Growing up, none of the books I read featured Indian or South Asian characters. Nowadays, I am thrilled that there are so many options for children’s picture books and chapter books that cater to diverse readers. As I mentioned in a previous post about my favorite South Asian authors and books, introducing diversity at an early age through the written word is so important. Even more important, especially for really young kids like my 3-year-old, is seeing characters that look like them in story books. Below I include five picture books we have read to my kids on repeat with a sample of a page from each book so you can see the beautiful illustrations! Do you have any other favorite children’s books with characters from all over the world.
This gorgeous picture book was published this year by Padma Lakshmi. I found the illustrations to be breathtakingly beautiful, and in the true Padma style, it includes a recipe for the tomato sauce that the characters in the book prepare. If your kids enjoy cooking, this is a great picture book for them!
Meera’s Flowers (Dyslexic Inclusive)
This was my most recent picture book purchase after hearing about it from a Malayalee chef I follow on instagram (@thefamiliarkitchen). This book is about the festival of Onam, an annual festival celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala where my family is from. It is a festival that is celebrated by people of all faiths, and it includes beautiful decorations and an incredible South Indian meal (served on a traditional banana leaf). The story is about a little girl who gets to design the floral pookalam for this year and how she chooses the flower colors. I really enjoyed reading this book because I don’t get to incorporate much of Malayalee culture into my kids’ everyday lives. This book has inspired me to make more of an effort each year whenever the Onam festival occurs!
This is a very sweet book about the Hindu god Ganesha and his love for sweets (in this book, it happens to be a “jawbreaker ladoo”). The illustrations are just magical, and the story is a cute twist on the original.
I found this book at my local library and brought it home immediately. I enjoyed how it highlights the very simple yet staple food of rotes (Indian flatbreads) and how Indian food/home cooking is central to family life. While reading, I definitely was craving some hot buttery rotis myself!
This book is impressive in how extensive it is! I really enjoyed reading through it for my own education, honestly. It provides a fun and pretty thorough description of each deity’s significance in the Hindu tradition. The illustrations are also lovely!