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India and Pakistan: Seventy Years and Counting

Freedom Struggle Independence Partition

It’s 70 years since the British left India, and the countries of India and Pakistan were created on August 15, 1947. Below is a selection of books that introduces young readers to India’s history prior to independence, the nonviolent protest movement and discusses the Partition in an age-appropriate way that shows the impact on both sides of the border.

A Taste of FreedomHow did the protest against the British begin? Why did we need to protest? A question often asked by young children when they hear about the Indian freedom movement. This wonderful picture book provides a detailed account of the first Dandi march led by Mahatma Gandhi to protest against the salt tax imposed by the British. See other books on Gandhi (Picture Book, 5+)

Mukand and RiazA beautiful story of friendship between two boys, Mukand and Riaz, who shared their love for a cricket cap and adventure, but were separated by the Partition. Riaz risks his life to help Mukand and his family get on a ship to Bombay. A true story written and illustrated by acclaimed animator Nina Sabnani based on the memories of her father. See the book trailer here (Picture Book, 5+)

Chachaji's CupUma Krishnaswami weaves in the partition in a simple story about a boy and his uncle, whom he calls Chachaji. Chachaji always drinks his tea from his favorite cup, which reminds him of his mother and also the time of the Partition. However, when Neel breaks the cup by mistake and Chachaji’s health takes a turn for the worst, Neel must scramble and find a solution to get things back on track (Picture Book, 5+)

Ticket to IndiaA middle grade novel that serves as a good introduction to the Partition for the curious reader. Maya visits Pakistan when her grandfather dies to bring her grandmother back with her family to America. Her grandmother however has secret plans to visit India in search of hidden heirlooms at her childhood home. Maya and her sister get involved in some intense adventures and her trusty journal serves to draw out the shared histories and connections between India and Pakistan (Chapter Book, 9+)

Victory Song: Written by acclaimed author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, this riveting book is set in the time of the Indian freedom movement. With waves of revolution throughout both rural and urban India, twelve-year-old Neela is caught in the tide. When her father disappears after a protest march, Neela decided to go rescue him. With some hope from an underground freedom fighter and his friend, Neela's many adventures serves as a fast-paced narrative for at time of patriotic fervor and many complex ideas (Chapter Book, 7+)

Saffron, White and Green: The most remarkable feature of the Indian freedom movement was the independence was a result of nonviolent protest. This book introduces young readers to the struggles of ordinary people who answered the call of visionary leaders to fight injustice through resistance and demand freedom by peaceful means (Chapter Book, 9+)

Ahimsa : Anjali is shocked to learn that her mother is joining the Indian freedom struggle. As her mother gets more and more involved in the non-violent protest or ‘Ahimsa’ movement, Anjali learns about and has to make changes to her life - from giving up her favorite things to overcoming age-old prejudices. New release - can't wait to read! (Chapter book, 9+)

A Moment Comes : An evocative and gripping story set during the time of Partition puts together three very different narrators and their points of view. Tariq, a young Muslim boy employed as a secretary to a British cartographer in charge of dividing up the Indian subcontinent, Margaret, the daughter of the British cartographer and Anupreet, a young Sikh girl who works in their household (Young Adult, 12+)

Climbing the Stairs Padma Venkatraman’s debut novel explores life in India during the British rule through the aspirations and experiences of a 15 year-old-girl. Vidya wanted to go to college however, due to an unexpected traumatic incident, she has to live in her grandfather’s house which is extremely patriarchal and orthodox. The book explores many issues that affect South Asian community, especially gender and caste stereotypes (Young Adult, 12+)

ICYMI: Our picks on South Asian Girls' Right to Education

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