Books kids can curl up with all summer

There is no better way to spend the summer break than exploring diverse genres and themes. Photo: iSTOCKPHOTO
There is no better way to spend the summer break than exploring diverse genres and themes. Photo: iSTOCKPHOTO


From baffling mysteries and coming of age tales to compilations of rib-tickling poetry and books on art and activism, a list of books to keep children engaged during languorous summer days

Leadership tales

(8+ years)

After The Gutsy Girls of Science, Ilina Singh has written another book on incredible women leaders,The Gutsy Girls Who Led India. She delves into history to pen 10 stories of fearless women warriors, including Rani Laxmibai, Abakka Chowta, Queen Didda, Velu Nachiar and Mai Bhago. It includes activities that nudge young readers to find their own leadership style. The chapter on Mai Bhago, who was the first female bodyguard of Guru Gobind Singh, for instance, has activity sheets on what it takes to be a team player—you could use images or words to describe something you achieved as a team. (HarperCollins India, 399)

Witty poetry

(6+ years)

A box set of 10 books with poems by Ruskin Bond, Rabindranath Tagore, Jerry Pinto and Sukumar Ray, this delightful selection of poetry provides children a glimpse of different styles while giving free rein to their imagination. Each poem in Birds, Ghosts, Laughter and Trees is accompanied by vivid illustrations by Adrija Ghosh, David Yambem, Ekta Bharti and Pankaj Saikia, who add to the verse with their visual vocabulary. Especially delightful is The Ghost by Keki Daruwalla, illustrated by Ekta Bharti, which lists different kinds of apparitions—a lady ghost bathing in a Mussoorie hotel, a dhoti just sailing by, a ghost rummaging through a litter. (Speaking Tiger/Talking Cub, 2,199)

Celebrating bonds

(5+ years)

“Be a jungle dancer…fierce like the monsoon rains, grounded like the palm tree in a storm, and determined like the lotus." Thatha and Thaye are teaching their granddaughter, Priya, the nuances of a traditional dance over a video call. Authored by Sathya Achia and illustrated by Janan Kabir, Priya the Jungle Dancer reflects on the integral role that grandparents play in passing on intangible cultural heritage. The book is inspired by Achia’s relationship with her Thatha and Thaye, who lived in Kodagu. (Adidev Press, 399)

Also read: Ranjan Adiga's ‘Leech & Other Stories’: The world in a grain of sand

A selection of 10 books to keep kids company during the long break
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A selection of 10 books to keep kids company during the long break

A tale of royal folly

(8-12 years)

The Tiger King might be set in the past, in a kingdom called Pratibandapuram, but the story remains relevant today. Authored by Kalki and translated by Gowri Ramnarayan, the book follows the travails of a monarch with a title as inflated as his ego—His Highness Jamedar-General, Khiledar-Major, Sata Vyaghra Samhari, Maharajadhiraja Visva Bhuvana Samrat, Sir Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, who is destined to die in the jaws of a tiger. So, he embarks on a mission to kill every tiger in his path. A satire about what happens when people with power indulge their own whims instead of focusing on public welfare. (Aleph Book Company, 199)

On a journey with the sun

(All ages)

When the Sun Sets, authored- illustrated by Ogin Nayam, a visual artist from Arunachal Pradesh, is a wordless book of intricate imagery inspired by the artist’s surroundings and cultural heritage. It tells the tale of what the sun does after she has set and takes the reader on a journey to her home, showing the reader the changing Arunachal landscape, the local flora and fauna, the traditional houses and more. An engaging book for story time for both kids and adults. (Pratham Books, free to read at

Also read: Review of ‘Choice’ by Neel Mukherjee: A three-act novel

A story of self-discovery

(12+ years)

Following a series of puzzling thefts in his neighbourhood, 14-year-old Neel sets out to crack the case in Higgledy Piggledy Growing Up by Poile Sengupta. The extraordinary events that follow are both comic and endearing, as Neel navigates friendships and the many highs and lows of growing up, and the harsh reality of communal hatred both in school and beyond. (HarperCollins India, 250)

A tapestry of languages

(4-8 years)

“The languages hop, like rabbits, from her tongue." In My Mother’s Tongues, young Sumi marvels at the speed at which her mother switches between Malayalam and English while speaking with different people—from her mother to the cashier at the supermarket. Inspired by author Uma Menon’s own experience of hailing from a family of immigrants, the author traces the journey of Sumi’s mother from Kerala to the US, and is an ode to multilingualism. Illustrations by Rahele Jomepour Bell have the feel of woven fabric as they celebrate the tapestry of languages. (Penguin Random House, 1,550)

The heart of darkness

(10+ years)

Rajiv Eipe and C.G. Salamander continue to create vibrant worlds in the series, Maithili and the Minotaur, about a young girl who lives on the outskirts of magical wilderness and befriends monsters. In the latest and third graphic novel in the series, Dolls of Despair, Maithili has ominous visions of a boy who needs saving from a creature which had also taken her mother away. It takes readers to a cave of a thousand eyes and a black darkness, which resides not outside but within the hearts of Maithili, the Minotaur and their friends. (Puffin India, 399)

Also read: ‘Srikanth’ review: Insipid rendering of a fascinating life

Celebrating dreamers

(6+ years)

The latest in Duckbill’s Dreamers series, The Boy Who Built a Secret Garden: Nek Chand, by Lavanya Karthik, explains how self-taught artist Nek Chand transformed debris from demolition site into art at the Rock Garden in Chandigarh. The illustrated biography serves as perfect inspiration for young readers to find unique ways of overcoming the odds to create something imaginative. (Penguin Random House India/Duckbill, 199)

Understanding ageing

(6-8 years)

It is hard for children, who are full of spirit and vitality, to understand old age. Forgetful Dida by Himanjali Sarkar, and illustrated by Aditi Anand shows a child trying to understand Dida’s “forgetting illness" while assuaging the mother’s concerns. The story also highlights the natural empathy children are imbued with, and how they adapt to situations with a strength that belies their age. (Pratham Books, free to read at

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