4 South Asian Kids Picture Books You Should Have on Your Bookshelf
Recently, one of our Co-founders, Daizy, went on an online book-buying spree because she’d been struggling to find books by and for the South Asian diaspora in her local bookshops. Knowing what it was like to grow up without stories that represented her experiences and culture, Daizy wanted to find books that her young nieces and nephew would enjoy and reflect their lived experiences.
To see what children’s picture books Daizy bought, check out the list below!
1. Laxmi’s Mooch By Shelly Anand, Illustrated by Nabi H. Ali (ages 4 – 8)
After playing farm animals at recess and being told that the tiny hairs above her top lip are perfect cat whiskers, Laxmi starts to notice body hair growing in all different places. In this heart-warming story, Laxmi learns that hair isn’t just for our heads and that it’s normal for it to grow everywhere, no matter who you are.
‘Laxmi’s Mooch is a celebration of our bodies and our body hair, in whichever way they grow.’
2. Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji By F Zia and Ken Min (ages 5- 8)
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji is fun and beautiful tale that introduces children to Indian food and culture. Aneel wants to know Dada-Ji’s secret! Where did Dada-Ji get the power to shake mango trees and wrangle wild cobras? How did he get the strength of a tiger? And what does it have to do with Dada-Ji’s fluffy-puffy hot, hot rotis and tongue-burning mango pickle?
This story follows Aneel who’s grandparents come to visit from India and features Dada-Ji’s incredible roti-powered stories from his youth and many delicious looking descriptions and illustrations of Indian cuisine.
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji is ‘sure to warm the heart and tickle the tummy … [and be] enjoyed by the whole family.’
3. Bravo Anjali! By Sheetal Sheth (ages 3- 8)
In the follow-up story to, Always Anjali, Bravo Anjali invites readers back into Anajli’s world and her current dilemma: she’s being made fun of for her incredible tabla skills. To make it stop she starts playing badly, but when a contest is announced with the winning prize the opportunity to perform with her teacher at his next concert, Anjali is caught between following her dreams or hiding her growing talent.
Bravo Anjali is an important story that teaches children that they shouldn’t let anyone make them feel bad for the things they’re good at and to ‘never dim their light.’
4. King for a Day By Rukhsana Khan, Illustrated by Christiane Kroemer (ages 4-7)
Malik is excited for Basant. He plans to win the kite-fighting competition with his special kite, be the King of the festival and defeat the bully next door!
King for a Day is a ‘lively, contemporary story [that introduces] readers to a centuries-old festival and the traditional sport of kite fighting, and to a spirited, determined young boy who masters the sport while finding his own way to face and overcome life’s challenges.’
Have you read any of these picture books or plan on buying some from this list? Let us know! We also love getting new recommendations, if we’ve missed any of your favourite South Asian children’s authors or illustrators, please share them in the comments.