I have been meaning to write this post forever. Just forever. Every time I’m on Instagram (which, face it, is all the time), I see Indian Desi inspired books, art, and projects for Indian babies and children.
Growing up, there were hardly any books for me to read and feel more connected to my culture. What was around were tiny newspaper print black and white books that just lacked quality and creativity.
I’m so glad those days are gone. Even though we don’t have a huge selection of books for South Asian children, we have a *growing* collection.
Here’s my list of go-to baby and toddler along with activities and a couple toys from small business Indians and Pakistanis. This is THE list if you’re looking for a gift or to enrich your child’s life.
The books can be bought direct from the website, Etsy, or Amazon. Some links below are affiliate and I may make a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase through it. Purchasing through these links also keep me going and pays the coffee and diaper bills! Thank you. <3
Desi Babies – Get your baby started off with Indian culture. From the adorable counting book, 10 Noisy Rickshaws, to My First Hindu Gods, these are perfect board board to introduce your little ones.
For toddlers, grab some stickers, the Indian coloring book, or the Eid coloring book. I can’t wait for my toddler to draw to his heart’s content!
Gnaana – Alphabet baby blocks in languages that’s not just Hindi! Tamil is sadly no longer available, but you can still buy blocks in Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi. They haven’t been posting much on social media in the past months, so I’m not sure if they are in full production still, but I own both the Hindi and Gujarati block sets through their Indigogo campaign a couple years ago. Even used them in my maternity photo shoot!
Bharat Babies – Based in Massachusetts, Bharat Babies is a South Asian publisher. Creating books for toddlers and children, these are the books that make you feel like you belong. We all know what’s it like to have a different name. We know what it’s like to be the only Indian in your class. These stories will help Indian children know that they belong, they have company. Check out Always Anjali, Sarla in the Sky, Ganesh and the Little Mouse, and Indian Alphabet.
Toka Box – A monthly subscription box inspired by South Asia. Toka Junior focuses on children ages 3-5, while Toka Explorer is for kids 5-8. Each month comes with a book and activity.
Jai Jai Hooray – Not books, but lovely learning toys from Rupa Parekh. The stacking Hindu Goddess tower stands tall and powerful for any Indian toddler to feel empowered. She also stunning flash cards on Hindi gods and goddesses, perfect for those little hands to learn.
The Playful Indian – Need to send a funny card to an Indian friend? Or you love pins and hilarious coasters? You need The Playful Indian from Dina Mistry. The coloring book and greeting cards for mom, dad, siblings are most suited for older children.
Nidhi Chanani – Her Everyday Love website and shop are by far the CUTEST illustrations ever. Oh my gosh so cute. If I had all the wall space in the world, I’d probably buy everything of hers (and my son would go nuts for the elephant drawings!).
Her stories are beautiful, the artwork is inspiration, and she’s one of the few desi artists who have cards for same sex parents.
Studio Yali – For the older children who love to paint or for the kid inside you, Studio Yali has beautiful prints and peg dolls inspired by goddesses and dancers. Older children will love the coloring books and DIY peg dolls.
Hena Khan – If you don’t know Hena, you’re missing out on some of the most intricate illustrations. Her books about Muslim life jump out of their pages and into your hearts. When I bought her Muslim inspired color book, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, I had no idea how big she was, I was just fueling my desi obsession. She has a new book on shapes, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets, as well as books on Ramadan and holidays, Night of the Moon, It’s Ramadan, Curious George. All are available online at Amazon and even in retailers.
Meenal Patel Studio – Illustrator and author Meenal does prints (and has a fab instagram) and the adorable book Neela Goes to San Francisco. As a Bay Area girl, I highly recommend this book.
Sanjay Patel – Pixar illustrator and film creator, Sanjay has several books just for the Indian soul. Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth, the Ramayana, The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities: 12 Removable Prints, and The Little Book of Hindu Deities are bright, pop colored books for both younger and older children. From learning about Hindu gods and goddesses to reading an abbreviated version of a classic, Patel’s drawings are modern and beautiful. I framed some of the removable prints from the Big Poster Book of Indian Deities. They are adorable! You can purchase all the books on Amazon (links above).
Do you make a South Asian inspired toy or have a book for desi children? Drop me an email at chotipreeti @ gmail . com!