The end of an year is often a time for review and introspection for people - what did we do right this year, what could we have done better, what should we focus on next year?
At KitaabWorld, we are passionate about South Asian children's literature. As the year winds down, we took a step back to review and highlight some of our favorite South Asian kidlit books that were published in 2016.
It’s Ramadan Curious George: There is little doubt that Curious George is a household favorite. We loved that in 2016, Curious George celebrates Ramadan with his friend, Kareem. This book explains the key concepts and rituals around Ramadan in a fun and engaging way. A must have for those who observe Ramadan, and others who would like to learn about Ramadan too! See our other Ramadan books here.
Meet My Hindu Gods: This book provides a deeper dive on the various Hindu Gods and there are many! Many of us are overwhelmed by the complications of Hindu mythology especially when faced with the task of explaining it to a toddler, and this book breaks these concepts down in an accessible way.
The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk: This book is one of our favorites for toddlers and preschoolers! Tuk Tuks, or auto rickshaws are a popular mode of transport and the authors show case quintessential elements of South Asian culture - from chai to yoga! Now, we only wish there was an audio version of this song as well!
Owl and Cat: Family Is: Emma Apple has an incredible ability to break-down complex concepts for kids with appealing characters such as an Owl and a Cat. After her books books on Islam, she has explored the concept of Family, which is so important for every child. Any guesses which book would be our favorite baby shower gift in 2017?
Amma Tell me About Durga Puja: This book celebrates the story of one of the most powerful Hindu goddesses, Durga, and the story behind the week long durga puja celebrations. With its stunning illustrations and rhyming verse, this book appeals both to preschoolers and older children. Read the author's interview here.
The Blue Jackal: This book with its amazing Warli artwork is a retelling of one of the Panchatantra stories and makes a great read-aloud book. The story is great way to talk about loyalty, honesty and making the right choices at the right time.
The Boy and the Bindi: Vivek Shraya does it again! This book offers a teachable moment for both children and parents while showcasing a key element of Hindu culture. The Boy and the Bindi gently explores gender norms, and it shows an accepting parent who indulges her child in this exploration.
Chapter Books and Middle Grade
Book Uncle and Me: This is a great story about a little girl who wants to help someone, and how she goes about it. Yasmin, an avid reader (like us!) loved getting book recommendations and free books from her "Book Uncle", but unfortunately Book Uncle was being evicted due to lack of a permit. Read how Yasmin helps Book Uncle by rallying the community around her.
Malala: A Hero for All: True story - If you follow us on social media, you may have seen a how this book inspired a young reader. A customer bought this book from us for her daughter, and to her mom's surprise, this book inspired her to dress up as Malala for Halloween. Exposing our children to different worlds, often leads to pleasant surprises! This book succinctly describes Malala's story for a young child, and is a must-read.
Prince of Fire: Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature, and is the story behind why Diwali, the Festival of Lights is celebrated by over 800 million people around the world. We have many books on Diwali for toddlers and teenagers, so were delighted to see this new book which is perfect for 6-10 year olds, to help better understand the nuances of the Ramayana.
One Half from the East: When Obayada's family is struck by misfortune in war-torn Afghanistan, the family decides to adopt an age-old cultural practice to reverse their fortunes. Obayada, a per-adolescent girl becomes a 'bacha posh" and adopts the dress, mannerisms and freedoms of a young boy. The story weaves traditions, gender roles and expectations and their psychological impact to give a true picture of Afghanistan. A wonderful, if heartbreaking book and a great addition to stories from that region.
Eye Spy Indian Art: This delightful art book traces Indian art movement from pre-modern to contemporary times. Set up as an eye spy game, it is engaging, wonderfully informative and the art provides a gorgeous backdrop. It's perfect as a coffee table book as well as an introduction to Indian art for the art lovers in your family.
Tania Tanya: is another powerful book that successfully manages to tie in the teenage lives of two girls on either side to the border to a troubled time in India and Pakistan. Through an exchange of letters, the girls chronicle their lives from the mundane every day to high stakes at high school, to the horrors of violence and their psychological scars. Antara Ganguli's assured voice is pitch perfect.
My First Book of Hindi Words - An ABC Rhyming of Hindi Words and Indian Culture: This book gently introduces young children to Hindi words using an ABC rhyming format. The words are written in the devanagri script as well as a handy transliteration. Perfect for beginners, it provides a window to basic language and key images for those visiting India for the first time (including the little ones!).
A is for Anaar: For more serious Hindi learners, A is for Anaar is the perfect book. We love this book for many reasons! It outlines the entire devanagari script with transliteration so a six year old who can read English, can independently read this book and learn the Hindi pronunciation. It also has beautiful illustrations, a glossary and a number of references to common topics such as the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, or a famous South Asian leader, Aurangzeb. We value books that open up avenues for discussion and sharing of stories, and this one certainly does that.
Fatima the Spinner and the Tent: This story traces the travails of the Fatima and her journey from Morocco to the Mediterranean and finally to China. Recently published as an English-Urdu bilingual addition, the beautiful illustrated water color images and simple easy to read Urdu introduces young children to many different worlds. A wonderful addition to any library. To find more to find more Sufi stories, go here.
Hope you enjoyed learning about all these insightful books on South Asian kidlit published in 2016! We'd love to hear from you as to which ones were your favorite, or if there were any we missed.