By: Laura Steiner
Diksha Pal Naryan has fond memories of her parents reading to her while growing up. When the time came to have her own child, she felt the books she had were geared towards Indian readers, and she was looking for something different.
“I was completely unaware of the lack of representation of South Asian children’s content until I had my child,” Narayan said in an email. She decided to make content for Canadian children of South-Asian heritage.
Narayan drew on her own background as a reporter with OMNI TV for inspiration for the Ved And Friends series. She covered all the Dussehra and Diwali festivals, and wanted to showcase the regional festivals. “The series gives children the vocabulary to express to friends what they are celebrating and the magical stories that started the celebrations in the first place,” she said. She moved to Milton in 2016, and launched her first book in 2017. “This town has given me the creativity to launch my books,” Narayan said.
No No Nana is the first book in a brand new series from Narayan. It’s a collection of short stories inspired in part by reading sessions.
“I am blessed that I have regular storytime sessions and a set of children who are active listeners and, at times, contributors to my stories,” she said. The stories feature immigrant children going with their parents back home to see family.
Narayan recalls one child talking about friends who told them about trips to Cuba, and Disneyland, while they had to go home to their mother’s family. “I understood the frustration of the child and his desire to explore new places, and on the other hand I understood the mother’s longing to go see her family,” she said. The stories sometimes include the storytime kids as characters, and she hopes the children see themselves portrayed in them. “Hopefully they can have fun adventures.”
Narayan believes sharing stories will help raise culturally aware children. She explored stories of Chinese New Year, Hanukkah, and Christmas with her reading group, and felt they made her feel part of the celebrations. “By making South Asian stories and literature available to the readers, we will help non-South Asian children understand their friends’ cultures.
Narayan is encouraging of authors’ looking at writing children’s books. “Don’t give up on your dreams. There will be parents who still believe in the charm of a book. There are children who still love to hold and smell new books. Just keep writing and keep giving a voice to those little minds.”
To learn more about Diksha Pal Narayan, including how to buy Nono Nana visit her website.
By: Laura Steiner