Kitaab World, is a one stop shop where you can find a huge variety of titles for young readers! We spoke to Gauri, CEO and Co-Founder, who like many of us was finding it extremely hard to find books fit for her kids. Gauri and her co-founder Sadaf handpicked books for children as young as newborns to advanced readers.
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"What we wanted to showcase is the multitude of stories. Just like any other community, there’s a lot of nuance.”"
"Sometimes more focused guides are useful. Muslims in Story: Expanding Multicultural Understanding through Children’s and Young Adult Literature, by Gauri Manglik and Sadaf Siddique, is one such book."
“It’s tough to fight biases, but it’s definitely something that is worth repeating over and over again. We live in a global, connected world and diversity is the norm.”
Gauri Manglik and Sadaf Siddique: positive stories about Muslims can foster multicultural understanding
"The Muslim experience is as varied as the books we listed: there is no one Muslim voice, no one Muslim identity, and so there is no one Muslim story. "
"From our vantage point, we observe gaps in the types of stories being shared—what is the narrative, is there only one kind of story or idea about South Asia, what is being said, who these books represent, so all these questions and insights prompted us to think about what we can do to fill the gaps—independent publishing seemed like the perfect route!"
"Our aim is not just to talk to a niche of South Asians, our aim really is to talk to schools and librarians and make these stories as mainstream as possible."
"Seeing yourself in books—especially for children in minority communities—is important for their sense of confidence as well as a feeling of inclusion so we actively seek books with South Asian protagonists.We want kids to see themselves reflected in the books they read—empathize with the young child who wants to get on the basketball team, laugh at cheeky pranks, find out about superheroes, learn about their own roots, and celebrate their identity"
"Ms. Manglik and Ms. Siddique have a goal to curate books to help kids from South Asian cultures have positive "mirror" experiences and provide all kids with entertaining stories and "window" moments. "Our mission is really to spread and share the South Asian culture for kids growing up in America in a fun, engaging way,"
"I saw the power of children’s books as I was raising my own son - through books, we were able to calm his stranger anxiety, teach him how to share, understand how life would change when his baby brother arrives, and so many other life lessons. I realized how crucial books are for young children, and that convinced me even more to make the switch."
"We see ourselves as taking bookselling to the next step by trying to facilitate representation for South Asian culture and children’s books. In this regard we are activists and advocates in addition to being booksellers."
"If Muslim kids don't see themselves in books and if other kids also don't see Muslim kids in books, they [both] think they are insignificant," she said. "We are not coming from a place of defensiveness, but a place of accessibility."
Because attacks on Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent are on the rise throughout the western world, this "Counter Islamophobia Through Stories" initiative from KitaabWorld is just what we need right now. The diversity-in-publishing campaign wants to promote positive children's books written by and about Muslims.
We can’t change those in power, we can only resist them. This is our call for resistance. A call to fight hate with knowledge. And to build a bridge of cultural understanding book by book, story by story.
Progress has been made, but a wonderfully named website called weneeddiversebooks.org argues that much still needs to be done: “In the year 2013, out of 3,200 children’s books published, there were only 93 about African American people. This led to a New York Times article that asked the question, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?” One hopeful response is, “Right here at KitaabWorld.com!”
"KitaabWorld is a passion project that grew out of our desire to expose our children to fun and engaging books and toys related to South Asia. Our aim is to open up a window to stories – some old, some new but definitely ones that expand one’s worldview. We hope that all children catch a glimpse of themselves reflected in these books."
"There is no doubt that for South Asian children, seeing themselves represented in the pages of a book—even just a character with a familiar name, family, and food—is empowering.“Given the wide diversity within South Asia itself, we wanted to cater to all religions and languages. In addition, we want to showcase it to others so that it sparks an interest, and hopefully, the desire to know more."
Co-Founders Gauri and Sadaf remind us "Books are the Key"
Global Presence With An Indian Heart "At KitaabWorld, our goal is to provide parents with the tools and resources that they need to make South Asian culture fun, engaging and accessible to all. KitaabWorld is the one stop shop for books, toys and games that help parents connect kids to their heritage."