Title: Lands of Belonging: A History of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain
Written by: Donna and Viskesh Amey Bhatt
Illustrated by: Salini Perera
Published by: Nosy Crow
Lands of Belonging: A History of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain is a much needed, long overdue book that should adorn every bookshelf in all schools and libraries. It outlines the history of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and how these cultures are entwined and shape British history. It was launched by Nosy Crow in July 2022 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Partition of India.
This is an innovative children’s non-fiction book about belonging and celebrating the past, present and future of our complex and diverse nation written with a clear and concise writing style by husband and wife team, Donna and Viskesh Amey Bhatt. It is divided into double-page spread chapters that start with an introductory welcome, which explains how India is divided and the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain, to a very useful timeline and glossary at the back of the book. With a chronological overall organisation it takes us from the past, into the present and looks onwards to the future.
Each beautifully illustrated spread covers such topics as how every person is an amalgamation of different things; the ancient history of India and its many religions; the British Empire and the decisions that led to a divided independent India. It touches on some difficult topics such as slavery and racism, as well as exploring the beauty of South Asian culture, customs, food, sport and language exuberated by the bright and colourful illustrations.
Lands of Belonging would be an asset in all classrooms for stimulating discussion on diversity and the celebration of our differences and similarities. I particularly liked the inclusion of the spread on the Asian calendar of celebrations, which would be perfect for helping children clarify and discuss the different religious festivals and celebrations throughout the year, whether the children traditionally celebrate these or not.
This brilliant book provides an insightful and inclusive educational overview of the links between our cultures. Truly a book about identity and belonging.
I was lucky enough to interview Donna Amey Bhatt for my Writing for Children slot in the UK’s national writing magazine, Writer’s Forum. The feature appeared in issue #247 21 Sep 2022. To read highlights from the feature take a look at my blog post: An interview with… Donna Amey Bhatt.
You can buy copies of Lands of Belonging: A History of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain by Donna and Viskesh Amey Bhatt and illustrated by Salini Perera from your local bookshop, or online at uk.bookshop.org, an organisation with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops.