Fauja Singh Keeps Going
The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon
by Simran Jeet Singh
illustrated by Baljinder Kaur
Penguin Random House, 2020
ISBN 9780525555094 (hc)
$17.99, 48 pp, ages 4 – 8
Fauja Singh has overcome many challenges throughout his life. Fauja Singh Keeps Going provides readers with the history of this remarkable 109-year-old. Fauja did not start running at an early age. In fact, Fauja did not start walking until he was five years old. Due to this, Fauja’s legs were weak and he was unable to make the long walk to his school. This meant Fuaja had to stay home on his family farm in Punjab and receive his education learning to plant, plow, and pick crops. This did not slow Fauja down. Eventually, he was able to walk a mile, get married, have children, and have his own farm. As Fauja grew older, his children moved away and he decided at the age of 81 to move closer to them in England. This became another big challenge for Fauja as he left all his friends and moved to a country where he could not speak or understand the language. He was also very lonely as his family was busy with school and work. While watching TV one day Fauja saw people running around the town with big smiles on their faces. Fauja knew he wanted to try this and started practising every morning. After running races for fun, Fauja decided he wanted to run a marathon. At age 89 Fauja Singh became one of the oldest people to ever complete the London Marathon! He went on to run marathons many more times and in 2011 ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He finished the marathon and set a new world record as the oldest person to ever run a marathon.
Classroom Connections: This inspirational story helps the reader understand how important it is to overcome challenges and to work towards your dreams and aspirations. Fauja’s mother would always say to him, “You know yourself, Fauja, and you know what you’re capable of. Today is a chance to do your best.” Children can discuss what they are capable of and how they can do their best. This story lends itself well to connections. Listing the challenges Fauja needed to overcome and how he did so could lead to students looking at some challenges they may come across and how they could work through obstacles. Some information about Fauja Singh and his records is shared at the end of the book. Students would enjoy doing some extra research on this remarkable athlete to find out more of his story. Some persuasive letter writing could be a lesson after reading the last sentences in the records page. A Teacher’s Guide is available for this book.
Review by Cindy Haack.
This review is featured in Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Spring 2021 issue.