The Best of Indian Children’s Writing (BICW) award recognises the best Indian books for children in the age group of 3 to 12 years from publishers across India, published after 2005. Our carefully selected jury painstakingly read all submitted books, and our storytelling team verified the choices with children in classrooms across India. When we say “best”, we really mean it.

Completely
Indian

BICW rewards only authors of Indian origin. The book has to be set in an Indian (or neutral) context.

Absolutely
Original

Has to be original. No re-telling and rehashing, unless stunningly refreshing. No misappropriation.

Wholly
Contemporary

Contemporary characters, plot lines, and settings. Modern sensibilities. Rooted in the present.

Level 1

Regular 5 years old | Advanced 3 years old
Hurrah! The kids have started reading.

Three Friends

Three Friends is written and illustrated by Indu Harikumar, who gives the visuals a unique feel using a mix of fabric paint and embroidery on cloth.

Little Book Lovers

Ramya’s Snack Box 

Ramya’s Snack Box by C.G. Salamander is a tale about the importance of sharing, peppered with Chetan Sharma’s tantalising illustrations.

Frank Goes to the Market 

Juicy apples and cheerful vendors help bring a bustling market to life, courtesy Chetan Sharma’s brilliant illustrations in Frank Goes to the Market, written by C. G. Salamander.

Balu’s Basket 

Balu’s Basket by Chitra Sounder begins with Balu finding a basket. What does he do with it? The bright pictures create a vibrant backdrop for this story filled with generosity.

I Love You More

Karishma Mahbubani’s story I Love You More addresses a child’s natural worries and fears about sleeping away from his parent.

Where is Amma? 

Written by Nandini Nayar, Where is Amma? follows Kiran’s search around the house for his mother. His pet cat’s expressions add a whimsical touch to this tale.

Minu and Her Hair 

Minu and her Hair by Gayathri Bashi revolves around a little girl with wild, curly hair. Can she learn to love her untameable mane?

Annual Haircut Day 

Annual Haircut Day by Rohini Nilekani has the simple humour and peppy visuals that resonate with children.

Level 2

Regular 6 years old | Advanced 4 years old
Are they really reading or just looking at the pictures?

The Pottering Pig

Based on the author’s pet, The Pottering Pig by Rohit Kulkarni is about Lalita the mischievous pig and her antics!

Gajapati Kulapati 

Ashok Rajagopalan’s story, Gajapati Kulapati, asks the age-old question: what happens when an elephant catches a cold?

The Very Wiggly Tooth 

Authored by Reshma Thapa-Gurung, The Very Wiggly Tooth tells the tale of an interesting Himalayan tradition about loose teeth.

The Night Monster 

With Sushree Mishra’s poignant story and Sanket Pethkar’s haunting illustrations, The Night Monster will allay every child’s night-time fears.

Fooled You!

Debashish Majumdar’s story, Fooled You!, follows Rina on April Fool’s Day as she makes it her mission to not fall for any pranks.

Big Rain 

Big Rain by Gayathri Bashi addresses the impact of natural disasters. It tells children that when we look after nature, it will look after us.

A Walk With Thambi 

Proiti Roy’s soft watercolour illustrations in A Walk With Thambi provide sensory details and visual clues that heighten the story’s big reveal.

Neelu’s Big Box 

Nandini Nayar’s story, Neelu’s Big Box, is a tribute to children’s limitless imagination, easily turning a simple box into something much, much more.

Level 3

Regular 6 years old | Advanced 4 years old

Oh! They really did read it. Phew.

The Hundred and Thirty-Seventh Leg

The Hundred and Thirty-Seventh Leg by Madhuri Purandare, follows a centipede trying to figure out which of her 750 legs is injured.

A Home Of Our Own 

Meghaa Aggwarwal’s tale, A Home Of Our Own, is a poignant look at how children without homes take pleasure in a simple game of house-house.

Lunch-Friends 

Lunch-Friends by Srividhya Venkat has Mihir finding a new home for the creatures he shares his lunch with, when their mango tree is cut down.

Satya’s Boat 

Ayesha Sadr’s gorgeous illustrations in Satya’s Boat make a little girl’s dream of sailing a boat come alive, in fine-hued detail.

The Magic Umbrellas

Weaving fantasy into daily life, Theertha Raj’s tale The Magic Umbrellas is about umbrellas that go missing from school during the lunch break every afternoon, hinting at a mystery to be solved.

Thatha At School 

In Thatha At School by Richa Jha, Oviyam is reluctant to take Thatha to school on Grandparents’ Day, because he wears a dhoti. Will she learn to accept him as he is?

Angry Akku 

Angry Akku by Vinayak Varma is an amusing yet thought-provoking story that seeks to get to the bottom of why little Akku is so angry today!

A Silly Story of Bondapalli 

Written by Shamim Padamsee, A Silly Story Of Bondapalli is a “bondaful” tale about the people of a kingdom who become addicted to bondas!

Level 4

Regular 7 years old | Advanced 5 years old
Hmm. Maybe they don’t need our help anymore.

A Book For Puchku

Authored by Deepanjana Pal, A Book For Puchku, has a tiny book-loving heroine who cannot reach the books on the library shelf because it is too tall!

Aditi Zoo 

Written by Amrutash Misra and illustrated by Kruttika Susarla, Aditi Zoo follows a six-year-old in her mission to prove that she’s ready to be a big sister.

Wings To Fly 

Sowmya’s Rajendran’s story, Wings To Fly, is based on the inspiring life of Malathi Holla, one of India’s finest international para-athletes.

The Sea In A Bucket 

Written by the Avehi-Abacus Team and illustrated by Deepa Balsavar, The Sea In A Bucket is a colourful introduction to the water cycle. 

Jadav And The Tree Place

Jadav and the Tree-Place by Vinayak Varma, is based on the real-life story of Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng who planted an entire forest from scratch.

Kali And The Rat Snake 

Kali And The Rat Snake by Zai Whitaker stars a little boy from a tribe of snake-catchers, who struggles to make friends at school, but eventually pulls off a stunning feat.

Nani’s Walk To The Park 

Deepa Balsavar’s story, Nani’s Walk to the Park, is a trip around a city. The intricately detailed and vibrant lanes are a delight for readers, both young and old.

The Lonely King And Queen 

The Lonely King and Queen by Deepa Balsavar is a one-of-a-kind bedtime story which handles the issue of adoption with sensitivity.

Level 5

Regular 8 years old | Advanced 6 years old
Hmm. Maybe they don’t need our help anymore. Will they make it to chapter books?

Kali Wants To Dance

Kali Wants to Dance by Aparna Kathikeyan is the true story of dancer Kali Veerapathiran and his passion for the art form since childhood.

How Old Is Muttajji? 

Roopa Pai’s story How Old is Muttajji? is a tale that combines India’s history with memories and Maths. A unique combination!

The Enduring Ark 

Joydeb Chitrakar’s illustrations in The Enduring Ark, an Indian retelling of the great flood, are in the vivid style of Patua scroll art from West Bengal.

The Forbidden Forest 

The Forbidden Forest by Kay. S is about a boy who sneaks into the woods and gets turned into a tree! Will he ever return to normal? 

Maccher Jhol

Richa Jha’s story, Machher Jhol, follows Gopu’s quest to get his ill father a comforting bowl of fish curry to make Baba feel better.

The Dog Who Taught Me Math 

The Dog Who Taught Me Math by Sonali Shenoy shows that unconditional love helps children master subjects more effctively than stern scoldings.

The Adventure of Mooli and the Blue-Legged Alien 

The Adventures of Mooli and the Blue-Legged Alien by Asha Nehemiah has two friends trying to pull off an original stunt for a cool website!

Timmi In Tangles 

Shals Mahajan’s book, Timmi in Tangles, is a collection of stories revolving around the uber-creative Timmi and her imaginary friends.

Level 6

Regular 9 years old | Advanced 7 years old
Okay! We’re at Base Camp Books and the climb has just begun.

Camp Sweets: Monster Fun at Summer Camp

Camp Sweets: Monster Fun at Summer Camp by Nandini Nayar, is about Raj who reluctantly goes to a sweet-making camp. Will he learn to like jalebis and rasgullas?

Mira The Detective 

Mira the Detective, authored by Pavithra Sankaran, is a set of tales that introduces children to the thrilling world of solving mysteries.

The Boy Who Asked Why 

Sowmya Rajendran’s book, The Boy Who Asked Why, is the perfect way to introduce any child to Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar’s extraordinary journey.

Tejubehan’s illustrations enjoy pride of place in Mother Steals a Bicyle and Other Stories, embodying the beauty of traditional Indian art.

 APJ Abdul Kalam: One Man, Many Missions

Written by Nalini Ramachandran and illustrated by Rajesh Nagulakonda, APJ Abdul Kalam: One Man, Many Missions records the inspiring legacy of Dr. Kalam.

The Boy With Two Grandfathers 

The Boy With Two Grandfathers by Mini Srinivasan tackles the theme of loss with effortless humour and compelling storytelling.

Razia And The Pesky Presents 

Razia And The Pesky Presents by Natasha Sharma, combines history and mystery. Razia Sultan is getting presents challenging her right to rule. Who is behind them?

Eeee… Here’s My Story! 

Eeee… Here’s My Story! by Geeta Ramanujam and Karthika Gopalakrishnan is about growing up in 1960s India. It enthralls curious children and nostalgic adults. 

Level 7

Regular 10 years old | Advanced 8 years old
We’re in Chapter Land and the pictures are disappearing fast.

 The Adventures Of Padma And The Blue Dinosaur

Vaishali Shroff’s book The Adventures Of Padma And The Blue Dinosaur takes us back 66 million years to the dinosaurs that lived in India.

The Taxi Ride And Other Spooky Stories 

Authored by the BLPS team, The Taxi Ride And Other Spooky Stories is a collection of seven ghostly tales to chill your blood.

Apoorva’s Fat Diary: The Diary Of An Indian School Girl

Apoorva’s Fat Diary: The Diary Of An Indian School Girl by Nandini Nayar, is a hilarious and honest peek into a twelve-year-old’s diary.

Manya Learns to Roar 

Sruthi Rao’s book, Manya Learns to Roar, is about a child’s determination to overcome her stammer and snag a role in the school play.

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