World Water Day: Water Stories from Tulika

I grew up in a country where (clean) water is scarce, and while I’d personally never faced shortages, I’m vestigially paranoid about wasting water. I fill glasses halfway when I set the table, for instance (but I’m generous with wine), and I never buy bottled when I can drink tap; what chumps those bottled water companies must think us. (I also get very perturbed when I see a film where characters brush their teeth with the faucet running.) I’m admittedly less painstaking about conserving other resources, but when it comes to respecting water and food: I’m DA SHIT. In a just universe, my spatula-and-mixing-bowl scraping act would out-viral Numa Numa.

To mark International World Water Day today (March 22), and to teach my son to respect a resource that seems endless (and, by implication, valueless), I’m reading (him) Water Stories from around  the World, published by the lovely Tulika books, whose virtues I’ve long extolled on this blog. Tulika is a India-based publisher of multicultural kidlit, and their books are now available in the USA (details at the end of this post). Water Stories is a collection of folk tales from around the world, retold by well-known writers including Suniti Namjoshi  and  Zai Whitaker; all the stories focus on the need to respect and conserve water. There’s the story (from Botswana) of kind Selekana, who is rewarded by the River Goddess. Koluscap and the Water Monster tells us a creation story for fish–when a selfish village chief  dammed a stream, the neighboring villages prayed to the great spirit for help. Koluscap broke the dam and freed the stream, and the people who’d loved and missed the water jumped in and stayed there to turn into fish.

There are eleven stories, and they may be read online here. And they’re free to read and share, like water would be in an ideal world. You can buy Tulika’s books in North America now, at


4 thoughts on “World Water Day: Water Stories from Tulika

  1. Thanks for telling us about Water Stories. I’m the same way with food and water- rinsing out cans of tomato and chopping up cilantro stems. But one can always do more.

    The link to tulikabooksusa is not working, btw.

  2. What a terrific collection! (And what a suitable background for their online presentation: I like it.) I was raised in a household that gave no thought to such things, so I had to relearn that habit (turning off the water when brushing my teeth) as a young adult. It’s been intact for so long now that I can hardly imagine it ever having been any other way, but it was. Household habits, dietary choices, they all add up; I’m glad you made part of this post personal because it makes me take another look to see what else I can do, too.

    • I think I had to learn to re-appreciate conservation when I became an adult, to make a conscious choice rather than do it by rote, and to understand how my choices added up. Glad you liked the collection–I think they make their point without being preachy (which is so necessary for kidlit!)

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