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Diwali: The Festival of Lights!

Diwali: The Festival of Lights!

Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, is primarily celebrated by followers of the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain faiths. Diwali is an autumn festival, and the main celebration takes place on the day of the new Moon, when the sky is at its darkest. On the night of Diwali, communities light candles and clay lamps (called diyas), placing them throughout their homes and in the streets to light up the dark night. Families gather together to celebrate. 

A Dog Named Haku: A Holiday Story from Nepal

A Dog Named Haku: A Holiday Story from Nepal

By: Margarita Engle
Illustrated by: Ruth Jeyaveeran
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

It's Deepawali, the Festival of Lights in Nepal, and today is the day to honor dogs! Brothers Alu and Bhalu wander the streets of Kathmandu, passing by twirling kites and bamboo swings, looking for a dog to feed. But as night falls, their task begins to feel hopeless, until they spot a small black dog who is in need of a friend. This gentle story told in verse presents an important Hindu holiday (also called Diwali in India) through the eyes of two young boys.

Binny’s Diwali

Binny’s Diwali

By: Thrity Umrigar
Illustrated by: Nidhi Chanani
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Binny woke up happy but nervous. It was her day to share about Diwali, the Festival of Lights! Binny is excited to talk to her class about her favorite holiday. But she struggles to find the words.Taking a deep breath, she tells her classmates about the fireworks that burst like stars in the night sky, leaving streaks of gold and red and green. She shares with them delicious pedas and jalebis. And she shows them clay lamps, called diyas, which look so pretty all the children ooh and aah.

Diwali Lights

Diwali Lights

By: Rina Singh
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

This board book features photographs of adorable babies and toddlers experiencing the Diwali holiday in wide-eyed wonder, surrounded by the gentle love and affirmation of adults. The text does an excellent job balancing universal experiences with culturally specific ones. The book presents an age-appropriate view of the holiday from morning until night. (School Library Journal)

It’s Diwali!

It’s Diwali!

By: Kabir Sehgal, Surishtha Sehgal
Illustrated by: Archana Sreenivasan
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Count up to ten and back down again to the tune of “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” while learning about the traditions that make Diwali a fun-filled festival! Celebrated during autumn harvest, Diwali symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. From sweet treats to intricate henna designs to exciting firework displays, young readers will get a vibrant glimpse into the Festival of Lights.

Let’s Celebrate Diwali

Let’s Celebrate Diwali

By: Anjali Joshi
Illustrated by: Tim Palin
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A little girl named Harini is excited to share her Diwali traditions with her class, but she’s not the only student who celebrates! Other children in her class also observe Diwali, in their own ways. This book explores all different kinds of Diwali traditions, including Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh celebrations.

Lights for Gita

Lights for Gita

By: Rachna Gilmore
Illustrated by: Alice Priestley
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Gita is ready for the Hindu celebration of Divali, but she is afraid that it just won't be the same in her new home in Canada. When icy rain prevents the celebration they had planned, Gita becomes even more miserable, until she finds a way to light the darkness and remember Divali's true meaning.

Lights, Camera, Diwali!

Lights, Camera, Diwali!

By: Amita Roy Shah
Illustrated by: Diane Lucas
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Dia receives a camera as a Diwali gift and uses it to capture her memories of this special day. She takes photos of her family decorating clay lamps, creating unique rangoli designs, preparing sweets called ladoos, setting off firecrackers and more. While Dia explores the rituals of Diwali with her camera, children learn about a Prince named Rama who was exiled into a forest for 14 years. After fighting off a demon, he is welcomed back into his city with a “row of lights.” Children learn about how Diwali teaches us that light will overcome darkness and good will conquer evil. 

My Diwali Light

My Diwali Light

By: Raakhee Mirchandani
Illustrated by: Supriya Kelkar
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This picture book about Diwali is a mixture of both traditional and new ways to celebrate the holiday in a secular nation. Diwali is Devi’s favorite time of year because that means there will be sweets, new clothes, jewelry, bindis, marigolds, diyas, rangoli, lights, and sparklers — but most of all, her family will be hosting a big party. The story presents both the celebration of Diwali and also the cleansing, prayers, and offerings involved, and shows that the joy of the holiday can be shared with family and friends inside and outside of the culture. (School Library Journal)

Prince of Fire: The Story of Diwali

Prince of Fire: The Story of Diwali

By: Jatinder Verma
Illustrated by: Nilesh Mistry
Genre: Fairytales, Folk Tales, and Tall Tales, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This chapter book is an action-packed adaptation of India’s great epic, The Ramayana. Follow Rama, the Prince of Fire, and his friends as they defeat the demon king of Lanka and return light to the world. Full-color illustrations throughout vividly bring the story of Diwali to life, while courageous heroes and dastardly villains will engage young readers who loves talesof adventure.

Rama and the Demon King: An Ancient Tale from India

Rama and the Demon King: An Ancient Tale from India

By: Jessica Souhami
Genre: Fairytales, Folk Tales, and Tall Tales, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This retelling of a Hindu story from The Ramayana is the three thousand year-old tale of Rama, who rescues his wife, Sita, from the Demon King. The vibrant illustrations, based on the ancient tradition of shadow-puppetry, express the exuberance of a tale which is still very much alive. Diwali is a celebration of Rama’s return to his homeland, with his fellow villagers lighting the path for his return. 

Reena and the Diwali Star

Reena and the Diwali Star

By: Ushma Multani
Illustrated by: Ann Gagliano
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Glowing lights and colorful scenes surround Reena as she travels from Boston to Mumbai and back. On her journey, she learns about the values of kindness and responsibility, how she can give back to her community, and also enjoys making a fun new dessert.

Shubh Diwali!

Shubh Diwali!

By: Chitra Soundar
Illustrated by: Charlene Chua
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Told in the words of a child, this picture book shows how an Indian family prepares for the festival of Diwali. Young and old participate equally in these preparations. Everyone helps clean the house and decorate it with buntings and vibrant, colorful art. Traditional foods and sweets are made, and new clothes are bought. When Diwali begins, families come together to worship, sing hymns, and tell stories of gods. It’s time to visit friends and neighbors. Fireworks brighten the skies, and gifts are exchanged. (School Library Journal)

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