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By the Book: Celebrate Father’s Day with these two books that explore filial love and complicated histories

While Ruskin Bond’s memoir takes young readers through the time he spent with his father, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores generational racial wounds suffered by African Americans in his seminal letter to his son

books, books for kids, books for children, book recommendations for children, children's books, Father's Day 2022, book on race, book on father-son bonding, Between the World and Me, Looking for the Rainbow: My Years with Daddy, parenting, indian express newsHave you read these books? (Photos: Amazon.in)

Two books that bring the world home — an exploration of race and the timeless bond between a father and son:

Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
One World
176 pages
Rs 599
Appropriate for: 12+ years

Photo: Amazon.in

The lives we create for ourselves are most often built on a generational foundation created through the interaction of individual and community lives. It is a legacy bestowed on us that has both the capacity to anchor and unroot. A seminal work of non-fiction that was published in 2015 to critical acclaim, Between the World and Me by former The Atlantic journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates is written in the form of a letter to his adolescent son and explores America’s complicated racial history and what it means to be a Black person in America in the 21st century. As a journalist, Coates has written on the intersection of society, politics and culture in American life, but in this award-winning book, he offers a more personal understanding of and reaction to its fallouts on individual lives.

“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it,” writes Coates to his son. Through his writing, he offers a framework to make sense of America’s rising White supremacy, built on a prejudicial understanding of race that propagated an exploitative system of slavery and segregation and whose modern-day fallout includes indiscriminate and often senseless violence against African Americans.

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Coates weaves in his personal story with crisp reportage, an astute interrogation of history with a clear-eyed analysis of its impact on African Americans over the years. To know one’s history is also the first step to see oneself more clearly in the mirror of time. Between the World and Me is a brilliant step in that direction, a map of sorts that illuminates the past while offering a vision for the way ahead.

Looking for the Rainbow: My Years with Daddy
Ruskin Bond
Puffin Books
110 pages
Rs 250
Appropriate for: 8+ years

Photo: Amazon.in

Published in 2017, Ruskin Bond’s first memoir for children saw him turn his attention to one of his most cherished relationships — the love he shared with his father, Aubrey Bond, an officer in the Codes and Ciphers section of the Royal Air Force.


After his parents separated in the early 1940s, Bond found himself with his father in Delhi. It is a time of revelations for the young boy from the hills, who is awed by the many temptations the city has to offer — music, cinema, literature, not to forget, copious amounts of tea with generous dollops of condensed milk. His father treats him not so much as a child in constant need of supervision but as an equal, worthy of trust and confidence, and it fills the young boy with pride and joy.

Unbeknownst to him, this is also a prelude to a world that is about to alter irreversibly. India is poised on the brink of Independence and elsewhere, World War II is nearing its end. His father would soon be posted in a new city, Calcutta, and Bond would have to return to Simla, to the strictures of his boarding school, where, one day, in the middle of a school activity, the unexpected news would arrive — his father had passed on.

A beautiful, heartwarming tale, this is one of Bond’s most poignant writings for children. Yet, despite the bleakness at the heart of the narrative, it is a tale full of humour and warmth that explores the timeless bond between a child and a parent.


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First published on: 19-06-2022 at 18:35 IST
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