BICW Awards: The Best of Indian Children’s Writing – Contemporary

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. The books are completely Indian, absolutely original, and wholly contemporary. 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.


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


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


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

Level 1: Regular 5 | Advanced 3

Hurrah! The kids have started reading.


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.


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


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 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.


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


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


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

Level 2: Regular 6 | Advanced 4

Are they really reading or just looking at the pictures?

Animal Stories

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

Animal Stories

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


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


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


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


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


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 | Advanced 4

Oh! They really did read it. Phew.


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


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.

Lost and Found

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.


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.


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.

Learning a Lesson

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?

Learning a Lesson

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!

Kings and Queens

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 | Advanced 5

Hmm. Maybe they don’t need our help anymore.


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!


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.

Being Different

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.


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 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 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.


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.

Royal Families

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 | Advanced 6

Will they make it to chapter books?

Sites and Lives

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


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

Folk Tales

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

Beating the Odds

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.

Beating the Odds

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


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!


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 | Advanced 7

Okay! We’re at Base Camp Books and the climb has just begun.


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


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.

Comics and Graphic Novels

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

Wit and Wisdom

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

Wit and Wisdom

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?

Blast From the Past

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 | Advanced 8

We’re in Chapter Land and the pictures are disappearing fast.


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.

Eerie World

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 by Nandini Nayar, is a hilarious and honest peek into a twelve-year-old’s diary.

Standing Out

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.

Read More

BICW has been around since 2018 and it will grow with every annual BICW exercise. The books announced each year add to the BICW list. You can view our 2018 BICW announcement here and 2019 BICW announcement here. We are very transparent about our process and the work we do. Free to drop a comment (good stuff and ugly ones) on this page or on any of the posts or write to us. If you have books that you want us to consider, then let us know.

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