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The Best Hindu Kids Books

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Manjhi Moves a Mountain
Written by Nancy Churnin & illustrated by Danny Popovici
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Dashrath Manjhi used a hammer and chisel, grit, determination, and twenty years to carve a path through the mountain separating his poor village from the nearby village with schools, markets, and a hospital. Manjhi Moves a Mountain shows how everyone can make a difference if your heart is big enough.

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Rapunzel
Written by Chloe Perkins & illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

The classic story of Rapunzel gets a fresh twist in this vibrant Indian spin on the beloved fairy tale! Once upon a time, there was a girl with long, long hair, who lived in a tall, tall tower… The classic tale of Rapunzel gets a fresh twist in this third book of a brand-new board book series, Once Upon a World. With India as the backdrop, and vibrant artwork from illustrator Archana Sreenivasan, Rapunzel is still the same girl who lets down her beautiful hair—but she’s totally reimagined. Once Upon a World offers a multicultural take on the fairy tales we all know and love. Because these tales are for everyone, everywhere.

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Festival of Colors
Written by Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal & illustrated by Vashti Harrison
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-8

Youngsters can learn all about Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors, in this lush picture book from a “New York Times”-bestselling mother-and-son duo. Full color.

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Diwali
Written by Hannah Eliot & illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Learn all about the traditions of Diwali with this third book in the delightful board book series Celebrate the World, which highlights special occasions and holidays across the globe. Each autumn we gather with our friends and family and light our brightest lanterns. It’s time for Diwali, the festival of lights! In this lovely board book with illustrations from Archana Sreenivasan, readers learn that the five days of Diwali are a time to pray for a bountiful season, celebrate the special bonds between siblings, and rejoice in the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

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The Night Diary
Written by Veera Hiranandani
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.

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  • Outside In - “A compassionate story of homelessness and friendship, recycled art and community.” —Kirkus Reviews A twelve-year-old boy living on the streets of Chandigarh, India, stumbles across a secret garden full of sculptures and sees the possibility of another way of life as he bonds with the man who is creating the garden in this searingly beautiful novel—based on a true story. Twelve-year-old Ram is a street boy living behind a sign on a building’s rooftop, barely scraping by, winning games of gilli for money, occasionally given morsels of food through the kindness of Mr. Singh, a professor and father of his friend Daya. But his prowess at gilli (an outdoor game similar to cricket) is what gets him into big trouble. One day, when he wins against some schoolboys fair and square, the boys are infuriated. As they chase Ram across town, he flings his small sack of money over a factory gate where no one can get it, and disappears into the alleyways. But someone does get the money, Ram discovers when he sneaks back later on to rescue what is his—a strange-ish man on a bike who also seems to be collecting…rocks? Ram follows the man into the jungle, where he finds something unlike anything he’s seen—statues, hundreds of statues…no, thousands of them! Gods and goddesses and buildings, all at half scale. What is this place? It seems that the rock collecting man, Nek, has built them all! When Nek discovers that Ram has followed him, he has no choice but to let the boy stay and earn back the money Nek has already spent. How else can he keep him quiet? For his creations lie on land that isn’t technically his to build on. As Ram and Nek hesitantly become friends, Ram learns the true nature of this hidden village in the jungle, as well as the stories of Shiva and Lord Rama, stories of gods and goddesses that in strange ways seem to parallel Ram’s…and Nek’s. Based on the true story of one of India’s most beloved artists and modern day folk heroes, Nek Chand was a real man—a man displaced from his home in the midst of war and conflict; a man who missed his home so terribly he illegally reconstructed his entire village in miniature out of found objects and rock, recreating mosaic statues and sculptures spanning acres of jungle. Though Ram is a fictionalized character, Nek’s artwork is real. Intertwined with mythology and the sociopolitics of India, this is an exquisitely wrought, unexpected, and singular tale about the connection of community and how art can help make us human.

  • Shubh Diwali! - Diwali has arrived! Rangoli art decorates the floor and strings of flowers hang around the doors. Now it’s time to ring the bells, light the lamps, and welcome the new year with family and friends. A sweet introduction to the Hindu festival of lights.

  • Diwali Lights - Every year in October or November people come together to celebrate Diwali. It is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. The stories woven into the festival of Diwali celebrate the victory of good over evil and light over darkness, and people celebrate this festival of lights by lighting clay lamps and candles, sharing sweets, exchanging gifts, offering prayers to gods and goddesses and watching fireworks. Introduce your little one to the awe of this brilliant festival through dazzling photographs and Singh’s lyrical prose.

  • Holi Colors - Experience Holi with every color of the rainbow! This Hindu celebration known as the festival of colors and the festival of love signifies the end of winter, the arrival of spring and the victory of good over evil. A time to laugh, play, visit friends and get messy! Little ones will love exploring the colors of Holi through the vibrant photographs and Singh’s playful rhymes in this brilliant concept book.

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Embrace the Chicken
Written & illustrated by Mahtab Narsimhan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Even though she only left Mumbai a few months ago, Shivani isn’t feeling like such an outsider anymore. She likes her new school. She finally has a best friend. But when her mother volunteers for the school’s annual fundraiser, Shivani is sure she will completely embarrass her. Especially if she cooks one of the “stinky” dishes that Shivani loves but is too ashamed to eat in front of her friends. On the day of the fair, the moment Shivani walks into the gym she knows her worst fears have come true: the unmistakable scent of Indian spices is in the air. But then she sees that dozens of people are lined up at her mom’s stall. It’s the most popular one!

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Farmer Falgu Goes to the Kumbh Mela
Written by Chitra Soundar & illustrated by Kanika Nair
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-9

In this third book from the wildly popular series, Farmer Falgu heads to the Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad. There are plenty of sights to see and events to experience, but his plans go awry when he stops to lend a helping hand to anyone who asks. This charming tale by Chitra Soundar is about being kind even when it’s not the easy choice. Kanika Nair’s striking illustrations capture the colorful chaos and celebration that the Kumbh Mela really is, and as always, the reader is rooting for the lovable farmer who always sees the glass half full.

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The Day the Buddha Woke Up
Written by Andrea Miller & illustrated by Rima Fujita
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

The heart of the Buddha’s story in a handful of words— beautifully illustrated by a world-renowned artist. The Day the Buddha Woke Up is a board book that will captivate children of all ages. It’s the perfect way to introduce young children to the story of the Buddha—the clear, gracefully written story puts the Buddha’s awakening into language children can understand. The simple arc of the Buddha’s questions, his quest, and his ultimate understanding will provide a meaningful and peaceful story that children—and their parents!—will love returning to again and again.

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Ganesha's Sweet Tooth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The bold, bright colors of India leap right off the page in this fresh and funny picture book retelling (with a twist) of how Ganesha came to help write the epic poem of Hindu literature, the <em>Mahabharata</em>. Ganesha is just like any other kid, except that he has the head of an elephant and rides around on a magical mouse. And he loves sweets, especially the traditional dessert <em>laddoo</em>. But when Ganesha insists on biting into a super jumbo jawbreaker <em>laddoo</em>, his tusk breaks off! Ganesha is terribly upset, but with the help of the wise poet Vyasa, and his friend Mr. Mouse, he learns that what seems broken can actually be quite useful after all. With vibrant, graphic illustrations, expressive characters, and offbeat humor, this is a wonderfully inventive rendition of a classic tale.

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Child of Wonder
Written by Marty Haugen & illustrated by Stephen Nesser
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Bestselling composer Marty Haugen’s “Child of Wonder,” written for the baptism of his godson, celebrates the sacredness of human life and childhood. Now in this wonderful book, artist Stephen Nesser illuminates the lyrics with scenes of childhood rituals from faith traditions and cultures around the world, who play together to form community. These vibrant illustrations are a perfect complement to Marty’s inspired poetry. Included with the volume is a link to a free mp3 download of the song, as well as the full notation of “Child of Wonder” for families that wish to sing along.

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