Why Diversity in Literature is Crucial

Why Diversity in Literature is Crucial

Yesterday, I sat next to my six-year-old son answering emails as he did his math homework. He was reading the problems out loud, when he came to this question: “Siddharth has 14 race cars. His friend Antonio gave him 5 more race cars. How many race cars does Siddharth have now?” My son didn’t blink an eye at the names in this question. Why? Because the names represent a true reflection of his own classroom, school, and community. For first generation Indian Americans, like myself, this is a very different reality than the one we experienced as (sometimes) the only ethnic individual at school.

When children see themselves in the books they read or their schoolwork, the impact of the lesson or story is positive and achieves a greater impact. Literary experts call the process of seeing oneself reflected this way “mirroring,” and educators are increasingly recognizing its importance. Beyond the mirroring effect, children also learn to be comfortable in their own skin. I love that my children understand it’s okay to love pizza and parathas equally, and that it’s okay to share their diverse interests with their classmates and friends, Indian and non-Indian.

In 2013, publishing company Bharat Babies and its founder Sailaja N. Joshi recognized the need for age-appropriate children’s literature to not only educate children about Indian culture and traditions, but also provide children with an opportunity to see themselves reflected in the greater world. Titles published by Bharat Babies, such as Let’s Celebrate Diwali, Ganesh and his Little Mouse, and Amal’s Eid, all aim to educate about Indian culture, while also broaching larger themes that impact children today, such as friendship, bullying, etc.

Ganesh and the Little Mouse

I had the pleasure of attending a book reading this past weekend at a local independent bookstore, Bookasauraus. Author Anjali Joshi read Ganesh and the Little Mouse (a Bharat Babies title) to a captivated audience of young children. In scanning the shelves at this bookstore, I noticed a wide collection of diverse titles not only about Indian culture, but also so many others. It was refreshing to see so many available options for our children as well as companies like Bharat Babies taking the lead in changing the face of children’s literature. While the Indian comic book series Amar Chitra Katha was a favorite for my generation, the stories and illustrations are not always appropriate for young children.

For this very reason, I’m thrilled to be working with Bharat Babies, on both personal and professional levels. As campaigns like #WeNeedDiverseBooks and publishing companies like Bharat Babies gain momentum, I’m comforted in knowing options are available. My children and generations of children to come will have access to the same stories I heard as a child – not necessarily the same, exact version, but updated, and more importantly, relatable versions of those stories.

Seek out diverse children’s books at your neighborhood store or public library, and definitely read the titles offered by Bharat Babies. The characters are beautifully drawn and are  lovable and inquisitive … and the best part is that they could easily pass for any one of our own children! The stories are not only for youngsters, but also for parents and those young at heart! Happy reading!

Finding the Right Path

Finding the Right Path

How often do you start the day full of enthusiasm and great ideas? You think about the day ahead, the items on your to-do-list. Like me, you probably sit down in front of your computer every morning, full of purpose and with every intention of crossing items off that to-do-list. Except hours later, you look up from the screen in a haze only to realize the day has passed by and your list has grown even longer. We have become so inundated with emails and notifications from every-known social media site that we spend little time on longer-term goals.

Small business leaders are no different. Caught up in the short-term and bogged down with the day-to-day, smaller firms focus on making it through one day so they can live for another. I am certainly not immune to this! I spend my days helping clients think about the big picture and developing long-term strategies. I work closely with them to build the right image, be it a social media presence or their website. But recently, I felt I wasn’t spending enough time on my own goals or my own image. Updating my website, developing my own marketing materials, really engaging via social media – all things that require constant attention, but somehow, always on the list for tomorrow.

When a CEO is an accountant, marketer, sales person, social media consultant, writer, among many others things, it can be hard to prioritize. We all read articles about how to be productive and effectively schedule the day. And we all know that implementation is always the hardest task. A simple step in the right direction goes a long way. I now force myself to spend one hour a day on longer-term goals. Is it enough? Probably not. Is it a start? Absolutely.

I’ve been contemplating these long-term goals for some time, and a few nights ago as I made my nightly cup of tea, I was inspired in the most surprising way – by a well-known quote on the tea bag.

Do not go where the path leads, go instead where there is no path and create a trail.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are countless resources available to guide us on a productive, successful journey as small business owners. We are fully aware of what we should do. The difficulty lies in the reality of everyday demands placed upon us. Instead of forcing ourselves down a well-worn path, it might make more sense to explore our own paths. Seems intuitive, right? The reality is that we often bite off more than we can chew. Pushing ourselves to take on new projects or additional tasks. Working towards unrealistic expectations. Expectations that stem from believing the well worn path is the only option. Following intuition does not always happen, but it should. Make it a goal to be mindful of what works best for your organization. Pave your own path, one that helps you achieve your goals.

This blog is an attempt to travel down my own path. Each week, I would like to share my own experiences and work as well as the great things being done by my clients. I hope you’ll stay tuned as I share my story. And please share your own … maybe then we can find the right path that works! As we walk our own trails, our paths might actually cross!