Digging into the darkness to find a Diwali read-aloud

November 12, 2013 — Leave a comment

179841-festive-season-across-the-world-halloween-in-the-u-s-and-diwali-2011-fThe daylong days of daylight are dipping into darkness and the harvest season is coming to a close, so it was fitting that last week people all around the world celebrated the festival of lights. I started to write about this important Hindu New Year’s celebration last Monday. However, I spent so much time trying to find books to share with kids that I never finished.

I have always made a display of Diwali books but have never tried to look for a read-aloud. This year, Diwali, observed on the darkest, moonless night in the month of Kartik, fell on Sunday November 3rd. So I thought it would be fitting to share a read aloud with my first graders whom I see on Mondays.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find one title that wasn’t non-fiction. Now don’t get me wrong; I wanted my students to learn the truth about how the traditions differ from region to region, both within India, and around the world. I wanted them to know that “deep“ means light and “avali” means a “continuous line,” and that the lighting of diyas (tiny clay pots with wicks of oil or ghee) symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and the banishing of darkness through knowledge.

Yet I know humans are hard-wired for stories, and so a story is what I wanted to share. I wanted to offer many in my community a window into this lovely celebration, while providing a mirror for those students who celebrate Diwali.

But alas, I couldn’t find such a story. I even recruited a Southern Indian friend of mine, who, whenever she returns to her homeland, brings back panchatantra tales to add to my library collection.

She didn’t have any luck either. She did find one book to have inaccurate information about the gods. A good reminder for us all to authenticate our information. I was disappointed to come up empty. But then I thought, if knowledge banishes the darkness, and stories originated around the tribal fire, what better way to celebrate Diwali than to create a new Diwali read aloud to share.

So if you have narrative story to weave about Diwali, the children’s market is wide open. Get writing. That’s what I’m off to do. Research then write. We’d love to hear what you have to share here first.

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