12 Brilliant Reads from Translated Children’s Literature

Children's literature
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Team P3 curates a list of brilliant reads from translated children’s literature in India for your TBR list.

How do you ensure the next generation after us is aware and appreciative of our country’s rich culture? How do you provide your children with diverse stories that help them understand the many regions, practices, and lifestyles that are very different from their own? As you can see from the title of our article, books help bridge that gap for you. In this article, we bring some of the best works of translated children’s literature from across the country.

Each of these books contains its own cultural and linguistic nuances that the translations seek to portray while also adapting it for the target audience. From Gujarati to Sanskrit to Odia, the books from children’s literature here belong to a range of Indian languages. If you think we missed out on any title you think should’ve been there, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll add it to our selection here. Let’s begin then!

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Children’s Literature: Recommended Translated Reads

Shyamchi Aai

Title: Shyamchi Aai

Author: Written by Sane Guruji, translated by Shanta Gokhale

Publisher: Penguin

Price: 182

Pages: 336


Topping the list of translated Children’s Literature is this book.

In an ashram, eager listeners await Shyam’s tales that are set through his boyhood days in Konkan, a region known for its abundant beauty. On some evenings, he shares stories of a childhood spent in nature’s grandeur, while on others, he talks about growing up in poverty, burdened by the embarrassment of his family’s financial struggles. But at the core of every story is his Aai, his mother, whose wisdom and guidance shaped his character.

Over forty-two nights, Shyamchi Aai portrays Shyam’s life and the unbreakable bond between a son and his mother. Shanta Gokhale’s translation allows for a wider readership for these simple stories that revolve around poverty, hard work, sacrifice, and love. The book reminds us that even in challenging circumstances, maternal love shapes individuals and leaves an everlasting legacy.

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Tales from the Kathasaritsagara

Title: Tales from the Kathasaritsagara

Author: Written by Somadeva, translated and adapted by Rohini Chowdhury

Publisher: Puffin

Price: 173

Pages: 278


Second on our list of translated Children’s Literature is this book.

This is a collection of stories from ancient Sanskrit literature, filled with mythological characters and wisdom for all ages. There’s the story of Phalabhuti, an escape from a grisly fate, on one hand, and the story of the kind-hearted Jimutavahana, willing to lay down his life to save a snake from an untimely demise, on the other. Then there’s the tale of young Shringabhuja, who dared to marry a rakshasa’s daughter, challenging societal norms and exploring love and acceptance.

Within this classic work, demons, and demi-gods walk alongside faithful guards and foolish villagers. There are creatures like golden swans and magic pots that evoke fascination and are richly imaginative. Rohini Chowdhury’s adaptation and retelling infuse new life into these age-old tales with her writing making sure the essence of the original Sanskrit work isn’t lost but enhanced.

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Title: Taniya

Author: Written by Arupa Patangia Kalita, translated by Meenaxi Barkotoki

Publisher: Puffin

Price: 180

Pages: 160


Third on our list of translated Children’s Literature is this brilliant book.

Taniya isn’t your typical ruthless canine but quite the opposite. And yet, it’s her quirks, antics, and adorable nature that warm her up to everyone around her. Taniya’s life includes daily indulgence in hilsa fish and rice, singing in harmony with Arunabh’s harmonica, and distinguishing between an original Marie biscuit and a counterfeit.

Kalita’s story gorgeously depicts Assam’s landscapes and rich social and cultural heritage. Through Taniya’s adventures, you get to understand and travel across this beautiful region and its unique traditions. Meenaxi Borkotoki’s translation retains the innocence and playfulness of the original which is a delight to read. Whether you’re a child or an adult, this classic is a must-read that will warm your heart, make you smile, and maybe even make you look at your furry friend with newfound appreciation. It’s a story celebrating the simple joys of life, wrapped in the innocence and charm of Taniya.

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Timeless Tales from Marwar

Title: Timeless Tales from Marwar

Author: Written by Vijaydan Detha, translated by Vishes Kothari

Publisher: Puffin India

Price: 223

Pages: 208


Fourth on our list of translated Children’s Literature is this amazing book.

The book has been curated from Detha’s Batan ri Phulwari and highlights his ingenious stories. Detha’s tales paint dynamic mental images, reviving a world of handsome rajkanwars, evil witches, exploitative thakars, miserly seths, clever insects, and kindly snakes. Vishes Kothari’s English translation preserves the quality of Rajasthani folk culture while spreading it to a much larger readership. 

Timeless Tales from Marwar brings out Rajasthan’s cultural heritage, with its morality and the battles between good and evil. The folktales here are filled with wisdom, wit, and wonder that linger in your heart long after you’ve turned the final page. It’s a gift of the magic of Marwar to the future generations. 

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Another Dozen Stories

Title: Another Dozen Stories

Author: Written by Satyajit Ray. translated by Indrani Majumdar

Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd

Price: 184

Pages: 256


Fifth on our list of translated Children’s Literature is this interesting book.

On the 100th birth anniversary of the iconic filmmaker and author, this selection is a sequel to One Dozen Stories by the same publication. Including Ray’s original artwork, the ordinary plays with the extraordinary in these stories, and mystery lurks just beneath the mundane. Indrani Majumdar’s translation is filled with emotions and transfers the richness of the Bengali originals into English. 

There’s Professor Hijibijbij and Master Angshuman and a host of other popular characters and settings within this collection. The book is a celebration of the legacy of one of the biggest names in Indian literature and cinema. It’s a perfect introduction to his characters and stories where imagination is only as limited as one wishes it to be. This collector’s edition would be great as a gift to his fans (and future fans?) of his works.

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Winter's Night & Other Stories

Title: Winter's Night & Other Stories

Author: Written by Premchand, translated by Rakshanda Jalil

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 144

Pages: 168


Sixth on our list of translated children’s literature is this captivating book.

Premchand is undisputedly one of the masters of Hindi literature and his insights into the human condition are still widely read. In this collection, there are immortal characters like Halku, who must endure a bitterly cold winter night without even a blanket to shield him from the elements. The unflinching honesty captures the grim realities of poverty and the cruelties so many citizens of this country have to go through every day.

These stories remind you of the cruelty and greed that pervades society, while also underscoring the resilience and fortitude that the human spirit has. But amidst all this darkness, there are also moments of light and hope. Characters like Hamid, who chooses to buy tongs for his grandmother instead of toys for himself, and Ladli, who saves her share of puris to feed her blind aunt, embody the best of humanity. Rakshanda Jalil presents these characters perfectly to a new audience while keeping the timelessness of these stories intact. The characters and emotions in these stories are many, and they keep you coming back for more.

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The Best of Tenida

Title: The Best of Tenida

Author: Written by Narayan Gangopadhyay, translated by Aparna Chaudhuri

Publisher: Puffin Books India

Price: 194

Pages: 208


Next on our list of translated Children’s Literature is this brilliant book.

The madcap adventures and distinctive camaraderie of Tenida and his band of equally colorful friends are brought intactly to English by the translation here. At the helm of this spirited gang is Tenidaf—a brash, larger-than-life character with as vast a heart as his appetite. Alongside him, we meet the quick-witted Kyabla, the Bangladeshi-accented Habul, and the cowardly bu endearing Pela. 

These characters, each with their quirks, form a troupe of friends whose escapades are hilarious to read. Whether it’s through harebrained schemes, absurd mishaps, or outrageous tall tales of his heroism, Tenida’s adventures are fun while depicting the Calcutta of yesteryears—a city brimming with character and camaraderie. Gangopadhyay’s writing has an old-world charm, taking you to a time when life was simpler, and humor was a remedy for the complexities of the day.

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The Ghost of Gosain Bagan

Title: The Ghost of Gosain Bagan

Author: Written by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay, translated by Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee

Publisher: Ponytale Books

Price: 160

Pages: 124


Next on our list of translated Children’s Literature is this brilliant book.

Filled with resilience and laughter, it’s the story of how friendships can sometimes be forged between the unlikeliest of people. Reimagining the classic ghost tale, this is the story of Burun, a young boy whose life takes a sudden turn when he scores a low thirteen on his math exam. From a carefree existence, he now faces teasing from his peers among other difficulties. 

This is when he encounters the ghost Nidhiram who’s anything but scary. Determined to scare Burun, his encounters with the boy becomes a battle between the not-so-spooky ghost and a struggling student. Oh, and making this concoction even messier is the thug-turned-mystic Habu who’s a threat to the town and Burun’s family. Whimsical and charming, the story has many quirky and eccentric characters, who keep surprising you while also making you laugh.

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The Merry Adventures of Harshabardhan and Gobardhan

Title: The Merry Adventures of Harshabardhan and Gobardhan

Author: Written by Shibram Chakraborty, translated by Arunava Sinha

Publisher: Hachette India

Price: 160

Pages: 242


Next on our list of translated Children’s Literature is this brilliant book.

Filled with puns and pickles and lots of laughter, The Merry Adventures of Harshabardhan and Gobardhan has been translated by Arunava Sinha and is the story of the titular characters who’re also brothers. The collection of stories here are a concoction of misunderstandings, silly mistakes, and ridiculously comical situations. Harshabardhan and Gobardhan, though mildly dishonest timber merchants, are anything but cunning. What they are instead is a pair of explorers, blundering do-gooders, occasional philosophers, and, above all, gullible blokes. 

From an elaborate tiger hunt to a futile attempt to bell a cat, from solving a mysterious burglary with unintended consequences to the feat of coming back from the dead, the brothers’ antics have no boundaries. Each of their misadventures is as illogical as they are absurd, why it’s such a delightful read. The translation here is equally witty as the original, capturing the wordplay and whimsy that’s characteristic of Chakraborty’s works.

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Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne and Other Stories

Title: Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne and Other Stories

Author: Written by Upendrakishore Roychoudhury, translated by Swagata Deb

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd

Price: 203

Pages: 200


Next on our list of translated Children’s Literature is this brilliant book.

Filled with an endearing and memorable cast of characters, this collection of stories serves as the perfect introduction to Upendrakishore Roychoudhury’s storytelling. The titular story sees two dedicated yet hopelessly inept musicians, Goopy and Bagha whose music is so atrocious that it drives their families and neighbors to the brink of madness. On being banished from their homes, they start their own (mis)adventure that’s filled with equal parts whimsy and wonder. 

But there’s more: Tuntuni, a tiny bird with a grand personality; a cunning fox; Majantali Sarkar, a cat with a flair for adventure; and the spirited Granny Hunchback, among many others. Each character has their distinctive personality, who entertain and educate at the same time. Roychoudhury’s stories are filled with moral lessons, humor, and an appreciation for natural wonders. The stories remind us why kindness, wit, and resourcefulness are important and why they are as relevant today as they were when these tales were first written.

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The Burmese Box: Two Novellas

Title: The Burmese Box: Two Novellas

Author: Written by Lila Majumdar, translated by Srilata Banerjee

Publisher: Puffin Books

Price: 216

Pages: 176


It’s a book of two novellas that provide ample thrills and laughter. The first novella, with the titular story, is about Aunt Podi’s family heirloom, a Burmese box rumored to keep precious gems. Emeralds, rubies, and pearls—it’s a treasure worth a kingdom. When Panchu Mama shares the story of how the box was found and then lost among mysterious circumstances, Goopy decides to locate this box by himself

What happns next is something that shakes the entire family as they deal with crooks and relatives and so much more! The second novella, Goopy’s Secret Diary, has more of Goopy’s misadventures, this time in a forest. Con men, hidden treasures, a stolen necklace, and an old mansion feature here. Lila Majumdar’s writing style is seamless and the translation by Srilata Banerjee keeps the simplicity and humor of the original novellas. This book is a delightful journey into a world where adventure and laughter go hand in hand and where magic lies hidden in every corner.

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Listen, O King!: Five-and-Twenty Tales of Vikram and the Vetal

Title: Listen, O King!: Five-and-Twenty Tales of Vikram and the Vetal

Author: Written by Sivadasa, translated by Deepa Agarwal

Publisher: Penguin Random House India Private Limited

Price: 163

Pages: 208


One of the most influential and lasting stories to have come out of the Indian subcontinent, Listen, O King! has glorious kings, bloodthirsty demons, and mysterious spirits with the lore of Vikram and the Vetal at its core. Every time King Vikramaditya encounters the witty ghost and carries him on his back, there’s a new story, a new moral dilemma that keeps you wondering and intrigued. The stories that vetal narrates combine fantasy with folklore and ends with a puzzle that questions Vikramaditya’s (and your) intelligence and sense of morality. 

Deepa Agarwal’s translation presents these storeis for a new generation altogether and her wriitng is evocative that brings out the wonder and complexity so inherent in these tales. The stories are a combination of many themes, from the complexities of human nature, to the battle between good and evil, wisdom and folly. They challenge your perceptions while forcing you to think of the consequences of your choices. Regardless of your age, this book deserves reading for the many delightful conundrums it lays out for you.

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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