I often get asked recommendations for books, recently, I’ve been asked a few times for recommendations for my favourite stories for children in Tamil or by Tamil authors. I’ve put together a list of story books I’ve truly enjoyed with my own children written by a Tamil author or about Tamil children. I’ve included only books that tell a story. I hope to add more books as I am able to, but send me any suggestions for stories you think I should check out here.
The Magic Crystal and the Superheroes
Sharanja Jeneeit / Arun Krishna (illustrator)
In this story, an adventurous superhero sister brother duo tries to save a magic crystal from a fierce dragon. Will they be able to save the magic crystal?
Tamil children need more books with characters that are strong, brave and of Tamil heritage. Children should feel represented in the stories they read. This book highlights different aspects of Tamil culture and shows us that Tamil children can be superheroes too. It is a dual-language book, in both Tamil and English; this helps build print awareness in both languages.
Language: English and Tamil (dual language)
Children are meant to listen all the time, right? Wrong! Not Ella! It's time everyone listened to HER about what is NOT okay. Fierce little Ella wants everyone to know that her voice is important too! But will her parents support her? Will her friends respect her? Let's find out!
This book helps to introduce the idea of consent and boundaries to children in an easy-to-understand and friendly way, all important conversations to have. It is written by Dr. Jeyarajan, a Toronto based psychologist.
Format: Hardcover or Paperback
Two Drops of Brown in a Cloud of White
Saumiya Balasubramaniam/ Eva Campbell (illustrator)
Ma misses the sun, warmth and colors of their faraway homeland, but her daughter sees magic in everything — the clouds in the winter sky, the “firework” display when she throws an armful of snow into the air, making snow angels, tasting snowflakes. And in the end, her joy is contagious. Home is where family is, after all.
This story is one that can resonate with immigrant families who find them having to make a new home in an unfamiliar place, and shows us that even within the same family, moving to a new place can be seen through different lenses, like this mother and daughter duo.
Palm Trees Under Snow
Meera Bala/ Galina Moleskine (illustrator)
Growing up, Maya was surrounded by palm trees, the ocean breeze, and a big extended family. Maya’s life takes a turn as she witnesses her beautiful island being destroyed by the war. Maya’s parents decide to immigrate to another country to find peace and safety. When she arrives in the new country, Maya can’t speak the language and no one at school wants to be her friend. Will Maya ever feel a sense of belonging in her new home?
This book for school aged children beautifully introduces children with the struggle many immigrant children face of acceptance and belonging, while also sharing about the challenges that lead to their migration.
Format: Hardcover or Paperback
Vanitha Veerasamy/Navya Raju (illustrator)
Vanitha loves visiting her grandmother’s place every weekend. What are her favourite things to do there? Who does she enjoy spending time with? This simple story is a reflection of the author’s own childhood memories and depicts the joy an extended family brings into a child’s life.
Paati Veedu is a simple story, perfect for even the youngest readers, to talk about the fun and joy of visiting grandparents and extended family. The illustrations are familiar and help children to see themselves and their families in a story.
Format: Board Book
Gift for Amma
Meera Sriram/ Mariona Cabassa (illustrator)
In hometown of Chennai, India, a girl explores the vibrant rainbow of delights in a southern Indian street market as she searches for a gift for her amma (mother). Endnotes explain all the items on sale and introduce readers to markets around the world.
This vibrant and colourful book takes us on a visual tour of a market, while bringing to us familiar objects that we often don’t see in other picture books. This book reminded me of a trip down Gerrard Street in Toronto (back in the day!) where the streets were lined with colourful little trinkets.
Format: Hardcover/ Paperback
Dancing in Thatha’s Footsteps
Srividhya Venkat/ Kavita Ramchandran (illustrator)
On Sundays, Varun has his karate lesson, and his sister Varsha heads to dance school with their grandfather. One weekend, Varun reluctantly accompanies his sister to her lesson. Bored of waiting, he peeks into the classroom, and almost immediately, he is fascinated by the rhythm and grace of bharatanatyam, a dance from India that Varsha is learning to perfect. Varun tries a few moves at home in secret because…well, boys don’t dance, do they? His grandfather is not so sure. Will Thatha be able to convince Varun to dance in his footsteps?
This beautiful book helps to challenge gender stereotypes in a gentle way, showing that bharatanatyam and dance does not have to be just for girls. Many of us can relate to stories like this of being dragged to extra-curriculars we think we may not be interested to, especially if we have a sibling of the opposite gender but find ourselves exploring and truly interested in something we may not have found on our own otherwise.
Format: Hardcover/Paperback (releasing June 30, 2021)
Note: I had read a preview review version.
What are some of your other favourite children’s stories by Tamil authors? I’ve love to check out some of your recommendations.