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American as Paneer Pie

Family Read 2022

The Spring 2022 Family Read is American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar. Below you’ll find fun activities, links, and writing prompts to help you think, talk, and learn about the book and author.

In American as Paneer Pie, Lekha, an Indian American girl, navigates prejudice in her small Michigan town and learns the power of her own voice in this story full of heart and humor.

Books can provide glimpses into others’ lives and give us a way to appreciate what’s unique and valuable in our own life. We hope the resources on this page help do the same!  As you’ll find when you near the end of the book, the more we learn about other people, the easier it is to see what we have in common–parents who want their children to grow up safe and happy, celebrations that build community, foods we enjoy that bring comfort, tweens who navigate school friendships, times we’ve felt different from everyone around us.

When you read aloud as a family or share thoughts about what you’re reading, it opens up the opportunity for many conversations around themes in books. Use the links below to help with conversations ranging from food people from Maharashtra, India eat to how to be an ally to how your favorite activities compare to Lekha’s.

We hope you enjoy the book and look forward to meeting the author at our Family Read Celebration on April 23, 1:30-3:30pm.


Click the image below to enlarge and find a pdf you can download. Can you answer all of the challenge questions by doing web searches?


Lekha likes to swim, but many of her Desi friends she sees at the Detroit-area temple for holiday celebrations take dance classes such as Bollywood and Bharatanatyam.

If you like to dance, you can learn beginning garba and bhangra steps with Nandita Bajaj from the Center for Performing Arts and Learning and try your hand with Dandiya sticks, the dance Lekha teaches her friend Noah, on Saturday, April 16, 2pm.

Watch videos below to see the dances mentioned in the book in action.


Lekha and Avantika both like to read comics published by Amar Chitra Katha publishing company. Read a few online. Are you a fan of comics or graphic novels? Which are your favorites? What is similar to or different from the comics below? Lekha and Avantika also like watching classic Indian movies and listening to music when they spend time together. What are some things you like to do with your friends?


Bring the whole family into the conversation. Read the book together, then use the discussion prompts from the author’s website to start important family conversations about topics in the book. If you have younger readers at home, choose from our Read Alike booklist.


The first line of the book is “It’s funny how something as small as a dot could matter so much. But it did.” Lekha is referring to the birthmark on her forehead in the same place a bindi, tikli, or chandlo among other words depending on which language you speak, is applied. The birthmark prompts an unkind classmate to make fun of her. Read more about the purpose of the bindi.

What are microaggressions? Get tips to on how to talk about microaggressions as a family from Embrace Race.

What does it mean to be an ally? Who is an ally in Lekha’s life? Think about how you can be a better ally in this lesson from Learning for Justice.


In the video below, you can hear Supriya Kelkar read chapter one aloud and talk about puns. Can you use the YpsiWrites activity to make up your own puns?

When the author visits the library, you’ll get to hear her speak about how experiences from her own life influenced the story and how you can find your voice through writing. In the book she finds her voice when she reads an editorial she wrote for class aloud at a community meeting.

Use the YpsiWrites prompt help you decide what you would write an editorial about, then stop by the Youth Department and add your idea to our board! Write a manifesto about it using the guide offered by 826michigan. Be heard!


We know Lekha likes to make cow drawings. But instead of having a workshop on how to draw cows, you’ll have several chances to make art inspired by Indian folk art!

March 19, 2pm


Artist Riya Aggarwal will offer a rangoli demonstration and how-to instructions


Drop by to color rangoli designs

April 2, 2pm


Make Madhubani style bookmarks and wall hangings with Ypsi resident Deepa Jain.

April 23, 1:30-3:30pm


At the Family Read Celebration, make mini canvases decorated with clay and gems in the style of Lippan Kaam, and try your hand stamping with wooden fabric block stamps!


The New York Times mentioned American as Paneer Pie in its 2020 article Fantastic, Flavor-Filled Food Novels! “The food descriptions here are mouthwatering, from the ‘crunchy burnt bits’ of batata bhaji that Lehka’s mom makes for Diwali to the ‘tangy, sweet, chincha chutney’ Lekha loves best.”

Why do you think Supriya Kelkar describes the food in detail? Did the descriptions make you want to try anything you haven’t tried before? What are you favorite foods? How are they different or the same?

Paneer Pizza is a combination of Lekha’s home culture and school culture. Make the recipe from the back of the book at YDL-Whittaker on Saturday, March 26, 2pm. Click the buttons below to find other Maharashtrian recipes mentioned in the book you can learn more about or even try to make at home!

Watch a chakli maker in action and watch other Diwali faral being made in these short videos below.


Now write about your favorite real or imagined food. Click the button to find instructions and a zine template, or stop by the Youth Department to pick one up. There are pages for you to list your ingredients, draw what your food will look like, write out cooking instructions, and more, all in a little zine! And there’s a word bank to get you started. Did you use any words to describe your food that were also in the book? Watch the video to see how to fold your finished product.

Make a Recipe Zine with 826michigan


Home Lekha enjoys celebrating holidays with her family and friends at the temple. Learn a bit about each! What holidays do you celebrate? How are they similar or different to Lekha’s? Are you expected to spend time with your family on those days? Do you ever have to go to school on a holiday you celebrate?


March 18, 2022


September 26-October 6, 2022


October 24, 2022


If you are an educator who wants to use the materials in your classroom, contact [email protected]. We’ll reserve copies of the book for you and print out webquests, discussion questions, and writing activities. Thanks to Deepa Kale for helping review the accuracy of the content on this page!