As many of you know, at Kitaabworld, we are children’s books aficionados with a focus on South Asian children’s literature. We shared our favorites from 2016, and now we’re here to tell you about some books to look out for in 2017!
Overall, it’s an exciting time for South Asian children’s literature. Many much-needed children’s books relating to growing up South Asian in America are being released in 2017 by authors and publishers around the world.
Make some space on your book shelves, because you will definitely want to add many of these to your reading lists! Pre-order them now at Kitaabworld!
Harini and Padmini Say Namaste (Bharat Babies, Spring, 2017): In this latest Bharat Babies book, two of our favorite characters share a story. Harini and Padmini attend a yoga class together, and learn to stretch and twist their bodies, while learning some asanas. A fun read for the little ones, especially to get them excited to attend a yoga class. Brownie points if you can guess the subtle diverse angle too.
Celebrate Holi with Me! (Self-published, January, 2017): After her successful book on Durga Puja, Shoumi Sen wants to teach toddlers about Holi. Holi is a fun festival celebrated by many South Asians around the world. What could be more fun than messy play with colors, music, dance and yummy food? The bright illustrations and simple text explain the story behind Holi alongside the fun and festivities. This book is great for the young ones, and makes a great addition to our Holi books collection!
Let’s Celebrate: Happy Holi: Fresh off the printing press, this book is great for classrooms. It provides a brief introduction into Hinduism, its tenets, explains the story behind Holi, and also how Holi is celebrated. With real life pictures and a greeting card activity at the end, this book introduces Holi to kids around the world in a meaningful way.
Unhappy Moon (Tulika Books, January 2017): The Moon is sad because everyone is always sleeping when she comes out. She’s jealous of the Sun, and wishes that everyone was out when she is out in the sky. So what does she do? Read the book to find out! One of India’s leading publishers, Tulika has many other fun books for kids.
Malala: Activist for Girl’s Education (Charlesbridge, February, 2017) - A beautifully illustrated biography on Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unlike other books on Malala, this book is unique because it provides a detailed account of her life up until the assassination attempt, an insight into the values her parents raised her with, the opportunities she received, and the encouragement along the way which led her to have the courage to hold her own, and demand the right to go to a school. Highly recommended!
Milky Way (Yali Books, May, 2017) - What would a child do when their friend needs help? Help them of course! In this fun bedtime read, young readers learn how Tashi decides to help his friend, the Moon because he is worried that he seems thinner than usual. And what does the Moon have to say?
Hanuman Moves a Mountain (Bharat Babies, Spring, 2017) - This classic story from the Ramayana, recounts the story of the monkey God Hanuman who moved an entire mountain to find the right herb to save Laxman, the brother of Rama. Kudos to Bharat Babies for giving a new life (and heft!) to this story!
The Gauntlet (Salaam Reads, March, 2017): The Gauntlet is best described as a thriller about a young Muslim girl and her two best friends battling camel spiders, red scorpions, and the maniacal Lord Amari as they try to rescue themselves from this mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand - we're psyched and definitely want to read this one!
Step Up To The Plate (Tu Books, May, 2017): We loved Book Uncle and Me, and now are looking forward to another inspiring story by Uma Krishnaswami. In this story, a nine-year-old Maria Singh is placed in a difficult situation, and has to decide whether she should step up and find her voice in an unfair world around her. Growing up, I was intrigued by how people around the world were affected by the world wars, and so we’re excited to know that this book takes us back to 1945 during the time of World War II.
Amina’s Voice (Salaam Reads, March, 2017): Hena Khan ventures into middle grade novels, after her popular picture books like It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. This book is about a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community. A classic example of a “mirrors and windows” book. See Hena’s interview here.
Amla Mater (Yali Books, August 2017): The constant pull for the feeling of “home” in two different continents defines the life of an immigrant. While some leave their country voluntarily, some are forced to leave. This graphic memoir is about one such immigrant’s meandering journey from her ancestral village in Kerala to the United Kingdom.
Pashmina (First Second, October 2017): Growing up in India, Pashmina shawls are all too familiar to us. They were passed from one generation to next, and revered by everyone. They truly did have a history of their own. Nidhi Chanani’s stunning illustrations in Pashmina tell the story of an Indian-American girl who struggles to fit in at high school, and then discovers more about her family's history with the help of her mother's magical pashmina. Another novel we’re anxiously awaiting!
You Bring the Distant Near (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September, 2017): We can’t wait to get hold of award-winning author Mitali Perkins' latest book! For any immigrant family, the difference in perspectives across generations are all too familiar - grandparents are usually in lands far away, parents bridging the gap, and children exploring their dual identity growing up in America.This story with women protagonists explores immigrant culture evolve over generations as it adapts, assimilates and also hold its own.
That Thing We Call A Heart (HarperTeen, May, 2017): The title - a lovely translation of a mellifluous Urdu phrase - is enough to make us swoon. A romance between a young girl, Shabnam Qureshi, and a young boy, Jamie, a tense relationship with a former best friend, Farah, and a reconnection to her family through her father’s Urdu poetry, Sheba Karim’s contemporary humorous book is sure to interest many young adult readers.
When Dimple Met Rishi (Simon Pulse, May, 2017): First off, what a stunning book cover! We love that it has an Indian-American teen front and center (also coffee!). A fun lighthearted read about the perspectives of two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married. We read the first three chapters of the book, and can’t wait to read the rest!
Saints and Misfits (Salaam Reads, June, 2017): This book deals with angsts and issues troubling a young Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager. Does this boy called Jeremy think she’s cool enough? Could she or will she date him? This book also touches on the struggles a teenager faces in terms of living by the expectations of her family and community vs. doing what she wants to do - something all teenagers can relate to!
A Crown of Wishes (St. Martin’s Griffin, March, 2017): This book would provide a perfect escape in these troubled times. We look forward to curling up on a couch and travelling to a fantasy world far away with Gauri, the princess of Bharata. Roshni Chokshi’s fun fantasy tales are a sheer pleasure to read.
Not Yet/Abhi Nahin! (Tulika Books, January 2017): As parents, we’re all too familiar with the bedtime struggles. Children are somehow never tired to go to bed, yet collapse in five minutes once they are tucked in! In this book, author Nandana Dev Sen captures exactly those struggles in a fun verse. Also be available in Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam.
RELATED: See more bilingual English-Hindi books
Wanderlust (Yali Books, April, 2017): We’re always looking for ways to keep our children busy, and expose them to South Asia in simple ways. A coloring book which depicts the diversity and vastness of India from the churches of Goa to the Himalayan peaks seems like just the solution. Releasing just in time for the summer holidays!
In addition to all the above books, we also keep a lookout of books to add to our World Stories collection, which gives children a window to the world around them. Here are two new additions to our World Stories collection in 2017:
This is How We Do It (Chronicle Books, May, 2017): In this globalized world, children are often curious about the lives of children in other countries. This book provides exquisite details about the daily lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia. We applaud the extensive research and attention to detail by Matt Lamothe in creating this book.
Around the World in a Bathtub (Charlesbridge, June, 2017): Millions of children around the world take a bath every day. They always struggle to get in, but once they’re in, do they want to get out? Just a few minutes more is what we always hear! Learn about the bathing rituals of families around the world.
[Note at the time of writing this piece in January, 2017, we had not received information from many publishers in South Asia about their 2017 releases. We will update this post as we hear more information.]
Check out our latest "Counter Islamophobia Through Books" campaign