Children’s Literature and the South Asian Diaspora at The Messenger Pigeon

I am at The Messenger Pigeon today chatting about children’s literature and the South Asian diaspora. The Messenger Pigeon is a collection of interesting things to read, curated by the wonderful team behind The Pigeonhole.

An excerpt from my Q&A:

In your view, what is the function of children’s literature in American society? For instance, does or should it serve a moral or sociological purpose? Does or should this function differ in the Asian or Southeast Asian context?

In her book, Against Borders, Hazel Rochman writes: “Books can make a difference in dispelling prejudice and building community: not with role models and literal recipes, not with noble messages about the human family, but with enthralling stories that make us imagine the lives of others. A good story lets you know people as individuals in all their particularity and conflict; and once you see someone as a person – flawed, complex, striving – then you’ve reached beyond stereotype. Stories, writing them, telling them, sharing them, transforming them, enrich us and connect us and help us know each other.”

We as human beings are natural born storytellers and those of us who trade in the telling of tales (i.e. writers, filmmakers, artists, musicians) aim to illuminate an aspect of the universal human condition. I believe that this is the function of all art, including children’s literature, anywhere in the world.

I could write a thesis in response to any one of The Messenger Pigeon‘s thoughtful questions. Thank you, Ave and Rayner, for the opportunity to share my first loves, reading and writing, with your audience.

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I’ll be at The Pigeonhole moderating UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE) Forum Series’ The Picture Book as Art Object: A Panel Discussion on Thursday, May 19 from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. RSVP on Facebook.