4 Books To Introduce Holi to The Littlest Readers

Share these four board and picture books with young children to help them learn about the Hindu festival of colors.

Cover of the 4 title montage with colorful holi photo: Photo by spukkato/Getty Images

Holi photo only: spukkato/Getty Images

Baby’s First Holi. DK. (Baby’s First Holidays). Mar. 2022. 14p. Board $6.99. ISBN 9780744050028.
Baby-Toddler–This board book offers a first look at the Hindu festival of Holi. It opens with a picture of spring flowers and butterflies, accompanied by short text. On the second page, words beneath a happy baby read, “I’m ready for Holi, the festival of colors.” The book then shows different elements of the celebration, including powders in bright green, blue, pink, yellow, and orange; a water blaster for colored water; and flower petals. There are also cards, gifts, music, and delicious servings of lentil fritters and saffron milk. Time with family makes the festivities extra special: “It’s fun to eat and celebrate together.” Baby’s First Holi is well organized and will keep small children’s attention. Photographs are colorful and work well with the one or two sentences per page. Although there are many more details about the holiday than are covered, this book provides the perfect age-appropriate introduction for young children. VERDICT A recommended purchase for public libraries and programs with babies and toddlers.–Robin Sofge  

Festival of Colors by Kabir Sehgal & Surishtha Sehgal. illus. by Vashti Harrison. S. & S./Beach Lane. Jan. 2021. 32p. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781534478176.
PreS-Gr 2–This board book adaptation captures the beautiful illustrations and evocative descriptions of the original. Young readers are introduced to the Hindu Spring festival of Holi through the eyes of two young siblings, Chintoo and Mintoo. The siblings collect the colorful flowers of hibiscus, orchids, marigolds, and irises that they then dry and press into powders. When their powders are ready and they go off with their family toward the celebration, there are vibrant bursts of powder and shouts of “Holi, Hai.” The colors used are vivid throughout but they especially pop after the bright powder is thrown. The short sentences and repetition will make this appealing to young readers. The use of color within the text also highlights the words used, creating deeper associations between that color and its spelling. It’s also wonderful that the illustrations depict the various shades of brown skin tones of the siblings and others, highlighting that a range of skin tones can exist among family members and within a community. An author’s note gives further information. VERDICT A lovely addition to share about this joyful holiday that would be a great choice for a diverse spring programming or displays.–Kristyn Dorfman 

Holi Colors by Rina Singh. 24p. Orca. Feb. 2018. Board $9.95. ISBN 9781459818491.
PreS-K—This board book has the primary purpose of teaching young children the names of colors. Each page contains a photograph of children enjoying the Hindu festival by tossing and reveling in the colored powders thrown to welcome the coming of spring. The book not only teaches about the colors, but is a great way to introduce the occasion to young children who do not celebrate Holi. It is also a wonderful cultural connection for children who are Hindu and who will recognize themselves in the pages. VERDICT A unique color book that goes beyond teaching about color to celebrate and teach about a Hindu celebration.–Peggy Henderson Murphy

Holi Hai! by Chitra Soundar. illus. by Darshika Varma. Albert Whitman. Jan. 2022. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807533574.
K-Gr 3–The day before Holi, everyone in Gauri’s family works to make their holiday colors from natural sources. Gauri is upset when the color she picks from the bowl isn’t her favorite. When she sulks, her grandfather tells the legend of how Prahlada defeated the evil of anger with his love. Gauri relinquishes her anger and celebrates. Brilliant pink, jade, purple, green, red, and yellow saturate every page. Just as intense as the colors depicted, the emotions featured—love, anger, forgiveness, joy—vividly shine. Back matter explains the Hindu festival, words that may be unfamiliar to some readers, and recipes to make colored water (not powder). VERDICT Shelve this vibrant book alongside Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal’s Festival of Colors or Rina Singh’s Holi Colors.–Patricia D. Lothrop

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