Books that leave you thinking

So, I am one of those weird creatures who doesn’t like self help books. Not that I have hated all but I can safely say I have hated most that I have read, especially the ones with a very prescriptive approach. But I am all for good memoirs and autobiographies where you get to know more about someone’s real life, their experiences, struggle, pain, joy and much more. It’s quite interesting to find some stories that you can totally relate to or some journeys that inspire you like nothing else. Last eight months were been extremely tough for me in multiple ways but one of the best things about this phase of life has been the time that I got to spend with myself – something that was a rarity in my otherwise super hectic life. Apart from spending time with my family, I have started back painting more regularly and got to read many good books – some that have been on my wishlist for long and some gifted to me by those awesome friends who wanted to ease out my on-bed phase of life. A big thanks to all of them who were thoughtful enough to send me such literary gems.

Out of all the books that I read recently, I quite liked two fiction and three non-fiction books. Sharing the names of those non fiction books here that left an impact on me – all these three books are about amazing journeys of some amazing people that make you believe in the power of hope and inspire you to appreciate this thing called life. In case you are going through some trying times and would like to find solace in words, you may give these books a try:

  1. Man’s Search For Meaning: Viktor E. Frankl

One of the best books that I would have read in recent times by the holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. It’s a book that makes your realize that there are many others whose life is much more painful than yours and yet they have found a purpose in that pain. The description of those concentration camps and condition of people living in that era … I can’t even begin to imagine the plight of children who were gassed! Whatever struggle you are going through today, this is one of those books that will make you count your blessings and be thankful for all that you have. While the book is filled with many profound observations but if I have to highlight only one, it will be the following:

“Those who have a “why” to live, can bear with almost any “how” ”- Viktor E. Frankl

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Raising little readers

 
Raising Little Readers
You love books, you have books all over your house, you always wanted your little one to be fond of books, you have ensured to buy sufficient books for her, you have even taken up a library membership as well as the monthly book box subscription for him but still your little one is not as passionate for reading as you would want him to be? You have to remind her to read and it doesn’t come naturally to her. He was actually very fond of books when younger but as he grew up, he lost interest in books?
 
In this gadget filled world where your little one has option to hop from one screen to another throughout the day, it’s difficult to keep their interest alive in printed books. As against earlier, they have multiple options now to entertain themselves and unless reading as a habit has been inculcated in them since very early years, it might get challenging with time to keep their reading interest intact.
 
Mine is just 5 as of now and even though I have been reading to him since very early days, I can tell you with my practical experience that it’s not easy to keep up with this habit always. He loves books but of course there are days when he will insist to watch videos during bedtime as against story books and you have to keep telling him no or make the story time so interesting that he forgets the videos. Like many aspects of parenting, patience and persistence works when it comes to raising little readers too. Sharing few tips here that has worked for me so far as far as junior’s reading interest is concerned, not sure if these will continue to work when he grows up, but the mommy-me sincerely hopes that this habit becomes a life long habit for him.
  • Start Early: I mean really early. There is no lower age limit as to when a child can get acquainted with books. You know we all give in to the temptation of showing the child videos on mobile or tab while feeding. Instead try colorful board books, give it to the child to play and see. Starting early works, for sure!
  • Read Aloud: Grab their attention, help them with their language skills, make them a good listener – reading aloud has many benefits to kids but one of the biggest benefits as per me is it helps them concentrate and focus, skills that are rarity in this screen dominated age.  
  • Make It Fun: Get into the character, add a bit of drama, enact the story (come on, we all moms and dads have an actor hidden inside us :)) or plan some fun activities around the books that you are reading. The more fun you will make your reading sessions, the more engaged the child will be.
  • Read It Together: Cuddle & snuggle and bond over books. This I tell to many who assume that buying good books will naturally lead to interest generation for reading in their kids. Definitely not possible in today’s time when kids have so many other multimedia richer choices available at a click. Make it a habit to read it together and you never know what beautiful reading memories you will be creating for your child.
  • Read regularly: Even if it’s just for 20 minutes but read daily. Set aside a time for reading to your kids, it could be evening or bedtime but do ensure to follow this regularly. Once you will be regular, you will yourself observe that with time your little one will pick it up as a habit too. Remember, reading is not just a weekend or holiday activity.
  • Don’t bribe: If you will offer bribes like pizza-if-you-finish-that-book, reading will always end up to be an activity done only for rewards. We all end up doing it for some or other activities (in my case, it’s his eating where I had done this mistake of rewarding), just refrain it for reading in case you want it to be a life long habit. Instead try to make it fun and yes, patience pays. Keep at it.
  • Read what he /she loves: I know we all avid reader moms & dads have some choices of their own, the books that we think will be good for our kids. But let’s not force our choices on them as times have changed and so have preferences of our kids. For almost a month, my son insisted me to read him “Wolverine Vs Sabretooth” story book during bedtime daily. I mean daily! The mommy in me used to wonder why such action packed story at bedtime. But then that’s the only book my son was very fond of at that particular time. I gave in to his choices and kept reading him whatever he wanted. Thanks to Wolverine and Avengers, I must say that reading got established as a bedtime ritual on its own quite easily. Do I remember reading anything like Wolverine while I was growing up? Of course nah 😀
Hope these suggestions work for you. In case you have any other interesting tip, do drop it in the comment section below.
If you liked this post from a book-loving mommy, feel free to share it and for more succh posts follow my children books page @undertheguavatree
– The Mommy who got all her reading skills by spending her childhood under a guava tree with books 🙂

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9 books you may like to read to your kids this Dusshera break

9 different books on 9 different days! Can there be any better way to celebrate Navratri with kids :)? At least that’s how me and my little one are spending his Dusshera vacations. Of course there are lots and lots of unplanned masti, festival special cooking, some TV time and maybe some traveling too but then what’s a vacation without some new stories :)?

And stories definitely work for me when it comes to explaining something new to him, be it about our culture or festivals or general day to day things like values or habits. To add to that, with time we have reached a stage now where he himself asks us – which story will you tell me today? This makes my task of curating a list of books that we plan to read during vacations or travel all the more exciting and fun.

So here goes the list of 9 books that I am reading to him this Dusshera break. He loves to know more about Indian Gods and mythology (thanks to his fascination for action & adventure and animated television series like Bal Hanuman or movies like Oh My Friend Ganesha), he somehow is hooked on to them as much as Superheroes or Avengers.  I have already read these books myself,  from his initial excitement and curious eyes I think my four year old is going to enjoy it all. This list is not only specifically on Goddess Durga or Dusshera but also on other characters from Ramayans (after all little readers like variety, isn’t it :)?)

  • Tales of Durga by Amar Chitra Katha
When it comes to reading something on mythology, Amar Chitra Katha has to be our default choice, after all it’s the publication that fed our generation with lots of interesting content. While the visual taste or preferences of the new generation might have changed but I think when it comes to the vastness of content available with ACK, there is just no comparison. Tales of Durga is yet another interesting offering from ACK that tells the story of incarnation of Durga and her victory on Mahishasur in a crisp and simple way. My son is anyways fond of action stories a lot, so he loved all the fight sequence of Goddess Durga & Mahishasur and her final victory over the demon.
  • Amma, Tell me about Durga Puja by Bhakti Mathur
Just spotted this book on Amazon and somehow loved the cover and the title. Ordered it on impulse and I’m glad I ordered it. Quite a nice book on story of Goddess Durga presented through lively visuals. I especially loved the storytelling style of this book, it highlights the whole concept of Mahalaya to Viajaydashmi in a very interesting way. Look at one of the pictures from the inner pages, the illustrations are nothing less than visual treat for the little ones!
We totally loved this book and I am planning to surely try more books in “Amma, Tell me about…” series.
  • Festivals of India by Om Books International
Amazing book! It covers the different festivals of India in a very comprehensive way. The descriptions are apt in length to hold the attention of younger kids along with colorful visuals. For Dusshera / Durga Puja, it has three separate chapters – one covering Navratri, second covers Durga Puja & third one is on Dusshera. the Dusshera chapter also interlinks the significance of Goddess Durga in Rama’s vitcory over evil. I just read all three of these to my little one 🙂
  • Rama by Amar Chitra Katha
Another content rich book by Amar Chitra Katha. Presents all aspects of Rama’s fourteen years exile, his fight with Ravana and his relationship with different other characters from Ramayana in the form of a visual story. As I said earlier, when it comes to mythology, there is no parallel of Amar Chitra Katha’s length and depth of content.
  • Chota Kumbhakarna by Arundhati Venkatesh
It’s actually a cute book. Yes cute is the word that will aptly define the visual and the story of Kumbhakarna narrated to the main character in this story Kukku by his father. Now, how can Kumbhakaran be cute! Don’t believe it? Check the visuals below. My son just loves this book, we have gone through the pages many times and he doesn’t seem to get bored of it.
This book is available in English too but I picked up a Hindi version as it was the only book left at a book reading session by the author that me & my son had attended earlier this year. And I also consciously wanted to start reading him some Hindi books too.
  • Shiva by Om Books International
While the title reads Shiva but it’s actually more of a story around Goddess Shakti and her fight with demon brothers Chanda & Munda.
This book comes in an interesting shape with rich visuals that easily attracts the attention of younger audience. To add to that, length of the book is such that even my four year old can easily recall the stories page by page.
  • Kumbhakarna by Amar Chitra Katha
Oh yes, another book on Kumbhakarna :). As I said my son loves this character for the luxury of long sleep that Kumbhakaran could afford :). Of course, he knows the connection with Ravan, Lanka etc. This book apart from the sleeping story of the character also focusses on the whole Lanka fight with Rama & his army. Action yet again and here we go, he loved to listen to it. I think the mommy in me thinks my son loves to read these mythology stories because of all these fights and actions scenes in them :).
  • Hanuman by Om Books
Another lovely book for bal hanuman fans like my son. He is fascinated with Hanuman since his toddler days. In fact there was a pahse when his favorite gift used to be only & only “gada”. So considering his craze for Hanuman, I knew this book would be totally loved by him. And I was just so right, he loved it. And to add to the charm of the character were those sweet pictures that told us the story from his birth to his part in Ramayana.
  • Dusshera by Diamond Comics

Yet another book that focuses on victory of good over evil through Ramayana story, Rama’s vanvaas, the main fight in Lanka and then Vijayadashami. While the story remains the same but it’s amazing to observe kid’s excitement when it comes to varied visual representation.  Definitely works for me   when it comes to reinforcing same story in different ways to my son.

So, what are you or your little ones reading this festive season? Do share your recommendations with us in the comment section. And in case you liked this list and would like me to curate some more, drop me a comment or mail and I would love to share what I am reading with my curious little reader :).
 
Wish you all a great Navratri / Durga Puja & Dusshera! May the Goddess bless you with health and happiness always.

5 reasons why your child should read Brown Like Dosas Samosa and Sticky Chikki

Mentioned it earlier, saying it again – one Indian publishing house that keeps on bettering itself with every new release is FunOkPlease. Not to follow the rut, this team has surely managed to create its own niche in children’s book industry. And I get surprised at their choice of story lines – distinct and pertinent always!Be it Toto the Auto or Alphabet Dress-Up or Brown Like Dosas Samosa and Sticky Chikki, each one is truly a gem in itself.  I got this book few weeks back and the gorgeous cover design actually brought a smile on my face. In a world that’s obsessed with ‘fair & lovely‘, it was good to see the main character of the story ‘brown & bold‘.  Many, I mean really many reasons why I loved this book but here are top 5 on why your child should definitely read it:
  • It’s very relevant to Indian culture where we have varied skin tones but somehow the epitome of beauty has always been attributed to the fair ones. This obsession for fairness is so deeply ingrained in our society that at times I get shocked to observe it in younger girls too. In a world biased towards the lighter tone, here comes Samaira who is happy and content with her brown skin tone and would not exchange it with whiter shade for anything. So proud of you Samaira, may the youngsters understand the deep message that you’re trying to communicate!
  • Like all other FunOkPlease books, its visually very rich but must say that this has additional charm as compared to the earlier ones. Maybe it’s the fairy land or those yum food, the illustrations in this books are sure to grab attention of your little ones.
  • Presentation is excellent, I mean what better way to communicate the beauty of brown skin to kids than associating it with chocolate or milkshake :)? Such an important message but presented in such a fun way.
  • Its dreamy yet different, no stereotyping of fairies coming to save your lives, rather Samaira fighting it out, expressing her views in her own unique way.
  • Simple and easy to understand. Whether you read it out to younger kids or let the elder ones read on your own, the language is very kid friendly and engaging.
Still need more reasons? Ok, so here goes the most important one – it’s from the house of FunOkPlease, an Indian publishing house that’s trying to come out with quality content for Indian kids. Lets support them by reading their books and spreading the word if you like their content. I as a mother surely love their books. My 3 year old now knows the story of it page by page :). In fact, last weekend during one of my story telling sessions in a neighburhood library, I actually narrated this book to kids. Later, two moms came to me and asked who is the author and where can they buy this book? One of them mentioned that her daughter doesn’t like to go out and play basket ball as she thinks it will “tan” her skin. And that girl is not more than 10 years old, yes just 10 :(.
More power to Samaira and her likes, may they remain as beautiful and unique always!
Reading out Brown Like Dosa in a story telling event in my neighborhood library

                                                              

The book is available for online purchase at amazon and flipkart

Fun Ok Please: Something interesting for your little ones

I had mentioned it in one of my earlier posts about an Indian kids content website where I had landed up just by chance. After browsing through few pages, I decided to give their iPad app a try and man did I like it? Oh yes, a lot! Loved the freshness of the content so much that ordered some of their books as well and I wasn’t disappointed at all. Content was indeed interesting with appealing illustrations.
I’m speaking of “Fun OK Please”, a new age children’s book publishers based out of Mumbai. They focus on contemporary Indian content for children in the age group of 3-10 years and offer stories set in modern context. Relatable characters, practical messages and their made for India philosophy are some of their key differentiators which attracted a mom like me to check out their whole collection for my little one. I read four books from their ‘Toto and Pattu‘ series and absolutely loved it.

Toto’s stories are all about adventure and having fun while also solving problems and helping others. Toto is a lovable, cheeky little autorickshaw who lives in Mumbai with his driver Pattu. Toto, by character is brave, kind and a do-gooder. He loves to help others and make new friends. Involving people, animals, vehicles and objects, Toto’s stories aim at building character and developing positive self esteem in children.

What I loved about this series:
  • Unlike the typical bedtime stories or fairytales, Toto stories are set in real cities with a backdrop of our day-to-day lives.
  • Messages are practical and pertinent to current generation kids. Morals taught are not preachy but realistic with an added punch of fun.
  • Problems addressed are more of what kids face in their regular lives like hazards of watching TV continuously or repercussion of feelings like jealousy and insecurity amongst friends.
  • Presentation is interesting with rich visuals that will appeal to younger kids for sure.
  • Each book comes with an activity section at the end making the books more engaging and fun for kids.
In nutshell, Toto series is all about being “practical yet fun” and “interesting yet informative” at the same time. It’s something that I surely look forward to offering it to my little one when he grows up. As of now also, he loves listening to the Toto song on iPad app. So, all you parents looking out for some good Indian kiddie content, do check out this collection by Fun Ok Please. Two of my friends have already bought the series and their kids loved it!
You can check more about them at their site or on their Facebook page.

The Jungle Book by Campfire

Most of us would have read / watched “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling at some point of our lives, then why did I pick this book again? No, no my little one is too young for story book reading as of now, its my own love for graphic novels and comic books which makes me pick up these even if the story is read earlier in text books or elsewhere. So, when Campfire sent a mail for reviewing their new titles, I immediately picked up few for review and one of those was “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling. Having read their books earlier, I was sure that their presentation would definitely have something new to offer. And man, wasn’t I right! It’s yet another beautiful visual treat by the Campfire team. Loved it, absolutely loved it!
The plot remains same – It’s about the adventurous journey of a little boy Mowgli who escapes certain doom at the hands of the tiger Shere Khan and lands up in a jungle amongst the wolf pack. With time he grows up in jungle and is taught the ways of living a jungle life. Though as he grows he faces lots of conflicts, the biggest one being finding his real identity amongst pack of wolves or humans – neither of whom is willing to accept him as of one its own. Yes, it’s the same story but you have to go through this book to understand why it is an interesting read for kids and adults who like reading visual books. Here’s my quick take about the book:
  • As I mentioned earlier, it’s a visual treat! Have to say this about the graphic team of Campfire – your presentation is class apart, really love the way stories get illustrated at your end.
  • Language is simple and can be easily understood by kids of reading age group.
  • Length of the book is also apt, neither too long for kids to lose interest nor too short for grown ups to miss their attention. 101 pages of total fun!
  • Like most Campfire books, even this one comes with some interesting trivia about “Rudyard Kipling”, “The Jungle Book” story and movie at the end.
  • There is a cute poster of Mowgli and his fun at the end of the book .
From my side, it’s a thumbs-up for this book. I’ve read their one more title during my pre-baby era and will be posting a review of it soon. Would love to read more books from Campfire and yes waiting eagerly for the little one to grow and see if he develops the taste for reading or not. Totally up to his interest level but if he does, Campfire books would definitely be on my recommendation list for him.