NCERT Class 8 English It So Happened Chapter 2 ‘Children at Work’: Notes and Solutions (Free PDF)

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NCERT Class 8 English It So Happened Chapter 3: Children at Work

NCERT Class 8 English It So Happened Chapter 2 story ‘Children at Work’ is taken from the book ‘Trash- on Ragpicker Children and Recycling’ by Gita Wolf, Orijit Sen, and Anushka Ravishankar. Throughout the story, all three authors highlight the plight of orphan children and kids coerced to take up menial jobs. They depict the painful lives of children at work through the story of Velu and his friend Jaya. To know how their lives unfold read the summary of the story in the notes. Also, explore NCERT solutions to questions in the Class 8 English Chapter 2. 

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Summary of NCERT Class 8 English It So Happened Chapter 2 ‘Children at Work’

The story follows Velu, an eleven-year-old boy who runs away from his village to escape his abusive father. Arriving in Chennai, he meets a girl named Jaya, who earns a living as a ragpicker, collecting recyclable items from garbage bins. Hungry and directionless, Velu reluctantly joins Jaya in her work, scavenging through trash for items like paper, plastic, and glass. Jaya explains that they sell these items to a man named Jam Bazaar Jaggu, who in turn sells them to factories.

Despite his initial reluctance, Velu realises that scavenging is his only option for survival in the city. He helps Jaya collect items, learning about the intricacies of their trade along the way. Through their interactions, Velu gains insight into the harsh realities of urban life and the struggles faced by children like himself who are forced to work to make ends meet.

As they navigate the city streets, Velu and Jaya encounter various challenges, including navigating traffic and finding suitable places to collect recyclables. Despite the grimness of their situation, Velu finds solace in the companionship of Jaya and the sense of purpose that their work provides.

Ultimately, the story sheds light on the plight of marginalised children who are forced into labour due to circumstances beyond their control. It highlights the resilience and resourcefulness of children like Velu and Jaya, who persevere in adversity. Through their story, the reader gains a deeper understanding of the struggles faced by ragpicker children and the importance of addressing issues related to child labour and poverty.

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Important Words and Phrases and Their Meanings

Here we have compiled all important words and phrases with meanings from the chapter. These words and phrases will enable you to expand your understanding of the NCERT Class 8 English It So Happened Chapter 2 ‘Children at Work’. Here we go!!

Pulled InArrived
GrimaceThe sad or uncertain expression on the face due to excruciating pain
ChutneyCrushed into the ground, when someone runs over a person
Making his head spinMaking him feel dizzy or light-headed
Gulped downSwallowed without chewing
Stomach squeezed himHis empty stomach twitched and hurt
PanickedExtremely worried
TiffinFood for snacking
WeedingTo remove unwanted plant growth on a field
CrookedlyNot straight
PosingTo impress someone

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NCERT Solutions Class 8 English It So Happened Chapter 2 ‘Children at Work’

Herein, we have important questions and answers in the Comprehension Check (I, II, and III) and Excercise section of NCERT Class 8 English It So Happened Chapter 2 ‘Children at Work’. Let us learn and come out with flying colours in unit tests and term examinations. 

Comprehension Check I (Page No. 9)

Ques 1. Velu stood on the platform but he felt “as if he was still on a moving train”. Why?

Ans: Velu rode the Kanyakumari Express to Chennai, leaving his home behind. His legs felt weak and unsteady after the train journey, and even when he got off at the station, he still felt like he was on the train. The feeling of being on the train lingered with him for a while.

Ques 2. What made him feel miserable?

Ans: Velu was tired of his father’s drinking and decided to leave home. He ran away about two days ago and had not eaten much, just a few peanuts and a piece of jaggery. He felt anxious because he did not know anything about the new city.

Ques 3. (i) Velu travelled without a ticket. Why?

(ii) How did he escape the ticket collector’s attention?


(i) Velu departed from his village due to frustration with his alcoholic father, who would take away all the earnings of Velu and his sisters to spend on alcohol. Consequently, he travelled without a ticket as he lacked the money to purchase one for the train journey.

(ii) Velu managed to avoid the ticket collector because, fortunately, the collector did not visit the unreserved compartment. Since he did not have a ticket, he attempted to sleep on the floor near the door.

Ques 4. Why had Velu run away from home?

Ans: Velu and his sisters, being poor, had to work hard to feed themselves. However, their father, who was a drunkard, would beat them in the evening and take away all the money they earned. Fed up with this situation, Velu became irritated with his life and decided to run away from home to Chennai.

Ques 5. Why did he decide to follow the ‘strange’ girl?

Ans: After fleeing from home, Velu arrived in Chennai with no knowledge of the area. He was clueless about where to go or what to do, and hunger gnawed at him after two days of travel. Feeling lost and unsure, he considered it safer to follow a “strange girl” since she seemed to have some familiarity with the place.

Comprehension Check II (Page No. 13)

Ques 1. Can Velu read Tamil and English? How do you know?

Ans: Velu struggled to understand the large signboards written in English, as he did not know the language. However, when he passed by the Central Jail, he managed to read it by squinting because it was written in Tamil.

Ques 2. “If you are not careful, you will soon be counting bars there,” the girl said.

(i) What is she referring to?

(ii) What does she mean when she says “If you are not careful…”?

(She says something a little later which means the same. Find that sentence.)


(i) The girl is referring to the Central Jail

(ii) The girl meant that if Velu should not engage in any stupid thing else the police would catch him and throw him in the Central Jail.

Ques 3. (i) Where did the girl lead Velu to?

(ii) What did they get to eat?


(i) The girl guided Velu to a large wedding hall and hurried behind it to where a sizable garbage bin overflowed with rubbish. She retrieved a squishy banana and offered it to him, knowing he was starving. Hastily, she grabbed a vada and handed it to him to eat.

(ii) Velu managed to eat a vada and a banana at the wedding. However, the girl could only get hold of a banana. 

Ques 4. What work did she do? Think of a one-word answer.

Ans: Ragpicking

Comprehension Check III (Page No. 15)

Ques 1. (i) What material are the ‘strange’ huts made out of?

(ii) Why does Velu find them strange?


(i) The strange huts were constructed using plastic, tyres, metal sheets, wood, and brick.

(ii) Velu hailed from a village in Southern India where houses were constructed from palm leaves and mud, unlike the metal sheets, tyres, wood, plastic, and bricks commonly seen in Chennai. These structures appeared fragile and seemed as though they could collapse at any moment. He had never encountered a slum area before, where people lived with only the bare minimum for survival.

Ques 2. What sort of things did Jaya and children like her collect and what did they do with those things?

Ans: Jaya and other kids like her gathered glass, paper, plastic, and similar items from the trash. These underprivileged children sold their collections to Jam Bazaar Jaggu, who later sold the items to a factory. 

Ques 3. Is Velu happy or unhappy to find work? Give a reason for your answer.

Ans: Despite running away from home, Velu felt unhappy about working as a ragpicker, having to sift through garbage bins. He reminisced about his past work experience, which involved tasks like weeding and tending to cows on the landowner’s farm. Nonetheless, recognizing the need for immediate employment, he resolved to work as a ragpicker temporarily until he could secure a better job.


Ques 1. Is Velu a smart boy? Which instances in the text show that he is or isn’t?

Ans: When Velu was 12 years old, he made the bold decision to leave his village due to frustration with his alcoholic father. Although some might question the wisdom of his choice, it undoubtedly required courage. He boarded a train to Chennai and relied on a girl familiar with the city to guide him. Despite being able to read Tamil, adjusting to his new circumstances proved challenging. Initially hesitant, he eventually yielded to his situation, even accepting food from a garbage bin. Finding the city unfamiliar, he resolved to stick with his current job until he could secure a better means of sustenance.

Ques 2. Do you think Jaya is a brave and sensitive child with a sense of humour? Find instances of her courage, kind nature and humour in the text.

Ans: Jaya was a brave and kind child with a good sense of humour. She was of Velu’s age and worked as a ragpicker. She knew how to survive in the city, familiar with all its roads and where to find food. When she met Velu at the railway station, she took him around the city, collecting glass, paper, and bottles, and found food for him in a garbage bin behind a wedding hall. She did her best to help him, urging him to join her in rag-picking work. Jaya gave him a pair of old shoes without laces and handed him a sack and a stick. Despite her serious efforts, she showed her humorous side by asking Velu if he came to Chennai to become rich. She also assisted him in crossing busy streets, warning him that standing still in the middle of the road could lead to accidents with the large vehicles passing by.

Ques 3. What one throws away as waste may be valuable to others. Do you find this sentence meaningful in the context of this story? How?

Ans: We often discard things that we find useless, but these items could be essential for someone else’s survival and sustenance, as illustrated vividly in the story. The depiction of the slum reinforces this idea. Despite being constructed from scrap materials, the huts provided adequate shelter for the residents. The children would gather items like plastic bottles and leftover food, which they could then sell to earn money. What appears to be a waste to some is a source of blessing and sustenance for others in need.

Source: Magnet Brains
Chapter 1: The Best Christmas Present in the World
Chapter 2: The Tsunami
Chapter 3: Glimpses of the Past
Chapter 4: Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory
Chapter 5: The Summit Within
Chapter 6: This is Jody’s Fawn
Chapter 7: A Visit to Cambridge
Chapter 8: A Short Monsoon Diary


Q1. NCERT Class 8 English It So Happened Chapter 2 ‘Children at Work’ is taken from which book?

Ans: The story ‘Children at Work’ is taken by ‘Trash- on Ragpicker Children and Recycling’.

Q2. Who is the author of ‘Trash- on Ragpicker Children and Recycling’?

Ans: Trash- on Ragpicker Children and Recycling is the work of Gita Wolf, Orijit Sen, and Anushka Ravishankar.

Q3. What is the name of Velu’s friend in ‘Children at Work’?

Ans: Velu made a friend named Jaya.

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