Looking for books on Indian festivals and culture for kids and teenagers? There are many books listed in this article. Read further to know more.
Indian festivals are well-known for their colour, enthusiasm and celebration, inclusive of the community. Each festival has stories behind them, rooted in Indian mythology, with some moral lessons to learn from them. As per custom, before the festival begins, people are generally busy cleaning, decorating, preparing delicious eats and buying gifts.
Well, passing on stories about festivals, culture and values, is one more task on the shoulders of parents in nuclear families. Now making time for passing on these stories and culture might be tough, right? Considering the modern times we live in. Additionally, we may not remember details of the stories as well as we would like to. A good way out is involving the kids in preparing for the festival and buying books to read or tell them stories. Which means, why not create some time and let your kids learn more about Indian festivals and culture in a fun way.
In this article, you will find a list of books that your kids will enjoy reading and get to know a lot more about the festivals, food, and culture of India.
Books on Indian festivals and culture to read for kids and teenagers
There are several books (more than 35) for kids and teenagers, on Indian festivals and culture. I have listed them under four headings;
- Indian Festivals
- Monuments and History
You might wonder why mythology, monuments, history, activities and stories? Well! all these are connected to culture. By the time kids reach middle grades, they already know about festivals. That is why, festival season is great timing to inspire middle graders and teenagers to read other related topics like mythology, history, monuments, chapter books and activities. Books on Indian festivals, simplified mythology, interesting activity and picture books are best for kids till age 7 years.
Festivals and days of national importance like Independence day are an inspiration to read about monuments, history and mythology. They are also an opportunity to investiage on trans-disciplinary topics around festivals, history and culture.
Books on Indian festivals and culture
Culture is an amalgamation of several aspects of society or a group of people.
Aspects of the culture of a country include
- the social way of living,
- social habits,
- way of dressing,
and many others.
Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Diwali (for toddlers and preschoolers)
Toddlers and preschoolers enjoy the Peppa Pig series because of the lovely illustrations, theme and easy text. The book helps in showing young kids how the festival is celebrated in some basic ways suitable for their age group. Young kids learn better with visuals and taking the help of this book will help kids learn about the festival.
Festivals of India: Cutout Board Book (for toddlers, pre-school and beginner readers)
This 10-page board book is made of thick board, so toddlers cannot tear it into pieces. The book is suitable for picture talk and reading aloud to small kids, as an introduction to the festivals of India.
Read 5 minute Christmas stories in large print with beautiful pictures for kids upto 8 years.
Discover India: Festivals of India
This 64-page book by Puffin is a great discovery for kids and teenagers with questions in their minds, about Indian festivals. Ever wondered, why so many festivals are celebrated all over India and what is their significance? Are all the festivals similar or is there something different in each of them? Find answers to these questions in this amazing concise book on festivals of India. Suitable for kids above 8 years.
Amma, Tell Me about Diwali
This 32-page popular picture book explains the widely celebrated festival of Diwali, in a visual format suitable for kids up till age 8. Parents, educators or elder siblings can help toddlers and preschoolers understand the festival with the help of this book. This story has two toddlers take you through the book. It’s about prince Rama who came back to Ayodhya from exile, why goddess Laxmi is worshipped and virtues that help bring wealth. Indian festivals are closely connected with mythological stories and this book shows the connection brilliantly.
Amma, Tell Me About Raksha Bandhan
This is the 12th book in the Amma Tell Me series but you can buy it separately too. The 32-page picture book tells the story of Vishnu and Bali, Lord Indra, and how Tagore used this thread tying festival to stop brothers from fighting among themselves. This book is a great introduction of festival stories to little kids. Reading or listening to stories develops a love for books.
Amma, Tell Me About Durga Puja
This 40-page picture book is suitable for kids from preschool to age 7. Durga Puja is a major festival celebrated by Indians all over the globe. The book talks about the fervour and enthusiasm of the festival. It also explains the story of the powerful goddess. How did the goddess defeat the demon with a great fight? The festival represents the victory of good over evil.
- Belief in oneself
- Showing up and completing
These are some of the values to be learnt from the story.
The Amma Tell Me: Festival Series (3 book series on Holi, Diwali and Ramayana)
This set of 3 books introduces young kids to the festival of Holi and Diwali in a story format. The third book is on Ramayan, suitable for young kids up till 8 years. This series is very popular with children because of the colourful, attractive pictures and stories. Parents, teachers, elder siblings or grandparents may have to read out to little kids, to engage and inform them about the important festivals.
Books on mythology related to Indian festivals and culture
If you are interested in celebrating Indian festivals and reading about culture, then you might also like some good mythological story books for kids and teenagers. Most Indian festivals are backed by mythological and religious significance.
My First Mythology Series
This set includes five books on Shiva, Durga, Brahma, Bhakta Prahlad and Luv-Kush. The illustrations are colourful and large. Print is clear, readable and large specially for kids between the ages of 7 to 10. This keeps the kids interested in reading the fasinating mythological stories. This set of books is great for kids as their first mythology series. See these colourful beautifully illustrated books too,
- My Little Book of Krishna (board book for age 3 to 7)
- My Little Book of Ganesha (board book for age 3-7)
Amma, Tell Me About the Avatars of Vishnu!
This is part 1 of the Amma, Tell Me series. The entire series has large colourful illustrations. In this book, there’s an overwhelming, devastating storm when Manu seeks help of Lord Vishnu to save the Earth. Vishnu takes the form of a fish. What happens next? Read this book with your kids to tell the story, with visual aid. The wonderful pictures help children to imagine the story. This book is a great tool to help parents and educators teach the significant mythological story of Hinduism.
Shiva Loves to Dance
Shiva Ratri is a festival celebrated by Hindus, in honour of Lord Shiva, a prominent God among the trinity in Hindu mythology. According to mythological stories, Lord Shiva performed the cosmic dance on this night. Devotees stay awake the full night of Shiv Ratri and many dance in free spirit while chanting mantras. This book has the story of how Shiva loves to dance. Adapted for readers up till the age of 9, the book is brilliantly illustrated and meant for introducing mythology to young kids. See these colourful beautifully illustrated books too,
- Gautam Buddha (large print, age 7 to 12)
- 365 Bible Stories (age 7 to 12)
- Short Stories from Islam (large print, age 7 to 12)
Nava Durga: Nine Forms of the Goddess
This 96-page book about the nine forms of the Hindu Goddess is a perfect read for 7 to 10-year-old kids.
- Maha Gauri
These are the nine forms of the goddess. Stories on these nine forms and illustrations are sure to keep the reader’s interest. The paper quality and binding are great. The book also shows the traditions of goddess worship in different parts of the country.
See these colourful beautifully illustrated books too,
- Krishna Tales (for age 7 to 12)
- Durga: The Feminine Force (large print, age 7 to 12)
- Ganesha: The Elephant-Headed God (age 7-12)
The Vedas and Upanishads for Children
Hindu festivals like Diwali are a great time to inspire teenagers and middle graders to read about the Vedas and Upanishads. This book written by Roopa Pai is specially written for children, adapted and simplified to understand. The ancient scriptures are generally out of reach because they are difficult to decode. The author makes it easy to read and comprehend. Kids, teenagers and parents can get the benefit from reading the explanations.
The Gita for Children
While we are on the topic of mythology, there’s another book I suggest here, that’s “The Gita for Children”. The book has lessons from the Holy Epic Gita that are adapted and summarized for young readers. Teenagers can read this book too. The author explains with anecdotes and stories, wherever she feels it’s required. It’s informal in the narrative, so do not expect the book to be a serious religious text, though there are Shlokas given here and there. She explains values and morals from each adhyaya or chapter of the Gita, with a sprinkling of B&W illustrations by Sayan Mukherjee. It’s a 296-page book by Hachette India, written by Roopa Pai for readers above 10 years of age.
Similar books on mythology for teenagers and kids (8-10yrs) by author Arshia Sattar (PhD in Classical Indian Literature)
Monuments and history books related to Indian culture and festivals
Reading about monuments and history (out of the syllabus) develops an interest in the topic. Young readers get motivated to research further. History impacts the culture of a nation. Monuments are tangible forms of history and a part of times gone by. Knowing about them adds another dimension to the knowledge base.
Discover India: Monuments
This 64-page book is suitable for 8 to 12 years old. Various places like Fatepur Sikri, Ajanta and Ellora, Thanjavur, Thembang village and several other places feature in this book. All these monuments reflect the heritage and culture of the country. Readers are inspired to carry on the legacy with thought and care.
Information on pre-historic cave paintings, temples, monasteries, tombs, sculptures and structures are there in this book. Reading informally for interest and recreation builds additional background knowledge that supports academics too. Mishki, Pushka and Doolma Daadu’s characters will entertain readers.
See other similar books
Children’s History of India
Written by the much-loved children’s author Subhadra Sen Gupta, this book reveals many interesting pieces of information on India’s history and culture in a fun way. Teenagers and middle graders may already know the “why’s and how’s” of Indian festivals. They can move ahead in their journey of seeking knowledge by reading this intriguing book. An interesting informal read outside the academic syllabus, the author’s narrative will help readers assimilate different periods of Indian history and understand how India got its rich culture.
Let’s go time travelling
This book is quirky, filled with snippets of interesting information that teenagers and middle graders will not find in their history textbooks. The tone of the narrative is informal and amusing, specially crafted for its young readers. The eye-catching illustrations remind me of Quintin Blake’s illustrations from Roald Dahl books. This informative book takes readers through the culture and times of the Harappan era to the Mauryan era, Mughal and British rule in India.
Let’s Go Time Travelling Again!
This is a sequel, the second part of the same title Let’s go time travelling. This is an illustrated non-fiction book about art, culture, history and several other aspects of Indian society. Teenagers and young adults will enjoy reading this book.
The Unknown Indians
One more great book by Subhadra Sen Gupta. Its about those people from India’s history who didn’t find a place in history textbooks. Yet they have contributed to building the rich culture of India. The unusual book has unknown artisans, potters, storytellers, sculptures, farmers, poets, authors, ironsmiths and many others from India’s past. This informative yet fun book has beautiful illustrations and makes an unforgettable read for teenagers and middle-grade readers.
Discover India: A complete set of 30 books
The 30 books in this set cover all the Indian States and Union Territories for kids. Main characters, Pushka and Miski along with Daadu Dolma will take you on a grand tour of India discovering the culture of each state.
You will learn,
- A new dance in Sikkim
- Explore tea gardens in Assam
- Weaving traditions in Bengal
- Highways and wrestling zones of Haryana
- Royalty of Andra Pradesh
- Forts of Maharashtra
- Stupas and culture of Bihar
- Snow-capped mountains of Kashmir
- Orchards in the mountains of Himachal
- Union territories are covered too
This complete set will enlighten the readers with a lot of information and visuals about the cultural diversity of India.
India: A History Through the Ages (2 volume series)
The series India: A History through the Ages is published by Amar Chitra Katha and Westland. It has 2 volumes. The first volume delves into the Harappan civilisation and the Vedic age. Varun, Ritu and their grandmother are the central characters in the series. Be assured of interesting storytelling from these publishers. Get ready to dive into the rich history of India through this series.
The second volume digs into the Iron age. Daadi, the grandmother takes us to the Harappan civilization and the Iron age. The books are in a narrative form, yet very informative. The illustrations are characteristic of Amar Chitra Katha.
Brief checklist of topics covered in the both the volumes
- Harappan Civilisation
- Vedic Age
- The rise of Jainism
- Maurya Dynasty
- Gupta Dynasty
- Sultanates and Mughals
- British rule in India
Illustrated Atlas of India: Culture
The unique atlas has more than 50 maps that enumerate culture in the various regional states of India. You will find a blend of geography with the essence of art, culture and history in the regions. The special segments on big cities gives many relevant details. Every page reveals interesting information with maps, illustrations and text. An essential tool to understand the cultural diversity of India. The maps and illustrations are a visual treat. They aid in comprehending and add value to the reader’s knowledge.
Amma, Take Me To Shirdi
The book is a must-read for devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba. The birthday of Sai Baba is celebrated in October. Shirdi, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, is the place where Sai Baba lived. A massive number of people follow and worship Sai Baba. Kids can read about this prominent pilgrimage site of Maharashtra as this book has information about Shirdi in a story format.
Amma, Take Me To The Golden Temple
Guru Nanak Jayanti is birthday celebration of the great Sikh Saint Guru Nanak. The Golden Temple at Amritsar is a sacred place for the Sikh community. In this book, Amma takes us to the Golden temple. The 64-page book is suitable for kids aged 7 to 12 years. It tells the stories of the Sikh gurus and the famous Golden temple.
The readers are shown around several sacred places in the sacred temple and around Amritsar, for langar, prasad, and holy water. Discovering several wonderful details of the Sikh community increases the awareness and appreciation of the multi-cultural diversity within the country.
Amma, Take Me to Salim Chishti’s Dargah
Festivals of India are closely associated with a variety of faiths. Visit the Dargah of Salim Chishti with Amma to understand the stories about the beautiful dargah. The narration and illustrations are great, they help readers visualise the holy place. The book is suitable for readers age 8 to 12 years.
Amma, Take Me to Tirupati
Some of the prominent Hindu festivals associated with Lord Vishnu are,
- Ram Navami
- Krishna Janmashtami
- Narasimha Jayanti
- Tulsi Vivah
There are various avatars of Vishnu, Krishna is one of them. Lord Vishnu is one of the prominent gods of Hindu mythology and part of the divine trinity. In this book, amma takes the boys and the readers to the scenic mountains of Madhumalai to visit the famous temple of Tirupati Balaji. The vivid scenic description, superb illustrations and mythological storytelling enlighten the young readers.
Activity books on Indian festivals and culture:
Some books have theme-based activities that kids can play with friends and family. Crossword, quizzes and many more activities in these books are interesting, challenging and fun.
Inside India: Fascinating Food
This 64-page activity book is part of the informative Inside India series and is meant for kids and teenagers. It focuses on Indian food from different parts of the country. Food is an integral part of any country’s festivals and culture. India has several states and topographical diversity. Each state has distinct cuisine and festivals are associated with preparing certain food menus.
This book has quizzes, puzzles, recipes and several activities related to Indian food. This unique book is a treasure for any school library or home where families can sit together to solve fun puzzles. It’s a great activity book to use for games when you have guests with kids.
Discover India: Culture, Food and People
The 64-page informative activity book by Puffin is a treasure trove for kids and teenagers to discover a variety of information on the food, music, dance, culture and people of India. Information on a variety of dresses, dishes, festivals, and languages of the different states will enrich the reader’s knowledge. The interesting activities will engage and entertain kids, buddies and parents.
Discover India Activity Book
Mishki and Pushka, the central characters common in the series have learnt a lot about the unique country of India. In this 64-page book, they solve a lot of activities based on the gathered information. Readers can join them in solving these activities. The activities are based on Indian history, culture, festivals, arts and monuments. All the activities are fun, engaging and challenging. For the readers convience, answers are provided in case there is any confusion.
Do see few other activity books like,
Value-based books depicting culture for reading aloud before Indian festivals
These stories are not typical festival stories but support the spirit and symbolism of festivals. Read these books and you will find values you can relate to. Great stories from these picture books and chapter books, to read at home and in classes. These stories can inspire austerity, waste management, cheer, problem-solving, and much more. The stories do not preach values, morals or lessons blatantly. Instead, these stories are for gentle readers and touch the soul.
A Saree for Ammi
It’s a story about a family of saree weavers. Ammi, the mother, does not have a beautiful new saree though she works hard at weaving sarees, only to sell them. How her daughters get together to buy a saree for their mother is endearing. The visuals and description of their lives, intentions, market place and endeavours makes this story special.
This is a story about Tia and her thatha (grandfather) who grows a huge pumpkin all by himself. How can they possibly consume such a big pumpkin? Tia has to distribute the pumpkin wedges to their neighbours and friends. What happens with their wedge of pumpkin and what others make of their slice is worth a celebration.
Adil Ali’s Shoes
Adil’s shoes are worn out and all the people around him, who care for him, are bothered by those worn-out shoes. His friends buy new shoes for Adil. The story depicts a small town where everyone knows each other. The vivid description of the marketplace, people and events are funny yet profound.
The PARI Series: Complete Collection (Karadi Tales)
This series has (chapter books) stories from rural India for middle graders and teenagers.
These are stories of grit, determination, independence, cheer, enterprise and more.
Mutthasi’s Missing Teeth
Bela’s grandmother Mutthasi misplaced her set of false teeth. There are some tasty tempting eats to be eaten. Mutthasi is perplexed when she just cannot find her teeth. Bela has to find the teeth, so she scampers to search in the closet and in the cookie jar, but the teeth are nowhere to be found. What follows is some more futile search and then, suspicion on the old washerman’s wife. Read this story to know more!
It’s the story of forgetful Ponnu who does not remember the names of what he eats. One day Ponnu eats something delicious, white, sweet, and round. But as usual, he does not remember the name of what he had eaten. This story is an adaptation of a folklore. Kozhukattai is a traditional recipe from Kerala, prepared during Ganesh Chaturthi. Kozhukatta are round, yet they are similar to Modak.
Nitya’s very tempted to eat red spicy pickles the way her grandfather eats pickles. But, Nitya’s not allowed to eat pickles because they are too spicy for children. One day after a lot of effort, she gets to eat a pickle. But eating pickle was a disaster, it was too spicy. Later Nitya plans to make her pickle because she thinks children should have their pickle too. Read this delightfully sweet and sour story with your kids.
Kids books on colourful Indian festivals and culture show the rich history, multicultural co-existence and symbolism. Read the books listed above and find more.
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