20 Indians Who Changed the World, Shruthi Rao

Indians have made invaluable contributions to fields as diverse as mathematics and science, spirituality and philosophy, and music and literature. This books introduces young readers to 20 legendary Indians who dared to think differently and changed the world.

The Vanguards of Azad Hind, Gayathri Ponvannan

Sixteen-year-old Kayal’s true identity is hidden not only from her very law-abiding family but from the man that she’s suddenly betrothed to. But when she discovers her aunt to be a revolutionary and an active member of Subhas Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Fauj, she throws all caution to the wind and decides to move to Calcutta and, eventually, to Burma to train at the Azad Hind Fauj camp.

When Shiva – her husband-to-be – is caught by the British spies after he joins the war efforts, Kayal and her friends from the Rani of Jhansi regiment, Letchumy and Shirley, take it upon themselves to free him and press forward into British India as the vanguards of the army.

The Vanguards of Azad Hind is an introduction to the Azad Hind Fauj or the INA (Indian National Army), the formidable army that played an important role in India’s freedom. The book also offers an interesting insight into the Rani of Jhansi regiment – one of the first all-female regiments to exist during the Second World War.

The Teenage Diary of Rani Laxmibai, Tanushree Podder

Manikarnika, a poor priest’s daughter, grew up in the small town of Bithoor, at the court of the exiled Peshwa of Poona. Brave, spirited and highly intelligent, she went on to become Rani Laxmibai, the legendary warrior-queen of Jhansi.

In this fictional diary, young readers are invited to wonder about Manikarnika’s eventful teenage years, and how she went from being an ordinary girl to a proud and fearless leader. She writes about her training in horse-riding, swordfighting and other physical arts that made her stronger and fitter than most boys. She excels in her studies, and knows how to speak her mind. At the age of thirteen, she is married to Gangadhar Rao and embraces the role of a queen.

Clever and determined, she begins to rule Jhansi alongside the king. But when, in 1847, the British start hatching plans to take over the kingdom, Laxmibai knows she will have to fight for all that she holds beloved. A delightful blend of history and fiction, this is a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary statesperson who dared to stand up to the colonial forces.

Elections in India : Everything You Need to Know, RobinAge (a weekly children’s newspaper)

With its colours, excitement, and celebration, election time in India is nothing less than a festival.

Published just before the the 2019 general elections, this book helps understand young readers why elections are important and how to be better equipped to perform the all-important task of choosing a government to the world’s largest democracy.

Elections in India is an easy-to-understand primer on the process of elections, the evolution of the election process over the years, the new methods of casting a vote, and the importance of agencies like the Election Commission.

A Conspiracy in Calcutta, Lesley D Biswas

It is 1928 in Calcutta and Bithi, our 10-year-old protagonist is eager to join the freedom struggle alongside her brother Bibhas who she suspects is an active participant in the student protests that are raging in the city.

When Sulata, her childhood friend, informs her that she’s to be married off, Bithi joins the neighbourhood akhara to take an active part in the freedom struggle. During the protests against the Simon Commission, Bibhas is injured and arrested, further prompting Bithi is take on the responsibility of delivering the secret message before the police catches up to her.

A Conspiracy in Calcutta explores the themes of women’s education and child marriage along with the role women played in the freedom movement. The book features Bina Das, a real-life revolutionary.

Dear Mrs Naidu, Mathangi Subramanian

Twelve-year-old Sarojini’s best friend, Amir, might not be her best friend any more. Ever since Amir moved out of the slum and started going to a posh private school, it seems like he and Sarojini have nothing in common.

Then Sarojini finds out about the Right to Education, a law that might help her get a free seat at Amir’s school – or, better yet, convince him to come back to a new and improved version of the government school they went to together.

As she struggles to keep her best friend, Sarojini gets help from some unexpected characters, including Deepti, a feisty classmate who lives at a construction site; Vimala Madam, a human rights lawyer who might also be an evil genius; and Sarojini Naidu, a long-dead freedom fighter who becomes Sarojini’s secret pen pal. Told through letters to Naidu, this is the story of how Sarojini learns to fight – for her friendship, her family, and her future.

After Midnight: A History of Independent India, Meghaa Gupta

After Midnight is a definitive modern history of India for young readers. The book charts the journey of India through its important social, cultural, scientific, political, military, environmental, and economic milestones including India’s fight for independence, its meteoric rise as a nuclear and missile powerhouse, the Green and White Revolution, the Union Carbide disaster and even the Migrant Crises that was caused by Covid-19. Personal anecdotes, illustrations, and infographics make the book lucid and interesting.

The Gutsy Girls of Science, Ilina Singh

The book brings the stories the remarkable Indian women in science – from cytogeneticist Archana Sharma and botanist Janaki Ammal to mathematician Raman Parimala, physicist Bibha Chowdhuri, chemist Asima Chatterjee and several others. The Gutsy Girls of Science is a celebration of the trailblazing Indian women who overcame all odds to achieve success and inspire future generations of scientific thinkers.

The Adventures of Young Ambedkar, Devyani Khobragade

It was almost midnight when they reached the toll station. It was a little hut at the foot of a small hillock. There were many bullock carts parked there for the night. Bhim was relieved to see other people. He asked the cart driver, “Can we get water here? We are hungry and thirsty.” “Go ask the toll booth operator. But don’t tell him you are Mahars. Try saying you are Muslims instead.”

Bhim decided to follow his advice. He was confident he could speak like a Muslim. He was learning Urdu at school because Mahars were not allowed to learn Sanskrit, the language of the holy Hindu books. Sadly, the toll booth manager told him rudely, “Do you think we keep water for you Muslims here? Go to the village on top of the hill if you want water.”

The Adventures of Young Ambedkar reimagines the childhood of one of India’s revolutionary leaders, Bhimrao Ambedkar.

India’s Freedom Story, Irina Saxena and Nilima Saha

The book pays tribute to our great thinkers like Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Abul Kalam Azad, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and their courage, grit, and resistance to fight the injustices of colonial rule.

With stories from the freedom movement and contemporary India, India’s Freedom Story also explores the broader idea of freedom and what it means to today’s young population.

Heroes the Colour of Dust, Amit Majmudar

Heroes the Colour of Dust is a hilarious take on the events of the Dandi March featuring a bunch of ambitious sparrows. The tale is made delightful with daring birds, narrow escapes, bitter vendettas, tragic back stories, sneaky sahibs, and stalwart Indians in this tale where animals vow to protect Gandhi ji and help India rid itself of its colonisers. The book presents young readers with the opportunity to understand how people from all walks of life got together to protect the Gandhian values despite circumstances.

The Constitution of India for Children, Subhadra Sen Gupta

Every January 26, people gather on New Delhi’s Rajpath amidst a colourful jamboree of fluttering flags, marching soldiers, and dancing children. What is celebrated on this day is at the heart of our democracy – the magnificent Constitution of India.

The book captures the many momentous occasions in Indian history that led to its making. With fun facts and cheerful illustrations, young readers get an insightful introduction to the most important document of Independent India.

Unearthed: The Environmental History of Independent India, Meghaa Gupta

Protesting against dams, protecting tigers, hugging trees, saving seeds, making room for elephants, battling mountains of waste, fighting air pollution, coping with soaring temperatures – India and its people have shared a remarkable relationship with the environment.

From the Green Revolution to the National Action Plan on Climate Change, Unearthed chronicles the country’s historical movements and significant green missions since 1947. Interspersed with trivia, tales of eco-heroes and humorous cartoons, this easy-to-read account uncovers the story of a past with the hope that we will rewrite India’s future.

Her Name Was Freedom: 35 Fearless Women Who Fought for India’s Independence, Anu Kumar

Fearless and feisty, homemakers and princesses, politicians and poets, doctors and educators, and lawyers and activists marched in protest, endured hunger strikes, rallied supporters, went to jail and led from the front.

From Sarojini Naidu to Matangini Hazra, from Aruna Asaf Ali to Rani Gaidinliu, from Muthulakshmi Reddi to Hansa Mehta, and from Annie Mascarene to Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, thse women showed amazing courage in breaking their shackles and facing grave challenges to liberate the country.

Bringing together the inspiring life stories of 35 remarkable women, Her Name Was Freedom is a tribute to these brave torchbearers of India’s independence movement and their lasting legacy.

Ticket to India, NH Senzai

A map, two train tickets, and a mission. These are things 12-year-old Maya and her big sister Zara have when they set off on their own from Delhi to their grandmother’s childhood home of Aminpur, a small town in Northern India.

Their goal is to find a chest of family treasures that their grandmother’s family left behind when they fled from India to Pakistan during the Great Partition. But soon the sisters become separated, and Maya is alone. Determined to find her grandmother’s lost chest, she continues her trip, enlisting help on the way from an orphan boy named Jai. Maya’s grand adventure through India is as thrilling as it is warm – it is a journey through her family’s history through a real coming-of-age quest.