Learn About South Asia Through KitaabWorld

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Image credit: Kitaabworld
Image credit: Kitaabworld

As Harry and Hermione learned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when discussing The Tales of Beedle the Bard, children of different societies grow up with different stories. Reading these stories helps provide insight into other cultures. The same is true in our Muggle world, where understanding different cultures could go a long way in fostering understanding. Kitaabworld is a Silicon Valley-based company founded by Gauri Maglik and Sadaf Siddique that aims to bridge that gap. From their website, “In many languages, the word ‘Kitaab’ means book – our mission is to connect the world to South Asia, one book at a time, and that’s why we chose the name ‘KitaabWorld’.” I had the opportunity to interview Gauri Maglik to learn a bit more about their business.

Image courtesy of Kitaabworld
Image courtesy of Kitaabworld
GeekMom:
How many kids do you have?
Gauri:
I have two boys (6 and 2 years old). Sadaf, my co-founder, has one son (7 years old).
GeekMom:
What motivated you to start this company?
Gauri:
We felt a huge lack of diversity in children’s books, and basically felt that South Asian children’s books were almost missing from the landscape. When we dug deeper, we found that many books existed but discovery was a huge issue – there was no one easy place to find all the books or even know which ones were out there. As South Asian parents, we also felt the challenges of teaching our kids South Asian culture as they are growing up in a different mainstream culture, and felt that we needed more books, toys and games to do it more easily. Both of these different aspects led us to start KitaabWorld, the one stop shop for South Asian children’s books, toys and games – through KitaabWorld, we want to make it easier for South Asian parents to teach their kids about their cultural heritage, and also provide a valuable resource to teachers and librarians throughout the US to make these books more easily available everywhere. In fact, KitaabWorld has also got a very positive response from the Indian audience, since nothing like this even exists in India right now.
GeekMom:
Who is your target market? Are you aiming to sell to parents or the kids? To Asian Americans, or anyone interested in Asian culture?
Gauri:
Our target market is anyone interested in South Asian culture – We want to be the main resource for them to access and understand South Asian culture so this includes teachers, librarians and of course parents. We also want to provide a deep resource for South Asian parents specifically so that it can be easier for them to access excellent South Asian resources already available and teach their kids South Asian culture through these resources – this is why we have a huge focus on bilingual resources as well.

Also, parents get really excited to see books and stories that they have heard growing up. For example, we have Vikram and the Vampire, which is a retelling of the ancient tale Vikram and Betal. We also have Ramayana: A Divine Tale and Junior Khumbakarma which is a fun way to teach kids about epic tales. We have got lots of requests from parents for Panchatantra stories [Indian version of Aesop’s fables; moral tales starring animal characters] and so now have found a couple of high quality Panchantra books like Tales for Princes and Bosky’s Panchatantra.

GeekMom:
How do you acquire titles?
Gauri:
Acquiring titles is an ongoing process – we are constantly in search for high quality books, toys and games relating to South Asian culture from anywhere in the world. Once we find them, we typically review them ourselves, and then acquire more in bulk for resale on the store.
GeekMom:
Is there a brick-and-mortar store, or are you purely virtual?
Gauri:
We are virtual right now; but do pop-ups at local events in the Bay Area that are targeted towards South Asians or families.
GeekMom:
Anything else you’d like folks to know about your store?
Gauri:
At Kitaabworld, we want to make learning about South Asian culture fun and engaging for kids of all ages! Also, we just launched a Summer writing competition

So there you have it. Want to learn more about South Asian culture but don’t know where to look? Go no further than Kitaabworld.

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