Reena & Mital’s Desi Babies Introducing India’s Diverse Culture
As parents, we continue to look for cool and modern ways to teach our children about culture and the importance of God. Living in a Western world, it is challenging to incorporate our South Asian heritage in a way that is meaningful to children. At Desi Babies, we strive to create fun and vibrant products which will stimulate the growth and creativity of the modern desi baby! With Desi Babies, Reena & Mital can now share their love for India and knowledge on Hinduism for little ones to enjoy and explore.
Let’s hear more about the journey from Reena and Mital.
Tell us about yourself.
Reena Puri & Mital Telhan are the founders of Desi Babies.
Reena lives in NY and does Project Management Consulting. Mital lives in DC and is a Producer in the Digital Podcast industry. Desi Babies is a side-hustle and their number one passion. As most moms out there, both have many roles – Mom, Wife, Career-woman, & Entrepreneur.
What inspired you to create Desi Babies?
When Reena had her daughter Isha, and when Mital had her son Nikhil, they struggled to find toys and learning materials that would connect their children to this huge part of themselves as Indians living in America.
That is when we decided to start our own company creating diverse and cultural books that we knew our own children would love. We wanted to teach them about our culture & religion and wanted to create products that jive with our family dynamics and homes.
What made you decide to name the company “Desi Babies”?
Our children were our inspiration for the name Desi Babies. “Desi” is a slang term for South Asian- and we wanted to keep our products focused on learning about the South Asian culture.
We chose ‘Babies’, because our initial products were geared for younger children, and more importantly because, at the end of the day, all children are babies for their mommas =)
What sort of stories are in the books?
Our first book, Meet My Hindu Gods, introduces the different deities to little ones by simple sentences that explain their significance, as well as adorable illustrations that show the deities in a child-like form that is more relatable for children.
10 Noisy Rickshaws: This is the perfect first book to introduce your little one to numbers in a fun cultural way. One, Two, Three, Four, scooters, samosas and so much more!
Krishna & Friends Puzzle: This is an awesome cultural puzzle to learn about the Hindu Gods in a fun playground setting!
We also have 2 coloring books: My First Indian Coloring Book & My First Eid Coloring Book.
Our most recent book, Twinkle Twinkle Diwali Lights, is a view into the celebration of Diwali from a young child’s perspective.. It takes you through the different traditions, foods, and ways that families celebrate Diwali.
Which book is your personal favorite?
It is hard to pick a favorite! We love to Meet My Hindu Gods, as it was our first book and is very close to our hearts. Twinkle Twinkle Diwali Lights is our new favorite! We are very proud that it was such a popular book that sold out within the first 2 months of launch! In addition, it goes along with our mission of spreading awareness of different cultures and educating children about diversity and acceptance.
Describe the route to your first book published.
It took us almost 6 months to write our first book since neither one of us is a professional writer 😉 Thereafter, we researched different methods of publication and ultimately felt that self-publishing was a good way for us to start out. It was a lot of sweat, tears, and many late nights but we put our heart and soul into these books and loved the process of doing every step on our own.
How is this book helpful to children?
All of our books are helpful to children in many ways. For example, in 10 Noisy Rickshaws, a baby sees so many different colors on each page and cute illustrations that are eye-catching. In addition, they learn to count their numbers. Our coloring books allow the children to relate to and recognize some of the illustrations and assimilate them to items they see in their daily lives around their own home. Twinkle Twinkle Diwali Lights gives the children a chance to see their own brown faces in a book that makes them feel like they too are a face that is common and now represented in books.
We even have a 20 piece wooden puzzle that is of the same deities from Meet My Hindu Gods but depicted on a playground together. This product helps children learn hand-eye coordination, as well as reinforce what they’ve learned about the deities already while seeing them in a playground set that they are comfortable with.
Who is your favorite author?
We have many favorites, here are a few! In terms of kids authors, we like Dr. Seuss, Laura Numeroff, Eric Carle, and Divya Srinivasan. For adult reads, we enjoy books written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Roald Dahl, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Jhumpha Lahiri, and Sidney Sheldon.
What is the plan for the next few years?
We are humbled by the love our Desi Babies community has shown us. Our DB fans inspire us to continue to share our love of India for little ones to enjoy and explore through our fun and cultural products.
We intend on continuing to create more unique and engaging products that continue to increase awareness of the South Asian culture. We also plan to share our books through events and book readings around the major South Asian holidays this year, so stay tuned!
Some words for the new writers?
If you are passionate about it, just do it! Don’t let others or doubt hold you back. You don’t need to be a writer by trade, you just need to be dedicated and willing to put in the time required to create something special. There will never be a shortage of children’s books, but there will always be room to create something unique that will be loved by children.