Wednesday, June 28, 2017

100 Best Children's Books that Kids Love to Read Again and Again [Part 1]

When I was putting this list together, my son asked me what was I doing. I informed him that I was putting together a list of his 100 favorite books. He then inquired "Why?" I told him that whenever I plan to buy books for him, I search through the internet for books which have been loved by other children his age. I read about those books, recommendations from other parents and then I decide whether it will work for him or not. I am sure; other parents - moms and dads - do the same because we all know how important it is to read to your child. So, I'm certain this list is going to come handy when they decide to buy books for their own little readers

This got him excited and he offered to help me. So, both of us got together to collate this list of 100 books which we have enjoyed over and over again; the whimsical, the nonsensical, the enriching, the inspiring, the captivating, the informative, the local, the global - this list has it all! 

NOTE: Since this list is going to be long, and will take time to curate as well as read (because I want to do justice to the list); I have decided to break this down into 10 posts of 10 books each.  

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Age: 2-5 years

This was our first Children’s book which I bought when my son was about 6 months old.It begins with a tiny and hungry caterpillar coming out of a small egg. He spends the entire week eating all sorts of fruits and other food items. Each day he keeps eating more and more, which leads to stomachache. He therefore eats through a green leaf to relieve his pain. At the end of the week, he turns into a big, fat caterpillar. He builds a cocoon around himself, and stays inside for 2 weeks. At the end he emerges out of it as a beautiful butterfly. 

It is amazing how such a simple book, with minimum words and simple illustrations, provides immense learning opportunities for children. The illustrations are vibrant and child-like. Right from learning the name of different fruits to numbers, from days of the week to life cycle of a butterfly, there is so much to learn through this concise yet beautiful story. To top it all, there are tiny die-cut holes on the pictures of food items, which the caterpillar has supposedly eaten. 

Age: 2-5 years

This is a Lift-the-Flap book and little ones love to open the flaps over and over again. 

The narrative goes like this: the Zoo is requested for a pet, and it responds with a package. There's an animal hiding inside the package. The little one opens the flap and unveils the animal, who is found unsuitable to be kept as a pet, so it is sent back. Then the Zoo sends another package, the animal is again found to be unsuitable and sent back, and so on. Every time the animal is either too big or too tall or too grumpy or too heavy or too scary to be kept as a pet. After several back-and-forths, the Zoo finally gets it right and sends a suitable pet.  

With simple and minimum text, and flaps to entice the tiny tots; this book is a must have. 

3. My Daddy and Me by Tina Macnaughton

Age: 0-3 years 

We have a good balance of books featuring Mommies and Daddies. This was one of the first books I bought for my son. I remember, he used to mimic the Little Bear's actions while telling the story. It has about 5-6 words for every page spread. It is a sturdy big-size board book with a touching story. 

The Little Bear talks about how he feels when he is with his Daddy. The illustrations capture the beautiful moments with Daddy, sometimes watching the sunset, sometimes sitting on Daddy's shoulder, sometimes keeping the faith that Daddy is there to take care! 

It is such a beautiful, heart-warming book that Daddies will love to read to their tiny tots.

"..I'm the very bravest bear ... when I know that you are there." [excerpted from the book]

4. The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

Age: 0-3 years

Having a Bed-time storybook was inevitable for the new parents, so we got this. It is a fun book that takes you through the ritual of settling down for the day and going to bed. With simple and rhyming text for very young readers, this book follows a bunch of animals who are sailing on a ship. It starts with ...

"The sun has set not long ago.
Now everybody goes below........"

and ends with ...

"The moon is high.
The sea is deep.
They rock and rock and rock
to sleep."

We used to read this with actions when my son was little. 

5. Numbers on the Farm  by Stephen Holmes
Age: 1-4 years

This book was a surprise hit. I picked this up only because it was on a Sale. I thought this book, with lots of busy pages, with several different kinds of animals and farm things to look at; will be great to occupy my (then) 2 year old. And it sure became his most favourite book for several months. 

It is a sturdy board book of about A4 size with padded cover. Every Number (from 1 to 10) has 2 pages dedicated to it, and there are things to discover on every page spread. There's so much to look and find inside this book. There are all kinds of farm animals like cows, horses, rabbits, sheep, kittens, pigs, ducks, etc. Apart from animals, there are lots of other things like tractors, haystacks, milk cans, cow bells, bread loaves; and things which are connected to a farm life. Besides, there is a Goose which is hiding on each page spread, so the little one needs to look for her as well.  

This book is excellent for introducing very young readers with numbers and counting.

6. ABC and Counting by Gill Guile, Desmond Marwood

Age: 1-4 years

Another basic book on Alphabets and Numbers that works! This is a huge lap-size book with padded cover. It starts with Alphabets and every Alphabet has a small story around it. For example, 'B' has a story called 'The Butterfly's Beauty Sleep' which tells the story of how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly; 'G' has a story about Giraffes called 'Food From The Top Shelf' which talks about how Giraffes developed long necks; 'O' has a story called 'Many Hands Make Light Work' which tells about the eight arms of Octopus; and so on. The stories are concise, simple, interesting and informative. 

Then there are Numbers, with 2 pages dedicated to each number from 1 to 10. Here also there is a story connecting all the Numbers. So, 'One Dog' goes in search of lost sheep and meets different animals - 'Two Farm Horses', 'Three Cows', 'Four Goats', etc. 

Towards the end, there are simple additions, a picture of the entire farmhouse with all the animals, and many such interesting things to look at. 

The pictures are vibrant and engaging. It's fun to read this book, and the little one will not get bored of it any time soon.

7. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr, John Archambault, Lois Ehlert

Age: 2-4 years

When I first picked this up, I found it crazy; but I have learned in these past 6 years that crazy works well with little kids. They love it. This book is very popular and it was my son's favourite too.

In this Alphabet rhyme book, alphabets are trying to get to the top of the coconut tree. All the alphabets get on top of the tree but there's not enough room so all of them fall. Most of them get hurt and they still try to get to the tree with their aunts and uncles, mummies and papas. 

(excerpted from the book)

A told B,
and B told C,
"I'll meet you at the top
of the coconut tree." 

"Whee!" said D
to E F G,
"I'll beat you to the top
of the coconut tree."

Chicka chicka boom boom!
Will there be enough room?
Here comes H
up the coconut tree,


8. Hey, That's An A! by Jerry Pinto, Sayan Mukherjee

Age: 2-5 years

This is another crazy Alphabet book but my son just loved it (still does). I have read it at least a hundred times. 

This book shows how to create each alphabet in a fun way. For example:

Put your right hand up.
Put your left hand up.
Bring your fingers together,
Then your thumbs.
Hey, That's an A!

(excerpted from the book)

Similarly, when you rub lines at the bottom, E becomes F. When C puts on a little moochie, it becomes G. Q is an O with a tail. When a line lies down on an I, it becomes T. 

With lots of such silliness, funny lines and attractive illustrations, this book keeps the young readers occupied. The little ones love to create the alphabets like it's shown in the book, sometimes with their postures, sometimes with their hands. It is a highly recommended book with an Indian flavour.

9. Dr. Seuss's ABC An Amazing Alphabet Book

Age: 2-4 years

Dr Seuss's books are different. If you are not used to them, you may not like them in the beginning. The words and illustrations are nonsensical. 

This book works on the repetitiveness of the Alphabet sounds like 'Aunt Annie's Alligator', 'Four Fluffy Feathers on a Fiffer-Feffer-Feff', 'Goat and googoo goggles', 'a yawning yellow yak with Yolanda on his back', etc. 

This cannot be the main book for introducing Alphabets to the little ones, rather this can be a fun book to learn Alphabet sounds. This works with slightly older kids (say 2-2.5 years and above) who are familiar with the alphabets.

10. Eric Carle's ABC (The World of Eric Carle)

 Age: 2-4 years

There are so many different kinds of good Alphabet books and each one of them contributes differently to learnings.

This book comes with a flap on every page spread. Each alphabet shows an insect, animal or bird starting with that alphabet. So, there's A for Ant, I for Iguana, N for Narwhal, Q for Quetzal, X for Xolo, and so on. Even I learned a lot from this book!

Next Post: 100 Best Children's Books that Kids Love to Read Again and Again [Part 2]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Books on this Blog

I didn't know that I have over 100 book reviews on this blog. I learned this only when I consolidated all of them on one Page (which you can find at the top, below the header image). I decided to put them all together when I found it on several book blogs, and realized how convenient it is for everyone.   

Image credit

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book review: 3 Books on Food, Nutrition and Wellness

1. Don't Lose Your Mind Lose Your Weight

Author: Rujuta Diwekar
Publisher: Random House India
Pages: 288
Price: Rs 199
Genre: Non Fiction / Self-help / Health / Nutrition
Rating: 10/10
Format: Paperback

 Of all the books I have ever read about food and nutrition, this book has been the best and the simplest to follow. I first read this book about 4 years back and incorporated a lot of learnings into my lifestyle. I benefitted tremendously along the way; but no matter how motivated you had been, you lose some amount of enthusiasm as time passes. So, I re-read it recently.

I first read about Rujuta Diwekar when Kareena Kapoor accredited her for her own metamorphosis during Tashan.

When Rujuta wrote this book, it was lapped up by everyone. The best thing about this book is its simplicity. The book is easy to read, even for non-readers. The language is very simple; in fact, it is very conversational (with a liberal use of hinglish). This was perhaps the first time a nutritionist talked about the wisdom of eating traditional Indian food and giving more importance to local food.

She tells you to follow some basic principles and use your common sense. For example, don’t start your day with tea or coffee but with a fruit. She asks you to eat every 2 hours and keep the food portions small. Eat more during the day. Food should be directly proportional to your level of activity. Give importance to nutrition over calories. Add Ghee to your daily diet. There are several such nuggets of information which are easy to understand and adopt. Once you understand the basic principles, you can plan your own diet according to your lifestyle. But she cautions, just eating right without exercising is only half the battle won. Both are equally important. She writes “….exercise is a part of adopting a better lifestyle but it is NOT an alternative to eating right.”

She says that food has unnecessarily been made into a villain, when in fact; all food is good if eaten wisely. Follow a diet which you can follow all your life. Any sort of extreme diet doesn’t work because they are not sustainable. This is what I love the most about this book, you are not asked to eat some fancy or exotic things, you just need to eat regular Indian food – but you must take care of the proportions and timing.  

I have always recommended this book to everyone and cannot say enough how life-altering this can be. It is every bit worth the time and money.

If you want to read only one book on food and nutrition, this has to be it. I have also read the author’s second book ‘Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha’, but it didn’t appeal to me much. I do wish to read her latest book ‘Indian Superfoods’ though.

2. The Great Indian Diet

Author: Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Luke Coutinho
Publisher: Random House India
Pages: 288
Price: Rs 299
Non Fiction / Self-help / Health / Nutrition
Rating: 7/10
Format: e-book 

Shilpa Shetty has, unarguably, one of the best bodies in Bollywood. She is a strong proponent of healthy living. She managed to shed all the weight she had gained during her pregnancy through healthy eating and exercising. I had read some excerpts from the book and found it interesting. This book has been co-authored by Luke Coutinho who is a nutritionist, master coach and mastermind behind GOQii’s lifestyle and health coaching model. 

In its approach towards healthy eating, this book is similar to Rujuta’s ‘Don’t Lose Your Mind…’ but it certainly has a lot of additional information about different things that create the Great Indian food. 

It dwells into the evolution of Indian food, the incredible health benefits of common spices, different oils and variety of grains that we usually eat in Indian homes, the Acidic and Alkaline food, reading labels before buying packaged food, and so on. 

Obviously, different books and authors bring different things to the table, so one needs to use common sense and not blindly follow anything. Shilpa recommends 3 main meals and 2 in-between meals as against Rujuta’s recommendation of eating every 2 hours. Shilpa starts her day with tea, while Rujuta’s first principle talks about never to start your day with tea or coffee. 

In my opinion, this can be a good book to read in addition to Rujuta’s Don’t LoseYour Mind, Lose Your Weight’.

3. Eat Delete: How to Get Off the Weight Loss Cycle for Good

Author: Pooja Makhija
Publisher: Collins
Pages: 248 
Price: Rs 199
Non Fiction / Self-help / Health / Nutrition
Rating: 6/10
Format: Paperback

I have a fascination for books on food, nutrition and health. I have read quite a few books in this genre and several are on my TBR list. It never kills to learn more, right? You always take away something useful from each one of them.

This book came to me a long time back through the publishers. Pooja Makhija is also a celebrity nutritionist (like Rujuta Diwekar). 

The cover page is vibrant and appealing. The book comes with a little booklet to record your diet. The back cover informs: For the first time in India, a leading nutritionist has worked with psychologists to give you a combined mind-body weight loss solution. Figure out not just what to eat, but also why you eat the way you do. Tackle the problem at the source.

Much of the initial part of the book dwells into convincing the reader that food is not an enemy, neither should it be considered entertainment. As they say ‘it’s all in the mind’. I have read this often about running too. To beginners, even 1 Km looks impossible but people are doing ultra-running like it is a jog in the park. So, Pooja targets the psychology of people first in her book. Will power is not something that you are born with; you can cultivate it with practice. If you want to lose weight, you need a strong will power. She has even given tips on how to avoid a party or how to stick to your healthy eating plan if you must attend a party, because most people flounder when they eat out. 

There are questions which show you if you are in the red zone of weight loss. The book discusses different mindsets of people and why inspite of the fact that so many people want to lose weight, they even know that they should be eating healthy; and yet their will power is not strong enough.

In her book, Pooja also talks about the significance of eating frequently and exercising. She advises how one can go about restricting certain food items initially to achieve the desired weight loss. She says “Whatever you want to eat can be re-integrated into your system when you have lost the weight you wanted to. Long term weight loss is about balance, proportion and control.”

She has certainly put me into a spot by saying that drinking warm lemon water can cause bone leeching! I haven’t found any solid proof to support this; on the contrary I have found several articles on benefits of drinking that. I even checked with a doctor, who said that lemon water may not have any benefit (though I disagree) but it surely does no harm.

Personally, I found this book as an average read, however, the experience of reading any book is unique to every reader. To someone who hasn’t read anything on food and nutrition and requires some conditioning of the mind to get on the path of eating healthy, this book can certainly offer much more.    

Review Book Courtesy: HarperCollins India