A children’s book with two adorable South Asian characters, ten Gulab Jamuns and one hearty misadventure. Laugh, learn and relish a bit of South Asia.
Children are constantly making comparisons, seeing similarities and differences in the world around them. When they see themselves reflected in books they read, it helps them get a sense of belonging – it helps them to be seen.
Did you know that
- 37% of children in the US identify themselves as multicultural, yet only about 10-15% of the children’s books have characters that look like them
- 10% of children’s books are written by people of color
- 3-4% of children’s books have characters from Asia Pacific
Children start to form their world views from the books they read. We need stories that multicultural kids identify with. We need characters that look like them, eat foods like them and do things like them.
We also need books that invite everyone to have a glimpse into different cultures. We need stories that widen our perception of normal. We need characters that encourage children to ask questions and build a healthy curiosity of the world around them.
Children’s books give an excellent starting point for a parent-child conversation of accepting and celebrating differences. It gives an opportunity for all children and parents to become global citizens.
With my upcoming book, I would like to give a sense of identity and belonging to children of color. I also hope to present some nuggets of South Asian culture to a wider audience.
The book is inspired by a true story. I had a sweet tooth growing up. My mother is always telling me how it was a challenge to keep me away from the sweets that she had prepared for guests. I decided to retell a childhood story in my current context with my two sons.
The book has two main characters. Idu (Ee-doo) and Adu (Aa-doo). Idu is the older brother -playful and protective and Adu is his younger brother -a boisterous brat. As an aside, Idu and Adu also mean “This” and “That” in Kannada, my mother tongue. For those who are not familiar, Kannada is the principal language spoken in Karnataka in the south of India. My hope is that as personal as this story is to me, it is also universal in its appeal and can resonate with all of you.
A sneak peek into the book
Idu and Adu are very excited. They have friends coming for dinner. Mamma has prepared a lot of dishes. She is about to make Gulab Jamuns next. Idu and Adu wonder what Gulab Jamuns are. So Mamma explains that they are yummy, gooey, golden balls that look like tiny donuts dipped and soaked in sugar syrup. You bite into one and it melts in your mouth. Then Mamma makes the Gulab Jamuns. They look irresistible, but Mamma has asked them to wait till the guests arrive. Can they? You will have to read the book to find out.
This is a lighthearted, fun story that children and parents will love. The story also includes basic lessons on counting as well as important values of responsibility, team-work and family.