Today we’re talking celebrating identity, straddling multiple cultures, and being seen for all the parts of who we are with Jyoti Rajan Gopal!
“Connection is created through curiosity and conversation.” –Jyoti Rajan Gopal
Today’s Picture Book: American Desi by Jyoti Rajan Gopal and illustrated by Supriya Kelkar
Jyoti Rajan Gopal is a writer, mom and Kindergarten teacher. Growing up, she lived in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, India and China. She now lives in New York, in a quirky old Victorian in Yonkers, with her husband, where they raised their two daughters. Her favorite place in the house is the wrap around porch where she loves to gather with family or friends, read, write and drink coffee. Jyoti writes stories that speak to her heart, that reflect her multiple identities, that she wishes her daughters had growing up, that she wishes her students had now. When not writing or teaching, she loves to read - a lot! - work in her garden, dance and explore the many New York State Park trails.
Book Description: A young girl longs to know where she fits in: Is she American? Or is she Indian? Does she have to pick or can she be both? With bright, joyful rhyme, and paired with an immersive art style using American and Indian fabrics, American Desi celebrates the experiences of young children growing up first and second generation Indian American: straddling the two cultural worlds they belong to, embracing all they love of both worlds and refusing to be limited by either. This story is a powerful tribute to the joy of being South Asian and for every reader who aspires to bridge their worlds with grace, grit, and confidence.
Please consider supporting your local independent booksellers by purchasing American Desi. Find a store here: https://www.indiebound.org/
Other mentions in this episode:
Third Culture Kids: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20161117-third-culture-kids-citizens-of-everywhere-and-nowhere
My Paati’s Saris by Jyoti Rajan Gopal and illustrated by Art Twink (out now), Desert Queen (forthcoming), One Sweet Song (forthcoming)
Picture Book Writing 1 through the Writing Barn: https://thewritingbarn.com/class/perfecting-the-picture-book-i-with-jyoti-gopal-2/
Questions/Activities for further engagement based on the discussion:
1. When the girl asks, “What is the color of me?” what does it mean to her and what does it mean to you?
2. What are some of the ways you might feel pushed and pulled by the parts of you?
3. Ask another person specific questions about their experience with identity straddling; have a conversation with another person and ask: 1) what does your identity mean to you? 2) Is one part more important than the other? 3) how do these different parts of you expand you rather than limit you? 4) how do these different parts of you bring you joy?
Twitter: @jyotigopal | Post: @jyotigopal | Instagram: @ jyotirgopal
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