Boys without Names by Kashmira Sheth

Eleven-year-old Gopal and his family leave their rural Indian village to live with his uncle in Mumbai, but when they arrive his father goes missing and Gopal ends up locked in a sweatshop from which there is no escape.

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17 Responses to “Boys without Names by Kashmira Sheth”


  1. 1 Ali Weber April 30, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Has anyone ever been forced to do something that they did not want to do? Out of the people who have, have any of you ever been locked in a closet sized room for hours on end not able to speak or do anything unless you were told? Well this happened to 11 year old Gopal when he and his family moved to Mumbai and Gopal had to make money. Gopal was unaware that he would be kidnapped and forced into child slavery and when he woke up from being drugged he found five other boys making beaded frames. Those beaded frames became Gopal’s life since he was forced to work from dusk to dawn with little food in a tiny room with no ventilation. The boys dream about the families that they so dearly miss and Gopal starts to tell stories and bring all of the boys together with his words. As months pass, the boys begin to plot their escape and hope that one day very soon, they will be able to unlock the doors to the stuffy room and walk free with their families once more. Boys Without Names is a story of underground child slavery that millions of kids all over the world suffer from. This story may not be real, but the idea is real, and kids from all over the world are taken from their families and forced to work long hours under harsh conditions. Sheth puts a light onto the topic to hopefully bring awareness to try and help these millions of children get the care that they need.

    • 2 Emma May 2, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Ali,
      This book sounds like a great way to show kids in our classes how lucky they truly are! The fact that it wasn’t real probably kept it from being so harsh but lets the reader sympathize with the Gopal. It also sounds like a good way to raise awareness. The kids could then brianstorm ways that the class could help.

    • 3 Brittany S. May 5, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Ali,
      I think that this would be a great class read for social studies. It informs students of the culture and traditions in Mumbai, as well as invites readers into the lives of the slaves. I believe that using this book instead of a text book will have more students involved and interested in the topic. Realistic fiction novels are the most popular for young readers as they can relate and understand the struggles that Gopal experiences.

    • 4 Emily S. May 9, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      Ali,
      After reading your post I am so intrigued by the concept of this book. I think it is easy for us as Americans to forget how blessed we are and this is a great lesson for kids of any age to learn. While the concept of this novel seems pretty mature I think it would be a beneficial read for students to take into consideration the other parts of the world and children whose lives are so different from our own.

    • 5 Cat Black May 10, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      This sounds like an amazing book to read that sheds light on such a tabooed topic. This is a problem that continues to happen but no one is willing to acknowledge that it exists because it is such a large wide spread problem that people don’t see how one person can make a difference. However I think this may be a hard topic for young students to relate to since they probably don’t have experiences to equate to Gopal’s. Like Gopal’s experience of being locked in the room and held against his will.

  2. 6 childrenslitblog May 2, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    You are so right, how can young people in this country even begin to imagine the concept? You might be interested to read this interview with the author about how she came to write this book.
    http://www.papertigers.org/interviews/archived_interviews/ksheth.html

    • 7 paytonsaxton May 3, 2015 at 12:37 am

      After reading these comments I am very interested in reading this book. Although this may not be a real book we live in a world where bad things happen all of the time. It is important to teach our students to be aware of the dangers. Everyone knows that kids are naive and think they are invincible. While this is a great concept it’s just not plausible in this day and age. Like this was said before I think students should look into the topic of child slavery and raise awareness in their community. Also talking about this will help them be smart and make good choices that will help them avoid risky situations that could lead to being kidnapped.

      • 8 Zoe May 3, 2015 at 8:19 pm

        Agreeing with all of you this book seems like it can be that will grab the attention of all who read it. The idea of being taken away from your family and forced to work all day is on that sadly happens to often in our world. Living in the USA we do not expereince the fear of being taken and forced to work as so many other countries are. However, I think that even though we do not expereince it we need to be aware of it. We need to be aware of the evil in our world because we need to fight it. The students who will sit in our classroom could be the ones who will fight that evil on day. Providing them with books that show the evil may be the match that starts the fire of the passion. However I do believe that the censorship idea needs to be evaluated with books like this. I believe that maturity level of the individual is key in determing which books are a best fit for them.

  3. 9 Elise Adamopoulos May 5, 2015 at 12:18 am

    I think discussing the cultural aspect of this book is very important in order for students to understand where Gopal is coming from. Children work at a very young age in other countries that do not have the same laws that we do in America. This book would help students understand how America has laws to protect us and might lead to a discussion about our government system.

    • 10 Alyson Hartman May 13, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      This may be a great opportunity to have an economics lesson! Values of currency can be compared in addition to the cost of different items (milk, eggs, bread, water, shoes, housing…). Students can then discuss the importance of budgeting money and making wise financial decisions.

      With older students, they can take a look at some of the child labor laws. I think it would be interesting to compare and contrast the laws from one country to another.

    • 11 Julie Nicholas April 26, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      I agree. I feel as though this book, even though it being a touchy topic, not every student in our classroom comes from the same background. And this doesn’t even have to refer to what they experience at home, but maybe they know someone or are more likely to read books like this due to an experience they went through and I feel like its good for them to have books like this that teach them that it is possible to get through rough situations in life. For those who have no clue, it opens their eyes to the realities of the world and what happens that they may have no idea about.

  4. 12 Alia Otwell May 5, 2015 at 12:46 am

    It is a sad truth that child slavery exists throughout the world. This fiction story did an amazing job at capturing the heartbreak that stems from the loss of human rights. Personally, the thought of being captured and forced to work in a sweatshop for hardly any food and money feels impossible. It just doesn’t happen, right? Though unfortunately, it does, and it’s a reality that most people can’t relate to. That’s why I believe it is crucially important to raise awareness for these types of issues. Students need to know that just because it isn’t happening in their backyard doesn’t mean that these terrors don’t exist. Though younger children may not be able to comprehend the severity of this worldwide problem, I believe they should at least be exposed to the idea of it. This was an incredibly powerful story and it could move students to grow into human rights activists.

    • 13 Ashley Sizemore May 5, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      This story sounds like it would be very interesting to read. The topic of child slavery is not something that schools bring attention to, even in high school. Although it may not be something that many people can relate to because of how foreign it feels, it is going on throughout the world and should be something that everyone is brought attention to. By ignoring its existence, we’re merely standing back as it happens. I think this story may be a great way to incorporate the topic of child slavery in with a civil rights unit. Certainly it’s important not to give information in too much detail, but I do believe it is important to educate children on the world they live in, even when it may not be positive.

  5. 14 Elise Adamopoulos May 5, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Gopal is an eleven year old boy living with his father, mother, and two younger siblings. He protects his family, even when trouble comes. Who do you feel responsible for in your family? Even though Gopal is sometimes jealous of his younger siblings stealing all the attention, he tells them story to keep them occupied. His stories usually are about himself and where they live. Gopal tries to support his family by finding a job. This is common is some cultures for children to work to support their family. Do you think children in America should be able to work for money? When Gopal is trapped, he keeps his spirits up and the other boys by telling his stories. Then the other boys open up about where they came from and how they ended up working in the sweat shop making frames. Having students discuss where they come from by creating stories might help your classroom to connect and for students to realize they have things in common. Some students might also realize that their lives have been very different compared to other students and to other children in other countries.

    • 15 Gloria May 5, 2015 at 2:32 am

      Another interesting book that offers perspectives about the a world that we do not come across everyday but still exist. Again, with a younger protagonist, it gives younger readers to find the text much more relatable. This would also be a good book use in social studies. The students can discover the world that is not as perfect from what they are use to. They can also talk about each others lives and compare it to Gopal and have a writing lesson out of this.

  6. 16 Shannon Buckley May 9, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Eleven year old Gopal and his family live on a beautiful farm in the countryside. When the stock market crashes, Gopal’s family was greatly affected as they did not have a lot of money. So the family decides since they can not afford their bills, they were going to leave their home and move to Mubai. When the family arrives, Gopal’s father is separated from the family. Gopal is tricked by a boy who convinces him there is a job awaiting him. But little did Gopal know he was going to become imprisoned, with little food and water, unbathed for days at a time, beaten, and forced to work in a factory gluing beads onto picture frames. Gopal is enslaved by a man he calls “Scar” with multiple other children. Scar uses intimidation to be sure the children do not become friends. Gopal wonders how he is going to escape this awful place. He does not want to escape by himself and leave the other children behind. To earn the trust of the other children, Gopal tells stories during bedtime. How would you like to feel invisible to society? How would you feel to be taken away from your family, beaten, starved and treated as you weren’t human, but a piece of garbage? This book presents the reader with extreme emotions that will cause young readers to be shocked at what occurs to young Gopal. It will give insight to those children who are privileged and have not been exposed to child labor. Although Kashmira Sheth is brutal about the emotions and trials these children face, readers are able to feel every emotion Gopal feels. Sheth provides detail to capture the feeling to be dehumanized and used as a slave. After reading this novel, children will open their eyes and be able to notice that life could be so much worse. Many children comnplain that they can not go out with their friends or buy an expensive pair of shoes. What they don’t realize is while they are complaining about these things, children around the world are being beaten and used. Seth does an exceptional job at opening young readers eyes to reality in some nations.

  7. 17 Ashley Jackson May 2, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    This book can really be an eye opener to students. Everyone has something going on in their life that people may not even know about. The world we live in is cruel and there is no hiding or sheltering students from these real world problems. Kidnapping is a real thing and this book, though it is not based in the United States can help students realize that. You then could build a lesson off of this story to have students research children in other nations and the things they go through. This would be great for social studies. Opening the students eyes to our not so perfect world.


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