One Grain of Rice

One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale

Written and Illustrated by:  Demi

Pages:  40

Scholastic Reading Level:  4.2

Lexile Measurement:  AD830L


This is a beautiful picture book of an Indian Folktale. A Raja who thinks he is wise meets a village girl who asks him for one grain of rice – and in doing so teaches him how a Raja can truly be wise and fair.

Marie’s Review (Mom):

My favorite part about this book is the illustrations.  The ending is somewhat predictable, as many folktales are, but the illustrations are what make the book.  They tell the story more than the writing does, with beautifully dressed characters and richly adorned native animals.

At first I thought the illustrations were somewhat romanticized and westernized, given that the women are showing their midriffs. Was it really that common in South Asia to find women dressed like that? But after a google search and reading this on BBC (use the link with discretion with your kids, there is an illustration of a partially nude female statue),  we learned that yes, some traditional Indian clothing does in fact reveal the midriff (or more), and in history this practice was perfectly acceptable until the Europeans showed up. It is also not considered nearly as risque as it is in Western culture.

The lesson behind the folk tale is math related, and the book even has some fold out pages to help children more fully understand the concept.

This is a great story to read when studying South Asia, folk tales, math or even just for fun.

Grace’s Review (4th grade): It was silly, but the pictures were really cool. The ending was interesting!

Lainey’s Review (3rd grade): I liked where the girl collected the grain and gave it back.  She was very honest.

Christian Friendly:  Yes

Sensitive Readers:  Green Light


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