Growing up, I have only exposed to children's books written by British or American authors. The lack of diverse options made me and my peers believe that Indians must simply be AWFUL at writing stories, and thus stories penned by Indian authors wouldn't be worth reading.
When I tried to write my own stories, I would cringe at using any names or words that sounded Indian. I thought doing so would make any reader think less of me.
When I began reading to my students, I was adamant that my generation should end. They cannot grow up thinking they or their fellow Indians are inferior. I started a library in our school, filling it with the most acclaimed children's literature I could find.
Once again, I was faced with the same problem. Internet lists like 'The 10 Best Children's Books never featured Indian authors or stories. I knew my children would see themselves in stories like these; I didn't know where to start.
It felt like a prayer had been answered when I was offered the opportunity to be on the National Jarul Book Award Jury. I felt almost unworthy of the cause.
Everything I believe in, from the love of this genre to the love of children, to giving children a voice, to including overlooked children like mine when giving them a voice.
The National Jarul Book Award is an award that I have been dreaming of for years. It has been something that I longed for as a child, and I didn't even realize it.
Getting my children to be a part of the Children's Jury, letting the students do most of the discussions, leading and thinking about topics deep and close to their hearts.
Compiled are their reactions to being part of this incredible journey - Teacher, Nandini Vyas