Read the message about Fauja Singh at the end. He says it is important to treat people equally, serve others, work hard, and live with honesty and integrity. Imagine someone asked you what is important in life? What would you tell people to do and be in order to live a good life?

Show: Look at the pictures of the people surrounding Fauja Singh. We are part of diverse communities full of people of many cultures, privileges, abilities, ages, and faiths. Do you see your skin color, interests, or community represented? 

Connect: Fauja Singh wanted to share a message of encouragement to all people. How is he living and acting with service and generosity? What can you do to serve and inspire people in your community?

Activities

  1. Show the page with Fauja Singh's records. Set one hard goal for yourself that can be completed this year or in your life.
  2. Fauja Singh says the secret to a long life is taking care of your mind, body, and soul (not just for running a marathon but for finding happiness.) How can you exercise your body, mind, and heart? Make a list of actions that practice these things. 
  3. Fauja Singh eats very healthy food and in small amounts in order to be healthy. He likes mangos, dal, and roti and doesn't eat sweets. Draw some of your favorite healthy foods that are part of your family favorites.