For the little bookworms: Must reads for children

There is something about the printed words that many hold them close to their heart. We bring to you some of our favourite books, which we enjoyed reading thoroughly. Read them and unlock the hidden world of different eras.

Reading a book is like opening a little world that is almost like a second life. There is something about books that draws many of us and transports us to a different world. What draws us can’t be summed. It is up to us to discover. The magical world residing inside, the eagerness to read as much, to know how the story unfolds. Books have an unsaid charm which is enough for a person to stick on to. There are millions of books out there, just like us. And these soak and latch a world of journeys and lives for you to discover and absorb. Here, we bring to you a dose on ‘books’. No wait! Hang on before you flip the page. This is absolutely not about your regular school textbooks, which of course are a great source of knowledge but dry to the core. And before school authorities come running after me for calling schoolbooks dry and boring, let’s get on with the topic, which is ‘Must Reads for every child and young adults’.

Now that you know the topic, think in your mind which according to you are the ones that you would consider your favourite or simply give them numbers, top four or five or say ten. Talking to children is always fun. Of late when I had this discussion with the friends of my children, I got to know that these days’ children are in love with books that have demigods fighting with mythological monsters or fantasy detective heroes. When I read one book each from the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series and the Sisters Grimm series, I could relate to the kids and their minds. These books are just so overpowering, in terms of psychedelic action, imaginary fantasy world and magical powers of the protagonists. After the discussion that I had with children, a thought kept crossing my mind. Thought of putting together a list of some books that are Indian favourites. Putting together the list took me some time as I met some authors, interacted with working singles, parents of grown up children and children of course. Now that I have the list with me ready, I am happy to share with you all.

Summer is about to fade and monsoons are knocking on the doors. All you parents, on weekends when skies pour torrential rains, sit with your children and relive your childhood by reading and celebrating the spirit of being a child.

The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond

This is a delightful read for all the Ruskin Bond fans. Written specially for children, the fluid story of the book can easily be enjoyed by adults too. Set in a small hill town, the book narrates the story of a little girl Binny and her love for a blue silk umbrella, which she gets from some Japanese tourists in exchange of a necklace with leopard’s claw. When Binny roams around the town with her blue umbrella, her umbrella causes immense jealousy amongst the village adults.

A village elder, Ram Bharosa who runs a grocery shop and has a penchant for newer things manages to steal her umbrella with the help of a local native. Depressed to see his plight, Binny visits Ram Bharosa and leaves her umbrella to his shop. Without guilt he flaunts it to the villagers but they somehow manage to know the truth about his liasions and leave him abandoned. Both Binny and Ram Bharosa feel depressed, one without the umbrella and the other with the umbrella but no one to notice. Eventually, Ram Bharosa obtains a bear claw, which is even considered luckier than a leopard’s. To pay back, he makes a bear claw pendant and gifts it to Binny. The end is happy.

Malgudi Days by RK Narayan

Introducing this collection of stories, R. K. Narayan describes how in India ‘the writer has only to look out of the window to pick up a character and thereby a story’. Malgudi Days is the marvellous result. Here Narayan portrays an astrologer, a snake-charmer, a postman, a vendor of pies and chappatis – all kinds of people, drawn in full colour and endearing domestic detail.

And under his magician’s touch the whole imaginary city of Malgudi springs to life, revealing the essence of India and of human experience. The setting for most of Narayan’s stories is the fictional town of Malgudi, first introduced in Swami and Friends. His narratives highlight social context and provide a feel for his characters through everyday life. He created a fictional town that stood for reality, brought out the humour and energy of ordinary life.

City of Stars by Ekta Ohri

Complete with 12 real life stories, City of Stars is an interactive storybook for children of all age groups. To make sustainable living a priority, it’s time for us to take stock of the otherwise dire situation and combat it by adopting a rather sustainable approach. Written by Ekta Ohri, the founder of LitJoys, an early learning venture which promises to connect children to nature, the book captures the life episodes of Abdu and his trust with carpooling, a plastic free wedding, a nature walk, water segregation and more such interesting subjects. Any child would resonate the way Abdu enjoys the Eco-Lohri or goes about planting trees as well as chooses to go green on Diwali. The book highlights the very essence of the importance of choosing a sustainable living, and embracing it with pride.

The book is perfect for the parents of little ones to talk about and bring about awareness of issues that plague our planet. There is a complete breakdown of resources. The book shows how through their little efforts, children too can make a huge difference in creating an environmental consciousness. Designed beautifully in a colourful engaging story format, the book is uses rhyming and easy languages for young kids to understand without being too preachy. 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

This story Charlie written by Roald Dahl is a fantastic book when a little boy gets all of the chocolate he could dream of. Poor Charlie Bucket is practically starving to death, but his luck changes for the better when he wins a lifetime supply of candy–and a chance to visit Willy Wonka’s fabulous, top-secret chocolate factory. Five lucky people who find a Golden Ticket wrapped in one of Willy Wonka’s wonderful candy bars win a visit to his mysterious chocolate factory. Charlie Bucket is too poor to buy more than one candy bar a year, so when he wins a ticket, his whole family celebrates.

The four other lucky children are not as nice as Charlie, and they’re punished for their bad behavior. Greedy Augustus Gloop falls into the chocolate river he’s trying to drink from and gets sucked up a pipe. Chewing-gum addict Violet Beauregarde grabs a stick of gum that blows her up into a giant blueberry. Spoiled Veruca Salt is deemed a “bad nut” by Wonka’s trained squirrels and thrown in the garbage. And Mike Teavee demands to be “sent by television” and gets shrunk in the process. But there’s a wonderful surprise waiting for Charlie at the end of the tour.

Amar Chitra Katha comics

India’s rich tapestry is woven together by her stories. These tales can be from the great epics and mythology, or from the ancient history of this rich land. But sometimes the stories of the people, passed down from generation to generation – told at bedtimes and celebrations, in schools and homes – are the most astounding. These are the folktales that are part of the great collective inheritance from our past generations. This series of three books, put together meticulously by the writers at Amar Chitra Katha, brings together some of the greatest folktales in the ACK catalogue. Each book in the series is adapted from the original Amar Chitra Katha comics and aims to bring the reader closer to the thoughts and traditions that make up our country’s identity.

Buddhist Stories: A king who can’t stop thinking about food; a carpenter who spends days, years, decades, working on a single piece of furniture; a disciple who hates his name and other such characters — all of whom turn their life around through Buddha’s wisdom. A wonderful collection of stories filled with the wisdom, joy and simplicity that makes the tales of the Buddha so popular world-over.

Funny Folktales: A jackal who tries to trick his friends, but gets outsmarted instead; a tiger who is unaware that the creature he fears is actually himself; a cat and a rat who find that they are much better off as friends than enemies and other such funny folktales. A collection of hilarious stories that will have you in stitches and give you hours of rib-tickling fun!

Tales of Wit and Wisdom: A kingdom’s choicest fools gather at court; a young man makes a fortune from a dead mouse; a barber helps measure the earth with bullock carts and other such incredible tales of wit and wisdom. A delightful collection of stories of the witty Birbal from Akbar’s court, Tenali Raman from Krishnadeva Raya’s Vijaynagar Empire and Gopal Bhand from Raja Krishna Chandra Roy’s court in Bengal and many more!

Grandma’s bag of stories by Sudha Murthy

Who can resist a good story, especially when it s being told by Grandma? From her bag emerges tales of kings and cheats, monkeys and mice, bears and gods. Here comes the bear who ate some really bad dessert and got very angry; a lazy man who would not put out a fire till it reached his beard; a princess who got turned into an onion; a queen who discovered silk, and many more weird and wonderful people and animals. Grandma tells the stories over long summer days and nights, as seven children enjoy life in her little town. The stories entertain, educate and provide hours of enjoyment to them. So come, why don t you too join in the fun?

Hullabaloo in the guava orchard by Kiran Desai

The story begins with the birth of Sampath Chawla, the unassuming and accidental protagonist of Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard. It is at the tail-end of a punishing drought in the city of Shahkot, India, and at the same time as Sampath is born, a giant airplane ration of food and supplies crashes into a tree outside the Chawla’s house, signalling prosperity to an otherwise starving town.

Fast-forward about twenty years, and the novel picks up again with Sampath miserably performing his menial job as a mail sorter at the local post office. Events draw to a culmination and frustration mounts when Sampath loses his postal job after performing an impromptu cross-dressing striptease at his boss’s daughter’s wedding. Having been confined to the house in disgrace, Sampath runs away from home and takes refuge in the branches of a guava tree in an abandoned orchard and the hullabaloo happens.

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