Posted on February 1, 2023 at 8:24 pm

Featured South Asian News

Kuljinder Shares Her Journey From Teacher To An Author

Kuljinder Shares Her Journey From Teacher To An Author

Kuljinder Shares Her Journey From Teacher To An Author

Kuljinder is passionate about diverse representation in books and education. She is currently an elementary school teacher in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Kuljinder has a BA in General Studies with a minor in English and business, a Bachelor of Education, and a Master’s in Educational Technology from the University of British Columbia.

Kuljinder was born and raised in Surrey, British Columbia, and currently lives on a farm in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She is the daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India. Kuljinder is the middle child and grew up with two brothers. She enjoys going on nature walks, playing video/board games with loved ones, and eating cheese pizza with extra pineapple topping.

First of all, congratulations on your book, My Name Is Saajin Singh. Now let us start with a little bit about yourself……

Thank you! I’m an elementary school teacher, mom and picture book author. I live on a raspberry farm in Abbotsford, BC.

Now, My Name Is Saajin Singh is a children’s book. Please tell us your inspiration behind this book.

I decided to write this book for many reasons. The biggest inspiration was my son, Saajin. After carefully choosing his name, my husband and I wanted to ensure we spelled it carefully. We grew up with people constantly mispronouncing our names and did not want that for our son. We spent an entire month selecting and spelling his name. Unfortunately, during his medical check-ups, many people mispronounced Saajin’s name. This led me to write this story.

Another big reason for writing this book is the lack of representation of Sikh protagonists in picture books. I grew up reading books with most animals and characters that didn’t look like my family or me, so I wanted to be a part of the movement to change that. It is so important for children to see themselves and their families in the books they read to help ignite their love of reading. It means a lot to me to have written a book with a protagonist who wears a patka/kara, and eats roti with daal and dahi.

You are an elementary teacher. It is a very challenging job itself. What was the decision behind becoming an author?

I love reading. Before having children, I spent most of my free time reading novels. As an elementary school teacher, I was constantly reading picture books aloud to my students. It was always a dream of mine to write my own book, I just never thought it was an attainable dream. When the whole world shut down due to COVID and with very few distractions, I had a lot of time to think about what I’ve always wanted to pursue in my life and actually worked towards it.

How do you find the time to write a book in your busy schedule?

I use writing as a creative outlet for myself. I use my phone to write down all of my ideas. I wrote my first book while holding my baby to sleep. He was pretty fussy and refused to sleep in his crib. I still use my phone to write stories.

Tell us a little about the book “My Name Is Saajin Singh”.

Saajin loves his name—he loves it so much that he sees it everywhere. On his first day of school, Saajin is excited to meet his new classmates, but things take a turn when the teacher mispronounces his name as Say-jin and he is not sure how—or if he should—correct her. After trying to live with the different version of his name for a while and having some thoughtful conversations with his family about the meaning behind it, Saajin realizes the importance of reclaiming his name and embracing his identity.

Talk about your next project “Mandeep’s cloudy days”. When are we expecting the release?

Mandeep’s Cloudy Days is about a girl who loves spending time with her Dad. Mandeep goes through a range of emotions when he has to travel for a new job. Will Mandeep adapt to this change?

This title is expected to release in winter 2024.

Where do you get your ideas from?

I use my experiences in my stories: my teaching experiences, my childhood experiences and the experiences of my own children. I find that these life experiences make for relatable and meaningful stories.

Who are your personal favorite authors? And why?

My favorite authors:

Simran Jeet Singh the author of FAUJA SINGH KEEPS GOING. He gave me hope that publishers would be interested in stories with Sikh protagonists.

I’ve also enjoyed many Robert Munsch titles over the years.

Your advice to the new authors.

Don’t give up. You will receive rejection letters along the way but keep going. Edit your work and be open to feedback. We need more books with the representation of different backgrounds so please do not let rejections discourage you. You got this! I provide writing tips for authors along with Asian book recommendations on Instagram @kuljinderwrites.

Please follow and like us: