Ruskin Bond (b.1934) is an Indian author of British descent. He writes in multiple genres and is best known for his short stories for children. He has written more than 500 short stories, including essays and novellas, and more than 40 books for children.
Bond’s writings are characterized by their simplicity and lucidity, and most of his stories for children are written in the first person. They mostly capture the everyday lives of common people and the relationship between nature and humankind.
In this post, MomJunction brings you 18 Ruskin Bond stories for kids.
1. The Blue Umbrella
A little girl Binya receives a blue umbrella from a Japanese tourist in exchange for her leopard’s claw pendant. The umbrella becomes the envy of the simple villagers, Ram Bharosa, the shopkeeper, in particular, who attempts to lay his hands on the umbrella. The author transports us to the valleys of the Himalayas, and the story teaches us to be kind and forgiving. The ending of the story will melt your heart.
2. The Thief
A15-year-old thief, the narrator of the story, happens to meet a man named Arun at a wrestling match. He starts living at Arun’s place, cooking and working for him, and Arun, in return, teaches him how to read and write. One day, he robs Arun and tries to run away, but his conscience brings him back to the house. It is a story about trust and forgiveness and teaches us that love and kindness have the power to change people and things around us.
3. The Cherry Tree
A young boy, Rakesh, plants a seed in his grandfather’s garden in Mussoorie only to forget about it. After a year, the seed develops into a twig, and from then on, the author goes on to narrate how the boy keeps nurturing the tree through its various stages of growth, with guidance from his grandpa. It is an ideal story for teaching your children lessons about responsibility and perseverance and instilling a love of nature in them.
4. Ghost Trouble
A mischievous pret (ghost), which, after its home, a peepal tree, has been cut down, lives in a small boy’s house. The ghost builds a good rapport with the boy and plays several pranks on people. In the end, the boy’s family accepts that the pret has no bad intentions and learns to live with it amongst them. The story teaches us valuable lessons about the harms of felling trees in the name of development.
5. Cricket for the Crocodile
The humorous plot revolves around a cricket match played between the city boys and the village boys, including some other funny adult characters in the mix, on the banks of a river. The river is home to a crocodile, which is often irked by the boys playing in its territory. The real fun in the story begins when the crocodile joins the party. The story teaches us an important lesson about living in peaceful coexistence with wildlife.
6. Grandfather’s Private Zoo
Grandfather’s Private Zoo is a novella, consisting of ten short stories. The hero in the stories is a young boy who lives with his grandparents. His grandpa is an ardent lover of animals and keeps a private zoo, while his grandma is just the opposite, although she has a rather kind heart. The stories introduce us to eccentric characters such as Toto, the monkey; a python; Harold, the hornbill; and Caesar, the crow. The book ends with the author giving the readers a piece of relevant advice, which we would leave it to you to read and explore.
7. Dust on the Mountain
Bisnu, a simple village boy, goes from town to town to earn a living and support his family. He goes on to make some good friends along the way but has to face the harsh realities of life. The story, like most of Bond’s stories, teaches readers how important it is to take care of nature. It also highlights the loneliness that children experience when they are away from their loved ones and natural surroundings.
8. Rusty, The Boy from the Hills
Rusty, The Boy from the Hills is the first book in a series. It narrates the story of Rusty, an orphan, who lives with his grandparents in pre-independence Dehradun. He lives amongst some weird animals, survives a plane crash, and leaves Dehradun, following the uncertain turn of events. The book takes us through Rusty’s journey from childhood to his early teens, which reflects Ruskin Bond’s life in most ways. The book is ideal for children aged 12 years and above.
9. The Night Train at Deoli
The story narrates one of Ruskin Bond’s train journeys to his grandmother’s place in Dehradun, where he sees a girl selling baskets. Although a brief encounter, he falls for her, and the story proceeds to narrate more of such journeys he takes on the hope of seeing her again. The story is delightful and inspires affection. The story forms part of a book with the same title and includes 30 more stories that are partly autobiographical.
10. The Tiger in the Tunnel
Baldeo, a watchman for the railways, single-handedly fights a tiger. The story is both sad and comforting and highlights the importance of protecting and caring for your family. It also highlights the inevitability of the cycle of life and death and the continuity of life on earth. The character of Tembu, Baldeo’s son, is endearing and brings hope to the readers.
11. Time Stops at Shamli
Time Stops at Shamli is a novella consisting of 21 short stories. In the story, Time Stops at Shamli, after which the book has been titled, Bond highlights the timelessness of the small towns he grew up in. Unlike in the story The Night Train at Deoli, here, Bond steps off the train, explores the town of Shamli, and, in the process, meets an old love of his and learns a few valuable things about himself. The story teaches us the importance of letting go of certain things in our lives.
12. The Woman on Platform 8
The Woman on Platform 8 is an adorable short story narrated in the first person by Arun, a 12-year-old schoolboy. Arun describes how one night, while he was waiting for a train, a kind woman offered him tea and snacks. He builds a loving bond with the woman, who treats him as his own mother. At the station, he also meets Satish, one of his school friends, and Satish’s mother, an imposing woman who doesn’t trust strangers. The story teaches us about kindness and motherly love and affection.
13. Delhi is Not Far
Delhi is Not Far is a novel set in Pipalnagar, a small town in North India. Bond, through the voice of Arun, a struggling writer, describes the innocent dreams of some of Pipalnagar’s residents to move to Delhi to find better jobs. Each character in the novel is someone that you would relate to, and the author does well in highlighting the grim realities of people in the small towns of India. The story is also about love and friendship, and the endearing bond between Arun, Suraj, and Kamla in the story will surely keep you engrossed.
14. The Room on the Roof
The Room on the Roof is Ruskin Bond’s first novel and was written when he was just 17. It won him the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. The plot revolves around Rusty, an orphaned adolescent, who escapes from his strict guardians and starts living with his friends. The novel is an enduring tale of love and friendship, and the author brings the bazaars, festivals, and mountains to life with his accurate and lucid writing style that is an envy of many readers and writers alike.
15. Death of the Trees
Death of the Trees is a short story wherein Ruskin Bond expresses his deep concern about the felling of the trees that he had an emotional attachment to in Mussoorie. In the story, he juxtaposes the pain that he goes through when the trees were felled, to the pain he experienced when his brother passed away in a road accident. The story teaches us the importance of saving the environment.
16. A Flight of Pigeons
Set in Shajahanpur, against the backdrop of the revolt of 1857, A Flight of Pigeons is a novella that opens with the murder of the father of Ruth Labadoor, the narrator. The narrator goes on to describe her family’s ordeal after the incident, seeking refuge in different places. The novel is packed with drama and teaches us the importance of inter-religious harmony. The story is ideal for children aged 13 and above.
17. When Darkness Falls
Markham, a war veteran, lives on his pension. He is confined to a small room devoid of family and companionship and is considered a social outcast for reasons that are beyond his control. Through this story, Bond tries to highlight and sensitize the society about the plight of people like Markham. It is a touching story that can help children develop empathy towards people.
18. The Hidden Pool
The Hidden Pool is a story of three friends, Laurie, an English boy, Anil, the son of a local cloth merchant, and Kamal, an orphan. They spend their days playing around a secret pool that Laurie finds on a mountainside and, one day, decide to go trekking to the Pindari Glacier. This journey leads to fantastic discoveries, and we are introduced to magical and endearing characters in a fascinating world. This story about friendship and adventure will be a delight for your child.
We can all agree that Ruskin Bond’s writings encourage young readers to enjoy and cherish the simple things of life and respect each other as well as the fascinating world of animals and plants. We hope this list helps you introduce your child to great stories written by Ruskin Bond and helps them inculcate the habit of reading books.
- The Blue Umbrella story about a little girl Binya teaches the importance of kindness and forgiveness.
- Another story about a 15-year-old thief shares how love, trust, kindness, and forgiveness can change people.
- A Flight of Pigeons, Dust on the Mountain, The Cherry Tree are some more interesting moral stories by Ruskin Bond.