The best children’s literature tells stories that are entertaining enough to keep kids interested while simultaneously communicating a message they need to learn. Priya Kumari’s children’s books tell stories deeply entwined with her culture, but in a way that is accessible to young readers from around the world.
Priya Kumari is an award-winning children’s book author who has written several books, including My Diwali, My Holi, The ABCs of Virtue, and Leaf Talks Peace. These books are inspired by Indian culture and ethos, and teach profound values to children that can help them contribute to making the world a better place.
Kumari’s independent publishing house, Eternal Tree Books, focuses on publishing children’s books inspired by Indian culture and traditions, bringing them to a global audience. These concepts that Kumari explores in her books have been taught for many generations. However, the platform of children’s literature allows Kumari to bring her message to a broader scale than ever before.
“Our mission is to publish uplifting books created by visionary authors and artists for all ages to share stories from under-represented Indian culture — diverse stories promoting peace education, emotional hygiene, the science of well-being, and cultural competence,” explains Kumari. “We believe that understanding plural perspectives is pivotal to ensuring inclusion in our communities. Global citizens have many cultural identities and enjoy participating in other cultures’ art, literature, music, food, languages, and noble ideas.”
The power of Leaf Talks Peace
Kumari’s latest book, Leaf Talks Peace, tells the story of a leaf called Harmony, who lives on the Bodhi Tree. While sitting under the Bodhi Tree, Buddha sees in Harmony the whole universe, leading to his message of the interdependent origination of life. It’s a profound concept that Kumari has managed to explain in terms simple enough for children to understand without losing its power and meaning.
Leaf Talks Peace is the first-ever picture book by an Indian author to be endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In a foreword to the book, His Holiness talks about how the “beautifully illustrated” children’s book teaches our youth an important lesson that needs to be taught and discussed from an early age in order to ensure the protection of our world for generations to come. “It was a tremendous honor for this book to be endorsed by the Dalai Lama,” Kumari adds. “This is a testament to the power and importance of our message.”
In Leaf Talks Peace and her other books, Kumari advocates for the teaching of peace education to young children. We are dependent on one another as well as the natural world, and we must live in harmony with the people and nature around us. Understanding this concept from youth can allow children to learn how to effectively and peacefully resolve internal and external conflicts, which will lead them to live with more compassion.
“We can all live in a happy state by recognizing that we are all dependent on each other,” says Kumari. “If we all work together peaceably, we can achieve a state of bliss throughout the world.” With all of the disharmony and conflict that we are facing in the world these days, Kumari’s messages of compassion and empathy are as important now as ever.
On Saturday, July 30, at the Tibet House in New York City, Kumari will participate in a book-signing event. There, she will hold a reading from the book, host a discussion on the importance of peace education and the Buddha’s message of harmony, and conduct a brief mindfulness session for children. Author-signed copies of the book will also be available for purchase at the event.
The power of children’s literature to deliver a profound message to our youth is extraordinary. Leaf Talks Peace has gained much acclaim thanks to its message of peace and compassion. Parents looking to teach their children a lesson about unity and tolerance, and inspire them to look at the world in a more harmonious way, should share the story of the leaf Harmony with them.
“I hope to make people aware that we all come from the same nature,” says Kumari. “I want to spread the messages of harmony and compassion that are inherent in nature to readers of all ages.”