Intrigued when you hear India? Excited about a trip ahead? Find out about the colors, chaos and everything else that’s India through these books that are as whimsical and exotic as the country itself.
Excuse Me, Is This India? by Anita Leutiwiler and Anushka Ravishankar
A mouse peeping out of an auto-rickshaw is the image on the cover. Quilt like spreads with pictures stitched together bring city scenes to life as we go further into the book. Nonsense verse adds whim to the silly tale. And through a child’s imagination we are magically traveling the streets in India in this wonderful pick that’ll prep you for a trip.
Lily’s Garden of India by Jeremy Smith
A little girl is skipping in her garden. Not just an ordinary garden but an exotic one that her mother has carefully designed and nurtured with plants from all around the world. Welcomed by the Garden of India, Lily, “speaks” to jasmines and marigolds. She meets neem, mango, banyan and coconut trees as well. And during every encounter, the plants share their story of who they are and what they do. And through their conversation we get a glimpse of places, people and customs in India. We are also introduced to the tea plant and the lotus flower before a tired Lily retires and goes back to mother. Flowers, plants and fruits are a common sight anywhere. And isn’t it a great idea to know the native flora when you visit?
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia
In this funny and light-hearted story we meet a family complete with a set of entertaining grandparents from India, particularly Dadaji, the old man. Although the story does not take place in India, it still takes us to distant villages through Dadaji’s tall tales. Once we get past his whimsical and rustic adventures, we are ready to roll out some rotis with our little hero, Aneel. At the end, we’ve picked up the recipe to delicious rotis, a bunch of useful Hindi words, and a fun tale to savor on the flight to Mumbai.
The Road to Mumbai by Ruth Jeyaveeran
Shobha, our little female lead and her snobbish pet monkey, Fuzzy Patel, are on their way to a wedding in Mumbai. But the road to Mumbai isn’t quick or easy. They pass several landscapes and meet many others, although Fuzzy refuses to invite anyone. Be it the curious camel that offers a ride or the interesting line-up of elephants. But everyone somehow ends up at the wedding! And where is Shobha at the end? Quirky with sights and things commonly labeled Indian, this book capitalizes on impulsive imagination, playful use of colors and an amusing storyline.
Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami
Monsoon quite instantly transports us to a hot and humid city in India, dying for the clouds to burst and wet the earth. The anticipation is building in everyone even as life moves on unabated. Extremely detailed illustrations capture the perfect image of a bustling city in India with wandering cattle, busy hoardings, posters and road signs, and two-wheelers and taxis in action. Soon, we feel the wind and smell the rain. Narrated in the voice of a girl, the words bring the city alive. This is a great book to introduce living in India to young children.
Want some more ideas on traveling to India?
How about playing some songs with your kids! Here are our suggestions of great kid’s music from India, both from films and non-films.
Hindi Film Music:
Lakdi ki kathi from the movie Masoom.
Ichak Dana Beechak Dana from Shree 420.
Sare Ke Sare Gama Ko Lekar from Parichay and check out the animated version.
Remama Remama Re from Andaz.
Sare Jahan se Achcha—this one also has a nice video with scenes from around India.
And how about checking out the Indian national anthem, Jana Gana Mana? Here it is.
Let’s also make some Indian-inspired crafts and food for a complete learning unit on India.
Easy Indian lanterns from glass jars and tissue paper.
Flowers from handprints.
Sweet Indian treat—besan ladoo.
Almond spiced milk.
Yummy greens—sarson ka sag.
© 2013, Meera Sriram. All rights reserved.