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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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Children’s Literature

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.

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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. 

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.

 

Manya Learns to Roar

Have you ever been in a crowd and felt like you were losing your voice amidst all the noise? Like your voice was drowning, like it wasn’t important enough to be heard?

In times like these it’s important to not lose faith in yourself because the moment you do, you lose yourself and become the crowd.

Moving on to today’s book, Manya Learns to Roar is about a girl who dreams of shining out and making her own place in the world. Manya studies in the 5th standard and is absolutely thrilled to hear that her school is preparing a play on The Jungle Book. She knows the role that she wants to play and completely believes that she’ll be great at it. There’s only one problem, a lot of people don’t believe she can pull it off because she has a stammer. Soon Manya starts believing these other people more than herself and her stammer begins to worsen. Will she be able to reinstate her faith in herself or will be lose herself in self doubt?

 

Why read it?

Manya is a strong character, reading the blurb I’d expected a meek character, but she came as a welcome surprise. She knows how to put up a brave face in times of crisis and holds her ground even when it’s shaking beneath her feet.

The book covers issues like disability, bullying and bias and aims to make its reader conscious/sensitive about them. The idea is not to incite pity but empathy, and the book does that job well. It aims to make its reader into a considerate citizen without making the person with a disability a victim.

Also, the book will resonate with a lot of readers, young and adults, because it talks about the road to your dream, the hurdles that come along the way, the criticism, the doubts, everything. It’s quite an inspiring read in that sense.

Who is it for?

Bookistaan recommends this roar some book for younger readers, ages 7 and above.

 

 

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.

Storytelling

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

Unbroken by Nandhika Nambi

How things unfold?

There are two things about this book that’ll throw you off balance; one that the protagonist of this book is someone with a disability (trust Duckbill to do something like that!) and second that this character with the disability does not elicit admiration in the reader, not for a very long time in the story. She is a character who wants to be hated, she’s much rather be hated than be pitied, she feels no one understands her but she makes no attempt to give people a chance to understand her. According to her, she is a monster and she’s accepted that.

Her life is pretty normal comprising of parents who want her to lead a normal life, a do gooder brother who dotes on her (and everyone else), two friends who have stuck around through the thick, school, homework. exams. But everything, no matter how normal, seems to infuriate her more and more and more. How much anger can a teenager have? And what happens when the anger reaches the tipping point?

Why read it?

 For the awkward topic

Let’s admit it, disability is an awkward topic that most of us don’t know how to address. It’s almost a taboo which is why you’d hardly find it in books. So reading about a topic like that does educate you in terms of how to deal with it and this book does more that, it gives you insight into the thoughts of a person with a disability like its the most normal of circumstances. It makes disability normal not awkward. Kudos to the author for that!

For the fiesta character

Aakriti (that’s our main lead) is quite a rebellious character full of sarcastic come backs and mean (honest) opinions that she doesn’t shy from voicing. She can seem even heartless sometimes but her journey is enlightening (not to mention very satisfying). The book in that sense is an epiphany, telling you that all it takes is one person, one moment, one little thing to change your life, to change you and when that chance comes you should accept it.

Open your mind

I don’t wanna give out spoilers but there are a few other issues that the book takes on in a thought-provoking manner. It will open your mind about a lot of things, so give it a try.

Who is it for?

Bookistaan recommends this one for young adults, ages 13 and above.

 

 

 

kahani and kitab

Here’s bringing to you the story of Kahani Tree, a children’s bookstore based in Mumbai. Founded by a fellow book lover, Sangeeta Bhansali, with the aim to find rare Indian treasures and share them with those who’d appreciate it. And you know what they say! Love grows with sharing!

Every bookstore has a story, what’s yours? How was Kahani Tree born?

In early 2006, I came across the wonderful range of children’s books published by Tulika in Chennai.  That’s when I realized that my sons–then 14 and 12 years –had grown up without seeing any Indian children’s books that were not about gods, goddesses and the Panchatantra! While their bookshelves were filled with wonderful books from all around the world, we barely had any multicultural books that told interesting stories about our people and our country.

In spite of frequenting bookstores in Mumbai, I realized that such books were just not available in our city. As a mother and a book-lover, I felt it was important for every child to have access to Indian stories and folk tales, as well as engaging story-books in Hindi and the regional languages, so that they were not growing up as strangers to their own culture.

As a publisher with Vakils, I understood the issues that other small independent publishers like us faced to make our books available in retail. So with Vakils’ support, Kahani Tree began with a curated selection of children’s books sourced from across the country. We promoted them by participating in school book-fairs, doing author events in schools and at literary festivals. Recently, we have expanded our little bookstore to carry a curated range of international picture and middle-grade books, too.

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You are a children’s bookstore with a special focus on Indian Publishing and writers, how easy or difficult has it been for you as a seller to find a place for these Indian titles in the India.

It has been an interesting journey!  When we started over a decade ago, Kahani Tree was showcasing a range of unique Indian children’s books that had barely been visible in Mumbai before.  And the reaction was always “Wow! Why haven’t we seen these books before! Where are they available?”

Now there is, clearly, a growing appreciation for every child to have access to a selection that has books that are both windows (that allow them to see the world and help to understand people whose lives were different from their own) and mirrors (that reflect their own realities and understand that there are others like themselves dealing with similar issues).

Kahani Tree promotes books that go beyond the ‘best-selling’ range that one sees in retail.  We are proud, though, that we do more than just sell books! Through school book fairs and author interactions, bookstore events and by participating in literary festivals in the city, we are happy to spread the joy of reading and books.

Bookstores have been struggling ever since the digital revolution swept the industry, how have you been coping?

Kahani Tree has grown slowly and organically, and we’ve happily attracted those customers that prefer the print format —those that love holding, touching and smelling books!  With children’s books, the reading levels and interests vary so much at every age, that it is important to enable customers to browse and understand the books before buying.

We also know our books well through careful selection and love recommending books, after understanding the customers’ interests.  Our sales have steadily increased over the years, but more than that, it’s been wonderful to see the awareness for good books growing and know that people are appreciating our curated collection.

You do a lot of book events in schools, and other places around the city and you’ve helped set up reading libraries, tell us a little more about them?

I believe it is important to promote reading for pleasure amongst all children. It was, therefore, necessary to make our unique range of Indian story books, available both in English and the regional languages, accessible to children from all backgrounds, and especially the less privileged.  We work with several schools and non-profit organizations to help set up mini-libraries and reading corners.  We encourage their librarians and teachers to come to Kahani Tree, browse and select books by a range of publishers that are simply not available in retail.  We have also facilitated book readings and author interactions in such schools and organizations and it’s been so fulfilling to spread the love for stories and books.

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How much do you think book events like these, actually contribute in spreading the reading culture?

Well planned book-events and children’s literary festivals go a long, long way in spreading the reading culture. When children get a chance to meet the author of a book they’ve read, or if a story-teller makes a book come alive, a special connection is made.  The children are energized and inspired with a new appreciation for reading.  We have seen this happen over the years, both in the schools we work with and at book-store/festival events that we have been doing.  Parents and teachers will vouch for it!

Do events like these, it in any way, help the bookstore survive? Do they bring in any return?

Book events help to build reading communities and bring together people with similar interests.  I am convinced that interesting events and curated book collections are the only way for bookstores to draw in new and different customers and survive in the rapidly growing online book world.

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What do you think the future in going to be like for the business?

I am optimistic.  We simply have to be!  I sincerely believe that we must strive to create reading, thinking, open-minded and empathetic children and they are the ones that will make a difference in these crazy times that we presently live in. We also must make every effort to make the independent bookstore survive that allows for meaningful customer interactions and builds reading communities.

Kahani Tree Mumbai

Kahani Tree Mumbai

On a much lighter note, tell us five books that you’d recommend all your readers?

Gajapati Kulapati – Ashok Rajagopalan

Elephants Never Forget – Anushka Ravishankar

The Mountain that Loved a Bird – Alice McLeran

Advaita the Writer – Ken Spillman

Who Will be Ningthou? –  Indira Mukherjee

Oh, the places you’ll go! – Dr. Seuss

The Enormous Crocodile – Roald Dahl

Heart in a Bottle – Oliver Jeffers

Wonder – R J Palacio

Journey – Aaron Becker

A – Z Detective Agency

How things unfold?

Ashwin is on a mission to make money this summer so he can go on the School trip and make friends. All he needs is a business plan. As he jumps from the nimbu pain business to selling hand made crafts, all without much success, he stumbles upon a piece of paper that changes his life.

Next thing you know, Ashwin learns how to summon a Djinni, and start yet another business The A-Z Detective Agency. Only as luck would have it the Djinni who comes to  his rescue seems to be in need of rescue herself. Will this school going, forgetful, novice of a Djinni, disguised as a 9 year old girl be able to able Ashwin? Will Ashwin succeed in his mission?

Why read it?

For Ashwin’s entrepreneurial ideas

One reason I loved this character is for his many business ideas and his financial independence, his eagerness to earn his own money and pay for the trip himself.

For loads of anecdotes on Djinnestan

Parinita Shetty paints a mystic and intriguing picture of the world of Djinnies.

For friendship that happens

Just like how the best things in life just happen, the best of friends also just happen. They are not planned, they are happystances that you stumble upon.

Who is it for?

Bookistaan recommends this one for ages 8 and above, all you young readers out there!

The House That Spoke

Reality can be a little harsh, perhaps even dull which is why it is sometimes you want to escape it and what better way than in the worlds of words? My favorite kinds of books are the ones that don’t sugar-coat the reality but that set it in a magical ambience while giving it a human quality.

How Things unfold?

Perhaps that’s why I loved today’s book.

Written by a 15 year old fantasy lover, The House That Spoke is about 14 year old Zoon, living in a heavenly house in Kashmir with her mother. She knows that her home is more that its beauty and right before her 15th birthday, she finds out the secret that her house has been guarding, a secret that unravels her heritage and her powers.

But with these powers and the magic she also discovers an enemy that she must defeat to save her home, as well as her Kashmir.

Why read it?

For magical Kashmir

Zuni Chopra’s Kashmir is magical both for its beauty as well as its reality. She paints a Kashmir majestic in its beauty, soulful in its suffering and colorful even in its darkness.

For a magical reality

As I said I like to read about a reality that is enveloped in a wrapping of the unreal. I like that the author has presented a morbid reality in such an endearing and imaginative setting. She gives Zoon a talking house as an ally in her fight against evil.

Imaginative and Hopeful

The narration is not just imaginative but also full of hope. One thing that I’ve learnt with this book is that darkness is always waiting around the corner to take charge and blow your world out of its balance but then there’s a fight waiting right inside you to defeat the darkness and find hope again.

Who is it for?

Zuni Chopra voice is fresh and mature, fun and rousing at the same time and Bookistaan recommends this eloquent read to any one above age 12.

Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles

It has to be something else to be able to influence lives even after you’re gone, to leave an imprint on the surface of the globe so deep that it becomes a monument to be worshiped by generations to come.

Today’s book celebrates one such monumental, poetic life. Amir Khusrau, the royal poet of the 13th Century, aka the Parrot of India, has over a 90 books to his credit. His lyrics adorned the court of seven ruler of Delhi and he is considered the founder of Qawwali and Ghazals, one of the many things he gave to our country. But what was his life like? To find out give Ankit Chadha’s Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles a try.

Why read it?

For a glimpse into the life of the mystic
The book gives the reader a sneak peak into the life of the poet, just enough to make the reader curious. It doesn’t drone about his life and achievements but talks about his beliefs, desires, likes and dislikes.

A little bit of riddle, rhyme and reason
Another thing that makes this book unique and stand apart from other books about history is that it uses riddles to take the reader through the life of a legend, riddles all attributed to him. You have to decode the riddle to find out more about him, it’s an interesting way to decode a life.

For a taste of the Sufi language
Khusrau wrote mostly in Persian or Hindvi which was a combination of Persian and Bhojpuri and which later developed into Urdu and Hindi. The book offers the Urdu lyrics along with translations, giving the reader a taste of the glorious language as well as more challenge.

The illustrations deserve a special mention for Urmimala Nag’s colorful illustrations add to the beauty of the book. This book is a collector’s dream.

Who is it for?
Bookistaan recommends this beauty for the middle reader, age 10 and above.

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