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  • With Love, Suhani

October #BloomBag

This month I had the pleasure of collaborating with four incredible individuals - the CEO and founder of an indie-publishing company, a self-published author, a book blogger and a NY Times best-selling author. What do we all have in common? Our passion for building and promoting a diverse bookshelf for generations of children to come.


These days we hear "diverse children's literature" a lot and I've seen this term used alongside books that teach about kindness, to books about religious holidays and everything in between. And it has always fascinated me how this term has been used in so many different ways and all equally correct. So, I thought it might be fun to find out what this term meant to each of my collaborators.


Here are the wonderful books inside this month's #BloomBag and the amazing people behind them:


"Super Satya Saves the Day" by Raakhee Mirchandani

"Let's Celebrate Diwali" by Anjali Joshi

About

My name is Sailaja Joshi and I am the CEO and founder of Bharat Babies, a children's publishing house that helps families diversify their bookshelves, one story at a time. Our mission is to bridge the diversity gap that exists in children's literature, starting with stories. India and South Asia, but this is only the beginning of our journey. Our vision is to help ensure that every child's story is told and that every child can be the hero. Founded in 2014, we've bootstrapped the funding to produce 13 books, across four product categories with two more books slatted for release next year in 2020!

I have always loved reading and there is not a moment in my life where I cannot remember not having a book with me. In my early 20s, I was developing an understanding of the Asian-Indian Diaspora as a Sociologist and working as a Consumer Anthropologist in boutique consulting agencies. However, it wasn't until I was pregnant with my first child that I realized there was such a huge gap in children's literature. I wanted my daughter to be able to hear the stories of our Indian culture, history and heritage in a way that reflected her lived, multicultural identity. I couldn't find those books on the marketplace and the books that I did find, that were supposed to be geared towards her, were problematic to say the least. I refused to live in a world where my child would not see herself on the cover of a book, so I started Bharat Babies to start closing the diversity gap in children’s literature.


What does "diverse children's literature" mean to you?

"Diverse children's literature means that all children see themselves and others in stories that are being told, and this is so incredibly important. In 'Critical Multicultural Analysis of Children's Literature: Mirrors, Windows, and Doors,' Rudline Sims Bishop draws the analogy that books can be windows into previously undiscovered worlds for the reader. These windows open like sliding glass doors to allow the reader inside. But books can also be mirrors, and this is so important. When books reflect back to us our own experiences, when stories reflect our lived reality, our experiences, it tells the reader that their lives and experiences are valued. They are seen. They are heard, and they deserve to be."


"Imagination Like Mine" by LaTashia Perry

About

My name is LaTashia Perry Iʼm married to my high school sweetheart and we have 5 children. My children are the biggest influence and motivation for me writing childrenʼs books. I am a published author of a 6 book series called Kids Like Mine. I write to empower! I write to increase literacy among students struggling to enjoy reading. I write so that our stories can be told by us! I wanted my kids and kids that look like my kids to be able to open up books and see characters that look just like them doing amazing things and loving themselves unapologetically just as they were. Kids Like Mine was built on this whole mission of “Empowering Kids Through Positive Self Images” and thatʼs what we thrive to do through our literature and every other product that we offer. REPRESENTATION MATTERS!


What does "diverse children's literature" mean to you?

"A literature that fosters the early understanding and appreciation of one's self and others." 


"Love" by Matt De La Peña

About

Matt de la Peña is the New York Times bestselling, Newbery Medal winning author of seven young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here and Superman: Dawnbreaker) and five picture books (including Last Stop on Market Street and Love). Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. In 2019 Matt was given an honorary doctorate from UOP. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his family. He teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country.


What does "diverse children's literature" mean to you?

"I think diverse literature is vital for two main reasons. First, there is a profound power in seeing yourself represented in a book. But I think it's equally important to read books that require us to put ourselves in the shoes of another."


"Not Quite Snow White" by Ashley Franklin

About

Just a mom of two on a mission to raise open minded compassionate kiddos who love to read. Books that Bind highlights and promotes character building, diverse and inclusive picture books in hopes that each one read makes the next generation a little more accepting of people who don’t look or live like them.


What does "diverse children's literature" mean to you?

"Diverse children’s books are representative of our world and are books that are for EVERYONE. It’s so important for children to learn about people and cultures different from their own and for children to see their own realities reflected in what they’re reading."



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