Explore a Book: A Gift for Amma

I just love when a book I am sharing with my children lead us as a family to a journey of discovery. This week we’ve been exploring a childhood favorite of mine, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. We read the book, drew pictures, listened to the audio, hunted for a boxcar in the woods (alas, no such luck), cooked recipes inspired by the story and watched the movie adaptation. It reminded me how much I love diving into the world of a really special book. And it inspired me to start a new blog series: Explore a Book. In each post, I’ll offer ten ways that your family can explore a wonderful children’s book together. I’ll try to mix it up and offer a variety of ideas (additional reading, videos, arts and crafts, food, games, etc) so you can pick what works for your family, your kids’ interests and your budget.

Our first book exploration is A Gift for Amma by Meera Sriram and Mariona Cabassa. This story follows a young girl as she takes in the sights, sounds, smells and colors of an outdoor market in search of a special present for her mother. The art in this story is just gorgeous. And I am 100% a sucker for a good story that introduces my little ones to another culture. So when I saw A Gift for Amma was one of Barefoot Books’ 2020 releases, I knew I wanted to add it to our collection.

If this sounds like a story that your family will enjoy, grab a copy, read it together and they extend your enjoyment with some of these ideas:

  1. This story takes place in India. Locate India on a world map or in an atlas. Learn more about India in this Junior Jetsetters video.

2. The little girl in this story puts a lot of thought into what gift to give her amma. Make someone you love a very special gift that you think they will love.

3. One gift the little girl considers buying is marigold flowers to make into a garland. You can use tissue paper to make your own marigold garland.

4. The little girl plans to go back and get a yummy pink sweet treat for herself. Eat your favorite sweet treat. Or if you’d like to try Indian food, you could make Mango Lassi.

5. A Gift for Amma is a celebration of colors. Many of the people in this story are wearing vibrantly colored clothes. Wear your most colorful clothes today. Does wearing brightly colored clothes make you feel different?

6. Read other stories or children’s books that take place in India.

7. The game of Pachisi is an ancient one and is still enjoyed by children and adults in India and around the world. Learn to play Pachisi. If you don’t own Pachisi, this version is beautiful.

8. Another holiday the little girl in this story might celebrate is Rahksa Bandhan. This day celebrates the special relationship between siblings. Many children in India make their siblings special bracelets to show their love. If you have a sibling, make them a bracelet. If you don’t have a sibling, make a bracelet for a friend who you love like family. Thread of Love by Kabir Sehgal is a lovely picture book story of one family’s celebration of Rahksa Bandhan.

9. Children in India celebrate the winter holiday of Diwali, a festival of lights. You can make your own Diwali lantern. (note: you can use battery powered tea lights to avoid real flames). To learn more about Diwali, check-out Prince of Fire by Jatimer Verma, a re-telling of the original Indian epic.

10. If there is an outdoor market near you and the weather and public health conditions allow, visit. What do they sell there? For at home play, set-up your own pretend play global market. Put blankets on the floor to set up your shop. What will you sell? Food, clothes, jewelry, baskets, toys, flowers, crafts you’ve made? Create or use pretend money to buy and sell things at your market. Don’t forget to give your customers change!

One of my favorite things about A Gift for Amma is that it allows families to dive into the culture of India. For more activities that help your family explore the world from your own home, take a look at the Global Kids activity deck.

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Explore a Book: A Gift for Amma