Essential Books | In My Heart explores a child’s journey of self-discovery

Editor | Fiction

What makes your heart grow bigger?

Mia knows that she came out of Mumma’s heart and Papa’s heart. That’s why she’s so much like them. But when Mia learns that she has a tummy mummy too, she can’t wait to find her! Does anyone know where her tummy mummy is? Mia’s search will take her to many places, only to lead her some place even bigger . . .

A very special story to be read with loved ones, In My Heart (Puffin, Rs 299) takes us on a child’s journey of discovering who she really is and where she comes from. Warmly illustrated and deeply felt, this is a fearless and tender celebration of the magical ways in which different kinds of families are born.

By award-winning actor, writer and child-rights activist Nandana Dev Sen, In My Heart is a beautifully imagined, sensitively told tale accompanied with gorgeous illustrations. In My Heart is one of the first books that talk about adoption in India. It explores a warmly inclusive concept of family and encourages all children to celebrate the unique ways in which different families are born and is perfect for being read aloud with family.

Nandana told Arrackistan: ‘’As a child, a reader and as an author, I’ve always adored books that are richly imaginative and super-fun, books which, without being preachy, promote a kinder, braver, more inclusive and sensitive view of our world. We all know that adoption is a critical topic in India, where we have countless disenfranchised children whose lives could be transformed by loving homes. Yet adoption is rarely discussed in mainstream media or in Indian popular culture; consequently, there is, I feel, a pervasive if unspoken stigma (and fear of bullying) attached to adoption here still. In India we don’t yet have enough books that adoptive families can directly relate to, and could then use as a tool to discuss their precious and unique family identities. But the good news is, there is increasing interest in adoption from prospective parents now, and I know from my own experience that the adoption process has become more streamlined in India.

I want to emphasize, however, that In My Heart is not just about adoption, but about a more inclusive definition of family: my book focuses on a larger understanding of belonging based on love rather than only biology. It would speak equally, I hope, to all non-traditional families, including for example children with gay parents, step siblings, or a surrogate mother.”

She added: “I consciously wrote this book for ALL kids, with the goal of widening their understanding of and regard for how different kinds of families come together through love. After all, the dynamics of a non-traditional family situation has a great deal to do with the world accepting its “normality” and bond with absolute respect and ease (and without bullying or persecution). I’ve always believed that children’s books can go a long way in fostering a lifetime of empathy (and self-confidence) in impressionable minds – that’s one reason why I love them so.”

About the author:

Nandana Dev Sen is an award-winning actor, writer and child-rights activist. She has authored six children’s books, including Mambi and the Forest Fire and Talky Tumble of Jumble Farm. Nandana lives in Kolkata, London and New York, and has starred in over twenty feature films in all three continents. After studying literature at Harvard University and film-making at USC, she worked as a book editor, a screenwriter, a translator, a script doctor, an advocate for child protection and as Princess Jasmine in Disneyland. Nandana works with children (and grown-ups) at RAHI, Operation Smile and UNICEF to fight against child abuse. She loves to eat, play, bike, dance and argue.

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