Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon by Simran Jeet Singh and Baljinder Kaur

Hello, Dr. Simran Jeet Singh! Hello, Baljinder Kaur! Thank you for visiting Watch. Connect. Read. to celebrate Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon. I cannot wait to share Fauja Singh’s inspiring story during upcoming presentations. I hope teachers all around the world read it aloud to their students. 

Simran Jeet Singh, what ran through your mind (or your heart) the first time you saw Baljinder Kaur’s illustrations for Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon?

Simran Jeet Singh: Upon first seeing Baljinder’s illustrations, all I could think about was how happy they would make Fauja Singh. He has lived this incredible life with such courage and grace, and he has inspired so many around the world, including me. And yet, when we spoke several years ago, he mentioned that his biggest regret in his 100+ years of living has been his limited ability to impact young children. I have yearned to resolve that for him, and it always felt like a distant dream until the moment I saw Baljinder’s illustrations – she didn’t just bring his story to life. She has also brought this extraordinary man a sense of joy and contentment as he approaches the final stages of his life. And for that, I couldn’t be any more grateful. 

Baljinder Kaur, what ran through your mind (or your heart) the first time you read Simran Jeet Singh’s manuscript for Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon

Baljinder Kaur: My heart very much resonated with the core of the story, to never give up and always keep going. My own mantra that has developed over the years is 'patience, persistence and faith' and I feel that Fauja Singh's life has been an embodiment of that. For me, Fauja Singh champions the heart of the elderly Panjabi community, their resilience and strength through the struggles of migration, their ability to pick themselves and plough through in high spirits, is a virtue I regard highly. 

Simran Jeet Singh, what are three facts you want everyone to know about Fauja Singh?

Simran Jeet Singh: I want everyone to know that Fauja Singh is still alive and well! He’s 108 today, and will turn 109 on April 1, 2020. And he still walks several miles a day! I would love for people to know that he is a lovely human being, full of energy, kindness, and humor. To this day, he loves fashion, motorcycles, and traveling. This might not match up with our assumptions of the elderly – and that’s exactly why his story is so powerful. I also want people to know that he is a generous person who has given his time and treasures to so many good causes over the years. He is an embodiment of humility and charity, a true role model for so many of us today. 

Baljinder Kaur, what materials did you use to create the art for Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon?

Baljinder Kaur: The artwork was created digitally using a digital tablet and pen, with fabrics and textures scanned in for collage.

Simran Jeet Singh, please finish the following sentence starters:

I hope Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon helps cultivate inclusive and open-minded thinking for children all across the world. Fauja Singh’s life story has so much to offer. The book skillfully and subtly tackles issues of equity, including ableism, ageism, racism, xenophobia, and classism – in a way that is accessible to young children. I believe deeply that it is important to confront these issues during our formative years, and I also believe that storytelling is the most effective avenues for change. All of this together makes me hopeful that Fauja Singh Keeps Going will contribute to nurturing more inclusive and equitable environments. 

School libraries are essential! Growing up as avid readers, my three brothers and I were in our school libraries every single day. We tore through the collections, reading everything we could get our hands on. We each set all the school records during monthly and annual reading challenges, and although we just saw that as having fun as children, I realize now that it was experiences like these that instilled a love for learning and reading – a love that has stayed with me throughout my life. I’m forever grateful for this gift, because books have brought me so much joy and happiness. 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me how I first heard of Fauja Singh! I was watching television, and he appeared on an Adidas commercial with two of my sports heroes: David Beckham and Muhammad Ali. I had become so accustomed to seeing people who looked like me depicted as terrorists that I figured I would never see someone with a beard and turban portrayed in a positive light. I felt immediately inspired and wanted to learn everything I could about Fauja Singh. And less than a year later, I was so moved by his story that I signed up for my first marathon! 

Baljinder Kaur, please finish the following sentence starters: 

Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon’s endpapers mark the beginning and evolution of Fauja's journey through life, honouring his incredible growth and ongoing victories. 

Picture books are the mirrors we see ourselves in and the portals we experience other worlds through. They build bridges of understanding by transcending cultural differences and allow for greater empathy, reflection and deeper connection.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if we'll be seeing more children's picture books that explore and celebrate the lives of Sikhs, I hope so :) 

Look for Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon on August 25, 2020. 

Kokila’s Description:

The inspiring true story of Fauja Singh, who broke world records to become the first one hundred-year-old to run a marathon, shares valuable lessons on the source of his grit, determination to overcome obstacles, and commitment to positive representation of the Sikh community.

Every step forward is a victory.

Fauja Singh was born determined. He was also born with legs that wouldn’t allow him to play cricket with his friends or carry him to school miles from his village in Punjab. But that didn’t stop him. Working on his family’s farm, Fauja grew stronger to meet his own full potential.

He never stopped striving. At the age of 81, after a lifetime of making his body, mind, and heart stronger, Fauja decided to run his first marathon. He went on to break records all around the world and became the first person over 100 to complete the grueling long-distance race.

With inspiring text by Simran Jeet Singh and exhilarating illustrations by Baljinder Kaur, the true story of Fauja Singh reminds us that it’s both where we start and how we finish that make our journeys unforgettable.

Simran Jeet Singh loves sports and signed up for his first marathon after being inspired by Fauja Singh—and like Fauja, he hasn’t stopped running since. Simran is an activist, writer, and scholar who believes deeply in the divine goodness of all people. He was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and now lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.
Baljinder Kaur is an illustrator and storyteller. She enjoys observing, exploring, and expressing the simple joys and often seemingly ordinary details of life around her through mixed media. FAUJA SINGH KEEPS GOING is her first trade picture book. 


Popular Posts