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Welcome to Bookistaan

Bookistaan is India’s first recommendations based online children’s bookstore

As a small town bookstore, we have an inclination towards Indian publishing and writing, that hasn’t been able to find the routes into smaller towns. We believe it’s important for children to be exposed to their own literature for them to grow into empathetic individuals, proud of their own roots.

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Picture Books

Picture books about loss and grief

As I always say, books are a great way to start difficult conversations with children. And what’s more difficult to explain to kid that death? I remember my first encounter with loss, my uncle had passed and my family went to Delhi for his last rites. I did not know why we were going but I remember when I got there and I smiled at everyone, no one smiled back. That’s when i knew something was wrong but I only understood the episode years later I think.

As adults we think we should keep your children from the unpleasant feelings but I think it’s best to prepare them. Answer their questions as best as we can because it is even more difficult for them to cope with something they don’t even understand.

So today, I have some picture book suggestions for you that deal with loss and grief:


Books about loss and grief @bookistaanThe Heart and the Bottle

What happens when a little after losing her father, locks away her hurt so nothing and no one can hurt her again. This is such a poignant book, the kind that’ll leave you with goosebumps. Oliver Jeffers is one of my favorite picture book makers because he has a way of saying a lot more than the words on the page and that’s my favorite part about this book too, the story hidden in this book will win your heart.



Books about loss and grief @bookistaanGone Grandmother

Nina’s Nani is gone. Forever. But where? She keeps asking her mother questions but her mother doesn’t know how to answer her questions. A sensitive story about how memories stay alive even when people fade away and how holding close these memories you can hold close the person.



Books about loss and grief @bookistaanBoo! When My sister Died

This is a story about a girl who loses her sister and life as she knows it changes. Noorie keeps yearning for her sister, keeps hoping she’ll come back. A beautiful story about accepting loss and learning how to move past it.



Books about loss and grief @bookistaanIda, Always

Gus and Ida are best friends and they live in a zoo. They are always there for each other, they are all either of them has. But then Ida falls sick and pretty soon Gus is left alone. The best part about this book is it takes you through Ida’s sickness and all the feelings the two friends go through, the fears, the sadness. It teaches you to cherish every moment you have with the people you love, make sure every minute counts when your days are numbered.



books are loss and grief @bookistaanAlways Remember

This one takes you diving in a reef. Old Turtle dies and all the sea animals fondly recall how he helped them, impacted their life at some point or another. It’s a beautiful story about how even when you’re gone, your deeds live on and they are your legacy, your imprint on the world. The illustrations in this book are breathtaking, it’s like you’re experiencing aquatic life first hand.



Wordless picture books

Ok so let’s talk about books without words today!

Wordless Picture books. These are books that tell a story, obviously, but they don’t tell it, instead they show you a story. With zero words. The pictures drive plot and the story is really what you make of it.

So these books are entirely about art and interpretation. Wordless picture books are such an empowering style of storytelling because it’s the reader and their imagination that is essentially driving the story. In that sense they improve the child’s attention span and are great for kids who don’t yet read!

Here are some of our favorite silent books, if you want to make some suggestions do drop in a comment:

Image result for the red book barbara lehmanThe Red Book by Barbara Lehmen

A girl happens upon a red book one snowy day, a book without any words. But in the book is a boy, a friend, who awaits her. A new world full of possibilities awaits her, will she be brave enough to embark on the adventure.



Image result for south patrick mcdonnellSouth by Patrick McDonnell

This is the story of a little bird who wakes up to find all his friends and family have left the tree and gone south for the winter. The lost little bird then befriends a cat to help him find his way back home.



Image result for flora and the flamingoFlora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Flora is enamored by the Flamingo’s graceful stance and want stop be just like it. The Flamingo however is annoyed by this girl trying to imitate him. An unlikely friendship with a lot of dance, this a delightful book that’ll have the reader dancing along.



Image result for the boy and the bookThe Boy and the Book by David Michael Slater

Another book about a book! This one is about a boy who goes to a library and finds a book that he falls in love with. He reads it and reads it and reads it and the next day wants to read it again but the book doesn’t want to be found, in fact it wants to get rid of the boy.



Image result for the lion and the mouse jerry pinkneyThe Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

This is an award winning wordless retelling of the famous Aesop’s Fable about an act of kindness that comes around. You can probably tell from the cover, the illustration in this book are so vivid, you can almost feel the jungle around you.

Counting Picture books

Picture books are a great way to make learning fun! They are a great way to engage your child into learning anything.

So today I have a list of counting picture books, stories that make math fun. All you have to do is make it a into a reading game:


Related imageLet’s Go by Anther Mohan

This is such a popular book with toddlers. A fun counting book that’ll take you on a tour through the colorful, eventful streets of India. Every page is an engaging counting game.The illustrations are wonderfully detailed and capture the diversity of our country quite precisely. It’s the kind of book that you just have to read more than once (even though that can be said about most picture books).





One Dark Cloud by Sobha Viswanath

This beauty of a counting book is for the rainy days. Sobha Viswanath brings alive monsoon in this brilliant picture book. The paper college illustrations are simply enthralling and feel like home. This book is major nostalgia if you read it any other time of the year, other than monsoons, so I suggest you read if with your child anytime just to create that anticipation for the heavenly showers.




Image result for one two tree anushka ravishankarOne, Two, Tree by Anushka Ravishankar

Come along and count the improbable number of animals of this ever-expanding tree. With Anushka Ravishankar’s signature rhymes, this book is delightfully celebrates trees and living together. The illustrations are done in Gond tribal tradition known for its deep affection of trees and create an earthy, soothing atmosphere.





Image result for the very hungry caterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This classic is a part of a lot lists, let me warn you. The hungry caterpillar eats everyday until its big enough to metamorph. The book take the readers through the days of the week and numbers till five.





Image result for ten apples up on top10 Apples up on Top by Dr Seuss

You can’t go wrong with Dr Seuss. Different characters in this book compete to balance 10 apples on their head. The rhymes and repetition make the storytelling that much more engaging and each page is a counting prompt for your child. It’s a great book for beginner readers as well or even beginner listeners.

Books for your child’s first year

I know what you are thinking, your baby hardly stays awake and hasn’t even developed complete vision and here I am telling you to read books to him/her. And there’s the whole argument that they have to spend the next twenty or so years studying, so what does the first two years matter?

Well, they do. The first two years are the most crucial years in a child’s cognitive development, their brain is new and growing and needs as much nourishment as the rest of their body. And it’s a great time to develop habits. As I always say reading is a habit that needs to be nourished, it’s not something your child will just wake up with one day. Also reading is NOT studying. I know a lot of people consider it a chore and that’s exactly why you need to introduce your child to books early, so they don’t see it as work but a fun part of the day.

As for the first school of thought, I get it. You may feel like an idiot reading to a baby who is hardly conscious of his/her surrounding but just do it because any form or communication is great for your child. Yes they can’t process it yet but the more you talk, the more they’d want to respond. So make it a part of their bed time routine right from the start and it will stay with them through life. 



Image result for hello animalsHello Animals by Smriti Prasadam Halla

A high contrast, black-and-white book is an essential new born read since new borns don’t see colors for the first few months. The black and white contrasts help them focus and is great for brain development.



Image result for dear zoo pop upDear Zoo By Rod Campbell

This Pop-up Classic is a delightful way to introduce your child to animals and their sounds. There’s a lot of scope for enactment and children just love it when the animals pop out, never ceases to surprise them.


Image result for where's my belly buttonWhere is Baby’s Belly Button by Karen Katz

This is lovely lift-the-flap, pee-a-boo book. Honestly I love all of Karen Katz’s books, they are funny, engaging and simple but beautiful but I’m choosing this one because it has fewer words and it plays out wonderfully like a game.



Image result for ladybird touch and feelLadybird Touch and Feel books

Once your baby starts sitting they want to explore their surroundings. Also there are developing their senses or rather learning how to use their senses. Touch and Feel books are great stimulators, encouraging babies to feel different textures with their hand.

There are a lot of options in this series to choose from.


Image result for pajama timePajama Time by Sandra Boynton

A bedtime story is a great way to wrap up the day and unwind with your child and that’s exactly what the book does. The book has a musical quality to it so you can make a song of it and sing and dance for your child.



Image result for akkad bakkad tulikaAkkad Bakkad, illustrated by Shreya Sen

Tulsa launched these baby board books last year I believe and I just had to include them on the list because I haven’t seen any Indian houses doing board books. This is a counting book based on the all time favorite Indian rhyme. I really liked it because, again, you can sing it out and count along and put on a show for your child.

Essential reads: classic picture books

I’ve always believed picture books are ART on your bookshelf. And it’s art you can afford. 

Storytelling has been a part of every tradition for centuries but visual storytelling can only be traced back to about a century and a half, whereas picture books such as we know them today only came into being in the nineteenth century. It is almost a century old medium and yet we have had our qualms accepting it.

Before I delve into classic picture books, let me explain what classics are. Classics are usually books that transcend time. Books that have stood their stance even through the changes of time, books that are relevant irrespective of the changes society has undergone. 

Now, here are some classic picture books that ought to be an essential part of every childhood:

Image result for the hungry caterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, first published in 1969

This timeless, widely loved picture book is about a caterpillar who eats his into becoming a butterfly. The book has so much to do, the reader can count, learn the days of the week and learn about metamorphoses. 

Recommended age: 1 year and above


Image result for where the wild things are



Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, first published in 1963

Max dons his wolf suit and makes so much mischief one night that his mother send him to his room without supper. Once in his room, he find himself in a growing jungle and embarks on a journey to the land of the wild. Once there, Max soon becomes king of the wild. Will he ever want to come back home?

Recommended age: 3 years and above



Image result for goodnight moonGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, first published in 1947

A bunny bids his room and his surroundings good night. A soothing, poetic bed time story that never gets old.

Recommended age: 2 years and above


Image result for harold and the purple crayonHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson, first published in 1955

This book is such genius. It’s about a boy named Harold and his purple crayon that he uses to find his way out of a problem. Of course he first creates the problems with the aforementioned crayon. It is a beautiful book about the power of pen and the magic that imagination can weave.

Recommended age: 3 years and above



Image result for corduroyCorduroy by Don Freeman, first published in 1968

A Teddy Bear in a toy shop is missing a button, which is why no one would buy him. Once the store closes he sets out on a adventure to complete himself. An eye opening, heart warming story about home.

Recommended age: 2 year and above



Image result for the tiger who came to teaThe Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr, first published in 1968

Sophie and her Mummy are having tea one fine evening. Just then the door bell rings. It’s a Tiger! And he wants to join them for tea!

Recommended age: 2 years and above



The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, first published in 1964

Image result for the giving tree

The book is about the relationship between a boy and an apple tree that he frequents as a child. How the tree nurtures the boy through every stage of life, always giving, always loving.

Recommended age: 3 years and above


Image result for what do people do all dayWhat Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry, first published in 1968

Welcome to Busy town! In his signature style, Richard Scarry introduces the reader to the many residents of Busy Town and their occupations. It’s a busy book, a lot going on but very interesting nonetheless.

Recommended age: 4 years and above



Picture Books for Diwali

It’s the most luminous time of the year. The week of celebrating has begun and if you have kids at home who eagerly want to participate in the home cleaning and the cards playing, you must also be on the receiving end of questions like what is Diwali all about. If you don’t know how to get started on those questions and are looking for a way to pass on the rituals and stories that define the biggest Hindu festival of the year, look no further, we have a list of recommendation for you today about the festival of lights:

Hurray for Diwali

Author and Illustrator: Anita Raina Thapan and Alankrita

Age group: 3 years and above

The book tells the story of Gittoo, who wakes up on the day of Chhoti Diwali is super exited to see all the decorations and colorful treats waiting for him. The story follows Gittoo and his cousins the next two days as they learn the significance of the festival, why it’s celebrated, and participate in all the activities around the house like making rangoli, exchanging gifts etc. The book also talks about the Diwali Puja and why we worship Goddess Lakshmi! I love that the book covers everything that Diwali is all about, I’m certain every child will end up tallying whether they did everything the book said.

Amma Tell Me about Diwali

Amma Tell Me about Diwali

Author and illustrator: Bhakti Mathur and Maulshree Somani

Age group: 5 and above

I’m a big fan of this series, it has a title explaining almost every Hindu festival and Gods and Goddesses. The illustrations are so beautiful and colorful and the stories simple for young children. The book, again takes children through the celebrations of the festival and also tells the story of Ram’s victory over Ravana and return to his kingdom after years of exile. It also tell the story of Goddess Lakshmi and how she came to be worshipped on Diwali.

The series also has a lot of other books like one about Durga Puja, about Hanuman’s adventures in Lanka and one about the Ramayana that you can also consider based on what your child would like.

Hanuman's Ramayan

Hanuman’s Ramayana

Author and illustrator: Devdutt Pattanaik and Nancy Raj

Age group: 3 and above

Master mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik in this picture book takes us to the time when Valmiki had just finished writing the epic Ramayana only to find out there is another version, one by Hanuman. The news devastates Valmiki and he sets out to see what is so special about Hanuman’s Ramayana. As expected Patnaik weaves a witty, funny story as the mystery unfolds, one that leaves the reader with the lesson that there are always more versions to a story than one, especially in myths, every version is it’s tellers truth, a part of the narrator and as it is passed on the narrative changes a little with every narrator.

Happy Diwali all! Have a bright year ahead!

Why read bilingual books?

My Grandmother knew three languages, all of them Indian. She passed on all three to my father, who is fluent in two of them, understands the third and also acquired a fourth language, English. I also know three language, but two of them are foreign and of course my mother tongue, Hindi. My point is we are the global generation with Google Translate on our fingertips but does that mean that it’s alright to lose the languages that ran through generations go?

A language on a community level is a medium of communication but on an individual level it is as much a part of our identity as our name is. Which is why it is crucial to keep it alive and pass it on, and what better place to start than the young generation. In short, I think it’s imperative that we preserve our languages because they are very important.

That said, let me come to the point of Bilingual books. Bilingual books are dual language books, where the story is simultaneously told in two languages.

Not only does a bilingual book give parents a chance to read to their child in their mother tongue but also they help children develop a love for said language. Bilingual books present an equal case for two languages, while also introducing them to another culture, it’s practices and rituals, in a lot of cases.

The human brain tends to think in the language that is spoken more at home, so supposing you talk to your child in Hindi they will think in Hindi. So when they start going to school and are introduced to English, what happens is that the brain starts translating these thoughts into English. Our brain is constantly making switches between these languages that we know but this comes with time and practice. When you introduce your child to a bilingual book, say Hindi and English, you are showing them a connection between these two languages, you are enhancing their brain’s ability to switch between the two languages making their communication skills stronger.

While reading a bilingual book you’ll find your child anticipating the next sentence, making their own translations. You can also open a discussion in both the languages once you are through, which again helps bridge the gap between the two generations. It’s a fun and enriching experience in that sense.

The best part is that there are bilingual books in a lot of Indian indigenous languages like Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati. So all you have to do is fix a reading time with your child.


How picture books are the window to a world of imagination

I’ve often come across parents who don’t see the point of picture books, what good can they do in such few words? It takes all of 10 minutes to finish it, so what’s the point?

Well, we’ll attempt to answer those questions today. But first things first, what is a picture book?

A Picture book is usually aimed at toddlers and early readers; although not limited to them, there are picture books for adults as well. It usually has one story with illustrations to support the action and words. Since they have a limited word count, most people feel they are a waste and would rather invest in chapter books that have a plot and longer structure. But the thing is chapter books are step two of reading, they are for children who have learned to read while picture books are the stepping stone to develop a love of books, they are step one.

Here’s why we picture books are an important stage in your child’s reading career:

The first step into reading

Picture books are an integral part of a child’s development, they are the first step into reading. It is unfair to expect kids to develop a love of reading one find day. It has to be nurtured and the sooner you start the better. In that regard picture books are a fun way to introduce your child to reading, without making it feel like a chore.

Discover the world around them

Picture books help children discover the world around them in detail. They learn about animals, birds, they learn to notice clouds and most importantly they learn about feelings, such an experience prepares them to handle their own emotions when the time comes. They notice in books things that in real life go unnoticed (which is what reading does for everyone, make us more conscious individuals.)

Listening skills

Telling stories to your child is a great way to work on their listening skills.  A read aloud experience teaches children that paying attention makes the story more fun. Since picture books have a steady pace and have a lot going on in a few pages, they also help increase your child’s attention span.

Illustrations improve 0bservation skills

The idea of supporting the story with illustrations is to make it comprehensible to non readers.  When reading a picture book pay close attention to the pictures and encourage your child to do the same, let your child observe every page, even the minutest details. This exercise helps develop an appreciation for art. You’ll see that every time you revisit the book your child is able to find something new, and that is the magic of picture books.

Imagination and critical thinking

The colorful worlds that picture books paint broaden a child’s thinking horizons. Nothing is impossible in the pages of a book and these these worlds strengthen a child’s imagination. When you introduce your child to a new picture book it is a good idea to first let the child go through the illustrations of the book and make their own story using just the pictures. Such an exercise fosters imagination and creative thinking. Children also learn to think critically by guessing what’s going to happen next and analyzing the actions that take place in the story.


Children become familiar with the art of storytelling through picture books. gradually they start noticing a structure – a beginning, middle and end. Also they learn to use their imagination to cook up their stories.

why picture books are important?Language development

Most picture books have rhymes and repetition that help children develop language skills, thus polishing language fluency, phonics. These literary devices also make it effortless for children to retain a concept or story.

Parent and child bonding

Picture books allow parents to spend time with their children. You read a book and then you discuss it with your child, ask your child their thoughts on the story, the character and how it made them feel. Children can be very insightful, who knows you might even end up learning something from them. It can be the perfect way to bond with your child.

Opens doors to the difficult questions

Picture books make it easier to introduce your child to the difficult questions of life like death, poverty, good touch and bad touch. It is important to open these complex discussions with your child to prepare them for the world and also so that they can grow up to be sensitive, empathetic individuals.

Lots of interpretation

Picture books may have few words but there’s always a lot to read between the lines which make them open to interpretation. It will happen that after finishing a picture book your take away is very different from your child’s. And that’s another reason picture books can be read over and over again, you discover something new every time.




Introduce your young ones to these books this Independence Day

We celebrate 70 years of freedom today! Needless to say we’ve come a long way and while it’s important to celebrate the joy of independence it is as important to remember the struggle, to look back at the road we’ve traveled and reminisce the changes that have happened along the way. It is also important to pass on everything that we as a nation stand for to our young ones, to introduce them to the past so they can appreciate and understand the present. What better place to start than books! Which is why we have some recommendations for you all today, books to introduce to your young ones this Independence Day:

My Gandhi Story
Author: Nina Sabnani, Ankit Chadha
Illustrator: Rajesh Chaitya Vangad

This book takes the readers through the life of Mahatma Gandhi, how he grew up from the boy who did not much like school to the man who believed in a cause so much that he lead an entire nation to work with him, a man with undettered determination, a man who taught us to fight but humbly and with the utmost respect for ourself and our opponent. The story is painted through Warli art and highlights all his ideals and ideas as well as some major events in the Nationalist movement. The text is simple for children and the illustrations both amusing and elaborate.

Age group: 5 years and above

Bhimrao Ambedkar The Boy Who Asked Why
Author: Sowmya Rajendran
Illustrator: Satwik Gade

This is the story of the first Law Minister of our country and how his ‘whys’ brought the first wave of consciousness about equality to our country. The book very innocently explains and questions untouchability and discrimination. It’s a great way to sensitize your child to such a complex topic and make them empathetic enough to ask their own whys.

Age group: 6 years and above

Mukund and Riaz

Author and Illustrator: Nina Sabnani

Mukund and Riaz is a simple story of two friends who are forced to part when a nation is spilt into two. The book very subtly introduces children to partition and how it uprooted citizens and relations, it hints of a dark time, a time of bloodshed and heartbreak but most of all it talks about friendship that transcends religion, borders, distance, friendship that survives with people even if they never see each other again.

Age group: 4 years and above

We The Children of India
The Preamble to our Constitution

Author: Leila Seth
Illustrator: Bindia Thapar

Written by the first woman Chief Justice of India, this is a detailed and simplified explanation of our constitution. It introduces children to concepts of a Nation, of Democracy, freedom of speech etc while also taking them through the history of our country and how the constitution came to be. Most importantly it explains what this nation stand for and what it expects from us as citizens.

Age group: 7 years and above

When in Delhi

Author: Mamta Nainy
Illustrator: Jayanto

This picturesque book takes you around the capital, giving the readers a little history and lost of trivia. The travel  guides takes you through all major attractions in the city like Jama Masjid, Chandni Chawk, India Gate, Parathe Wali Gali etc.  providing little snippets as to what awaits you, what to do, what to eat and lots more. The pictures are the most curious part of this book, they are photographs adorned with quirky caricature drawings. For those who have been to Delhi this’ll be a trip down memory lane and those who haven’t can enjoy it as there guide into the wondrous city.

Age group: 5 years and above

One Day in Kaziranga

One reason why I think picture books are a matchless, magical experience is because they have the ability to say so much without actually saying it. They leave a lot to the reader’s/ storyteller’s imagination. There’s always a lot more meaning between the lines, one just has to have an open mind to see it.

How things unfold?

Sharada Kolluru in her book One Day in Kaziranga takes the reader on a jungle safari to the forest of Kaziranga. There she introduces us to Bunnu Bhai, the cheery and rhythmic Rhino who has a song for every occasion. And on this day Bunnu Bhai decides to tweak his daily routine a little bit and celebrate his euphoria (cos that’s just who he is) by throwing a party, and not just any party, he invites all the denizens of the jungle to a night of vegetarianism! While the animals are first apprehensive even appalled at the idea of eating salad, they finally agree and thus starts the feast and revelry, the likes of which no one has ever seen or even heard of before. But what happens when the merrymaking is interrupted by an earthquuuaaake!?

Here are reasons to give this visual safari a try.

For a wonderfully guided tour of the wilderness of Kaziranga.

Sharada Kolluru in her narration is pretty informative and funny, she draws out the jungle till the last detail, leaving the reader with a lot of facts about life in the wild (be sure to be prepared to answer all your kid’s questions, they will have plenty after this book).

To sing and dance to Bunnu Bhai’s wacky and poetic lyrics.

Bunnu Bhai’s songs are not just the perfect blend of rhyme and reason but also are so addictive that you will definitely be humming them for a long time.

For a colorful portrait of the jungle and the purple rhino.

The beautiful, enchanting illustrations paint a colorful, fun picture of the jungle and it’s something else to hear of a tiger helping himself to some salad (albeit with an eye roll)

Who is it for?

Bookistaan recommends it for ages 4 and above, mothers here’s your chance to be Bunnu Bhai’s voice.