Author Richa Jha Suggests Picture Books Your 8-9 Year Old Is Sure To Love

This week we take a look at books that your 8-9 year old must read. These are suggestions that are not available on every bestseller list but are books that have been loved, specially picked and chosen by children's book author and connoisseur Richa Jha.

By the time children are eight they are already picking up books they enjoy and are trying to read subject matter relating to a variety of things such as science, society, relationships etc. Their grasp of language is also reflecting on the books they choose. So why not mix things up a bit and choose from our must read list!


The Why Why Girl: (Mahasweta Devi and Kanyika Kini; Tulika):

Shop Here: Rs. 135/-

books for kids_the wh why girl_kidsstoppress

We do not have a better book for kids in India to address the whole array of deep rooted discrimination and marginalization in our society – gender, caste, class – and how the only befitting leveler in all these cases can be education, apart from an unquenched thirst for answers to ‘whys’. A powerful, thought provoking, book.

Mukand and Riaz (by Nina Sabnani; Tulika):
Shop Here: Rs. 128/-

books for kids_Mukand and Riaz_kidsstoppress

A poignant tale of friendship and separation set against the backdrop of the 1947 partition. Full of sadness, but also of hope and the everlasting nature of deep bonds of friendship. This book lingers on in a most melancholic yet uplifting way.

Garmann’s Summer (by Stian Hole and Don Bartlett; Eerdmans Books for Young Readers):
Shop Here: Rs. 864/-

books for kids_Garmann’s Summer _kidsstoppress

This seemingly unsettling Norwegian story of a six year old scared about starting school is anything but that. It is a means of elegant addressal of the never ending web of fears that the human mind keeps jumping to one after the other. Fear pursues and persists in one form or another.

The Unboy Boy (by Richa Jha and Gautam Benegal; Pickle Yolk Books):
Shop Here: Rs. 175/-

books for kids_the unboy boy_kidsstoppress

A book that questions gender norms and shows that there are no un-boy boy or un-girl girls in this world. I always sign this book with a ‘Believe in yourself and be happy being you’ because that, to my mind, is the essence of this story.

Shadow (by Suzy Lee; Chronicle Books):
Shop Here: Rs. 519/-

books for kids_Shadow (by Suzy Lee Chronicle Books)_kidsstoppress

This almost-wordless book will stun you with its sheer excessive exquisiteness of scope and form. It’s all about a little free-spirited girl’s mind blowing shadow play in her attic. The book folding out from top to bottom makes for an interesting juxtaposition of the real and the imagined.

Badger’s Parting Gifts (by Susan Varley; Magi Publications):
Shop Here: Rs. 420/-

books for kids_Badger’s Parting Gifts_kidsstoppress

This story both gets my throat all lumpy and never fails to bring a smile. A most tenderly told and illustrated moving story of impending death, learning to deal with loss, and finding pleasure and meaning in one’s life through what the departed being has left behind. Look at how gracefully this ends – ‘Whenever Badger’s name was mentioned, someone remembered another story that made them all smile.’ Lasting legacies, we say.

A Lion in Paris (by Beatrice Alamagna; Katha):
Shop Here: Rs. 120/-

books for kids_a lion in paris_kidsstoppress

A lion from Savannah saunters into Paris in search of ‘love, work, a future’. This story is about his journey from being an apprehensive and unsure newcomer in the city to gradually earning his sense of belonging and the rightful place in the crowd. On a more philosophical level, the book tells us that day we learn to be at ease with ourselves and be ourselves, we find our place and contentment in the world.

Infinity and Me (by Kate Hosford and Gabi Swiatkowska; Lerner Publishing Group):
Shop Here: Rs. 550/-

books for kids_infinity and me_kidsstoppress

A relatable confusion in the mind of a young one about the abstract concept of infinity. And an extraordinarily done fun book to resolve it. Okay, somewhat resolve it.

My Grandfather Aajoba (Taruja Parande; Tulika):
Shop Here: Rs. 115/-

books for kids_My Grandfather Aajoba _kidsstoppress

Taruja collates snatches of the vivid memory of her Aajoba, his photographs, his words, scraps of paper, articles, other items that remind her of him, and decorates them together in the form of this book. It’s the kind of scrapbook you and I have always wanted to make of people who mean the world to us, but have never got around to doing it. It’s a loving grand daughter’s way of saying, ‘I miss you Aajoba.’

Thank you, Mr Falker (by Patricia Polacco; Philomel Books):
Shop Here: Rs. 406/-

books for kids_Thank you, Mr Falker_kidsstoppress

Dyslexic Trisha’s (the young award-winning author / illustrator herself) touching and inspiring struggle to cope with learning and reading in class, and how one teacher finally understands her fully and opens unto her window to the magical world of words. This book is Patricia’s tribute to the real life Mr Falker. I dare you to not be teary-eyed when you read this!


Enemy Pie (by Derek Munson and Tara Calahan King; Chronicle Books):
Shop Here: Rs. 520/-

books for kids_Enemy Pie_kidsstoppress

A book that most kids this age (or adults too) will relate to with ease. It’s all about how to deal with/ get rid of an (imagined) enemy. Take along the enemy pie you have baked, spend some time with him (because you MUST, before handing over the poisonous stuff to him), and oops, the enemy may well start appearing more friend-like!

We Are All Born Free (various artists; Tara):
Shop Here: Rs. 667/-

books for kids_We Are All Born Free _kidsstoppress

A powerful visual exposition of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights by some of the most renowned illustrators of our time.

Monsieur Marceau - Actor Without Words (by Leda Shubert and Gerard Buboi; Flash Point):
Shop Here: Rs. 701/-

books for kids_Monsieur Marceau - Actor Without Words _kidsstoppress

A layered peep into the complex inspiring life of world’s greatest mime. Gorgeous illustrations and crisp references to some truly moving vignettes from his life.

The Lion & The Bird (by Marianne Dubuc and Claudia Z Bedrick; Enchanted Lion Books):
Shop Here: Rs. 583/-

books for kids_The Lion & The Bird _kidsstoppress

You can never get enough of this quiet gentle heartwarming tale of loneliness, finding companionship, the inevitability of separation, resignation, longing and the joy of meeting, all over again. Priceless.

Winston & George (by John Miller and Giuliano Cucco; Enchanted Lion Books):
Shop Here: Rs. 706/-

books for kids_Winston & George _kidsstoppress

Tales of friendship never go out of fashion, even when decades old. This vibrantly illustrated books has ingredients familiar to most Indian readers – a la Jataka /Panchtantra prankster, cry wolf like tale of a deep friendship with a happy ending. While younger kids too will immensely enjoy this, it is the element of bittersweet constant societal pressures which non-conforming units face from time to time that will register well only with the older kids.

Michael Rosen’s SAD Book (by Michael Rosen and Quentin Blake; Candlewick Press):
Shop Here: Rs. 339/-

books for kids_Michael Rosen’s SAD Book_kidsstoppress

A moving personal account of a father grieving, enveloped in melancholy, and coming to terms with the loss of his son.

The Arrival (by Shaun Tan; Lothian Books):
Shop Here: Rs. 650/-

books for kids_The Arrival_kidsstoppress

There cannot be a better book to have animated conversations with your child around the burning realities of our times - displacement, immigration, refugees. The stunning incredibly detailed frames, the sheer magnitude of a tale told without words, the highs of going along a journey on a somewhat familiar, somewhat fantastical land and the lows of fears and loneliness – every aspect of this book sucks you in.

The Honey Hunter (by Karthika Nair and Joelle Jolivet; Young Zubaan):
Shop Here: Rs.

books for kids_The Honey Hunter_kidsstoppress

The stunning vibrant colours, the striking illustrations, the sweep of the Sundarban landscape, the enchanting story, the fulsome feel of this big gorgeous book – what is there not to flip for? Given the mindless games we continue to play with nature, I feel introducing this book to older kids is an interesting way to engage them with critically thinking about the sensitive Sundarban (and other) ecology.

Grandfather Gandhi (by Arun Gandhi, Bethany Hegedus and Evan Turk; Antheneum):
Shop Here: Rs. 205/-

books for kids_Grandfather Gandhi _kidsstoppress

Gandhi, as observed, revered, deconstructed by the 12 year old Arun, his grandson, who has come from South Africa to live for a couple of years with Bapu at his ashram. ‘Have I not told you how anger is like electricity?’ –Mahatma’s wisdom, and the entire essence of his non-violent philosophy, his being, broken down into easy bits as a priceless take away for everyone from this brilliant book. No other book offers a young reader this level of intimacy with Gandhi.

Almost to Freedom (by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Colin Bootman; Carolrhoda Books):
Shop Here: Rs. 840/-

books for kids_by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson_kidsstoppress

Seen through the eyes of a much-loved rag doll of slave girl Lindy, several aspects of the Black History stand out in this powerful tale that ends on a note full of hope despite a lingering sadness. You can feel the fear, the isolation, the struggle for flight to freedom, the Underground Railroad, and the raw emotions giving our prior knowledge of slavery an intense immediacy.

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