Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to India. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about India.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.
When it comes to children’s stories about India, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Monkey’s Clever Tale to popular sellers like The Jungle Book to some of our favorite hidden gems like Manjhi Moves a Mountain.
We hope this list of kids books about India can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!
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.
In a small village in India, a boy grows up to make a huge difference in his community by planting trees to celebrate the birth of every girl. Based on a true story, this book celebrates environmental sustainability, community activism and ecofeminism.<br/><br/>This is the story of Sundar Paliwal, who is from a small Indian village ruled by ancient customs. As he grows to be a man, Sundar suffers much heartbreak and decides it is time for change to come to his village. Sundar is determined to live in a place where girls are valued as much as boys and where the land is not devastated by irresponsible mining. Sundar’s plan? To celebrate the birth of every girl with the planting of 111 trees. Though many villagers resist at first, Sundar slowly gains their support. And today, there are over a quarter of a million trees in his village, providing food, water and opportunities for women to earn a living. His efforts have turned a once barren and deforested landscape into a fertile and prosperous one where girls can thrive.<br/><br/>Based on true events in the life of Sundar Paliwal, and written in collaboration with him, Rina Singh’s uplifting story shows how one person can make a difference in a community. Beautiful illustrations by Marianne Ferrer sensitively bring the evolution of the village to life. With strong links to the science curriculum, this book offers lessons on environmental awareness, sustainability and stewardship, as well as the concept of ecofeminism. It also explores ideas of social development, community and culture, and the character education traits of responsibility and cooperation. A thoroughly researched author’s note with photographs and more information about the village of Piplantri is included.
Push, pull, and slide the scenes to bring the classic story of The Jungle Book to life.
Meet Mowgli the man-cub, he’s wild as wild can be! First Stories: The Jungle Book is a perfect introduction to this classic tale. Push, pull, and turn mechanisms bring the story to life and introduce all the main characters: Mowgli, Baloo, Shere Khan, and Father Wolf. This well-loved fairytale is beautifully imagined for a new generation by illustrator Miriam Bos.
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.
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.
Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity: A Tale of the Genius Ramanujan - A young mathematical genius from India searches for the secrets hidden inside numbers – and for someone who understands him – in this gorgeous picture-book biography. A mango . . . is just one thing. But if I chop it in two, then chop the half in two, and keep on chopping, I get more and more bits, on and on, endlessly, to an infinity I could never ever reach. In 1887 in India, a boy named Ramanujan is born with a passion for numbers. He sees numbers in the squares of light pricking his thatched roof and in the beasts dancing on the temple tower. He writes mathematics with his finger in the sand, across the pages of his notebooks, and with chalk on the temple floor. “What is small?” he wonders. “What is big?” Head in the clouds, Ramanujan struggles in school – but his mother knows that her son and his ideas have a purpose. As he grows up, Ramanujan reinvents much of modern mathematics, but where in the world could he find someone to understand what he has conceived? Author Amy Alznauer gently introduces young readers to math concepts while Daniel Miyares’s illustrations bring the wonder of Ramanujan’s world to life in the inspiring real-life story of a boy who changed mathematics and science forever. Back matter includes a bibliography and an author’s note recounting more of Ramanujan’s life and accomplishments, as well as the author’s father’s remarkable discovery of Ramanujan’s Lost Notebook.
Feast of Peas - Hard-working Jiva might not be the only one anticipating a delicious feast of peas from his garden. Every morning, Jiva works in his garden until the sun turns as red as a bride’s sari. He plants peas and beans, potatoes and tomatoes, eggplants and okra in his vegetable patch. When his friend Ruvji admires his plants Jiva sings, Plump peas, sweet peas, Lined- up-in-the-shell peas. Peas to munch, peas to crunch A feast of peas for lunch. But each time Jiva is ready to pick the peas for his feast, they’re already gone. What has happened? From the award-winning author and illustrator team who created Tiger in My Soup, this original story set in India features a deliciously amusing mystery about gardening, anticipation, hard work, and generosity.
Gift for Amma: Market Day in India - In this #OwnVoices book inspired by the author’s hometown of Chennai, India, a girl explores the vibrant rainbow of delights in a southern Indian street market as she searches for a gift for her amma (mother). Endnotes explain all the items on sale and introduce readers to markets around the world.
The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng - 2020 Green Earth Book Award Long list<p> 2020 Crystal Kite Awards - Southeast Division Winner<p> 2020-2021 Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Award List<p> Notable Social Studies Trade Books list - Winning Title! <p> 2019 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award - Winning Title<p> Florida Book Award Gold Winner <p> Recipient of the 2019 Eureka! Honors Award<p> Winner -Best of 2019 Kids Books - Most Inspiring Category <p> As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make.
Every morning, a young girl walks her grandmother to the Aajibaichi Shala, the school that was built for the grandmothers in her village to have a place to learn to read and write. The narrator beams with pride as she drops her grandmother off with the other aajis to practice the alphabet and learn simple arithmetic. A moving story about family, women and the power of education–when Aaji learns to spell her name you’ll want to dance along with her. <br> Women in countless countries continue to endure the limitations of illiteracy. Unjust laws have suppressed the rights of girls and women and kept many from getting an education and equal standing in society. Based on a true story from the village of Phangane, India, this brilliantly illustrated book tells the story of the grandmothers who got to go to school for the first time in their lives.
As a young man in India, Gandhi saw firsthand how people were treated unfairly. Refusing to accept injustice, he came up with a brilliant way to fight back through quiet, peaceful protest. He used his methods in South Africa and India, where he led a nonviolent revolution that freed his country from British rule. Through his calm, steady heroism, Gandhi changed the lives of millions and inspired civil rights movements all over the world, proving that the smallest of us can be the most powerful.
From C for chai to Y for yoga, this fresh, rhyming alphabet book takes young readers on a spirited journey to discover the people, places, lifestyles, and language of India. Lush illustrations from debut illustrator Hazel Ito bring to life the beauty, wonder, and diversity of this vast and vibrant country.
Return to the Jungle - In Return to the Jungle, the middle-grade sequel to Bear Grylls’s Spirit of the Jungle, Mak returns to the jungle where he is determined to set a captured endangered elephant free…
Thread of Love - Three siblings enjoy the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan—a celebration of the special relationship between brothers and sisters—in this vibrant reinterpretation of the classic song Frère Jacques (Are You Sleeping) from New York Times bestselling mother/son duo Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal. It’s time for the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan, the celebration of the special lifelong relationship shared by brothers and sisters everywhere. Join two sisters as they lovingly make rakhi—thread bracelets adorned with beads, sequins, sparkles, and tassels—for their brother. And then see their brother present them with toys and sweets and special gifts! New York Times bestselling authors Surishtha and Kabir Sehgals’ irresistible text, set to the tune of the classic song Frère Jacques (Are You Sleeping), will have little ones singing along while they learn about Indian culture. And the vibrant illustrations by Zara Gonzalez Hoang will have readers wishing they could step right into the characters’ colorful crafting world. This enchanting picture book includes instructions for making rakhi!
The Night Diary - 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.
Ahimsa - In this historical middle-grade novel, Gandhi asks for one member of each family to join the fight for independence from the British, and when Anjali's mother is jailed for doing so, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother's work.
Meet Violet Remy-Robinson, an amateur Sherlock Holmes in the making in this captivating new series, perfect for fans of Chris Riddell and Robin Stevens’s Wells & Wong mysteries.
“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.
A princess marries a man she loves in spite of his impending death. Due to her devotion and persistence, she is granted a wish, which she uses wisely. Themes: love, devotion, bravery.
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.
Mohandas Gandhi’s 24-day March to the Sea, from March 12 to April 5, 1930, was a pivotal moment in India’s quest to become an independent country no longer ruled by Great Britain. With over 70 marchers, Gandhi walked from his hometown near Ahmedabab to the sea coast by the village of Dandi. The march was a non-violent means to protest the taxes that Great Britain had imposed on salt – not the salt that the Indians could get from the sea, but the salt that Great Britain forced them to buy. Gandhi believed that peaceful protests were an effective way to challenge British law, and his peaceful but ultimately successful movement became known as Satyagraha.
Animal Boogie [with CD (Audio)] [With CD (Audio)] - Swing and sway with the creatures of the jungle and teach coordination with an easy-to-learn dance routine! Children’s singer Fred Penner brings his voice to a CD version of the song that accompanies the book.
Mahatma Gandhi: My First Mahatma Gandhi - This board book version of _Mahatma Gandhi_—from the critically acclaimed, mulitimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of the father of India. As a young teenager in India, Gandhi led a rebellious life and went against his parents’ values. But as a young man, he started to form beliefs of his own that harked back to the Hindu principles of his childhood. Gandhi began to dream of unity for all peoples and religions. Inspired by this idea, he led peaceful protests to free India from British rule and unite the country—ending violence and unfair treatment. His bravery and free-thinking made him one of the most iconic people of peace in the world, known as Mahatma, meaning “great soul.” Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this amazing activist, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!
The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling’s beloved collection of short stories about a boy raised by wolves who learns the Laws of the Jungle. Mowgli, lost in the deep jungle as a child, is adopted into a family of wolves. Hunted by Shere Khan, the Bengal tiger, Mowgli is allowed to run with the wolf pack under the protection of Bagheera, the black panther, and Baloo, the brown bear who teaches wolf cubs the Laws of the Jungle.
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.
Bindiya in India is the story of a young Indian-American girl’s first trip to India for an Indian wedding. Weaving together Hindi and English, the children’s illustrated book takes place in the 1990s. Follow Bindiya as she meets her extended family for the first time, celebrates Indian wedding traditions, and creates memories and bonds to last a lifetime.
This picture book brings an international twist to the beloved nursery rhyme, The Wheels on the Bus, by bringing you aboard a busy three-wheeled taxi in India! Anything can happen as the tuk tuk rolls through town—from an elephant encounter to a tasty treat to a grand fireworks display. And in the midst of all the action, one thing’s for sure: passengers young and old love every minute of their exciting ride as the wheels of the tuk tuk go round and round!
Extreme weather affects two children’s lives in very different ways and shows how the power of nature can bring us together.
One girl. One boy. Their lives couldn’t be more different.
While she turns her shoulder to sandstorms and blistering winds, he cuffs his pants when heavy rains begin to fall.
As the weather becomes more severe, their families and animals must flee to safety–and their destination shows that they might be more alike than they seem.
The journeys of these two children experiencing weather extremes in India highlight the power of nature and the resilience of the the human spirit.
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.
Spirit of the Jungle - This middle-grade re-imagination of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is a nod to the original with a fresh adventure and survival story from the #1 survivalist himself, Bear Grylls. Thirteen-year-old Mak and his conservationist mother have the opportunity to travel from their home in London to a remote part of India, a village on the Wainganga River. Mak feels most at home outdoors, the wind in his hair and the chill pinching his face. But once they arrive, Mak finds India to be staggeringly different from what he expected, the suffocating heat, and the constant calls of the jungle. It’s worlds away from Britain. The villagers tease Mak with folk stories about a boy named Mowgli who went missing in the jungle as a baby and was raised by wild wolves. He knows it’s just a folk story, but Mak can’t help but be threatened by so many wild animals. When a routine outing turns treacherous, a monsoon divides Mak from his parents, leaving him alone and exposed to the dangers of the wild. He pulls himself together and throws himself into survival. A wolf befriends Mak and guides him on his journey. Mak’s quest to find his parents and his way back to the village is fraught with peril, poachers, adventure, and a new appreciation for this exotic and fearsome jungle. Spirit of the Jungle is a thrilling way to introduce new readers to The Jungle Book, written by the star of such hit wildnerness survival and reality TV shows as The Island with Bear Grylls, Man vs. Wild / Born Survivor, Bear Grylls: Mission Survive, and Running Wild with Bear Grylls.
Tiger Boy - “One of the new tiger cubs has escaped from the reserve!” When a tiger cub escapes from a nature reserve near Neel’s island village, the rangers and villagers hurry to find her before the cub’s anxious mother follows suit and endangers them all. Mr. Gupta, a rich newcomer to the island, is also searching—he wants to sell the cub’s body parts on the black market. Neel and his sister, Rupa, resolve to find the cub first and bring her back to the reserve where she belongs. The hunt for the cub interrupts Neel’s preparations for an exam to win a prestigious scholarship at a boarding school far from home. Neel doesn’t mind—he dreads the exam and would rather stay on his beloved island in the Sunderbans of West Bengal with his family and friends. But through his encounter with the cub, Neil learns that sometimes you have to take risks to preserve what you love. And sometimes you have to sacrifice the present for the chance to improve the future.
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.
Tigers at Twilight - Tigers in trouble? That’s what Jack and Annie find when the Magic Tree House whisks them and Teddy, the enchanted dog, to a forest in India. The rare tigers are being trapped by greedy poachers! Can Jack and Annie find a way to help? Or will a fierce tiger eat them instead?
As the Name Day celebration approaches, a young kitten tries to deserve a noble name, by following the path of the beautiful Bengal tiger.
A Junior Library Guild Selection 2017
Amazon Top Twenty Children's Book of the Year 2017
Amazon Best Book of the month December 2017
Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017
Texas Maverick Graphic Novel 2017
Northern California Indie Bookseller Association Long-List Title
A beautiful myth from India comes to life in this enchanting, New York Times bestselling picture book.
Near a majestic mountain in a vast jungle with many mango trees, it has not rained for weeks and weeks. The village well and pond are dry. Monkey and his friends look everywhere for water, but they have no luck. And then Monkey remembers a story his mama used to tell him, a story about how peacocks can make it rain by dancing. So he sets out to see if the story is true…
This little-known legend, told with dramatic rhythm and illustrated with the colors and textures of India, is sure to delight and inspire.
Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson tells the story of how his grandfather taught him to turn darkness into light in this uniquely personal and vibrantly illustrated tale that carries a message of peace. How could he—a Gandhi—be so easy to anger? One thick, hot day, Arun Gandhi travels with his family to Grandfather Gandhi’s village. Silence fills the air—but peace feels far away for young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, his anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud? In this remarkable personal story, Arun Gandhi, with Bethany Hegedus, weaves a stunning portrait of the extraordinary man who taught him to live his life as light. Evan Turk brings the text to breathtaking life with his unique three-dimensional collage paintings.
This endearing story of identification and values shows the rewards in looking closely and thinking imaginatively.
Lali finds a little feather in the field. Is it lost? Lali sets out to find feather a home, but one bird after another rejects it. The feather is too small for Rooster, too slow for Crow, and too plain for Peacock. Once Lali decides to keep the little feather and discovers all the things she can do with it, the other birds begin to recognize its value.
Farhana Zia’s charming tale employs an inventive circular structure that reveals the importance of looking beyond first impressions. Illustrator Stephanie Fizer Coleman brings this delightful story of imagination and inspiration to life.
The Elephant's Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India - Step back into ancient India as Marcia Williams brings her inviting comic-book style to eight animal folktales that continue to enchant children today. <BR>Have you heard about the elephant and the dog who became not just unlikely companions, but the best of friends? Or the traveler whose greed for gold lures him straight into the scrawny tiger s trap? How about the talkative tortoise who can t keep his mouth closed to save his life? Drawing from three books of best-loved Indian folktales Hitopadesha Tales, Jataka Tales, and Panchantra Tales this graphic storybook collection, alive with kid-friendly illustrations, is infused with humor and warmth.”
Little Sid - In this charming and accessible picture book, Ian Lendler and Xanthe Bouma offer a heart-warming account of the childhood of the Buddha. A spoiled young prince, Siddhartha got everything he ever asked for, until he asked for what couldn’t be given—happiness. Join Little Sid as he sets off on a journey of discovery and encounters mysterious wise-folk, terrifying tigers, and one very annoying mouse. With Lendler’s delightful prose and Bouma’s lyrical artwork, Little Sid weaves traditional Buddhist fables into a classic new tale of mindfulness, the meaning of life, and an awakening that is as profound today as it was 2,500 years ago.
Monkey's Clever Tale - The mischievous Ameerah Monkey promises Crocodile her tail and those of her parents, brothers, and sisters in exchange for a ride across the river in this version of a Jataka tale from India.
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