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Kitabi Qisse is a virtual gupshup with South-Asian authors, illustrators, and creatives. These are posted as shorts on our Instagram and are shared here in the Journal. Finding children’s books about diversity is no mean feat. So, we are excited to amplify the work of the South-Asian community and shine a light on their work! This conversation is with storyteller, teacher, and editor Saahil M. whose words truly fill up a room with noor.

Find the latest storytelling workshops

There’s a new one for children!

As if on a repeat, the conversation with Saahil also goes into the gaps many South-Asians had growing up when they did not see themselves represented in literature. Stories can be found anywhere, but there is a lot of empathy, love, and comfort derived from those where we see ourselves. Not having that as children often makes differences harder to take in.

Saahil talks about early childhood influences and what South-Asians often struggle with- honesty and confronting their own stories. They share an incredible book from another South-Asian author – Fariha Roisin, which feels like textbook reading for understanding the impact of colonialism on health and wellbeing for South-Asians.

Their ideas are full of thoughtful pauses and deliberate energy that allows you to reflect deeply on your cultural worldview. This is a conversation you can not miss!

If you’re looking for children’s books about diversity, know that we ask all the interviewees three main questions:

  1. Name a desi book they loved as children
  2.  Name a desi book they’re excited about in the future
  3.  One reading tip for all of us!

Check out Saahil’s responses below!

If you want to nominate a desi creator for this series, write to us here.

About Saahil M.

Saahil M. (they/them) is a queer South Asian of Bhagnari descent who writes—after having developed an interest in writing as a classroom teacher. They have several years of experience working within a range of academic environments including charter, public and private K-12 schools, as well as public and private universities. They have taught bicoastally in the U.S. and abroad in Ecuador, La República Dominicana, Brasil, and Occupied Palestinian Territories. They hold a Masters degree from Columbia Teachers College in Anthropology & Education, and they are a TFA alumnx (San Diego, 2014) as well as a former Fulbright Scholar (Recife, 2018). They are currently working on a memoir in addition to other writing projects.