ICC Booklist for Children
The Black Lives Matter movement has changed how we are talking and thinking about race. We want children to be anti-racists, and we also want children to feel good about themselves when they look or feel different. ICC was founded, in part, so kids of South Asian descent could meet kids who share their culture. For all the kids in ICC’s South Asian community and in the larger community, ICC has compiled a booklist for kids 0 to 18 which (mostly) explores the experience of being South Asian. Many of the books address race directly and many explore cultural identity and self-esteem. The list also showcases the literary talent of South Asian authors.
ICC thanks Greenwich High School students Divya Shenoy and Veda Swaminathan, a president of the GHS South Asian Heritage Club for researching and compiling this list.
Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth
Always Anjali is a children’s picture book about a 7 year-old girl who feels like she doesn’t belong in her community. She is excited to get a new bike and take it to the school carnival with her friends to get personalized license plates. When she cannot find her name as easily as her friends, she becomes embarrassed and demands that her parents change her name. In this electrifying story, Sheetal Sheth represents the uniqueness of being South Asian in an American community and teaches young children the importance of embracing their identity.
Meet Yasmin Series by Sadia Faruqi
Yasmin is a spirited second-grader whose love of solving problems and going on adventures is sparked by her creativity and curiosity. She has a knack for paying attention to detail and does not tire of her small but significant dilemmas. As a Pakistani-American girl, she is a one-of-a-kind character given life and soul by Sadia Faruqi, who has uniquely portrayed her personality.
ABC Day by Dipti Joshi
ABC Day is about a simple day’s adventure that we might have experienced as kids. It’s a story about a group of compassionate and diverse kids who are unconcerned with race, gender, or other barriers. They simply care about each other, bonded by their shared interests, curiosity, and natural zest for life.
Special Note: Dipti Joshi is a member of ICC’s community.
King For a Day by Rukhsana Khan
A young Pakistani boy is confined to a wheelchair, but this does not stop him from trying to catch the most kites during Basant, the annual spring kite festival. Rukhsana Khan educates readers on the liveliness of Basant as the boy is crowned “king for a day” by proving through his glory that the sky's the limit.
Bindu's Bindi's. by Supriya Kelkar
This charming picture book is about a little girl who loves her bindis (and the many creative shapes they come in!). The bindis are also a connection to her Nani who lives in India. When Nani comes to visit Bindu and brings the bindis to her, it is just in time to wear something new to the school talent show. Bindu and Nani work together to shine their brightest and embrace their sparkle, even when they stand out from the crowd.
Fauja Singh Keeps Going by Simran Jeet Singh.
The true story of Fauja Singh, who broke world records to become the first one-hundred-year-old to run a marathon, shares valuable lessons on the source of his grit, determination to overcome obstacles, and commitment to the positive representation of the Sikh community. Beautifully illustrated by Baljinder Kaur.
Super Satya Saves the Day by Raakhee Mirchandani
Super Satya is beyond excited to have a fantastic day, including overcoming her fears about the tallest slide in her town. However, her hopes are diminished when she finds out that her superhero cape is stuck at the dry cleaners! How will she overcome her fears, help her friends, and be a true hero regardless of her cape? Super Satya Saves the Day introduces an Indian-American superhero who is eager to save the day, no matter what obstacles she might face.
The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar
In Supriya Kelkar’s debut picture book, The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh tell the story of a Skih boy who affirms through his colorful “patkas” (turbans) that there is beauty in love and friendship. He wears a different color for every mood and occasion, and learns how they represent him and influence his relationships.
How Our Skin Sparkles by Aditi Singh
How Our Skin Sparkles is a beautiful representation of acceptance and embracing one’s identity despite the insecurities and flaws we have as children. Aarav is constantly asking his mother about his skin color and why he looks the way he does. Through Singh’s language, Aarav’s curiosity and the lessons he learns is distinctly highlighted within the story.
Brown Like Dosas, Samosas, and Sticki Chikki by Rebecca Manari
Rebecca Manari has sculpted a beautiful, accepting character in this unique storybook. Samaira is a little Indian girl who meets a purple-colored lady who wants to turn her skin color white. The way Samaira responds shapes her character throughout the story and teaches children the importance of embracing the color of their skin, especially how it does not define who you are as a person.
I Am Gandhi by Brad Meltzer
This picture book revolves around Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful protest against the British when India was colonized. As a young man, Gandhi saw and experienced firsthand the brutality and oppressive treatment towards Indians, and he wanted to take action. Meltzer takes these unforgettable moments and condenses them into a beautiful picture book about Gandhi’s fight for change during one of the longest colonizations in history.
Let’s Celebrate Diwali by Anjali Joshi and Tim Palin
Harini is excited to celebrate Diwali and share stories, but she realizes she is not the only one who enjoys the festivities. In this cute and witty story, Anjali Joshi incorporates the unique ways in which Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and other religions celebrate the same holiday.
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by Pamela Ehrenberg and Anjan Sarkar
In this lighthearted and humorous story, a multi-cultural family with an Indian mother and Jewish father celebrate Hanukkah while combining elements from both cultures. Instead of preparing the traditional Jewish latkes, tasty Indian dosas are prepared instead to incorporate Indian food into a Jewish celebration. Pamela Ehrenberg is intent on breaking the barriers between two different cultures and promoting inclusivity within diversity in this sweet story.
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by Farhana Zia
Aneel's grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother's incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world's best stories. When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. Hunh-ji! Yes, sir! He could shake mangoes off trees and wrangle a snorting water buffalo! And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out but first, he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti.
Lali’s Feather by Farhana Zia
Lali finds a little feather in the field. Is it lost? Lali sets out to find feather a home, but one bird after another rejects it. The feather is too small for Rooster, too slow for Crow, and too plain for Peacock. Once Lali decides to keep the little feather and discovers all the things she can do with it, the other birds begin to recognize its value.
Step Up to the Plate Maria Singh by Uma Krishnaswami
The first-ever softball team is forming in Yuba City, California, and Maria Singh wishes more than anything to be a member. Set in 1945, the world is struggling through the terrors of World War II and her family is praying for India’s independence. As a half-Indian, half-Mexican girl during this time, Maria is not encouraged to play sports or wear athletic uniforms, as it is seen unfit by her society. Uma Krishnaswami has expertly crafted a defiant and courageous character willing to pursue her dreams regardless of the consequences.
In Andal’s House by Gloria Whelan
Kumar, a young boy living in Gujarat, India, sometimes feels as if he lives in two worlds, one where choices and lifestyle are influenced by prejudice, and one where he can be friends with whomever he pleases. On Diwali, Kumar is invited to his Brahmin classmate Andal’s house to watch fireworks, where he is forbidden from celebrating with the high-caste families and is sent away, leaving him to question where he belongs in society.
Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Elliot and Kailash are pen pals who live on other sides of the world, America and India. Through exchanging pictures and letters, they discover that they have many common interests despite being from different countries. Jenny Kostecki-Shaw uses vivid illustrations in this lively story to show how two boys from different sides of the world can be best friends.
A Pair of Twins by Kavitha Mandana
Lakshmi and Sundari are twins with very different looks but similar personalities and an unusual connection. When they are called to save the day, they finally have a chance to prove how special their bond is and that color does not determine relationships.
My Mother’s Sari by Sandhya Rao
In My Mother’s Sari, a little Indian girl talks about the wonders of her mother’s sari and how it can be used for an infinite number of purposes. She uses her senses and imagination to describe how the sari looks, feels, and even how it should be worn, which Sandhya Rao incorporates to spark tradition and pride in the Indian culture.
A Different Pond by Bao Phi
As a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father's long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao's father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
Dumpling Days by Grace Lin
Pacy's family is going to Taiwan for an entire month to visit family and prepare for their grandmother's 60th birthday celebration. Pacy's parents have signed her up for a Chinese painting class, and at first she's excited. This is a new way to explore her art talent! But everything about the trip is harder than she thought it would be--she looks like everyone else but can't speak the language, she has trouble following the art teacher's instructions, and it's difficult to make friends in her class. At least the dumplings are delicious… As the month passes by, Pacy eats chicken feet (by accident!), gets blessed by a fortune teller, searches for her true identity, and grows closer to those who matter most.
Amal’s Eid by Amy Maranville
Amal is a spirited third-grader who loves playing outside and hanging out with his younger brother, Youssef. Today, he is celebrating Eid, a holiday typically celebrated by Muslims in honor of breaking the fast and marking the end of Ramadan. Amy Maranville gives insight into the customs of Eid through Amal’s family traditions as they celebrate.
Mahavira by Manoj K. Jain
Mahavira is a young prince who was destined to teach peaceful practices and non-violence. As he grew older, his curiosity about monks heightened, so he wanted to become one. He acquired knowledge through his spiritual journey, abiding by the three jewels in Jainism and learning to love all living things without fear.
How To Find What You Are Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani,
It's 1967 and after spending an exciting summer with her beloved older sister, sixth-grader Ariel Goldberg's life comes to a crashing halt in the fall. Her family's Jewish bakery runs into financial trouble, her difficulties in school are the same as they ever were, and her older sister decides to elope with a young man from India following the 1967 Supreme Court Loving v. Virginia ruling which strikes down laws banning interracial marriage. Ariel is forced to grapple with both her family's prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences as she defines her own beliefs. As change becomes Ariel's only constant, she's left to hone something that will be with her always--her own voice.
Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame by Supriya Kelkar
The year is 1857, Indians are rising up against the colonial British East India Company, and Meera is about to leave her childhood home. When she turns 13, Meera will be considered ready to be a wife. But on the day she’s supposed to move in with her husband’s family, he is killed. According to their families’ customs, Meera must commit sati, burning herself to death on Krishna’s funeral pyre. Meera’s aunt helps her flee to Indranagar, where she makes friends with Bhavani who invites her to join a group of underground revolutionaries working toward India’s freedom. The final third of this historical novel is laced with twists, turns, and reveals that are both surprising and riveting. Meera’s transformation from scared child to bold revolutionary is especially gratifying.
That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar
Bollywood takes over in this contemporary, magical middle grade novel about an Indian American girl Sonali who thinks that her parents might be separating. Sonali gets upset during a field trip and cannot bury her feelings like usual—instead, she suddenly bursts into a Bollywood song-and-dance routine about why she’s upset! The next morning, Sonali’s reality has shifted. Her parents have had Bollywood makeovers. Her friends are also breaking out into song and dance. And somehow, everyone is acting as if this is totally normal. Sonali knows something has gone wrong, and she suspects it has something to do with her own mismanaged emotions. Can she figure it out before it’s too late?
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Washington Post Best Children’s Book of 2017
NPR Best Book of 2017
Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017
Kirkus Best Book of 2017
Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List Selection
Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist
Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
Child of Spring by Farhana Zia
Basanta longs for the beautiful ring worn by Little Bibi, her young mistress, but when it comes into her possession, she realizes that it's not the wonderful treasure she expected. Increasingly aware of the struggles of her less privileged friends, Lali and Bala, Basanta finds a way to improve their lives while providing much needed entertainment for her community. And as she does, the beautiful ring happily begins to take on new meaning.
The Garden of my Imaan by Farhana Zia
It’s hard enough to fit in without also having to decide whether to fast for Ramadan and wear the hijab. Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy, or brave enough to stand up to mean kids. The fact that she’s Muslim just adds more complication to her life. But then Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares Aliya’s faith, if not her culture, moves to town. Marwa’s quiet confidence leads Aliya to wonder even more about who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in.
Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Weintage
Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.
American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar
An Indian-American girl who struggles to navigate her two very different lives: the one at home, where she can be herself, and the one at school, where she is teased for her culture. When a racist incident rocks her small town, she must decide to continue to remain silent or find her voice.
A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan
Sixth-graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is huge and completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners ... but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends?
The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani
After her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni, half Indian and half Jewish American, finds herself yanked out of private school and thrown into the unfamiliar world of public education. For the first time, Sonia's mixed heritage makes her classmates ask questions—questions Sonia doesn't always know how to answer—as she navigates between a group of popular girls who want her to try out for the cheerleading squad and other students who aren't part of the "in" crowd. At the same time that Sonia is trying to make new friends, she's dealing with what it means to have an out-of-work parent—it's hard for her family to adjust to their changed circumstances. And then, one day, Sonia's father goes missing. Now Sonia wonders if she ever really knew him. As she begins to look for answers, she must decide what really matters and who her true friends are—and whether her two halves, no matter how different, can make her a whole. Veera Hiranandani is the author of “The Night Diary”, a Newberry Honor book.
Here We Are by Aarti Sahani
Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares follows the lives of Aarti, the precocious scholarship kid at one of Manhattan's most elite prep schools, and her dad, the shopkeeper who mistakenly sells watches and calculators to the notorious Cali drug cartel. Together, the two represent the extremes that coexist in our country, even within a single-family and a truth about immigrants that gets lost in the headlines. It isn't a matter of good or evil; it's complicated. Ultimately, Here We Are is a coming-of-age story, a love letter from an outspoken modern daughter to her soft-spoken Old World father. She never expected they'd become best friends.
If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel
In these eleven sharp, surprising stories, Neel Patel gives voice to our most deeply held stereotypes and then slowly undermines them. His characters, almost all of who are first-generation Indian Americans, subvert our expectations that they will sit quietly by. We meet two brothers caught in an elaborate web of envy and loathing; a young gay man who becomes involved with an older man whose secret he could never guess; three women who almost gleefully throw off the pleasant agreeability society asks of them; and, in the final pair of linked stories, a young couple struggling against the devastating force of community gossip.
Rani Patel In Full Effect by Sonia Patel
Almost seventeen, Rani Patel appears to be a kick-ass Indian girl breaking cultural norms as a hip-hop performer in full effect. But in truth, she's a nerdy flat-chested nobody who lives with her Gujarati immigrant parents on the remote Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, isolated from her high school peers by the unsettling norms of Indian culture where "husband is God." Her parents' traditionally arranged marriage is a sham. Her dad turns to her for all his needs—even the intimate ones. When Rani catches him two-timing with a woman barely older than herself, she feels like a widow and, like widows in India are often made to do, she shaves off her hair. Her sexy bald head and hard-driving rhyming skills attract the attention of Mark, the hot older customer who frequents her parents' store and is closer in age to her dad than to her. Mark makes the moves on her and Rani goes with it. He leads Rani into 4eva Flowin', an underground hip hop crew—and into other things she's never done. Rani ignores the red flags. Her naive choices look like they will undo her but ultimately give her the chance to discover her strengths and restore the things she thought she'd lost, including her mother.
Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana
For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices. As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.”
As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara's life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth--and for Tara--will ever be the same again.
Are You Indian? By Sanjit Singh
Sanjit Singh grew up as an incredibly awkward youth, trying to reconcile his Indian heritage with the America that surrounded him. “Are You Indian? A Humorous Guide to Growing up Indian in America,” is a funny, irreverent story of his journey. From his lively discussions on Indian Aunties to his meditations on American yoga teachers, Singh lampoons the Indian experience from all directions. He roasts Indian Uncles, Original Desi Gangstas, FOBs, ABCDs, spelling bee parents, Indophiles, marriage advertisements, Indian desserts, Indian names, and many other aspects of brown life in America.”
Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj
Karina Chopra would have never imagined becoming friends with the boy next door–after all, they’ve avoided each other for years and she assumes Chris is just like the boys he hangs out with, who she labels a pack of hyenas. Then Karina’s grandfather starts tutoring Chris, and she discovers he’s actually a nice, funny kid. But one afternoon something unimaginable happens–the three of them are assaulted by a stranger who targets Indian-American Karina and her grandfather because of how they look. Her grandfather is gravely injured and Karina and Chris vow not to let hate win. When Karina posts a few photos related to the attack on social media, they quickly attract attention, and before long her #CountMeIn post–“What does an American look like? #immigrants #WeBelong #IamAmerican #HateHasNoHomeHere”–goes viral and a diverse population begin to add their own photos. Then, when Papa is finally on the road to recovery, Karina uses her newfound social media reach to help celebrate both his homecoming and a community coming together.
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Newberry Medal Award Winner
It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it's too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can't imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.
Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar
In 1942, when Mahatma Gandhi asks Indians to give one family member to the freedom movement, ten-year-old Anjali is devastated to think of her father risking his life for the freedom struggle. But it turns out he isn't the one joining. Anjali's mother is. And with this change comes many more adjustments designed to improve their country and use "ahimsa"—non-violent resistance—to stand up to the British government. First the family must trade in their fine foreign-made clothes for homespun cotton, so Anjali has to give up her prettiest belongings. Then her mother decides to reach out to the Dalit community, the "untouchables" of society. Anjali is forced to get over her past prejudices as her family becomes increasingly involved in the movement. When Anjali's mother is jailed, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother's work, ensuring that her little part of the independence movement is completed.”
Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond Series, by Sayantani DasGupta
The Serpent's Secret (Book 1)
Game of Stars (Book 2)
The Chaos Curse (Book 3)
In the spirit of the magical and imaginative Harry Potter, Sayantani DasGupta has created a fantastical young superhero, Indian princes Kiranmala. On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish later that day and a rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories—like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess—and a wealth of secrets about her origin they’ve kept hidden. To complicate matters, two crushworthy Indian princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’re here to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and slay demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld (who may or may not want to kill her) and the rakkhoshi queen (who definitely does) in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…
Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series has amassed critical reviews and a devoted following. Each book has been named to several best book lists.
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman
During the fall leading up to her bat mitzvah, Tara (Hindi for "star") Feinstein has a lot more than her Torah portion on her mind. Between Hebrew school and study sessions with the rabbi, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to hang out with her best friend Ben-o--who might also be her boyfriend--and her other best friend, Rebecca, who’s getting a little too cozy with that snotty Sheila Rosenberg. Not to mention working on her robotics project with the class clown Ryan Berger, or figuring out what to do with a priceless heirloom sari that she accidentally ruined. Amid all this drama, Tara considers how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities and what it means to have a bat mitzvah while questioning her faith.
The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen by Mitali Perkins
As Indian culture continues to curry the movies, music, and literature of American culture, the time is perfect to re-introduce this Indian-themed novel about a young girl's heart-felt attempt to straddle her two worlds. Like any other eighth-grader, smart and spunky Sunita Sen just wants to fit in. She feels she's doing pretty well, especially as her friendship with the school's tennis star starts to blossom into something more. But when Sunita's grandparents come from India to stay with her family, her lifestyle changes, and Sunita suddenly becomes aware of identity issues she's never before faced. Should she hide her heritage and be like everyone else, or can she find a way to embrace it? Originally published in 1993 as The Sunita Experiment, this touching yet light-hearted tale is back in print in hard and softcover with a snappy new title, a spectacular jacket design, and a reader's guide.
Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, Jersey!”
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (young reader’s edition)
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
Swimming Through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus
I live in the in between. Between what if and what is. It’s how I manage. It’s the only way I know. Everyone has their way. This is mine. Senior year kicks off when a Post-it note sparks a sticky romance between two unlikely friends. Transfer student Talia Vanderbilt has one goal at her new school: to blend in with the walls. Hoops and homework occupy Lagan Desai until something moves to the top of his list: befriend the new girl. One Post-it note at a time, Lagan moves past Talia's caution-taped heart, revealing a world where hope seems to lie around the corner...she never turns.
Aruna’s Journeys by Jyotsna Sreenivasan
Aruna is an opinionated eleven-year-old girl who lives in Ohio, likes to collect rocks, and longs for a best friend at her new school. She is also-unfortunately, in her opinion-Indian-American.
Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
In this wryly funny debut novel, the smart, sassy, and utterly lovable Nina Khan tackles friends, family, and love, and learns that it's possible to embrace two very different cultures [American and Pakistani cultures]– even if things can get a little bit, well, hairy.
First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover and First Daughter: White House Rules by Mitali Perkins
In First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover, Sameera shows the United States it is ready for a Pakistani-born First Daughter. With her brains and bravado, she helps her dad win the presidential election. Now she's living in the White House.
What I Meant by Marie Lamba
After 15 years of being a good daughter and loyal friend, wouldn't you expect the people closest to you to believe you? To at least try to understand what you mean? Since my evil aunt moved in, everything has gone wrong. Marie Lamba's debut novel tells the story of how 15-year-old Sangeet Jumnal's sleepy suburban life suddenly gets super complicated.
The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy
Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at. And become the BEST at it. Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge. . . . But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?
Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai
In the summer of 2001, twelve-year-old Fadi's parents make the difficult decision to illegally leave Afghanistan and move the family to the United States. When their underground transport arrives at the rendezvous point, chaos ensues, and Fadi is left dragging his younger sister Mariam through the crush of people. But Mariam accidentally lets go of his hand and becomes lost in the crowd, just as Fadi is snatched up into the truck. With Taliban soldiers closing in, the truck speeds away, leaving Mariam behind. Adjusting to life in the United States isn't easy for Fadi's family, and as the events of September 11th unfold the prospects of locating Mariam in a war torn Afghanistan seem slim. When a photography competition with a grand prize trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister. But can one photo really bring Mariam home?
Yes No Maybe So by Aisha Saeed and Becky Albertalli
Nominee for Goodreads Choice Awards
Jamie is a shy Jewish teenager who falls in love with Muslim girl Maya during a summer in Georgia before a local election. They have a past history, and each of them is working through issues both separately and together. When romance and politics collide, each learns about the others’ culture and traditions, and Aisha Saeed accurately represents both backgrounds in a unique light.
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp's Director and his guards.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations. Here again Lahiri displays her deft touch for the perfect detail — the fleeting moment, the turn of phrase — that opens whole worlds of emotion.
On the Outside Looking Indian by Rupinder Gill
Rupinder Gill was raised under the strict rules of her parents' Indian upbringing. While her friends were having slumber parties, and spending their summers at camp, Rupinder was cleaning, babysitting her siblings, and watching hours on end of American television. But at age 30, Rupinder realized how much she regretted her lack of childhood adventure. Stepping away from an orderly life of tradition, Rupinder decided to finally experience the things she missed out on. From learning to swim and taking dance lessons, to going to Disney World, her growing to-do list soon became the ultimate trip down non-memory lane. What began as a desire to experience all that had been denied to her leads to a discovery of what it means to be happy, and the important lessons that are learned when we are at play. Reminiscent of Mindy Kaling, this is a warm funny memoir of the daughter of Indian immigrants learning to break free and find her own path.
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais
The Hundred-Foot Journey is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages—charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.
The Leaving of Things by Jay Antani
Vikram is not your model Indian-American teenager. Growing up in late 1980s Wisconsin, he is rebellious, adrift, and resentful of his Indian roots. But a disastrously drunken weekend becomes a one-way ticket back to the homeland for Vikram after his outraged parents decide to pack up the family and return to India.
So begins a profound journey of culture shock, loneliness, and self-discovery as Vikram--navigating the chaos of daily Indian life and the antiquated social rules of his college--finds the confidence to explore his own creativity, reconnect with his family, and meet unforgettable new friends. Most of all, he discovers that India is his soul...but America is his heart, the land of his destiny, leading to a once-in-a-lifetime test of courage as he sets out to chart a bold new course for his future.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (original version)
Goodreads Choice Awards Best Memoir & Autobiography
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist who spoke out publicly against the prohibition on girls’ education imposed by the Taliban, an active terrorist organization.
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
2006 Man Booker Prize
2007 National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award in 2007
In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another. Kiran Desai’s brilliant novel, published to huge acclaim, is a story of joy and despair. Her characters face numerous choices that majestically illuminate the consequences of colonialism as it collides with the modern world.
Two Lives by Vikram Seth
Vikram Seth has woven together their astonishing story, which recounts the arrival into this childless couple's lives of their great-nephew from India -- the teenage student Vikram Seth. The result is an extraordinary tapestry of India, the Third Reich and the Second World War, Auschwitz and the Holocaust, Israel and Palestine, postwar Germany and 1970s Britain. Two Lives is both a history of a violent century seen through the eyes of two survivors and an intimate portrait of their friendship, marriage, and abiding yet complex love. Part biography, part memoir, part meditation on our times, this is the true tale of two remarkable lives -- a masterful telling from one of our greatest living writers.
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Somer's life is everything she imagined it would be — she's newly married and has started her career as a physician in San Francisco — until she makes the devastating discovery she never will be able to have children. The same year in India, a poor mother makes the heartbreaking choice to save her newborn daughter's life by giving her away. It is a decision that will haunt Kavita for the rest of her life, and cause a ripple effect that travels across the world and back again. Asha, adopted out of a Mumbai orphanage, is the child that binds the destinies of these two women. We follow both families, invisibly connected until Asha's journey of self-discovery leads her back to India.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life—having nothing but his own wits to help him along.
Not The Girl’s You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
Lulu Saad doesn't need your advice, thank you very much. She's got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It's all under control. Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can't find her way out of this mess soon, she'll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She'll have to go looking for herself.” Aminah Mae Safi is a young adult author.
The Reeducation of Cherry Truong by Aimee Phan
Cherry Truong’s older brother has been exiled to live with distant relatives in Vietnam. As Cherry journeys from Los Angeles to her family’s homeland to bring him back, she embarks on a quest to uncover the mysteries and lies in her family’s past—hidden loves, desperate choices, and lives torn apart by the march of war and currents of history. Spanning three generations, The Reeducation of Cherry Truong tells the sweeping stories of the Truong and Vos families, their escape from Vietnam during the war, the forces that separated them, and the ties that bind them over three continents. Aimee Phan’s debut novel introduces readers to a fiercely defiant family who still yearn for reconciliation and redemption in each other’s hearts.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through.
Mad, Bad, and Dangerous To Know by Samira Ahmed
It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light. Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.” Samira Ahmed is a British journalist, writer, and broadcaster for BBC radio.
More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood
Danyal Jilani doesn't lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he's funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn't approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal's longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect. When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man, a school-wide academic championship, it's the perfect opportunity to show everyone he's smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her . . . the more he learns from her… the more he cooks for her . . . the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents' expectations, but lately she's finding that impossible to do. She rolls her eyes when they blatantly favour her brother and saves her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don't know about. If she can just hold out another few months, Rukhsana will be out of her familial home and away from her parents' ever-watchful eyes at Caltech, a place where she thinks she can finally be herself. But when she is caught kissing her girlfriend Ariana, her devastated parents take Rukhsana to Bangladesh, where everything she had been planning is out of reach. There, immersed in a world of tradition and arranged marriages, Rukhsana finds the perspective she's been looking for in her grandmother's old diary. The only question left for her to answer is: Can she fight for the life she wants without losing her family in the process?” Sabina Khan is a Candian author known for writing about Muslim teens who straddle cultures.”
Orange for the Sunsets by Tina Athaide
Asha and her best friend, Yesofu, never cared about the differences between them: Indian. African. Girl. Boy. Short. Tall. But when Idi Amin announces that Indians have ninety days to leave the country, suddenly those differences are the only things that people in Entebbe can see—not the shared after-school samosas or Asha cheering for Yesofu at every cricket game. Determined for her life to stay the same, Asha clings to her world tighter than ever before. But Yesofu is torn, pulled between his friends, his family, and a promise of a better future. Now as neighbors leave and soldiers line the streets, the two friends find that nothing seems sure—not even their friendship. Tensions between Indians and Africans intensify and the deadline to leave is fast approaching. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?
Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra
Sixteen-year-old Saira has always juggled family, friendships, and her Girl Genius celebrity. Now, as the youngest med school graduate ever, she can finally achieve her mission to treat young people dealing with cancer. But proving herself in life-or-death situations is tough when everyone from her boss to her patients can't see past her age to trust her skills. And working in the same hospital as her mom isn't making things any easier! Life gets even more complicated when Saira falls for a teenage patient. To improve his chances, she risks her lifelong dream—and it could cost her everything.
Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story by Sonia Patel
Jaya’s 17, a transgender Gujarati outsider who detests wealth, secrets, and privilege, though he has them all. Only thing 16-year-old Rasa has is siblings, plus a mother who controls men like a black-widow spider. Neither one of them has ever known real love or family. Not until their chance meeting one sunny day on a mountain in Hauula.
Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. She's spent her whole life resisting her parents' traditions. But now she's turning seventeen and things are more complicated than ever. She's still recovering from a year-old break-up and her best friend isn't around the way she used to be. Then, to make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a "suitable boy." Of course, it doesn't go well... until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web of words and music. Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls.” Mindy Kaling is an American actress, comedian, and author.