#SurvivalStories2021 Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes Stories Of The Dispossessed

[Nonfiction Wednesday] The Oldest Marathon Runner Is A Sikh British Immigrant

Meet Fauja Singh who keeps on going.

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

We are pleased to launch our quarterly reading theme from April to June this year on Migrants, Exiles, Refugees: Stories Of The Dispossessed. Essentially, we are on the look-out for books with the following themes:

  1. Stories of exile and movement from one place to another – either by choice or by circumstance

  2. Narratives on im/migrants, belonging and exclusion

  3. Tales of people who are in transition and displaced from their homes

  4. Stories of seeking refuge and sanctuary and finding forever homes

  5. Narratives of loss and dispossession


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Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story Of The Oldest Person To Every Run A Marathon (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Simran Jeet Singh Illustrated by Baljinder Kaur Foreword by Fauja Singh
Published by Kokila (2020)
ISBN: 0525555099 (ISBN13: 9780525555094) Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Ever since Fauja Singh was a child, people seemed to delight in setting limits and boundaries to all that he can be. He was told that his legs were too weak and that he could not walk, much less run. Yet, his mother always encouraged him and told him that only he can determine what he is capable of, and that each day presents an opportunity for him to do his best.

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When he got older, people also thought that he would not be able to farm because he was too weak. Once again, he delighted in proving them wrong. He eventually found a wife, got married, and raised a family.

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I love how the entire narrative revolves around a person who, despite being constantly underestimated and belittled, dusted off other people’s expectations, and persisted with grace and unflappable dignity.

Fauja Singh moved to England at the age of 81 to live with family who migrated there. Once again, people discouraged him, and thought that he was too old to move. While it took him awhile to get used to his new home’s climate and adjust to unfamiliar sights, it was the sight of people running for fun that caught Fauja Singh’s eye – and brought him a new sense of purpose.

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This is an unforgettable story about grit and determination, and also about joy and faith. While most stories about athletes or notable people of worth highlight the perseverance and hard work aspect of their lives – what moved me the most about Fauja Singh’s story was the happiness and grace and dignity that he brought into everything that he did.

I also loved seeing Fauja Singh’s actual photograph in the end, along with additional information about his religion, Sikhism. The story is also a powerful reminder that we are never too old to become who we are meant to become.


#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 49 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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