Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)
Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman
Add Born Behind Bars to bookshelf
Add to Bookshelf
Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman
Audiobook Download
Sep 07, 2021 | ISBN 9780593454398 | 278 Minutes

Buy from Other Retailers:

See All Formats (3) +
  • $8.99

    Mar 07, 2023 | ISBN 9780593112496 | 10-14 years

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • $17.99

    Sep 07, 2021 | ISBN 9780593112472 | 10-14 years

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Sep 07, 2021 | ISBN 9780593112489 | Middle Grade (10 and up)

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Sep 07, 2021 | ISBN 9780593454398 | 10-14 years

    278 Minutes

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Buy the Audiobook Download:

Listen to a sample from Born Behind Bars

Product Details


“Venkatraman has never met a heavy theme she did not like….Borrowing elements of fable, it’s told with a recurring sense of awe by a boy whom the world, for most of his life, has existed only in stories.”—New York Times Book Review

★ “Their experiences reveal the invisibility of low-caste people in Indian society, tensions between neighboring states over water supplies, and the unexpected kindness of helpful strangers. Kabir’s longing for freedom and justice underscores bittersweet twists and turns. . . . Kabir engages readers by voicing his thoughts, vulnerability, and optimism: While his early physical environment was confined within prison walls, his imagination was nourished by stories and songs. This compelling novel develops at a brisk pace, advanced by evocative details and short chapters full of action. A gritty story filled with hope and idealism.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Thoughtfully and gently explores a troubled justice system, interstate conflicts over increasingly commonwater shortages, and a frustrating caste system. . . An optimistic and earnest tale of the power of hope and the gift of family in all forms.”—Booklist, starred review

“This novel is for readers who are seeking realistic fiction that tug at the heartstrings. The story is authentic, and the emotion behind Kadir and his mother’s relationship will induce tears. This is a true window book for many readers unaware of caste systems and the struggles within them. Venkatraman takes these complex topics and makes them heartfelt and resonant. A well-rounded story of a boy and his struggle to survive alone in the world. A suggested read for lovers of timely tales of children surviving all odds.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Twining themes of perseverance, friendship, and prejudice, Venkatraman renders the gripping circumstances surrounding Kabir and Rani’s journey with a keen attention to character and plot, making for an immersive reading experience.” —Publishers Weekly

“As in The Bridge Home, Venkatraman portrays children’s experiences of poverty and other social issues; here, she explores Hindu-Muslim animosity, how the Indian caste system predetermines social status, and how biased institutions interact with (and ultimately fail) those of lower caste. This earnest, heartfelt adventure will transport many readers to a different setting while guiding them to draw parallels with contexts closer to home.” —The Horn Book

“Venkatraman, in a story based on a real child, illuminates some harsh realities of life in an India where the lower-caste are oppressed with impunity and where sectarian hatred and violence can make life dangerous. Her characterization is solid, especially of the women in the jail cell and of bold Rani. . . . Justice-minded youngsters will especially rejoice in Kabir’s putting wrongs to rights.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Back to Top