Nikhil and Jay: The Star Birthday by Chitra Soundar

A fantastic list of 65 titles has been compiled by experts as a tool to help schools, libraries and parents to discover empathy-infused reading recommendations in the run up to Empathy Day, as EmpathyLab strives to grow an empathy-educated generation and reach one million children a year by 2026. You can download free guides to the collection at, but here is my choice for readers in Key Stage One and up.

The Blurb

In these four interlinked stories about Nikhil and Jay and their family: Grandad and Granny come to visit from India; there’s a Star Birthday with a special Indian feast; the family go for a banana picnic in the park; and the time comes for Grandad and Granny to go home.

The Review

Early readers will love these four interlinked, lively stories about two young brothers in a British Asian family.

Everyday interactions with family at their heart make Nikhil and Jay instantly relatable to young children, while opening a window into another culture. The huge Indian feast for Nikhil’s birthday, the family picnic in the park, the sadness at saying goodbye to family who live far away, and the joy at finding a way to stay in touch all give opportunities for discussion beyond the story and a chance for children to work their empathy engines.

I loved the introduction to the family at the start of the book and that there is a really useful glossary of words at the end of the book, which help to make the Nikhil and Jay stories perfect for children moving on from picture books to longer stories, helped by Soofiya’s lively and characterful illustrations. The recipes at the end of the book are perfect for spending time together while making gorgeous food to share. I can personally recommend Chennai Granny’s Recipe for Sago Payasam!

Huge thanks to EmpathyLab for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops to see more amazing books to #ReadForEmpathy.


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