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Leaving no child behind.

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Reports suggest that, in India, only 1% of our 12 million children with disabilities go to school. In a world where over a billion people live with some form of disability or the other, it’s increasingly important to make inclusivity a part of our lives. Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and even as the Ministry for HRD has announced greater benefits for children with disabilities, we’ve put together a reading list of some of our books that address the unique challenges of being different. As Maya Angelou says, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

A Helping Hand, written by Payal Dhar, and illustrated by Vartika Sharma: There’s a new girl in class and our teacher has asked me to be her friend and show her around. But I’m not sure I want to – she’s… not like the rest of us! A fascinating tale of friendship and fitting in, which tells its story through letters.

Chuskit Goes to School, written by Sujata Padmanabahan, and illustrated by Madhuvanti Anantharajan : Nine-year-old Chuskit longed to go to school, to make friends, learn math and play games. But she could not… until Abdul decided to do something about it.

The Koel with a Sore Throat, written by Mala Kumar, and illustrated by 211 Studio: It is monsoon, and there’s a koel cooing somewhere in the school. But it seems to have a sore throat! Parvez and Stella have never seen or heard a bird with a bad throat before, so they go looking for it.

Welcome to the Forest, written by Bhavna Menon, and illustrated by Kavita Singh Kale: Tulsa is off to Kanha Tiger Reserve with her school friends. Along with the forest officials, the students experience the jungle in a unique and exciting way.

Ready? Yes! Play!, written by Arundhati Nath, and illustrated by Priyankar Gupta: Anu loves cricket and her dream is to play the game. Find out how Anu bowls everyone over when she plays her first match.

Bonda and Devi, written by Roopa Pai, and illustrated by Jit Chowdhury: Do best friends always have to be alike? Devi and Bonda are best friends, but Devi is a little girl, while Bonda is a… Well, he can lift heavy boxes, he can extend his arms and legs, he never forgets anything he’s told, he can be turned on and off. Can you guess what he is?

The Elephant Bird, written by Arefa Tehsin, and illustrated by Sonal Goyal and Sumit Sakhuja: Munia knew that the giant one-feathered elephant bird had not swallowed the horse, even though he was big enough to swallow one! So where had the horse disappeared? A story about a magical bird, and a brave and curious child.

The Maldhok in the Desert, written and illustrated by Jeyanthi Manokaran: Chaitan’s family seldom has guests. One day, a guest arrives. Why does his visit trouble not only Chaitan, but also his dearest friend Gagan? This is a tale of turmoil in the life of a young boy and a near-extinct bird, set in a remote part of Rajasthan.

Chipko Takes Root, written and illustrated by Jeyanthi Manokaran: Dichi, a brave Bhotiya girl takes part in the Chipko movement to save her beloved trees. Everybody in her village knows that trees give them all the important things in their life. Rapid deforestation in the Himalayan region of Alaknanda river caused floods in the 1970s and gave birth to a movement to save trees by hugging them.

छुट्टी, written by Lovleen Misra, and illustrated by Somesh Kumar: छुट्टियाँ तो अनमोल होती हैं ! ऐसी ही कभी न थमने वाली छुट्टियों की मज़ेदार दास्तान एक अनोखी कविता के रूप में।

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