District Highlights

#FridayReads: Celebrate the festival of lights with Binny’s Diwali

Sukhdeep Birdi, a teacher for English language learners at Albion Elementary School, recommends Binny’s Diwali by Thrity Umrigar to learn about the festival of lights.

Each year in mid-October to early-November, Sikh and Hindu communities around the world celebrate a festival called Diwali. This year it begins on November 12. Many of our students are South Asian and may celebrate this festival. Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps” and is commonly known as the “festival of lights.” Wherever Diwali is being celebrated, you will see shops, houses and public places decorated with lights and oil lamps, called diyas. People celebrate this festival by decorating their homes, making rangoli, sharing sweets, exchanging gifts, offering prayers, and enjoying festive fireworks. Diwali symbolizes light over darkness and is a joyful time of connecting with family and friends. Traditionally, this festival is celebrated over five days with each family celebrating this beautiful holiday in their own unique way.

I celebrate Diwali and as a teacher, I want my students to understand Diwali in a simple way and connect as closely as possible to the experiences that I share about my tradition.

Binny’s Diwali is a sweet story of one girl’s victory of goodness and light. Binny is tasked with sharing her favourite holiday, Diwali, with her class. Plans are set, jalebis and pedas are made, but when it comes time to present, Binny doesn’t know what to say. Remembering the guiding lights of the diyas, Binny overcomes her fear and shares the beauty of Diwali with her class. Binny shares her love of fireworks, sparklers, lighting diyas, giving gifts and making rangoli.

As an ELL teacher, I try to make sure I have lots of diverse books so that all my students are able to see themselves in the illustrations. This is a great story for your holiday collection. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and each page shines with its own light. It is available in SD42 libraries in both English and French as well as an eBook on Sora.

The book, "Binny's Diwali" by Thrity Umrigar, on a table surrounded by diyas, sweets and a sign that reads "Happy Diwali."

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