Our Diwali Picture Book Collection…

This is our very own Diwali Storybook Collection. I collected these books over the years to read to my kids. Every year for Diwali, I take some time off from work to visit all three of my children’s classrooms. I usually read a couple of books related to Diwali, print out some Diwali themed coloring sheets for the kids and also do a special Diwali craft with them. This has become our family Diwali tradition now. Another family Diwali tradition of ours is making our own diyas at home and marking the year at the bottom. We store away these handmade diyas in a special Diwali box in our basement, take them out every year a few days before Diwali and add the new diyas that we made that year to this collection. Thus, our diya collection keeps growing every year.

I have been digging into our Diwali book collection lately to pick some books for these events. When I look for a book to introduce my kids to their Indian heritage, I look for books with simple text, engaging illustrations and very little to no dose of religion or mythology.

To that effect, here are my top picks for my 4 year olds:

  1. Lots of Lights by Kavita Sahai – I personally find the spiritual concept of Diwali as a celebration of our own inner light far more interesting and easy to grasp for children than all the religious, mythological stories behind Diwali.
  2. Diwali (Celebrate The World) by Hannah Eliot – This Book has bright, colorful illustrations and it’s a board book so it is made to last longer in my boys’ hands. The image of Goddess Lakshmi flying on an owl is very cute and clever.
  3. It’s Diwali! (Bumba Books It’s a Holiday!) by Richard Sebra -Very simple text, beautiful, engaging, real pictures of families celebrating Diwali. This book is easy to understand, doesn’t matter if the reader has an understanding of Hindu religion or Indian culture or not.

For my fifth grader’s classroom, I plan to read the following:

  1. My Diwali Coloring Book – even though this is a coloring book, it has simple descriptions of the pictures on each page and reads like a Diwali storybook.
  2. It’s Diwali by Richard Sebra – this book may be more appropriate for the younger kids but most kids in my daughter’s class may not know much about Diwali so I figured this would be a good introduction for them.
  3. Going to school in India – I read this book to my daughter’s class for the past two years in a row. I looooove this book. It is not related to Diwali as such. But, it has real pictures of kids going to school in various parts of India, what they wear to school, what they eat for lunch, etc. It’s a very powerful book in my opinion. I will be reading this book again to my daughter’s class.
  • As a first generation Indian American mother, I have a desire to familiarize my kids with their Indian heritage. However, I refuse to confine myself to outdated customs and traditions. So, I try to think creatively about what makes sense for my kids in the world that they live in now and try to come up with our own family traditions accordingly. I also make sure to leave a lot of room for my kids to come up with new traditions to celebrate the same old festivals every year. I try to keep things interesting and fun for everyone, without sticking to rigid notions about how a festival should be celebrated. No one is forced to participate in anything that don’t want to participate in. No tradition is set in stone as far as our family is concerned. We don’t do anything without analyzing it, just because generations before us did it this way. My kids are given full freedom to question anything that they want to question, religion included. I will do my best to answer their questions honestly, in an age appropriate manner.
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