Spotlight on Diwali: Children’s Books

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Diwali: A Cultural Adventure by Sana Sood (Pre-K – 1)

A book to match the holiday, this highly recommended picture book features bright, colorful illustrations on every page.  An adventure story told in rhyme, even very little ones can learn the story of Diwali through hearing this engaging and fun book read aloud.  This book is accessible to children who are new to Diwali as well.

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Lights for Gita by Rachna Gilmore (Pre-K – 3)

Gita has recently moved away from her home in New Delhi.  Gita is homesick and angry to be missing Diwali.  The colored pencil illustrations express the gloominess that Gita is feeling both inside and out, when the weather takes a turn for the worst.  Gita learns a lesson about how celebrating the festival of lights begins with finding light from within.  Lights for Gita also gives a brief explanation of the holiday, Diwali.  This is a recommended book for children, who may participate in holidays and traditions that are not the norm in their community.

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Lighting a Lamp: A Diwali Story by Jonny Zucker (Pre-K – 3)

This book provides accessible information about Diwali to young children through simple text and legible illustrations.  This simple, innocuous story could be a useful supplement to a larger lesson on Diwali.

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Diwali! (Amma, Tell Me About) by Bhakti Mathur (Kindergarten – 2)

With engaging and bright illustrations, this highly recommended story gives multiple explanations of Diwali, and is a particularly good read for children who celebrate Diwali outside of India.  The author has distilled a complicated mythological story into an accessible tale for children as young as three.

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The Diwali Gift by Shweta Chopra (Pre-K – 1)

At the center of this story are three monkeys who introduce Diwali in simple terms.  A cute, basic tale, the book also contains a glossary of definitions.  This book will appeal to children as young as three, but may not be engaging for some first grade children.

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Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Diwali: With Sweets, Lights, and Fireworks (National Geographic) by Deborah Heiligman (1 – 3)

Wonderful photographs and large text make this book an excellent resource for children, learning about Diwali.  Some of the (minor) criticisms include that the information on Diwali is incomplete, which is partially due to the fact that it is only thirty-two pages.  Although the text is geared toward first through third graders, the beautiful photographs can be a useful aid for teaching preschoolers and kindergarteners about Diwali.

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Divali Rose by Vashanti Rahaman (2 – 3)

This story about a boy and his grandfather in Trinidad centers on a beautiful lesson appropriate for the celebration of Diwali about honesty and open-mindedness to people who may be perceived as different or foreign.  This is a great book to talk about Diwali, but also to discuss ethics with children in second and third grade.  Lots of good discussions may arise about the themes in this book.

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