Interview with Sailaja Joshi, founder and editor-in-chief of Choti+Me and Bharat Babies.
Sailaja Joshi, a sociologist, was pregnant with her first child when she realized she wanted her baby to have access to books that accurately and appropriately reflected Hindu culture. However, none of the books she found achieved those goals. Shortly after, she created Bharat Babies, a company that creates children’s books that depicts Indian culture. Books are written in English and cover Diwali, Ramadan, as well as various aspects of faith and desi culture. Recently, Joshi created a magazine called Choti+Me.
Joshi shared her experiences in creating the company with The American Bazaar.
Tell me about Bharat Babies. How did it get started? What are your goals/hoping to accomplish?
Bharat Babies was founded in 2014 after my own search as a soon-to-be mom fully illuminated the dire straights of the children’s book industry. I realized that my daughter, would very likely be unable to see herself on the cover of a book. I realized the stories of my culture, history, and heritage would be lost to this next generation if they were not preserved in some way. My hope was to provide children with access to rich, developmentally, and culturally appropriate stories from the moment they were born. We wanted stories that were curated by the communities that experienced them and we wanted, above all else, for all children to be able to see themselves as the hero.
Why did it get started?
Truthfully, because I didn’t want my daughter to lose touch with her history and heritage.
What is Choti+Me?
Choti+Me is Bharat Babies’ sister brand. It’s a digital and print bimonthly magazine for South Asian kids and their families. With stories, games, and quick little articles about culture, Choti+Me is a way to keep kids connected to their South Asian culture.
How is it connected to Bharat Babies?
We like to keep in close touch with our customer at Bharat Babies. Over the past couple of years we’ve heard from them about how they wish we could produce more culturally related materials and games. The magazine is the perfect medium for this, it provides kids with a little bit of culture, a little bit of history and a lot of fun.
What are you hoping to accomplish with Choti+Me?
I want kids to be empowered and excited by their history and heritage. In a political climate, I think it’s important for children to have a chance to see images of people who like themselves in a positive light.
What is the theme?
Our first issue’s theme is Diwali Around the World and will provide a glimpse of how Diwali is celebrate across the four different faiths that celebrate it.
If you’re interested in receiving the magazine, you can do so here.