I grew up within a Sikh, Hindu, and Christian multigenerational family in a small South Carolina town. My Sikh grandmother had a powerful influence on my life. One of my favorite memories together is when she used to teach me Sikh prayers while pushing me on the swing after school.Even though there were not many families like us in the area, I was proud of my multi-faith upbringing. As a child trying to find books that represented my many cultures at school or the library was not an easy task. The books I did come across had a very biased representation of India or Indian religions.
Recently, I discovered three books that represent Sikhs positively. I was so overjoyed to find these especially since they were available at common places like the library and Target. This is essential because most people are uninformed about Sikhism. Sikhs have been victims of discrimination, bullying, and many hate crimes. For information about the Sikh religion please visit https://www.sikhcoalition.org/ or reach out to a Gurdwara ( Sikh place of worship) in your region through e-mail or social media.
I’m looking forward to sharing these books with my children. I want them to be proud of the many faiths that are a part of their family and other faiths as well. I often wonder what it would have been like for me to grow up with the books and resources that are available today. I probably would have had a better understanding of my own identity but it’s better late than never!
Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon was authored by Simran Jeet Singh and illustrated by Baljinder Kaur. This is the story of Fauja Singh who shattered several world records to become the first 100-year-old to run a marathon. This book shares the story of his life and discussed his determination and love for his Sikh faith.
Fauja Singh’s life story blew me away! Both children and adults will feel inspired immediately after reading this book. Fauja Singh had to overcome so many obstacles from childhood disability, bullying, moving to a new country, loneliness, and racism. He pushed through with a positive mindset that was influenced by his Sikh faith. There were several parts of this book that made feel me emotional. In particular, the part that discussed that he felt lonely after moving to a new country made me think of my Indian grandparents. My seven-year-old son, who is typically very wiggly, sat down and listened the entire time. He especially loved the pictures that reminded him of his papa’s house like the picture of Guru Nanak on the wall. He asked me many questions and we ended up viewing YouTube videos of Fauja Singh together.
We also enjoyed reading the mini-biography and the forward. The forward was a personal letter from Fauja Singh to readers. I highly recommend this book to everyone, young or old. This book is filled with valuable lessons to teach every individual. You will feel immediately inspired to push through obstacles that you may be facing in your life.You can purchase this book at https://amzn.to/3p5VuRy.
Hair Twins was authored by Raakhee Mirchandani and illustrated by Holly Hatam. This is the story of a Sikh father and daughter who have a special bond over their hair. This book highlights the significance of hair in the Sikh tradition.
Upon reading this book you will feel happiness. The beautiful father and daughter bond stood out to me the most. It reminded me of my relationship ship with my father, especially since I also call him, “papa” too. We loved the turban tying page. Since I started wearing the hijab, my children have taken a special interest in religious head coverings. We had a beautiful discussion about the importance of not cutting hair in the Sikh faith and different ways to wear a turban. We also especially enjoyed the pages that discussed the smell of coconut oil on braided hair. I told my children the story of how my grandmother use to braid her hair with coconut oil too. This book will help give Sikh children feel proud of their Sikh faith and traditions. I recommend that every educator have this book in your library because it brings awareness to the traditions of Sikh people
I found this book at both at my local library and Target. It’s also available to purchase through Amazon at https://amzn.to/3p6q917.
The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh was authored by Supriya Kelkar and illustrated by Alea Marley. This is the story of a young boy who is proud of his patkas (hair covering worn by Sikh males). He has a different color to match his moods. He is faced with new obstacles when he has to move to a new city but he ends up finding his way. I was so happy to find this book at my local library.
I enjoyed reading this story with my children. We talked about how many people in our family also had to move to very far away places like Harpreet Singh. We talked about how they shared many of the same feelings that he had. My children loved the Bhangra picture. They enjoy watching Bhangra with their papa and at parties. They also pointed out how his patka collection was colorful like my hijab collection. I especially love how the author explained Sikhism at the end of the book. I would recommend this book to every parent or educator. It’s a wonderful book for discussing feelings and building empathy.You can also purchase this through Amazon at https://amzn.to/3uupS9y .