Summer’s on in full swing in our household. The hustle of the week day has not stopped, of course! You see corporate consulting has no summer break! We are still getting out of the door with hurried breakfasts and Nutella laced kisses. Okay. We do get to sleep in for 30 extra minutes, and we do get to roller blade and ice skate, all in the same week! And it’s easy to relax too much – without the pressures of homework and school!
That’s why we are planning our healthy mix of productive and wasteful activities for the Summer to balance fun and learning! Summer Slide is a real thing folks. Summer Slide, as you probably are aware, is the tendency for students to lose the achievement gains they’ve had during the school year during the Summer holidays. There are dangers of losing a whole grade level worth of reading and math proficiency if children do not read and practice their math skills regularly over the yawning Summer holiday! So armed with a Summer Planner (see picture on Facebook!) and a library of books, we get set to tackle the Summer adventurously, and culturally.
Yes, we want to embed culture into our reading list. We want to cook, we want to read about food, we want to embrace food acceptance, and expose ourselves to the culinary and literary joys of food tales!
Do you remember food being part of the Amar Chitra Kathas, Chandamamas and Tinkles we used to read? The ladoos, the jalebies, and the pakoras ? How about the immediate hunger pangs they generated for us during the Summer Hols? Stretched out under the fan, with curtains breezing gently, a food tale would send us on multiple trips to the kitchens to pester our moms or grandmoms for a thindi or two.
I don’t want my kids to miss out on the joys of thindi, and Summer reading. So, what better way to combine both joys other than by getting them to read food themed books! After all, you have to taste a culture to understand it!
I had my parents visit me this year. In anticipation of their trip, I made a list of all the food themed books I wanted for my girls from India. Of course, I could have tried to shop for these books online, but why rob the joy for my Dad? You know all grand dads love to shop books for their little ones, don’t you?
Featured here are some of the books my Dad got for the girls, which we are having a blast reading, and eating our way through! Also, are some books which we intend to pick up and read, during our weekly sojourns to the library!
We begin with The Silly Story of Bondapalli, a story about a prince who hated food. One day the royal cook gave him something new to eat... a hot golden ball, crisp outside, soft inside... a bonda! After that there is no stopping either the prince or this mad tale that rolls its jolly way to an inevitably happy, bondaful end. The jaunty illustrations pick up all the comic clues along the way, to make it a truly 'silly' story!
And just because we love Priya Kurian’s illustrations so much (read the artiste feature on Priya Kurian here!), we stop to read Colour Colour Kamini. A story about gorgeous chameleons and the feisty Kapila Aunty who is teaching the little chameleons how to change colour, one at a time. But Kamini gets excited and goes red, purple, green, yellow . . .she can’t stop!
Then, slurp!, we stop by to eat..sorry..read Jalebis! Jalebi Curls. The story of the raja who loves jalebis. He even dreams of them. Then the dream becomes a nightmare. The brief text of this mad little book is dramatically set off by illustrations that play with curls and colors!
We have some fun with books about Dosas and Idlys. Just so my kids understand how ingrained these “tiffins” are in our households, and in our cultures.
Then, off we head to the library, to arm ourselves with more food themed books! Check out more food themed reading suggestions here and further below in the blog post!
Also, do you remember my blog post about food acceptance, and the story time I did in my kids’ school to promote food acceptance (read about that here!). Rosemary Wells, award-winning author/illustrator of over 50 books for children, illustrates her story of learning tolerance for difference in her signature charming style with the book "Yoko". I had a blast retelling the story of Yoko at my kids' school, and how Yoko's sushi was made fun of during her class lunch break, and how Yoko's class room had a great food experience, thanks to the efforts of a sensible and adventurous teacher, who noticed how the kids were making fun of something they did not know about!!
We wrap up our reading repertoire with Tsomo the Momo, a delightful story about the delectable momo, that flavor-filled savory that travelled to India from Tibet, Nepal and beyond.
Also part of our Summer Plans is reading recipes, and going on gastronomic adventures together in the kitchen. We are reading, spending time as a family, and enjoying our foodie culture! Win, Win, Win!! And while you are at it, checkout Devdutt Pattnaik's Pashu!
So, that’s it my friends! My grandiose Summer Plans! Have fun reading, and partaking in the delightful food culture that books can bring us.
And pass on the good word, if you know of any good food themed books I can add to our reading list!!
For after all, you have to taste a culture to understand it!