Her novel Burnt Sugar might win the Booker Prize, so trust Avni Doshi to recommend great books for children
Her list includes caterpillars, bears, cats in hats and even a wolf that wants to bake a cake
Avni Doshi made her debut with Burnt Sugar (first published under the title Girl in White Cotton), a beautiful and brutally honest tale of a fraught mother-daughter relationship – its complexities, challenges, and everything in between.
It took Doshi eight years to put into words this unconventional tale of love. After she handed in her work, which has now made its way to the Booker 2020 longlist, she was onto her next project, the biggest one she’s ever had to work on – raising her firstborn.
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Today, Doshi is a mother of two – a little girl who is just over a month old, and a mischievous two-year-old boy, who to the author’s delight, seems to have been bit by the bibliophile bug, much like his mother. “I read to him a lot and he has memorised almost every book that we have for him. I enjoy the fact that he seems to be very verbal and it is amazing to see how much children can pick up from very simple stories,” says Doshi.
Books always influenced Avni Doshi, right from her childhood. A voracious reader even then, Doshi says, “I was really lucky that my parents encouraged me to read a lot, which made me realise how important it is to be surrounded by books as a child.”
A reading list for children, handpicked by Avni Doshi
Dr. Seuss’ books for children
“I really enjoy reading to my son from classic Dr. Seuss books, I think the rhyming in those books is very appealing to children. There’s A Wocket In My Pocket! is one of them and I think that’s a very fun book to read,” says Doshi.
Picture books by Dr. Seuss are what fantastical childhoods are made of. Everyone at some point has wondered what in fact the cat hides in his ginormous hat, and what might be the ideal place to enjoy green ham and cheese. Dr. Seuss with his characteristic catchy rhymes, absurd tales with important life lessons, and wondrous illustrations must feature on every reading list for children (and adults).
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Avni Doshi grew up reading The Berenstain Bears series, so she managed to get her hands on the books to introduce her kids to a little bit of her childhood.
The highly acclaimed series features a family of bears and delves into subjects like bullying and lying, to help teach your kids about the importance of being kind and why it’s okay to have a bad day once in a while.
By using examples that are close to home (how it’s not okay to throw tantrums and how you must listen toMom when she asks you to do chores) and interactive storytelling elements, this series is both educational and entertaining enough to hold your little one’s forever wavering attention
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka
The True Story of The Three Little Pigs! is an interesting and insightful take on the classic we’ve all grown up with.
This time around, the tale is told from the wolf’s point of view and here, the poor wolf has a cold, and the three little pigs are being very mean and nasty, and all the wolf wants is a cup of sugar to bake a cake for his grandmother. But the little pigs keep bullying him.
“It looks at the story from a different angle, which is a lovely lesson for children. It teaches them to have empathy and look at stories from multiple perspectives and to know that there’s always more than one side to a story,” says Doshi.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
“Of course, there’s ‘Goodnight Moon’ which is every child’s favourite,” quips Doshi.
Her being so matter of fact is because this story of a bunny saying “good night” to everything around him has been a permanent fixture on almost every reading list for children.
The familiar settings of an average home, a storyline that isn’t complicated, and of course the feeling of nostalgia that comes with reading to your child what your parents read to you once – this is a foolproof pick for your kids’ bookshelf.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
First published over five decades ago, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has crawled its way from Doshi’s childhood to her kids’ bookshelf.
“I read it as a child and was quick to buy it for my kids,” says the author. The beloved story tiptoes along on a caterpillar’s journey – emerging from the cocoon to turning into a majestic butterfly.
As the title suggests, the little caterpillar is rather famished and goes on to eat whatever he can set his eyes on. A #hardrelate, for kids and adults everywhere.
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