Categorized | Feature, Interviews

More multicultural themed children’s books should become available

Posted on 22 May 2014 by admin

Anita Badhwar

Anita Badhwar grew up in Toronto, Canada and moved to the United States in 2000. After twelve years working at various organizations, she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing children’s books, especially which present information on Indian culture and festivals in an educational yet entertaining manner. Anita lives in Florida with her husband, and two children, ages ten and eight, and her lovable dog Buddy. The second book in the Little Princess Rani series, titled Rani and the Safari Surprise has been released this Spring.

Generation Next got an opportunity to interview Anita Badhwar:

Do you think there is sufficient interest around the world and especially in Canada on Indian events and festivals like Diwali?

Yes, I truly feel that there is sufficient interest around the world about Indian festivals and about India in general. I am originally from Toronto, but currently live in Florida. People here, especially teachers, educators, and non-Indian friends, are curious about Indian culture, dress, food, and music. My intention with this book series is to provide information about Indian culture and to celebrate all that India has to offer!

 Many time people of the same culture read the book and believe that it doesn’t represent the festival as it is celebrated. Your response? 

It is for this reason for which I wrote the first book, Rani Saves Diwali, where I presented information about the Hindu festival of lights in a general manner. For example, I explain how we light diyas, decorate the house with lights, eat lots of mithai, and perform puja. I would think that most Hindus would agree that they perform these rituals when celebrating Diwali. I’ve tried to keep in mind (and I hope readers will too!) that celebrations may vary from region to region in India, and that family traditions also may account for differences in the way Diwali is celebrated.

 Being the mother of two, did you feel the need to write a book on an Indian festival so that your kids are attached to the culture? 

Yes, living in the United States I felt it necessary to write the series Little Princess Rani and the Palace Adventures because I found very little similar literature on the market when was looking for Indian-theme based children’s books. Thus, I wanted to write a series that was both educational about Indian culture, and entertaining.

 How do you maintain a balance between teaching your kids eastern traditions and the Western values? 

In our house we celebrate Indian festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Rakhi Bandhan, Navratri, Ganesh Chaturti and observe other religious holidays too. My kids also have been attending a community Sanskaar class which teaches the importance of religious holidays and why we observe them. They learn about the different Hindu gods and the significance of Hindu mythology. We do puja at home and visit temples when we are in Toronto.

 Did you find that there is literature about cultural festivals for kids available in the market?

Yes there is literature about Indian cultural festivals, but it is limited.

 Were your kids your critics?

Absolutely! They would critique my story and illustrations and offer suggestions.

 In an age where kids are so attracted to tablets, mobile devices and so on, do you think people will purchase a book?

I think people will still buy books because parents still would like their children to read in the traditional manner. Also, electronic devices can be harmful to the eyes.

 How can parents instill the love of reading in their kids?

I would suggest to read to your children for at least 20 minutes a day. Children also model themselves after their parents, so if a child sees their parents reading, they are most likely to do the same.

 Isn’t it odd that at schools the mainstream wants to teach kids about various cultures yet the mainstream publishers don’t want to do the same? Isn’t this very hypocritical?

Yes, it is unfortunate, but hopefully things will change soon. People need to voice their opinions to publishers so that more diverse and multicultural themed children’s books can become available.

 Do you think you will try to publish here in Canada?

Because I live in the United States, I would only be able to publish here. However, my first book, Rani Saves Diwali and Rani and the Safari Surprise! are available on http://amazon.ca.

 What’s next on your agenda?

I will be visiting Chapters (Oakville, Ontario) on Sun June 29, from 1 PM to 4 PM for a book signing where you can purchase a copy of the book.  Afterwards, I’ll be brainstorming ideas for the third book in the series and I’m sure my children will have a lot of input!

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