Ready! 99 Must-Have Skills for the World-Conquering Teenager
Roopa Pai
age group: 
12+ yrs
Number of pages: 
humour life skills.
Personal Development


One could not summarise this book better than Rahul Dravid has on the cover:

"The easy guide to everyday skills
that will help teenagers grow into
confident young adults."

Adults will wish they'd had access to this exceptional hand-book while growing up. Teens today will find it answers very many needs, especially because so many of them are growing up in environments cut off from nature or taken up completely with gadgets, phones and social media that alienate them from reality around.

In her typical confident, unfussy (and completely non- condescending) "here I am talking to you in your language" style, Roopa Pai has produced yet another smashing winner for Indian teenagers and young adults.

The book claims to have been inspired by Robert Baden - Powell - the colonial British (and not entirely admirable or controversy free) founder of the Scouts and Guides Movement - but Pai adds so much more life and meaning to the skills outlined here in amazing detail. Her book is preferable to anything written by her inspirer who great though he was, was in the end a colonist and big game hunter - not very admirable roles- and accused by some of even being racist. It's unfair though to judge a person out of context so Pai's admiration of his good qualities can be on the whole accepted especially since he inspired this gem of a book.

To come to the exciting contents of this solid volume:

Pai's comprehensive list of 99 Wo Co Teen ( World Conquering Teenager) skills has been divided into Four Sections ( or Shields to be won) :

Personal Development
Family and Home
The Community and
The Great Outdoors

Each of these areas in turn includes chapters on key skills to be cultivated ( 24 in all and 24 badges earned once they are learnt) like: communicating, learning to be a caregiver, farming, volunteering, keeping one's head cool in a crisis, being a patriot and good citizen, learning to be a good camper and so on.

Each of these 24 skill areas is further sub- divided into extremely useful and important sub -skills ( totalling 99) like:

Be responsible for your own safety
Be a conflict de- escalator
Be an urban birder and so on.

As if this weren't detailed enough each of the 24 chapters includes a list of 4 Challenges - stuff teens can try out themselves or in groups guided by an adult -like:

Cook an Indian meal challenge
Explain India to a foreigner challenge ( lovely!)
Tell time by the sun challenge.

There's an excellent and very much needed section on how to be safe and what to do if one is threatened or attacked -that all grown ups need to share with their young.

Some of the other interesting parts (to name just a few) are:

Cyber safety tips
Teach yourself basic drawing
Using the SCAMPER technique to create a business idea for - say - starting a small cookie business
Flower arrangement

Gandhiji would have been delighted with her "How to clean a toilet" page. Brilliant encouragement to spoilt city brats to grow self reliant!

It's admirable that at no point does the author talk down to her young readers ; she steers clear completely of all sexist / gender stereotypes. All skills in her book are equally written with girls and boys in mind.

The 300 odd pages from start to finish are most readable, written in conversational non technical language, appealing to a young mind and peppered with practical tips.

The skills are useful to "grown up youngsters" too as we learn to tie a dhoti and saree (very useful and good illustrations) identify Indian spices, select vegetables , become one's own handyman, learn how to unclog a basin and that most " scout like" of all skills: learn to tie different knots.

Is there anything left out in this book - one wonders! There's even a well illustrated page on how to do Surya Namaskaar!

One hopes there will be enough fun loving adults to help youngsters set up little Wo Co Teen groups or clubs in every city and town - and truly guide the young as well as be guided by their youthful enthusiasm and joy. The book is a great inspiration and handbook for teachers parents and guides who want to impart part real world skills to the young and help them grow more confident.

A very readable, enjoyable and useful volume that should be translated into many more languages. An excellent gifting idea.

Reviewed by Urmila Ramakrishna