My Friends have buckets of water,
And they empty them on my head
I’m a rainbow of colors
Blue, Yellow, Pink and Red!Celebrate Holi With Me~Shoumi Sen
One of my earliest memories is of my grandparents telling stories to us every night after dinner. Ranging from folk tales, mythology and Indian history these stories were our introduction to Indian culture and heritage. When my children were born, I wanted them to have the same grounding and awareness about India. However, living in Dubai far from their grandparents meant that I would have to be the storyteller. Annual trips to India meant bringing back books which would introduce India to our children. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many easy-to-read picture books based on India which Kindergarteners could read. Until I came across “From The Toddler Diaries“. Written by Shoumi Sen and illustrated by Abira Das, “Celebrate Holi with Me!” is the second book in the series. (The first book of the series is “Celebrate Durga Puja With Me“)
Written for 3 to 5-year-olds, the book is Riya’s story. Little Riya takes us along with her as she explains the legend behind celebrating Holi, the rituals associated with it, the way Holi is played and the delicious food assosciated with the festival. Author Shoumi has written the book in verse, which gives a very lyrical feel while reading. She has used simple words suitable to the age for which the book has been written. Like any mother she has also managed to sneak in a few words which will give a boost to the kiddie vocabulary. Words associated with Holi like Abeer, Chhoti Holi, Phagwah, etc are also used. This helps the children become aware of the words typically used with the festival. To help the children understand better, there is a short toddler dictionary at the end of the book which gives meanings of the Hindi words used in the book .
As it has been written for younger children, the book is heavy on illustrations to keep their attention focussed. The illustrations are colourful, capturing the essence of Holi without overpowering the text. My favourite illustration is of Holika burning on the pyre with Prahlad on her lap.
Uncle Pai once said, ” A Tree is only as strong as its roots. The more a child knows about her heritage, the stronger her sense of identity will be“. We, expatriate parents, have a constant dilemma. We want our children to assimilate in the country they are being brought up in and yet, we want them to stay connected to their Indian roots. “From The Toddler Diaries” becomes a good stepping stone for the children to learn about Indian festivals and culture. The book, written in verse and illustrated beautifully, not only entertains the child but also gives an insight into one of the most popular Indian festivals. With its simple language and writing style, it is a perfect bedtime book for the young ones, and also for practising reading once they learn their A-B-C’s.
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About The Author
Shoumi Sen is the creator of “From The Toddler Diaries”, a series of children’s books on Indian culture and mythology. Her books ‘Celebrate Holi With Me!’ and ‘Celebrate Durga Puja With Me!’ have received rave reviews from kids and parents alike and she is getting ready to launch her next book, ‘Celebrate Onam With Me!’
Her childhood in Paris, Bombay, and Dubai provided her with opportunities to appreciate how Indians preserve their cultural connectedness even while living abroad. In her words, “Living outside India, it is sometimes tough for parents to ensure that their children remain connected to their Indian roots, while at the same time, appreciating the culture of the place they are growing up in. Books can certainly help with that challenge and my hope is that ‘From The Toddler Diaries’ can play a part in helping our children grow into global citizens.”
Connect with Shoumi via her website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.