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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 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.

Bookistaan’s favorite Fantasy worlds: fantasy series

Reading means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some it’s an adventure, for others it’s an escape and for yet another category it’s a chance to face the mirror.

If there’s one genre that does is all, it’s fantasy. The experience of losing yourself in another world, bumping into all sorts of characters, dragons included, is nothing short of surreal. A world unlike another and yet it has the power to make you see your own reality in better light.

So today we share with our favorite ever fantasy world. Please remember the list is mostly revealed of middle grade readers and young adults. Also the series does not contain any dystopian novels because that’s a genre in itself, lately. So, here goes:

Image result for harry potterHarry Potter

If you read only one fantasy series, read Harry Potter, the book that brought children’s writing to the forefront. Harry is 11 when he receives acceptance into The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his life changes forever. He’s faced with his past, new challenges, new friend, a world full of magic and even an enemy. Rowling’s magical world is so imaginative, symbolic and immersive that it will have you addicted until you reach the entire series and you’ll still not be satisfied. I still at least one book in the series every year!

 

 

 

Image result for the chronicles of narnia bookThe Chronicles of Narnia

C. S. Lewis’ first in this series of seven was published in 1950. The first book The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe  stars 4 brother and sisters who whilst hiding in a cupboard stumble upon the magical land of Narnia. The main characters change in the subsequent books but the world remains the same and the books span the entire history of the realm. Full of magic, conflict and acts of bravery, the series is hard to put down and harder to forget.

 

 

Image result for percy jacksonPercy Jackson and the Olympians

This magical world takes inspiration from Greek mythology, which in itself was a winner for me. It’s a world of Gods and demigods where one misfit is trying to find his place. But Percy Jackson is more than meet the eye and it looks like fate has great adventures in store for him. Percy faces one nail-biting task after another to prove his worth in this series of Five books. The books are set in a school for demigods and Greek Gods make special guest appearances throughout the plot!

 

 

Image result for artemis fowlArtemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl is a hero unlike any other. He is a criminal mastermind. Yep, you read that right! The series starts with Fowl kidnapping a fairy for ransom, so that he can extort gold from the fairy people and restore his family’s wealth. Our little villain grows into many shades in this series with eight books and has won the hearts of readers worldwide with his evil plots.

 

 

Image result for fairyland seriesFairyland

Finally a series with a heroine! In the first book of five, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, we meet eleven year old September who is spirited away from her ordinary, uneventful life to Fairyland. Here is meets witches and gnomes and all sorts of odd characters and is trusted with a very important task. It’s a delicious story about growing up and finding courage and compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

Fablehaven.jpgFablehaven

This fantasy series of five books by Brandon Mull follow a brother and sister duo who are visiting their grandparents while their parent are on a holiday. To their surprise they come to find that their grandparents are guardians of Fablehaven, a sanctuary for ALL sorts of magical creatures. Think fairies, centaurs, ogres, goblins, trolls, dragons etc, all in one place. Is that a geeks dream come true or what!

 

 

 

Cover ravenboys 300.pngThe Raven Cycle

The Series follows Blue, who’s lived her life among her clairvoyant family. Her entire life she’s been told that when she kisses her true love, he’s going to die. The prophecy has never been a problem for Blue, that is until she meet the Raven Boys, a group of four boys from a local private school, and finds herself on a quest with them.

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.

Middle grade authors for fans of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is a quintessential middle school read!

The first book I read by the British author was Matilda. I was eleven and I remember it was the first time I found a book really funny. I did not know books could do that back then. I reread the book recently and it still proved itself effectively amusing and I kept wondering if I actually understood everything in the book at eleven.

But anyway, the reason I delved into the story is to emphasize what makes Dahl so special. It’s his ability to make his reader laugh and consequently make them fall in love with reading. His quirky, sometimes slightly unhinged characters, his sarcasm and the way he paints the world, real and yet so exaggerated that you can’t help but shake you your head at the intricacies of human nature, make for delightful, hard to put down reads that I can promise will go with you a long, long time after you’ve read them.

So if like me you are a lover of Dahl’s signature style, here are some other classic authors that you can explore next:

Eva Ibbotson

Ibbotson is one author who comes very close to Dahl’s style of writing. If you’re into stories about witches, ghosts, magic or anything supernatural, you should give her books a try. Her writing style is wrought with irony and if you learned a little about the kind of life she lived (she lived through the second World War and so had an unstable childhood) you’d know that the grotesque comes disguised as eccentric, imaginative and fantastical. It’s such an effective disguise though, things I realized when I revisited her stories as an adult, and her writing is humorous and enchanting.

 

Astrid Lindgren

I’m sure you’ve heard of Pippi Longstocking! The unpredictable, super strong, super opinionated girl with mismatched stockings who doesn’t want to grow up. Pippi lives to slaughter rules and has a decided disregard for authority and conventions. She lives a life of freedom and her unabashed outspokenness is inspiring. Her adventures are brave and chaotic and oh-so-funny and her rebellion charming. She’s a little girl who raises big questions about right and wrong, about society and individual. Astrid Lindgren’s writing is simple and uncomplicated and relatable and this isn’t her only children’s book but it’s her most popular one.

 

Edward Eager

A less popular author who deserves more notice, Edward Eager is the author of the Tales of magic series. The series follows four children who happen upon a seemingly ordinary coin which they soon realize is magical. They start wishing upon the coin but here’s the catch, the coin only grants half the wish. All sorts of mayhem ensues as they find themselves in awkward, complicated situations. Eager’s writing is confessional and mocking at the same time and will never cease to surprise you. It’s the kind of writing that keeps playing in your head after you’ve kept the book down, making you snort of the dinner table.

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

 

 

categories of kid lit @bookistaan

Kid Lit 101: Get to know Kid lit more deeply!

Finding a book for adults is easy, all you need to think about the preferred genre. But finding a book for a child is a whole different game. Children’s Literature is a complicated category. One needs to keep in mind age before genre.

Let me start by explaining what genre is. Genre is the style of plot, like mystery, thriller, romance, humor, fantasy, sci-fi etc. And these genres are significant to all literature including kid lit. 

But the first thing you need to keep in mind when looking for books for the young is age. Yes, there are different categories of books depending on the child’s age. Here’s how children’s books are classified.

Board Books

These are thick, cardboard books for babies from age zero to three. I know what you are thinking, what will a few months old baby understand in a book and you’re right they don’t understand everything but they are intrigues by everything. So the sooner you introduce then to books the farther books will go with them.

Anyway, the reason they are made of sturdier material is so that they can survive being eaten. Board books are mostly interactive, like Touch and Feel books, or Peek-a-boo books, and they cover very basic topics. 

Picture Books

You can start exposing your children to picture books after they turn two. Please remember picture books are mostly meant to be read by adults to children. The vocabulary is easy, the sentences are simple but picture books have this quality of saying a lot more that the words on the pages. There’s a lot open to interpretation and that is why they can be read over and over again. 

Of course, the illustrations are a very important part of picture books and they make the books so much more interactive. Go over the illustration with your child, let them take their time, let them notice things, make it a game. There’s a lot hidden in the pictures as well. 

Since picture books are meant for both adults and children, a lot of them cover slightly difficult subjects like adoption, poverty, disability and they are a great way to open the doors to slightly complex discussions.

 

Early Readers

Early readers are a category of books meant for children who are starting to read independently. Again the sentences are short and crisp, mostly 2, 3 and 4 letter words and a lot of them are big on rhyme, though they are no rules. 

Early readers can be further divided into levels, Level one for readers who are just starting out, level two the next step and so on. Dr Seuss books are the most popular books in this category.

Novellas/ chapter books

Novellas are for children who read on their own. They are books with short chapters, where the prose and not the illustrations are driving the story, though they are still illustrated. Basically they are longer and slightly more difficult (in the reading department) than Early readers but still a few steps short of being a novel.

Middle Grade Readers

Middle Grade books are for children between eight and 12 years of age. There different kinds of Middle grade books like fantasy (Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone), contemporary (like Wonder). The protagonists is usually young, again 10 years or so and they take center stage and embark on a adventure, usually. 

This is the time when children start picking out their own books and my advice would be to let them. I’ve seen a lot of parents tell their children what to buy and then complain that their child did not read it. Let them read what they are curious about.

Young Adult

Probably the most popular Kid Lit category, books for and about teenagers. YA is one of the fastest growing genre right now, one that is read by more adults than teenagers. One of the ever present theme in YA is crushes or first love. Other topics such as identity crisis, fear of growing up, loss, grieving and even mental health awareness are also popular in the genre. 

 

 

Books about being a book lover

Hello fellow bookworms! Do you remember the exact time when you fell in love with reading? Or the exact book that had you hooked? I do, I was in fifth grade and a friend of mine recommended that I read a Nancy Drew and that was it. I was in love. I read one Drew book after another, I just couldn’t stop! And I swear those books taught me so much, to not give up, to trust your instinct above all and most importantly they taught me how to be a good friend. That’s the power of books!

So getting to the topic at hand, what does a reader love more than reading books? Reading books about the love of reading books.

Haha! Lost?

Well, these books are a reader’s soulmates, they understand what being a bibliophile is like, they put into words exactly what reading means. Here are some books about being a book lover! Oh and this list has something for every age group, so if you’re a parent and want to share your love with your child, we have something for you too.

A Book is a Bee Lavanya Kartik

Age: 3 

Picture Book

This book knows exactly how we bookworms feel about books. It talks about the power of books, the power of imagination. It talks about how a few words can come together to take you on an adventure.

books about being a book lover @bookistaan

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

Age: 3 

Picture Book

Henry like many children loves books. But unlike many children who like reading books, Henry likes eating them! Talk about a voracious appetite for books! This delightful book by master picture bookmaker has a lot to say in a few funny words, a style that is typical of Oliver Jeffers.

IMG-0328

The Boring Book by Vasanti Unka

Age: 4

Picture Book

This beautiful, crafty picture book is about the titular book that no one wants to read and the ones who dare to read it end up falling asleep. The book is so boring that even the words inside the book feel irritated and so decide to run away!

I Can Read With my Eyes Shut

Age: 5

Beginner Reader

Master storyteller Dr. Seuss’ rhymes are a great way to introduce children to reading. He wrote this book at a time when his own sight began to fade. The book talks about the magic that words can weave, about curiosity and the places it can take you in life and about how there’s no end to learning, “The more you read, the more you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

books about being a book lover @bookistaan

Bookasura by Anushka Venkatesh

Age: 7

Novella

This funny novella brings together mythology and book loving. The story follows Bala, a young boy who breathes stories and devours (not literally) books. He’s happy because it’s finally summer and he gets to visit his grandparents, at least he’ll be able to read in peace. But what happens when he encounters an enormous, multi-headed, book devouring (literally) monster? 

Read our full review here.

Matilda

Age: 8 

Novel 

Roald Dahl’s classic about the power of reading. Matilda is the precocious misfit in her family that consists of a swindling father, a neglectful mother and an over indulged brother. Since she would rather read when they would rather stare at the idiot box, she is neglected, under appreciated and often even ill treated by her family. Her only recluse is her books and then she befriends her teacher Ms Honey. 

Dahl’s signature combination of unusual and strong friendship and crazy adult characters make it the most delightful and witty read.

books about being a book lover @bookistaan

Horoun and the Sea of Stories

Age: 10 and above

Novel

Rushdie’s brilliance is unchallenged. In his first book for children, we meet Horoun a boy who lives in a town so old that no one remembers its name anymore. He is the storyteller’s son but one day he discovers a water genie come to detach his father’s imagination. Thus begins Horoun’s journey to the Sea of Stories to restore his father’s creativity.

Even though this book doesn’t talk about books, it does touch upon the importance of stories and imagination. The narrative is so atmospheric and there’s so much open to interpretation in this book that reading it once is just not enough.

The Book Thief

Age: 13 and above

Novel

Set during the second world war, Germany, the book follows Liesel, a ten year old girl’s encounters with the Nazi regime. Having lost her brother to death, Leisel has to live with a new family to stay alive. She is just learning to settle in when her family start hiding a young Jew in the basement. The story touches upon the themes of freedom and humanity, morality and compassion, love and hope and of course the right to read. 

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