Whichever part of India you reside in, ….chances are that it is either raining or going to rain or just about stopped raining! Though this year’s monsoon’s has had a slow start, its wet…wet wet…all the way now! It is time to let your little ones to flaunt those colourful raincoats, floaters and umbrellas and sail paper boats and jump into puddles when they are outside……but what about when they are stuck inside on a rainy day…..?? Well …there’s nothing like cuddling up to your little one with a book on a rainy day.
Here are a few rainy-day reads that will offer a slice of the Indian monsoon magic for you and your little one to get soaked in!
Two publications that best showcase the vibrancy of the Indian monsoon to the Western world are “Monsoon” written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Jamel Akib and Monsoon Afternoons by Kashmira Sheth and Yoshiko Jaeggi.
Monsoon is set in a typical Indian city in the midst of the sweltering heat of an Indian summer. Narrated from a perspective of a little girl who sees everyone from her parents to the bystanders at the tea stall and the news reader on the radio anxiously waiting for the year’s monsoon. And when the clouds do finally pour out….the whole nation seems to rejoice!
Another delightful read is “Monsoon Afternoons” which revolves around a rainy day escapade of a grandpa-grandson duo, leaving a trail of mud, much to the chagrin of everyone at home. One of our all time favourites, a pity that it is not as widely available in India as it is in the West.
Now looking at some of our home grown publications – Peacocks and Pakoras by Mala Kumar and illustrations by Priya Kuriyan brought out by Pratham Books as a part of the Ritu Chakra series on seasons round the year. This set of five books makes a great birthday gift for an emerging Reader. Peacocks and Pakoras features the highlights of Varsha Ritu, or monsoon season is known in Sanskrit. Dark clouds, cool breeze, smell of wet rain…and of course monsoon cravings for pakoras!
Another offering from Pratham Books in Level 2 Early readers format is “Rain Rain” by Sanjay Jaiswal “Sanjay” and Ajith Narayan. Though it doesn’t really read like a story, the book attempts to explain how the rains are most awaited in India, with everyone on earth from birds and animals like peacock and fish to people appealing to the clouds for rain!
A must read for middle level readers is Ruskin Bond’s “The Angry River” brought out in an Amar Chitra Katha format by Amar Chitra Publications along with another one of his stories “The Blue Umbrella”. A heart-warming story of how a river which is a lifeline, can also be life threatening during the rainy season. A tale of survival, will power and lasting friendship brought alive by the illustrations in our favourite comic book format and reminiscent of the flash floods in the North last year. Like all stories of Ruskin Bond, this one too is insightful and perceptive in its narrative and vivid in its descriptions!
After Pratham Books and Amar Chitra Katha…..how can the multi-lingual “Tulika kaka” be left behind?
“Catch the Rain”, a Tulika publication by Vinod Lal Heera Kishwar emphasizes the importance of conserving rain water with simple verses and playful illustrations.
One of our favourites is “Raindrops” a Tulika publication by Vaishali Shroff and Ruchi Mhasane highlights all that is exciting about rain as seen from the eyes of a little girl looking out of her window – streets “dotted” with colourful umbrellas, people huddled under a tree or bus-stop shelters, huge drops of rain hitting the window pane and sliding into various patterns! The soft water colours bring alive a simple story about a girl experiencing the pleasures of watching the rain!
The recent release from the Tulika is “The Red Umbrella” by Nandini Nayar and illustrated by Sowmya Menon that almost reminds you of the famous Gulzaar song “Ek Akele Chatri mein jab aadhi aadhi bheeg rahe the…” A multilingual book that provides a rainy spin to the age old tale. Little Sparrow, mouse, hen, cat, pig, and cat all try to stay dry under the red umbrella until the balance is upset by a tiny little fly in the backdrop of drip drip drip! Meant more for younger readers, the “Red Umbrella” makes a perfect read aloud book on a rainy afternoon!
So….rain rain …..dont go away….come again day after day…..as little Johnny wants to read!!! Enjoy the monsoon season!