From old favourites to new authors, summer holidays is the time to read, read and read more….without worrying about having to discuss it in class or (even worse) write a book report or review. Just read for the love of it.
We asked author Chatura Rao to put together a reading list for two different age groups (depending on your interest you can dip into either). On these pages, you’ll find her unique suggestions.
All these books are available online and two can be read online for free and the links are given alongside. Happy reading!
For ages 7 to 10
Friends Under the Summer Sun by Ashutosh Pathak
This story, for a summer such as this one, is about Nimmi, stuck indoors helping Ma with little baby Momo, while the long summer days seem to be flying by outside her window. She befriends her neighbour “Akka”, Shri, and suddenly the summer in all its rainbow colouring is hers to taste. This is a simple story about making friends and finding things in common with people who won’t be labelled a ‘girl’ or a ‘boy’, and indeed how a friendship that doesn’t worry about gender offers a rich human experience.
READ THE STORY
This story is only available online. You can go to the story by clicking here – https://storyweaver.org.in/stories/92168-friends-under-the-summer-sun
Mission Cycle by Rohini Mohan
Noorain wants to learn how to ride a bicycle so that she can beat her best friend Wasim in a race. The story plays out against the back drop of Srinagar under a curfew (this is like a lockdown when no one can go out and it is usually declared by the police or army). We meet Noorain’s family members, each of whom teaches her a little more about cycling while Noorain’s experience of a curfew unfolds in parallel. While this could have been a sad story, it is instead a lively yet sensitive account of life in a conflict-ridden city.
READ THE STORY
This story is only available online. You can go to the story by clicking here – https://storyweaver.org.in/stories/44009-mission-cycle
Younguncle Comes to Town by Vandana Singh
This one’s a classic as Indian chapter books go! It’s a quirky account of the adventures of ‘Younguncle’, seen from the curious and adoring point of view of his two nieces and one nephew. The story is set in a small town in middle-India. It involves a host of human and animal characters and although there are no magical elements, Younguncle makes amazing things happen with the active involvement of the children, buffalos, bullocks, monkeys, Ancient Uncle, Ancient Auntie, and a host of such stellar characters!
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo
An award winning book, this one’s a gently told story of a thoughtful girl, her Preacher (priest) father and their dog, Winn-Dixie. The girl, Opal, makes great friends in the town her father and she have recently moved to thanks to Winn-Dixie, a dog she finds at the local supermarket that she brings home. Opal’s mother had left when Opal was a little girl and her absence has left a hole in their lives. But because of Winn-Dixie, Opal and the Preacher find a way to forgive things and move on.
For ages 11 to 14
The Bhootbusters of Himmat Nagar by Adithi Rao
In the tradition of five-member gangs of detectives (Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and the Five Find-Outers), the Bhootbusters are a lovable group of five children who set out to solve the mystery of people dropping dead in their village called Himmat Nagar. This fast-paced and humorous novel has a strong plot and lovable characters. You’ll even enjoy meeting the ghosts and evil priests that stalk the pages.
The quirky points of view of the five children, their heart-warming friendship and nose for adventure make the book a great read, leaving you looking forward to a sequel.
The Kingdom by the Sea by Robert Westall
This is an adventure, simply and stunningly told. From the very first line in the first chapter, we are plunged into the world of 13-year-old Harry and cannot leave thereafter! Harry loses his family in a bombing during World War II. He runs away from the city authorities and travels alone – almost alone, except for a wonderful dog called Don – through north-eastern England.
The end is surprising and believe us when we say that it will make you catch your breath. It will ask you to grow up, if you haven’t already while walking with Harry on his sometimes-happy and often-perilous journey.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Nobody Owens or “Bod” as he’s called is the only living resident of a graveyard. He’s been raised by the ghosts who inhabit the tombs after he wandered in as an orphaned baby. Bod lives an extraordinary-ordinary life, even attending a local school like all regular kids his age… until he begins to be hunted by Jack, the man who killed his parents.
The world that Neil Gaiman creates is odd and bittersweet. Bod’s oddball family of ghosts and his life among the tombs make his adventures, both in and out of the graveyard, a strange yet gripping read.
Year of the Weeds by Siddhartha Sarma
Year of the Weeds is the story of a Gond tribal boy called Korok who lives alone as his mother is no more and his father is in jail although innocent of any crime. When a mining company arrives to mine bauxite, thereby destroy the sacred hill of the Gonds, Korok must stand up for the rights of his people. Anchita, a feisty young artist who employs Korok as a gardener, helps him in his mission.
The book is based on the uprising of the Dongria Kond people of Odisha through which they successfully saved their sacred hill, Niyamgiri, from being destroyed by a powerful mining company. In the past few years, Adivasi children in Odisha are being systematically schooled to forget about their ancestral connection with nature. Another uprising may not happen even if sacred hills and forests are destroyed. It is important to know and remember the Niyamgiri story, and Year of the Weeds tells it quite well.
Chatura Rao is a children’s and adult fiction author, and a journalist. The Hindu Good Books award for Best Picture Book 2017, was awarded to her book, Gone Grandmother. Her earlier books for children include The Case of Disappearing Colour, Growing Up in Pandupur (co-written with Adithi Rao), Nabiya, Music for Joshua and Only Fools Go to School. Her upcoming picture book is called Sweet Shop Wars.
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