Talk to kids about gender and race with these picks from an online lit fest

The Belongg Online Literature Festival (BOLF) will take place between July 3 and 6, and will feature over 75 speakers.

In lockdown, children are naturally getting bored because they are not able to do any kind of activity that requires them to step out of the house. Some parents think this is the ideal time to get their young ones to develop the habit of reading. If you are one of those parents who are looking for new and interesting material, an online literature festival is just what you need right now.

The Belongg Online Literature Festival (BOLF) will take place between July 3 and 6, and will feature over 75 speakers who have written, illustrated, translated, and published books on themes of gender, sexuality, race, religion, caste, ethnicity, disability, inclusion/exclusion, and prejudice/bias, among other things. These include some children’s books as well.

As such, this could be a great way to get your child interested in literature and initiate discussions on the aforementioned topics, especially since so much is going on around the world at the moment.

Here are some book recommendations for children:

* David Unger’s Sleeping with the Light On: A story set in Guatemala City in the early 1950s. It features the turmoils of the times told from the perspective of a child living through blackouts and violence on the streets. The book could be a great way to get your child to understand the concept of immigration, and what it means to be a refugee.

* Ameya Narvankar’s Ritu Weds Chandni: A little girl is excited to attend the wedding of her cousin Ritu, who is getting married to her girlfriend Chandni. The only twist is, some family members are not happy with this alliance, and are trying to stop the celebrations. What happens next forms the crux of the story. If you want to start the conversation around LGBTQ+ rights with your child, this book could be ideal.

* Ashok Banker’s I Am Brown: At a time when the world is trying to fight prejudices with regards to race and complexion, this book becomes an ideal read for children who are trying to make sense of everything that is happening in the world at the moment. It is what it suggests: the celebration of the brown skin.

* Nina Sabnani’s Mukand and Riaz: The story is set in 1947, around the time of Partition. It tells the story of friendship, of innocent minds feeling the loss of friends, and not knowing anything except playing and having a good time together.

* Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl’s books Sing to the Moon and Sleep Well Siba and Saba: While the first book talks about a Ugandan boy’s wish of reaching the stars, the second one is about Ugandan siblings Siba and Saba, who dream about all the things they have lost, until one night when they have a peculiar dream. Both the books are great initiations for your child to understand a culture that is different from theirs.

* Nupur Dhingra Paiva’s Love & Rage: The Inner Worlds of Children: This book is something that both parents and kids (slightly older with a more developed understanding) can read. It talks about the inner world of intense emotions of kids which often go unheeded and unnoticed by the outside world of adults.

* Paro Anand’s The Other: Stories of Difference: This book contains a collection of short stories that are relevant for today’s time, and will have takers in the form of teenagers who are growing up with their own experiences.

Other books that are a part of the festival include: Saumiya Balasubramaniam’s Two Drops of Brown on a Cloud of White and When I Found Grandma, Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distant Near, Raakhee Mirchandani’s Super Satya Saves the Day, Naibe Reynoso’s Be Bold, Be Brave! 11 Latinas who made U.S. History, Carol Mitchell’s Another Day, Pirates at Port Royal, Chee Chee’s Adventures, and The Caribbean Adventure Series, Rinchin’s The Gullar Flower, I Will Save My Land, The Trickster Bird, and Sabri’s Colours, Navjot Kaur’s A Lion’s Mane, The Garden of Peace, Dreams of Hope: A Bedtime Lullaby, and Bijal Vaccharajani’s A Cloud Called Bhura: Climate Champions to the Rescue, So You Want To Know About The Environment.

More information on BOLF is available on their website, should you be looking for more such content.

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