This post about books to read on Independence day has been written by famous author Lubaina Bandukwala, the Founder of Peek-A-Book Lit Fest for kids.
We the people of India became masters of our own destiny 72 years ago on August 15. But most of us, born as we are in independent India, have no real sense of what it was like to be under colonial rule. Or to experience the incredible spirit of self-determination and self-confidence that fuelled the freedom movement. Our children are even a step further from understanding this. What better way then, to experience this world than through the pages of a book?
Here’s what I suggest you put on your bookshelf this Independence Day weekend. There are some lovely non-fiction popular histories written for kids. However, I am including not just history books but also books that celebrate the wonder that is India, in so many ways!
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For The Little Ones – Toddlers To 5 Years
The Indian Independence movement is a bit hard to compress into simple books for toddlers. These books introduce children to the movement through the life of Gandhiji. Three of my favourite books are all from Tulika Publishers:
My Gandhi Story by Nina Sabnani and Ankit Chadha;
My Gandhi Scrapbook by Sandhya Rao
Story Of Dandi March which comes with detailed line drawings of scenes from Bapu’s Dandi march that children can colour
Picture Gandhi by Sandhya Rao
All of them are visual and interactive in different ways – while My Gandhi Story celebrates Gandhiji through Warli story-telling the other two feature photos and objects that are associated with Gandhiji and give us a stronger insight into the greatness of the man, than words.
India: An Alphabet Ride by Shallu Jindal with fab illustrations by Priya Kuriyan (Etch/Natraj Publishers).
For an India Darshan-type book try Olivia Fraser’s Handmade In India (Pratham) in which the reader gets to travel around India’s villages to catch a glimpse of all the things that are handmade in India.
Or you can cook your way around the country with Preeti Vyas’s Fun Foods of India.
I am also adding Pika Nani’s Little Indians: Stories from Around the Country (Tulika).
I Can Read On My Own- 6 To 10 Years
Children in this age group will surely enjoy Nine Hidden Gems by Kumkum Somani.
These are a set of nine stories that make Gandhi real and relatable to children. This can be read by kids 8+, you can also read this aloud to your younger kids.
Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi
This is an interactive picture book that tells the story of Mahatma Gandhi as seen through the eyes of his grandson.
Kids can take a trip into the past with the Girls of India series by Puffin which includes a Harappan Adventure by Sunila Gupte,
A Maurayan Adventure by Subhadra Sen Gupta
A Chola Adventure by Anu Kumar
For The Older Lot- 10 To Young Adults
Saffron, White and Green – The Amazing Story of India’s Independence by Subhadra Sen Gupta (Puffin)
This is a very readable story of the freedom struggle with lots of fun facts. Of course, it is a lot of non-fiction for some children.
So for those who may not want to read as much try Amar Chitra Katha’s The Story of the Freedom Struggle.
Edited by Vanitha Ramchandani is part of a very good biography series by Hachette. Unique in that the bio is based on quotes, speeches, letters etc.
India’s Freedom Struggle features in several popular histories of India – The latest being A Children’s History of India also by Subhadra Sen Gupta (Rupa/Red Turtle).
I really liked that every chapter ends with a note on what was happening at that time elsewhere in the world – this gives the reader a whole new perspective.
I really enjoyed and therefore highly recommend The Incredible History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal and I am delighted to learn that there is now a children’s edition.
Need to do a school project? These books will help!
A Flag A Song and A Pinch of Salt: Freedom Fighters of India By Subhadra Sen Gupta (Puffin) 12+
We the Children of India by Leila Seth (Puffin) 11+
A History of India for Children by Roshen Dalal 11+ (Hachette’s biography series)
Swami Vivekananda: The Monk and the Reformer – Edited by Anu Kuma
Have you come across any books that celebrate India and would like to share with us? Please do! We’d love to add to our book list.