A new South Asian book series is about to change diversity on bookshelves everywhere
Bharat Babies produces developmentally appropriate children’s books about India’s Heritage.
Sailaja Joshi’s fond memories of her mother telling stories throughout her childhood have left a lasting impression in her mind. She recalls stories of India’s rich heritage, vivid mythological tales, and, most importantly, the incredible mother-daughter moments they shared together during story time.
When she became a mother herself, she wanted to build the same cherished memories with her own daughter. But, when Sailaja set out to share her rich Indian heritage with her daughter, she was disappointed at the quality of the resources and reading materials available in the children’s book market.
So, in true entrepreneurial spirit, Sailaja did something about it. She’s about to change the face of bookshelves everywhere with her new business venture, Bharat Babies.
What inspired you to launch Bharat Babies?
I launched Bharat Babies about a year ago after countless attempts to find books for my own daughter. I wanted her to be able to grow up with stories of Ganesh, Hanuman, and Krishna much like I did. But, truthfully, what was on the marketplace wasn’t satisfying my needs. Many books were too old for my three month old and many had involved stories that were rarely geared towards the developmental needs of a young child. And, so, Bharat Babies was born! A founding principal of our company is that we want to produce developmentally appropriate media content for children, starting at birth that tells the stories of India’s heritage.
What gap did you see that you thought you could fill?
The biggest gap I saw in the marketplace was a need for books that were developmentally appropriate. This means taking into account the mental and physical needs of a growing child. This is why we created three distinct product lines that grow with a child from birth through elementary school.
Our Level One books are board books. The board books are constructed of tough paper and able to withstand tiny hands that are just learning to turn pages. The pictures are bold and the story it self is simple, meant to keep the attention of young, growing minds.
Our Level Two books are traditional children’s picture books. These traditional children’s books feature beautiful illustrations and more complex story lines to engage a growing mind. This collection of books is powerful because they allow parents engage in a story with their children.
Level One: Board Books
These books are made of tough cardboard and are perfect for little hands learning how to turn pages. The stories and language are simple with a focus on bold simple illustrations that are perfect for babies 0 to 24 months.
Level Two: Toddler Tales
These books are typical children’s books that are made of durable paper. The stories and language are more complex, relying upon detailed illustrations. These books are perfect for children 24 months to 5 years of age.
Level Three: Simple Stories
The focus of these books is developing critical language skills by utilizing the first 100-200 words that a young child learns in school. While the plot lines are advanced, these stories children become independent readers. These books are perfect for children starting from age 5 onwards.
What has been the most challenging part of entrepreneurship? The most rewarding?
The biggest challenge is time management! When I started the company I was in graduate school full time and a new mother. I soon realized that the path of academia was no longer a good fit for me as a mother and so I made the transition to stay at home mom. One might think that gave me more time, but truthfully it has been even harder to juggle my responsibilities as a mother along with CEO and Founder. But, I’m getting better each day. Answering e-mails via my iPhone, staying up late to make edits to our website. It has become a true labor of love.
The most rewarding part of this job is seeing the joy on my daughter’s face when she first met Harini. She just kept waving and smiling at her. I realized that this was the first time she saw a children’s book character that looked like herself. And that, that makes all the sleepless nights worth it a thousand times over.
What role does your family play in your day-to-day life?
My family has been so incredibly supportive and understanding of this venture and I feel so blessed to have them close by. Both my mother and father live an hour away and are able to come over at a moments notice to watch my daughter if need be. With our family members who are not as close, we make sure to Facetime every night so my daughter has a chance to chat with her family.
In terms of supporting Bharat Babies, I’ve been really lucky to have my family’s support. My husband who sees the vision of the company and spends many nights home watching our daughter so I can network, my mom who provides us with the inspiration for the stories, and even my younger sister who serves as our cultural advisor. This venture is very much a family affair and I would not have it any other way.
You just launched Bharat Babies last week and the world met Harini, your main character. Tell us a little about her.
Harini! She is the first Bharat Babies character. She’s a little girl who loves the outdoors, loves to eat and most of all loves to hear stories from her mom. In our first book, Harini hears the story of Hanuman and the Orange Sun. Our author Amy, realized how important it was for young kids to see themselves in stories, so she created the character of Harini who hears the stories of Hanuman…and perhaps others!
Where do you see Bharat Babies in five years?
In five years, my hope is that Bharat Babies will be on its way to being a media empire. In addition to launching 100+ titles in each of our product lines, I also hope we will have merchandise and online video content!
When can we expect to see Bharat Babies’ first title released?
Our first story, Hanuman and the Orange Sun, will go to print in April 2015 however we are planning on releasing for preorders this holiday season! We are so excited to team up with our illustrator Tim to release a unique print featuring the characters of Hanuman and the Orange Sun. In addition, you’ll also be able to reserve your copy of the book and it will ship directly to you when it’s released.
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