Jyoti Rajan Gopal
I am a mom, a Kindergarten teacher and a writer. I was born in India but I grew up all over the world, from Thailand and Indonesia to Myanmar and China. My family moved often, and I was used to picking up my life and trading in the familiar for the unknown. But there were some things that did remain constant: my parents, my little brother, and the stories that we carried. I grew up with English classics like Enid Blyton and Arthur Conan Doyle and Indian staples like Amar Chitra Katha, R.K. Narayan and Rabindranath Tagore. In the books that traveled with me around the world, I found solace, adventure, and a magical escape.
25 years ago, I moved to New York with my husband, where we have lived ever since. We’ve raised our two daughters in Yonkers, in a very old house that has the most amazing porch where I love to sit and read, write, or drink coffee.
I watched my daughters find the same joy and excitement in books as I did when I was a child. But I also began to notice the stories that were missing from their bookshelves. My daughters—like me—grew up straddling cultures that sometimes felt worlds apart, but when they looked for books about people who looked and felt like them, they were often disappointed.
As a kindergarten teacher too, when I put together my classroom’s bookshelf, I think about the stories that my students might be missing: both stories about them and those about people completely unlike them. Stories to bring them solace and adventure and broaden their worlds. I became a writer in order to tell these stories, and I hope to fill some of the voids on children’s bookshelves by writing stories that I wish I had read, that I wish my daughters could have read, that I hope my kindergarteners will grow up reading and recognizing as their own. My daughters, now mostly grown, are my first editors, and I run everything by them before I move forward!
When I’m not reading, writing, teaching, or being a mom, I love to work in my garden, dance hip hop and swing, and go for walks and hikes in nearby nature!