Buy new:
This title will be released on March 7, 2023.
Pre-order now.
$$12.49 () Includes selected options. Includes initial monthly payment and selected options. Details
Initial payment breakdown
Shipping cost, delivery date and order total (including tax) shown at checkout.
Your transaction is secure
We work hard to protect your security and privacy. Our payment security system encrypts your information during transmission. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. Learn more
Ships from and sold by
Have one to sell?
Kindle app logo image

Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet or computer – no Kindle device required. Learn more

Read instantly on your browser with Kindle for Web.

Using your mobile phone camera, scan the code below and download the Kindle app.

QR code to download the Kindle app

Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

Follow the Author

Something went wrong. Please try your request again later.

Born Behind Bars Paperback – March 7 2023

4.7 out of 5 stars 96 ratings

Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
Pre-order Price Guarantee. Details

Frequently bought together

  • Born Behind Bars
  • +
  • Amari and the Night Brothers
  • +
  • Finding Junie Kim
Total price:
To see our price, add these items to your cart.
Some of these items ship sooner than the others.
Choose items to buy together.

Special offers and product promotions

  • Pre-order Price Guarantee! Order now and if the price decreases between your order time and the end of the day of the release date, you'll receive the lowest price. Here's how (restrictions apply)

Product description


“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

About the Author

Padma Venkatraman ( was born in India and became an American after living in five countries and working as an oceanographer. She also wrote The Bridge Home (Walter Award, Golden Kite Award, Global Read-Aloud), A Time to Dance (IBBY selection, ALA Notable), Island's End (CCBC Choice, South Asia Book Award), and Climbing the Stairs (ALA/Amelia Bloomer List, Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People). She lives in Rhode Island.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Nancy Paulsen Books (March 7 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593112490
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593112496
  • Item weight ‏ : ‎ 204 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 12.7 x 1.8 x 19.53 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 96 ratings

About the author

Follow authors to get new release updates, plus improved recommendations.
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Award winning American author, Padma Venkatraman, has worked as chief scientist on oceanographic ships, spent time under the sea, directed a school, and lived in 5 countries. Her 3 novels, A TIME TO DANCE, ISLAND’S END and CLIMBING THE STAIRS, were released to multiple starred reviews (12), received numerous honors (> 50 best book e.g. ALA, IRA Notable; Booklist, Kirkus, NYPL, Yalsa BBYA; IBBY outstanding; and > 10 state lists), and won several national and international awards. She gives keynote addresses, speaks on TV and radio, serves on panels, conducts workshops, has been chief guest at international author festivals and visits schools all over the world.

Padma Venkatraman's most recent novel, A TIME TO DANCE, was released in May 2014 to starred reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, VOYA, SLJ, and BCCB and rave reviews online and in newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, The Providence Journal and The Denver Post. A TIME TO DANCE accumulated numerous awards and honors, such as: ALA Notable, ALA/YALSA BBYA, Booklist Editor's Choice Best Books, Booklist Top 10 art bk, CCBC Choices

Crystal Kite Finalist, CSML Best Books, Eliot Rosewater (IN) masterlist, IBBY Outstanding bk yod, IRA Notable (NBGS), Julia Ward Howe Boston Authors Club honor bk, Kirkus Best Books, Mighty Girl Top 10 Character Driven Books, New York Public Library Top 25, New York City Reads (#NYC365), Nutmeg Award (CT) master list, Rebecca Caudill (IL) master list, Red dot award (Singapore), Sanoc/Saba hn, Sequoyah (OK) master list etc.

Padma Venkatraman’s second novel, ISLAND’s END, was released to four starred reviews (Booklist, Kirkus, SLJ and VOYA), won the international South Asia Book Award and the national Paterson Prize, was a finalist for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite (NE-SCBWI) and the Boston Authors Club Julia Ward Howe award, and received several other honors, including an ALA/Amelia Bloomer selection, American Library Association (ALA)/ Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA), Booklist Editor’s Choice/Best Book, Kirkus Best Book, and a Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) choice.

Padma’s debut, CLIMBING THE STAIRS, was released to three starred reviews (Booklist, PW and VOYA), won the Boston Authors Club Julia Ward Howe award and the ASTAL Rhode Island Book of the year award; was shortlisted for RARI (Reading Across Rhode Island), the Cybil award and state awards in NJ, ME, SC and UT; and was also honored with an American Library Association (ALA)/ Amelia Bloomer List citation, ALA/Young Adult Library Association (YALSA) Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA), Booklist Editor’s Choice/Best Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education Best Book, Capitol Choice, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) choice, Children’s Literature Network (CLN) Top 20, CBC/NCSS (National Council of Social Studies) Notable, NYPL Best Book, Pennsylvania School Library Association (PASLA) Top 40, etc.

Visit Padma Venkatraman at

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
96 global ratings
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star 0% (0%) 0%
1 star 0% (0%) 0%

Top reviews from Canada

There are 0 reviews and 4 ratings from Canada

Top reviews from other countries

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful tale for young readers
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 21, 2022
Verified Purchase
Joanne R. Fritz
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly gorgeous
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 2, 2021
Verified Purchase
Gomathy Naranan
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and relevant
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 26, 2021
Verified Purchase
One person found this helpful
Report abuse
5.0 out of 5 stars So good!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 28, 2022
Verified Purchase
One person found this helpful
Report abuse
Ying Chen
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 29, 2022
Verified Purchase