Monday, July 24, 2006

Children's Lit of South Asia and the Pacific Rim

I have intended to point my library friends to Kahani Magazine for some time.

Kahani is an award-winning literary magazine dedicated to empowering, educating and entertaining children of South Asian descent living in North America. It is an alternative publication that reflects their unique life experiences not found in mainstream literature.

If you are a school librarian Paper Tigers should also be a regular stop on your internet meanderings. Paper Tiger is:

A website for librarians, teachers, publishers and tall those interested in young readers' books from and about the Pacific Rim and South Asia.

Pooja Makhijani has also sent along a link to her insightful paper, Here to Stay: South Asian Literature for Children and Teens.

As a new school year gears up here in the Lone Star State, librarians will again face the need to balance their collections to serve their students and faculty, to support the curriculum and offer pleasure reading so kids will actually find books they are interested in to practice their developing reading skills.

To this end, kids have to find themselves on their library shelves. Makhijani eloquently makes the case:

In seventh grade, while sliding my favorite book - Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre - off a library shelf, I stumbled upon a book titled Dancing Princess by Jane Bothwell. I pulled the volume towards me and was floored to see an Indian princess, in a traditional North Indian dance outfit with bells encircling her ankles, on the cover.

Dancing Princess was a historical novel set in 16th century India during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Although Allaedi, the main character, wasn't exactly like me, she was close enough. We were both brown haired, brown eyed, brown skinned girls and we both loved to dance. I renewed that book again and again, carefully scrawling my name onto the index card pasted on the inside back cover each week.

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