When I was pregnant with Aashi, I began obsessing over the best ways to teach her religion. Robbie learned Catholicism through attending church and Sunday school, becoming an altar boy, and practicing ritualistically and regularly. My spirituality developed more organically, mostly through family discussions and prayers, and dance class, where learning a new dance was often the same as learning to convey a religious story through hand gestures and footwork. I still get lost trying to wrap my head around some of the metaphysical concepts from the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scripture), but if there was an artful and educational children’s version of it out there – like what I’ve recently seen from Pixar animator Sanjay Patel – I can guarantee that I, and in turn, Aashi, would never be lost
Sanjay Patel has contributed to several well-known works from A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille and The Incredibles, to Toy Story 2 and 3. But of particular interest to me is his contribution to religious education with his three books, The Little Book of Hindu Deities, Ramayana — Divine Loophole, and most recently, The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities. The Hindu Deities books introduce children (and adults) to the polytheistic world of Hinduism through colorful, pop-art illustrations of some of the more well-known Gods and Goddesses, with accompanying descriptions of their best-known traits that are presented with a touch of humor and whimsy. The Ramayana – Divine Loophole, on the other hand, reads like a graphic novel and beautifully portrays one of Hinduism’s greatest epic tales, the Ramayana. I don’t mean for these books to supplant all other methods of teaching Aashi about Hinduism, but they will provide such a colorful and engaging way for me to refresh my memory on some of the important details I’ve forgotten over the years, and at the same time, allow me to read to my daughter about her religion.
I’m hoping to find something similarly engaging on the Catholic side that Aashi and I can learn from together. For Aashi’s Baptism, one of my sisters-in-law gave her the “Candle Bible for Kids,” by Juliet David, with illustrations by Jo Parry and the passages that Robbie has read to Aashi have been comprehensive, yet easy to understand, and beautifully told for children. I’ve also seen excellent reviews for “A Child’s First Bible,” by Kenneth N. Taylor.
My next move is to find a few good reads for adults and children on raising, and being raised in, interfaith households.