"50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read" is one of many pages at the National Education Association's web site. Neesha Meminger, who wrote the YA novel Shine, Coconut Moon, recently noticed that though the list features works by some of her favorite authors of color, it contains no books by South Asian writers. (Meminger was born in India, grew up in Canada, and now lives in New York.)
She wrote a blog post on the subject, and later updated it with the happy news that the Cooperative Children's Book Center, which originally compiled "50 Multicultural Books...," plans to expand the roster this fall. 75 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Read? Let's hope so!
I asked Neesha Meminger for her ideas on some South Asian additions that the CCBC could include. (Not that I have any affiliation whatsoever with the organization—I'm just a busybody who loves a good list.) She kindly sent me a list of some of her favorite South Asian children's books and authors:
- Bindi Babes (the whole series), by Narindar Dhami (a UK author). YA/MG*
- Born Confused, by Tanuja Desai Hidier. YA
- Chachaji's Cup, by Uma Krishnaswami. Picture Book
- Maya Running, by Anjali Banerjee. MG
- The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen, by Mitali Perkins. YA
- Ask Me No Questions, by Marina Budhos. YA
- Junglee Girl, by Ginu Kamani
- And a new release, Skunk Girl, by Sheba Karim. YA
More resources from the Meminger files include
- Pooja Makhijan's annotated bibliography,"South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora in Children's Literature" (Note: Pooja M. has contributed several excellent guest columns to Chicken Spaghetti.)
- Sandhya Nankani's list in her article for the Multicultural Review
- And a more international list is up at SAWNET.org (SAWNET is the South Asian Women's NETwork.)
* "MG" refers to middle grade, or ages 8-12. "YA," to young adult, or 12 and older.