I knew so little about Diwali other than it’s a celebration of the Festival of Lights that I really enjoyed reading a pile of books to learn more. What’s interesting is that each of these 10 books revealed a different and unique aspect of this holiday.
Map from TravBuddy
1o Interesting Facts for Kids About Diwali
- People of Hindu and Sikh religions celebrate Diwali.
- Diwali is an important holiday in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. It is called Tihar (TIE-hahr) in Nepal.
- Diwali gets its name from the rows of oil lights lit during the festival. Dipavali means “row of lights.”
- Diwali can last up to five days in India but is celebrated for just one day in most other places.
- Getting ready for Diwali involves cleaning your house, buying new clothes and jewelry, and baking or purchasing sweets.
- At one time, people exchanged gifts in person during Diwali. Now, people exchange Diwali cards or e-cards.
- Diwali celebrates both the New Year and the story of King Rama who defeated the evil King Raavana in order to rescue his wife Sita who was kidnapped.
- Lakshmi is important during Diwali. Sita is the avatar for Lakshmi (or Laxmi), the goddess of wealth and known for her beauty. She is associated with the lotus flower. King Rama is the avatar for the god Vishnu.
- Many historians believe Diwali began as a way to honor the last harvest before winter.
- There are a lot of dances around Diwali including garba and dandia (stick dance).
Diwali Terms to Know
avatar: a human born with the spirit of a god.
Diwali: Festival of Lights, also New Year. Diwali occurs in October or November.
divas or diyas or dipa: lamps. Lamps light the way so that Lakshmi can find her way back to your house to bless it.
mandir: temple. Some food is taken to the mandir and offered to the gods for their blessing. It is then divided up to be taken home by the people who go there.
puja: Hindu worship and prayer service.
rangolis: intricate designs drawn on floors or walls made from colored rice powder, chalk or flowers to celebrate Diwali.
Top 10 Diwali Books for Kids
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Diwali: Holidays and Festivals by Nancy Dickmann
With a single short sentence on each page, this is perfect for a preschool celebration for the very youngest kids there. [nonfiction picture book, ages 2 and up]
Holidays Diwali by Rebecca Pettiford
Celebrate with a family of four in India in this very simple picture book on Diwali for the very young. [nonfiction picture book, ages 2 and up]
Diwali by Trudi Strain Trueit
This is the perfect nonfiction read aloud book to introduce Diwali to a preschooler. With brightly colored photographs and a small size, it covers all the different aspects of the holiday in just one short paragraph per page spread. [nonfiction picture book, ages 2 and up]
Diwali Hindu Festival of Lights by June Preszler
This book is perfect for an elementary school classroom celebration of Diwali and it even includes a Rangoli art project!
Diwali: A Cultural Adventure by Sana Hoda Sood, illustrated by Rubina Hoda
Read this Diwali book at home, preferably with the entire multi-generational family! Sana Hoda Sood took time off from her corporate job to write this rhyming book for her son; her mother (her son’s grandmother) did the illustrations! [ picture book, ages 4 and up]
Diwali (Holidays) by Julie Murray
I like this book for an elementary school classroom celebration as it ties in geography and a little more detail without being overwhelming. [nonfiction picture book with chapters, ages 8 and up]
Diwali (Celebrations) by Chris Deshpande
Pair this book with Diwali (Holidays) for an elementary school classroom unit. Here, a classroom in India celebrates Diwali!
Here Comes Diwali: The Festival of Lights by Meenal Pandya with recipes from Laxmi Jain
I don’t love the illustrations in this book but it gives a more detailed version Lord Rama’s story that ties into the five days of Diwali. There are also activities including making rangolis, lamps and cooking a few easy and kid friendly desserts. [nonfiction picture book, ages 6 and up]
Diwali: Hindu Festival of Lights by Dianne M. MacMillan
I would use this book for a child writing a research paper on Diwali. It’s dense with a lot of information so it reads like a chapter book though there are photograph illustrations. [nonfiction chapter book, ages 9 and up]
Diwali: The Hindu Festival of Lights, Feasts, and Family by Michelle Parker-Rock
I’d give this book to any child who is especially interested in learning more about Diwali. The Lord Rama story is told in great detail and there is more information on the Hindu religion including karma and reincarnation. [nonfiction picture book with chapters, ages 9 and up]
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