When actress Sheetal Sheth was pregnant with her first child and was shopping for children’s books, she soon realized that there’s very little kids inclusive kids literature out there.
“There’s definitely been a lot more inclusion in the young adult book world, but in picture books, the ones that are out there seem to center on holidays like Diwali, Holi, and Ramadan or other big events,” she told India Abroad. “But our books should be about everything,” she said. “Why can’t there be a series of books on a girl of color,” she wondered.
So she wrote one herself. Sheth said the book broadly deals with an experience that’s universal — like kids dealing with bullying. She said the book tells kids that they don’t have to change to fit in.
“Always Anjali” is geared to readers between the ages of 3 and 10, Sheth says. But the experience the child will derive from the book at every age will be different, she notes.
Through the picture book’s heroine Anjali, readers share a lesson for all Indian-American children to love their name. When the 7-year-old struggles to find a personalized name plate for her bike, she wants to change her name to Angie.
But when her mother explains the significance of Anjali, she realizes how special her name really is. “Anjali is a gift. The most precious kind. Divine. Just like you!” her mother explains.What follows is little Anjali’s journey to accept herself and the characteristics that make her unique.
Sheth is best known for her role in Albert Brooks’ movie “Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World” and for the cutting-edge film “ABCD” in which she played the lead role of an unbridled young lady, battling with the ties of family and convention. She was most recently seen in the HBO documentary “East of Main Street: Taking the Lead” USA’s “Donny” and the film “Grin,” which she also produced.