Research School Network: Building belonging by diversifying our books- Pattan’s Pumpkin in year 2 (Part 2) Asma Rawat, Assistant Principal KS2/​English Lead and Y4 Teacher from Carlinghow Academy in Batley

Building belonging by diversifying our books- Pattan’s Pumpkin in year 2 (Part 2)

Asma Rawat, Assistant Principal KS2/​English Lead and Y4 Teacher from Carlinghow Academy in Batley

by Great Heights Research School: West Yorkshire
on the

Carlinghow Academy is a large and vibrant primary school, 49.8% of children are eligible for Free School Meals. As part of our mission statement we emphasise the importance of children learning to understand differences and to respect one another. We are firmly committed to ensuring an inclusive culture that enables every pupil to succeed.

We have selected to teach Pattan’s Pumpkin in Year 2. Storyteller Chitra Soundar has adapted this flood story from one told in Kerala in southern India. Pattan and his wife Kanni grow food which they share with all living creatures. An ailing plant that he nurtures becomes a huge and splendid pumpkin which provides rescue and shelter when dark clouds gather and a flood threatens human, animal and plant life.

Pattan and Kanni are illustrated with the characteristic dark skin of the Irula people and are dressed in traditional garb. Pupils of an ethnic minority in our school see themselves represented in this book. For our white British pupils who see Indian/​Pakistani families dressed in these clothes in their local area, it brings a sense of familiarity and awareness understanding why people chose different clothing.


Soundar also does not shy away from describing the details of Pattan and Kanni’s way of life as they grow pepper, rice, nutmeg, and bananas; ride elephants; and nurture animals in the foothills of South India’s mountains. As any culturally diverse book should, Pattan’s Pumpkin presents its characters positively: clever, resourceful, grateful for what they have, kind, and willing to share. These characteristics not only help children understand cultures beyond their own as positive but also model values for the children themselves.

The characters and setting of this largely unknown myth are well drawn, offering young readers a good stimulus for their own descriptive and story writing as well as providing a plethora of non-fiction and extracurricular opportunities. It offers the chance to learn about the Indian Subcontinent and the animals that live there. It allows for open discussions in the classroom around animals around the world and the diverse nature of countries and what they offer.

Whilst exploring this story in the classroom, there ample opportunities to explore traditional music and songs from Southern India. Our Indian/​Pakistani heritage pupils can share their culture proudly in the classroom whilst allowing others to appreciate the diverse nature of music around the world.

We have made many cross curricular links, the strongest being Geography links. We use this book to stimulate a wider study of India as a whole or the Western Ghats mountains. Children have the opportunity to compare their own town/​city or school with a school in Mannarkkad. Children can use geographical language and vocabulary to describe the weather and climate, as well as the human and physical features.

There are strong personal, social and emotional discussions which take place in the classroom during book talk sessions which include themes such as determination and perseverance, as well as issues related to conservationism and caring for our local environment. Through their study of Pattan, children can also explore the importance of sharing our resources with others.

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