Two years ago, I reviewed a wonderful children’s book called Amal’s Eid, published by Bharat Babies. Having grown up in both the east and the west, I was excited to be able to identify with the character of the American-Bengali boy who takes us through his favourite holiday and all that it represents. This was exactly what I wanted for my daughter. That she should be able to read about her culture, her identity, in books readily available for consumption. It especially becomes hard when you live away from family elders, those amazing keepers of stories of generations past, the ones who pass down their rich heritage. If you don’t have that, what then? The responsibility lies solely on you, the parent. If you don’t try to reinforce those traditions it becomes so easy for our children to forgo them for the mainstream.
Sharing this concern, and struggling to find books that represent her cultural history and background, Sailaja Joshi therefore, decided to take matters in her own hands. She is the CEO & Founder of Bharat Babies, an independent publishing house that brought us Amal’s Eid and their very first book Hanuman and the Orange sun. Together with Creative Director Meghan Boshuyzen and Cultural Director SriVani Yerramilli, the Bharat Babies team, in a short amount of time rapidly expanded their collection to NINE books. These range from board books and illustrated books to early readers and even an art series.
Their message is clear. They want diverse kid lit for a diverse world. They are committed to telling the stories of South Asia and beyond and believe that all children should hear and see the stories of all cultures, starting right at birth. This generation of children need to be culturally literate global citizens and diverse kids lit is just one of the ways in which Bharat Babies can make that happen.
Considering the political climate of the world today, their mission could not have come at a better time. Instead of differences being stigmatized, they should be celebrated. How else do you raise enlightened future leaders? By exposing them to ethnically diverse, real and engaging stories while they are young.
How Can I Be a Part of This Change?
But to do this and to do this right, Bharat Babies needs your help. The printing business is expensive, and they need funds upfront to help produce more books and show investors that there is a need for this type of product. They have set up a crowdfunding goal of $25,000 with iFundWomen. Meeting this goal is critical.
Having spoken to members of various communities first hand, Bharat Babies knows there is a deep need for more stories of Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. They want to tell the stories of the Pakistani diaspora, of Sri Lanka and Nepal. They want to help more authors of colour, authors whose histories begin in South Asia share their stories with the next generation.
There are still so many stories to tell. One’s that have yet to be discovered. And one key thing to note here which makes Bharat Babies stand out significantly from other presses, is their vetting process and how closely they work with the authors and illustrators to ensure that everything, even the names used reflect the communities that they are about. Bharat Babies is committed to telling authentic stories with communities not at them.
I mean wow. Are you feeling this energy? Are you as inspired to be a part of this change that could affect the way your son or daughter sees themselves? confident in their skin colour, radiant about their rich heritage, and culture-proud? If you want to be a part of this in any way, I urge you to support Bharat Babies in whatever capacity you can. Help them realize their vision, which should be our shared mission, to ensure every child’s story is told and that every child can be the hero.
Are you ready? Let’s go!
To support the crowdfunding campaign, visit: iFundWomen
To see more of their inspiring stories, visit Bharat Babies
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