Week 3 Q & A Video #GRA19 #GRABridge

Week 3! I can hardly believe we’re at the halfway mark already! Here are answers to some of your questions:

Now for some of the other questions I received this week.

How did I get the idea for Rukku selling necklaces? (Hutchinson Middle School, TX, USA)

I’ve grown up seeing bead sellers like this beautiful woman in the picture below (which was taken this summer in the city of Chennai or Madras, where I was born). They inspired that part of The Bridge Home.


Why did I decide that Viji and Rukku would end up living on a bridge? (The Book Cavaliers, NC, USA)

Here’s a photograph, also taken this summer, of the very bridge that inspired that particular setting in the novel. When I was a child, the bridge was already falling into disrepair – but I remember seeing families sheltering on the bridge. Now, it’s been fenced off, so it was harder for me to get a good picture – and it’s also not as easy to live on it right now, but unfortunately, in most Indian cities, people live in places similar to this ruined bridge. Be sure to look at the photographic resource (a pdf file on my website’s resource page for The Bridge Home) – I annotated it, so you will have a better idea of how the pictures are connected to the novel.


I just received another important question from a school in Lubbock TX about whether I’ve ever been bullied for my religious beliefs. I do want to address it – although this is much too brief a response today – because I have to run off in a moment to attend to some other commitments I have. It’s probably going to come out all jumbled, too – but then, you ought to know that even published and award-winning and acclaimed writers can write pages that aren’t polished or perfect.

Yes, I’ve sometimes met with derision because of my beliefs. The awful truth is that even adults engage in behavior that isn’t exactly admirable sometimes. Religious diversity needs to be celebrated in books and in the world. Part of that diversity is honoring those who are agnostic or atheistic. Arul, to answer another question I was asked, is deeply Christian – because I met children like him and I admire his faith immensely; I also respect, equally, Viji, who has an irreligious philosophy. Just as Arul and Viji respect one another and love each other and remain friends and family despite their very different views, we need to accept one another – whether we hold a certain faith or adhere to no faith at all – and we must respect one another if we hope to create peace as a world. In my books, spirituality always has an important place, because I think when we ignore religious diversity, we do ourselves a disservice. We need to respect one another and accept one another. Here’s an article I wrote about that for Kirkus Reviews that you might find interesting. My novel A TIME TO DANCE is the first novel that looks at a girl’s spiritual awakening through the Hindu lens. And, at the end of the day, I wish we could think of our various religions as lenses through which we attempt to capture something that is beyond us; something that cannot be completely described in words. I haven’t studied every religion in the world, but I believe that compassion and love and service to others are important aspects of all of religions; I also believe that atheists and agnostics can work just as much for peace and believe just as much in goodness and morality as people who are religious. If you are being bullied because of your religious beliefs, find someone you can trust and tell them what is happening. Sharing a problem doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong. You need to stand up for yourself and be compassionate to yourself and take good care of yourself – just as you need to be concerned about others’ needs. Make sure you stay safe, and take steps to protect yourself from bullies – of any and all kinds.

I did hear a great many wonderful questions that I’ve already answered one way or another – so please do have a listen to the videos I’ve been posting (since the week before the global read aloud began, as well as at the end of the first and second weeks). You’ll also find a page on my website with answers to some FAQs that might interest you.

As you can see, I’ve been having a bit of a cough, and that makes it hard for me to repeat myself as well. Do send me your get well wishes, please, everyone…I have a lot of events over the next few months! I’m going to be incredibly busy traveling, especially next week and the week after, which is wonderful – but it also means I’ll have to ask for your patience. I’ll have to try and create a video on Wednesday night next week, because Thursday will be impossible; I could try to squeeze another in on Friday, but I can’t promise that. So if you have questions, please do try and get them in early, alright?

On Monday, October 28th, I’m going to be doing my very best to have a Twitter chat, so that I can answer questions live. It will probably be 2:00-3:00 United States Eastern Daylight Savings Time (and I know that won’t work for everyone, but it’s one of the few times that I can manage it). Please do follow me on Twitter (see the button on the left) if you don’t already, to stay abreast of information on this event – it’s not quite confirmed yet but I am really hoping we can do this, if there’s enough interest (and again, look at my twitter feed for confirmation of date and time). I’ll also be answering questions via YouTube’s livestream (and will announce that on twitter as well).  to

As always, to leave questions on this website: 1. Click on the blog title or click on it on the title beneath “recent posts” (on the right hand side of this screen).  2. You’ll be redirected to a screen with just the post. 3. Scroll down and you’ll see the box where you may leave me your school’s name and location (city/town, state, country) and grade (class level), along with your questions. 4. To return to the “home page” at any time, click Padma, Author and Speaker (top left).

Have you been thinking of ways you might take action to help make the world a place where fewer young people are forced to face the sort of situations that Rukku, Muthu, Arul and Viji faced in THE BRIDGE HOME? I hope very much that in a few weeks, when we’re done with the global read aloud, you’ll spend time on one of the challenges I suggested last week. The project ideas I provided are just suggestions – I’d love to hear of any project you might decide to do that fits in with the themes of the challenges I outlined. Thanks again, so much, for journeying with Muthu, Arul, Rukku and Viji and for choosing to read THE BRIDGE HOME!

Photo credits: An Open Book Foundation for the two photographs in the first row above; Connecticut Head Shots for the portrait (bottom left).


Global Read Aloud Video, Week 2 #GRABridge #GRA19

TheBridgeHome_TeacherBadge_Twitter_19I’m so grateful to every teacher and every reader who has the courage and strength to read THE BRIDGE HOME. I hope you’ve all enjoyed laughing with Muthu, Arul, Rukku and Viji this week. I’ve had a wonderful week – it’s been such a joy to see photographs of readers from around the world. It’s also been a rather busy one. So please forgive me if I haven’t answered every question I received. I did try to answer most of them in the video below.


Have you made a poster for the #GRABridge contest yet? If you’d like to, there’s still a bit of time. To find out more about this competition, please visit the Global Read Aloud Website.

To leave comments on my website, please, as always:

  1. Click on the blog title (or on the title listed below recent posts to the right of this screen)
  2. You’ll be redirected to a new screen with just the blog post.
  3. Scroll down, and you’ll find a box where you can leave your school name, state, and country.

Finally, here’s something I’d love for all of you to start thinking about. I’m hoping every one of you reading THE BRIDGE HOME might consider doing something for children like Viji, Arul, Rukku and Muthu, after you finish reading the book (which is still a few weeks away). For now, I hope you’ll ponder and consider taking up one of the social justice challenges below:

  1. Viji’s challenge. Viji loves books and yearns to go to school. Perhaps you could help other children who need books or want an education or spread your love of reading. For example, maybe you could help another child to read, or collect books for a library or school in need, or discover a way to help children who want to attend school.
  2. Muthu’s challenge. Muthu is always happy to voice his thoughts. Perhaps you could speak up (respectfully and responsibly) about an issue that moves you strongly. Write an open letter (or a letter to a newspaper or maybe to a senator) about a problem that affects your community (such as hunger) or a challenge the whole world faces, with suggestions on how to create positive change.
  3.  Rukku’s challenge.The little family on the bridge enjoys independence and freedom and feels rich, thanks to Rukku’s bead business and the money that it generates. Maybe you can find a way to fund-raise for a cause you believe in, or collect money for an organization that you find important.
  4. Arul’s challenge. Arul is quiet but strong. Arul keeps his promises and never breaks his word. Think about your behavior and your habits. Make a pledge to change the way you act, in order to help the environment and reduce waste – and keep your pledge.
  5.  Lalitha’s challenge. Lalitha loves art. Use art to raise awareness of a problem faced by your community or country or the world – or just create art using recycled materials and think of kids like those in THE BRIDGE HOME and send them your best wishes as you work.

Those are just some ideas I have – you may have more. I’d love to hear what you decide to do – and you can start these challenges at any time in the next few weeks – or even the week after you finish reading the book. But first, here’s to hearing more from you as you dig deeper into THE BRIDGE HOME.

#GRA19 #GRABridge Video 1 Chapt 1-7

IMG_2062Thank you!

Thank you for visiting this page, for participating in the global read aloud, and for choosing to read #TheBridgeHome.

Many of you (e.g. Baker School, Troy, MI, USA; Our Lady of Fatima Convent School, Durban, South Africa; Kurtztown Area Middle School, Kurtztown, PA, USA) asked about inspiration and if THE BRIDGE HOME was based on my own life. Two schools in WI, USA: Bristol School in Bristol and Watertown Catholic School (and others on twitter) asked why I chose second person / direct address.

The answers to both questions (about inspiration and point of view) are connected and rather too long to squeeze into a video, so I’ll answer them in writing below. But first, if you’re having trouble figuring out how to leave questions, here’s a video showing how (and I’ve provided written instructions at the end of this post, too):

Here are answers to some of the questions I’ve received:

Below, in writing, are answers to more questions, beginning with the one about inspiration and choice of voice:

The Bridge Home is, indeed, based on real life – but it’s an amalgam of others’ memories and experiences, as well as my own.

I was born in India, and my earliest memories of home are of a wrought iron gate swinging open, a drive drenched purple with the juice of fallen jamun fruit, a terrace with a magnificent view of the polo and riders club where. Until I was about 7 years old, I was surrounded by luxury and the illusion of wealth: ponies to ride (as a child I was certain I’d someday play polo), a wonderful garden filled with trees to climb, an upstairs library filled with books. When I was about 8, all that was lost to me.

My parents separated and my mother set up house in a small flat in a concrete jungle. Even before we moved, I’d been exposed to violence, and in the years to come, I was repeatedly subjected to more (and different kinds of) violence by various adults. For a while, I was also bullied by children at my school who didn’t know any better (probably because I was so different from them; there was no other child I knew with separated parents like my own). Just so you’re all aware, though, many of those children apologized when they became adults, and some are now dear friends of mine.

My childhood wasn’t easy, but then again, I didn’t have it nearly as hard as some children I met. My mother, even though she had to work ever so hard to keep house and home together, volunteered to teach at schools for children who had much less than we did. There, I befriended a few children who were from the lowest castes (Dalit/”Untouchable”/Roma): Indira, Padmini and Nagabushan. We were friends because we laughed together in the best way – we laughed the way the four in the book laugh – with the sheer joy of being alive (we never indulged in cruel laughter together or make jokes at anyone else’s expense) – and that brought us together.

Nagabushan’s father was a potter and I can still remember his hands shaping the most amazing vases on his father’s wheel, and his heels kicking water in my face as we splashed in the green water of the pond in his village. When I think of Padmini, I think of her sparkling eyes and brilliant mind. As for Indira, she could be a bit bossy, I must admit (just as Viji sometimes is, in the novel), and she declared herself my older sister; and one day, she shared with me the story of her life. And because she knew I wanted to be a writer (I was always scribbling away in a little notebook that I carried with me all the time – after reading that Roald Dahl kept a writer’s notebook with him), she asked me, in Tamil, “Will you write my story one day?”

Years later, I heard a voice in my head, the voice of one sister speaking to another and I knew I had to follow that voice and find out why the two sisters were apart… and then I realized I was, in a way, writing Indira’s story. I just knew THE BRIDGE HOME had to be written the way I’d heard it – in direct address. With some of my other novels, I did debate whether I’d chosen the right point of view and tried rewriting in another voice, but with THE BRIDGE HOME I felt compelled to write the way I heard it and never had any doubts about the path I’d chosen. Recently, I read in a book about “writing” that it’s a really tough point of view to pull off; luckily, I’m an oceanographer, so I never read that before (I was too busy reading novels and poetry and books about things like thermodynamics).

So THE BRIDGE HOME is a fusion of her story and others’ stories and imagination and my own childhood pain. That said, I must make it clear that I never suffered homelessness or hunger or ran away from my home. I also had some adults who cared about me. I sometimes say I wouldn’t wish my childhood on anyone; but so many of the children I met had gone through so much worse – and those who were my friends never indulged in self-pity. To this day, I see us as survivors, not victims; and I dislike pity and sympathy. It is empathy that I hope you, as readers, will feel as you laugh and cry and live and journey together with Viji, Arul, Muthu and Rukku.

IndiaTour3McLean School, Fox Lake, USA asked How did you come up with the names?

Viji, like the protagonists in my earlier novels CLIMBING THE STAIRS and A TIME TO DANCE, has a name that begins with the letter V – in honor of my most dear aunt, Visalam chithi. Arul means grace, and he’s named after one of my nephews because he asked me, several years ago, to write a book in which boys had as much screen time as girls. Muthu means pearl, and he’s named in honor of Karuppaswamy Mudaliar, a man who was the guardian angel of my childhood, and who had a son by that name. Rukku is short for Rukmini, and she’s named after a lovely young Indian-British-American person I met in Rhode Island (where I live). Kutti means little one in Tamil, which is Rukku’s mother tongue and mine; it’s often used as a term of endearment. Celina Aunty is named after two wonderful women: Dr. Chinna Oomen, a teacher who believed I would be an author someday (she’s the one hugging me in the photograph, during my first book signing in India for THE BRIDGE HOME), and Dr. Celina Pereira, a friend who took the time to read drafts of the novel with a medical doctor’s eye.

Have you experienced a water shortage yourself, similar to the one in the book?

Certainly have! Unfortunately, given how carelessly we use our planet’s resources, water shortages are common in several parts of the world. Even if we don’t live in a place where you experience water rationing, we ought to use water carefully, because we share a planet and water is a precious resource. On a quick search I came across a few websites that provide some suggestions that seem reasonable to me (1, 2). I really hope you’ll change at least one of your habits and take a “baby step” to start conserving water in at least one small way after you finish reading this post…

If Rukku is older than Viji, then why does Rukuu act younger? Does she have a disability or is it for another reason?

Rukku has a developmental disability, and so when the book begins, Viji feels that Rukku acts like she’s younger, even though she is actually older.


FBCS, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands asked Which is your favorite book that you’ve written? 

Here are pictures of my previous books: CLIMBING THE STAIRS, ISLAND’S END, and A TIME TO DANCE. CLIMBING THE STAIRS is special because it’s my debut, and it’s based on my family history (and India’s role in WWII, as well as Gandhian nonviolence). ISLAND’s END is special because it takes me back to the time when I was the only woman, only person of color and chief scientist on a research vessel; and to the time that I walked through rainforests on the Andaman Islands. A TIME TO DANCE is special because it’s my first novel in verse, the first novel to look at a young girl’s spiritual awakening through a Hindu lens, and because the girl in it dances like I wish I could (my ability to dance or sing or play the vina – a musical instrument I learned as a child is close to zero). So I do love them all, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be THE BRIDGE HOME – because it honors the courage of children I knew, whose stories need to be celebrated and heard and recognized and respected and raised and given praise and understood and rewarded. And because it’s about so many things I think need to be shouted about urgently and that we are hiding as a world. And because it reflects the worst kinds of cruelty humans are capable of – as well as our very best moments.

THE BRIDGE HOME means so much to me because it took me back to terrible, horrible, awful moments, but it also renewed the most important things I kept alive and strive to keep alive even today – hope and gratitude and acceptance and love and compassion and honesty and joy. And, through the Global Read Aloud, this book no longer belongs just to me – it belongs to each of you, too. THE BRIDGE HOME belongs in part to each reader who loves it – because I can only ever do part of the work to bring as story alive as a writer – and that’s the best thing about books – that in a way, I give all of you the same words, but then every one of you takes those words and creates something fresh and new and unique and individual – you are each artists and directors of those images and movies you make in your mind as you read; you are each, for a little while, merging with my characters so you see from within their hearts and minds; and so, this book becomes your very own, just as it is also, mine.

Baker Middle, Troy, MI, USA asked As much as I can. I read different sorts of books (fiction and non-fiction) that relate in some way to mine, interview people as many people as I can who have any sort of connection with themes in the book, and in the case of THE BRIDGE HOME, I also drew on my memory and revisited the diary I had as a child, when I was in India.How much research do you do? 

People on Trash Distant (4)Renfroe Middle, Decatur, GA, USA asked many questions about the caste system. The caste system is complicated – it’s a social evil that exists in Indian society. I’ve read books that say it was initially not rigid and that it was meant as a code of ethics (if you chose a particular profession, it suggested a set of rules to live by), but at any rate, today, in India, although it’s technically illegal (just as hate crimes are in the United States), it unfortunately continues to exist. Children inherit their parents’ caste. Caste isn’t directly related to wealth. In fact, Brahmins, who are the highest caste, were not traditionally the wealthiest – the poor Brahmin is a stereotype in many Indian folktales; but they had a lot of power.  The lowest castes, however, had no power and no wealth – and although, for sure, if someone from a lower caste became rich they would have an easier time for the most part than someone who had to endure poverty and caste-discrimination, money couldn’t buy you way out of the caste system (at least not immediately; to read more, read the resource articles on this website). The two upper castes that came right after the Brahmins (Kshathriyas and Vaishyas) were usually the wealthiest. Upper caste people could shun or treat those who had to scavenge for a living (like Rukku, Muthu, Arul and Viji) with inhuman cruelty all their lives.

As for the question about streaming a Skype visit live – not sure, as I’m traveling a lot, and also because I’m sure Pernille Ripp has a million things to do already… but if you have ideas on how to organize something along those lines, don’t hesitate to share your suggestions with me. I’m not the best with technology (though I’ve been learning a great deal, thanks to #GRA19) – but if there’s a way to do this, I would be happy to see if I could try.

Do remember, please, to send me your next set of wonderful questions by Wednesday, United States Eastern Standard Time next week (or by Thursday afternoon at the latest) and I’ll do my very best to answer as many as I can by Friday afternoon, my time. To leave me questions, please:

  1. Click on the title of the post – either on the blog itself or beneath RECENT POSTS (to the right of this screen).
  2. When you click on the title of this post, you’ll be redirected to a screen showing just this post.
  3. Type in your question, school name, state, and country.

Can’t wait to read the next set of questions, and thanks ever so much for the wonderful questions this week!

Photo credit: An Open Book Foundation for the first 6 panels; the second to last photograph was taken during a lecture at Harvard University; the final photograph was taken during my visit to Quest Montessori School.


#GRA19 #GRABridge Q&A Video #0!

Hi everyone! I just wrote a poem about how grateful I am for the invention of the zero (in an anthology collection entitled ThankU edited by Miranda Paul, which was just released this fall), and so I thought  I’d number my weekly videos with video # 0, below, as it just answers a few very general questions about my writing process. But first, instructions on how to leave me a comment:

So, again, please do your best to leave me questions by Thursday at the latest, but preferably by Wednesday 5:00 p.m. US Eastern Daylight Savings Time, and I’ll do my best to answer as many as I can by 1:00 p.m. on Friday US Eastern Daylight Savings Time. Do remember to add your school name, state, and country in the box below (where it says name) and maybe your class (grade level) as well. In all communication, if you wish to have a reply, please use a personal email address, as school servers admin may otherwise block my replies. I also have ensured that many of the resource links are now easily accessible right on The Bridge Home Resources page of my website. Now, here are answers to the first few general questions I received.

Finally, if you requested a Skype visit, you should be getting a confirmation within the next week or so. My fall Skype calendar is now full, but follow my twitter feed to be alerted to when it opens again in winter for the spring semester (and yes, I’ll be doing some Skype giveaways in spring as well). I will be giving away something unusual – a full 40 minute free Skype visit – to the winner of the contest (judged by Pernille Ripp and her class). Preliminary details in my previous post, and more to follow soon.

Thanks everyone! I’m so GRAteful you’ve chosen to read The Bridge Home!

#GRABridge Contest

Having #TheBridgeHome chosen for the global read aloud means the world to me!

If you haven’t already, please:

  • sign up to follow this website and follow my twitter (or ig / fb) feed to stay updated
  • leave me questions by THURSDAY 5:00 p.m. United States Eastern Standard Time (at the very latest; preferably by Wednesday 5:00 p.m.)
  • you will need to click “recent posts” and then you’ll be redirected to a screen and if you scroll down to the bottom you’ll see a box where you can leave me questions
  • remember to leave your school name, state and country after the question
  • and I’ll do my very best to post weekly videos by Friday afternoon, my time, with answers to as many questions as possible, starting with GENERAL questions (on process or Indian culture etc.) this week.

I’m also thrilled to announce that Pernille Ripp and her class have very kindly volunteered to judge a contest! Details below.


Preliminary Contest Information (more details to come soon):

  1. Create a poster with words and artwork, inspired by a social justice theme addressed in The Bridge Home. You may, for example, address hunger (but it could be hunger in your community, not necessarily in India), or homelessness, or child labor, or domestic violence, or access to education – anything that moves you enough that you’d like to increase awareness of.
  2. Take a photograph of the poster and send it to us (more precise info on how and where to submit will come soon).
  3. Provide us with your name, class (grade level) and school address.
  4. The likely cut off date for submissions will be around 15 October or roughly mid-way through the global read aloud.
  5. The prize will be a free 40 minute Skype visit by the author.

Note that this is the last Skype visit opportunity this fall, and my Skype calendar is now closed for this fall (but will reopen again next spring – so be on the lookout for an announcement on this website and twitter and ig).

Finally, if you are having trouble accessing my files, it is likely that your school’s administrator does not allow it. Sharing is open at my end, and all who click on my links should be able to see the resources I have created.

To prevent unnecessary disappointment, you may have to download the files ahead of time to your device and show them to your students the next day. Many thanks for choosing to read THE BRIDGE HOME! Can’t wait to connect!

20th Star Arrives as we countdown to #GRABridge #GRA19!


So … last Friday, I received my 20th starred review (my 8th star for #TheBridgeHome – which includes 3 for the audiobook that I read aloud). Such an honor – I’m so GRA-teful!

Ordering copies: I hope those of you who want to give your voices a bit of a rest as you read will consider listening to and downloading the audiobook. It was fun creating it and you can read more about my first ever whole novel read aloud experience here. If you are at a Title 1 school or cater to a population that is socioeconomically underprivileged, you may be eligible to order copies of the book at a reduced rate via FirstBook. All others may purchase via local indies or online (such as directly through Penguin Random House).

#GRA19 #GRABridge schedule: I’m thrilled and excited and honored that #TheBridgeHome is a Global Read Aloud, and I cannot wait to meet readers from around the world! Thanks so very much to all of you who’re reading it. During GRA: 

  1. I plan to post once a week on this site. I’ll take questions here, as well. So sign up to follow this blog using the button on the left and you’ll get an alert each time a post goes up. 
  2. Please respond with your questions to my posts by Wednesday 5:00 p.m. (US EDT), with your SCHOOL’S NAME and LOCATION (state and country).
  3. I’ll select as many questions as I can and respond to them through weekly videos, which I hope to post by 1:00 p.m. on Fridays (US EDT).
  4. I’ll also post a weekly activity challenge on this blog and on twitter. Two of the challenges will be in conjunction with judged competitions (judged by Ms. Ripp and her class) and the rest will be combined with a twitter giveaway if possible. 

For now:

  1. Follow me on twitter (see the button on the left) if you’d like a chance to win a free Skype visit. I will be doing a final Skype visit giveaway this Thursday-Monday on twitter. 
  2. If you have questions regarding background information on India or other general topics relating to the book or ideas/questions on discussing tough topics with young audiences or anything else, please feel free to post your questions below. To post questions, you will need to click on “recent posts” (to the left) and then you will be redirected to  screen with this post and will be able to leave comments in a box. Sorry about this extra step, but it’s a precaution to avoid spam.
  3. I’ll do my best to try and answer them by creating my first #GRABridge video by Wednesday next week. This will also serve as a trial run for me, to test and ensure there are no hiccups or bugs in the system.

Finally, speaking of horrid things like spam, please ensure that you NEVER fall prey to phishing. In this day and age when  our identity theft is a problem, I feel I must reiterate the fact that I would NEVER ask for any personal information from you (other than that you may at times need to provide a personal email if you need a reply). I will NEVER ask you for your password or any kind of sensitive information. I truly hope that together with my interns and other computer experts who have helped me create and manage this site, I have installed more than enough anti-theft software, but please remain vigilant and guard your privacy. If it seems like I have written you a message please double check that it is, in fact from me – note, for example that I do NOT send attachments so please do not open any attachment that may seem to be from me. If any trouble or suspicious activity appears to arise, please immediately contact me and/or my publisher or the organizer of GRA, Ms. Ripp.

Thanks so much, everyone, and here’s to a trouble-free, wonderful, enjoyable and epic #GRA experience! Do check out the many resources available for your classroom on my website’s resources page (#GRABridge tab, top left).

17 stars so far…


  • “gorgeous storytelling” – The New York Times Book Review
  • “felt throughout like I never wanted to leave Rukku and Viji’s sides” – Matthew Winner, Today Show
  • “beautifully rendered tale, both harrowing and heartrending” – San Francisco Chronicle
  • Bridges of Understanding – India Currents
  • A Washington Post Summer Book Club Selection!
    • To sign up for the ‘make a difference book club’ this summer (the 1st 500 kids to sign up get a free watch! and there are seven other wonderful books on this list), visit  KidsPost Summer Book Club
  • A Project LIT community selection (#ProjectLIT #JustReadIt)
    • Find out more about Project Lit by visiting amazing teacher Jarred Amato.
  • A Global Read Aloud 2019 selection (#GRA19 #GRABridge)
    • The Bridge Home is the #GlobalReadAloud 2019 MG selection! I look forward to connecting with readers this fall via my blog posts on this website (please follow this blog – button on the left to stay updated) and on twitter (follow me at padmatv). A few resources including a pronunciation guide and a discussion guide are already  posted under Resources (top right menu button, drop down to The Bridge Home #GRABridge tab). I’ll be adding more tools and videos in the summer months. If you’ve developed a teaching resource for The Bridge Home and are willing to share it with the world, please get in touch with me, I’d love to hear about it and add it to my list with a credit to you, of course.  During the #GRA19 weeks, I’ll be posting regularly and answering questions posted as comments here. I will also be offering a few free Skype visits and hope to do some other contests and giveaways. Discover more about rockstar librarian Pernille Ripp, who founded the project a decade ago, sign up on her website or join the fb community. Thanks to everyone who voted!
  • An audiophile magazine earphone winner! I narrated the book, so if you want to listen to me reading it aloud, you can!
  • THANKS to everyone who has supported The Bridge Home. It’s received so many wonderful online reviews and been featured on so many incredible podcasts and videos. At the time of writing, my 4 novels have garnered a total of 17 starred reviews, and I’m thrilled that THE BRIDGE HOME will soon be translated into Vietnamese, Korean and French and that it will be released in India as well. I’m so deeply grateful for all of this, eleven years after I began climbing the stairs as an author.


The Bridge Home

the bridge home - cover

5 + 3 = 8 Stars for The Bridge Home

“A blisteringly beautiful book” – Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“exquisitely narrated” – Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“an absorbing novelof love, loss, and resilience – Booklist, Starred Review

“..stellar…an unforgettable tale” – School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Hopeful yet heartbreaking…Venkatraman weaves a breathtaking story which takes the reader to the streets of India, where millions of homeless children fight to survive each day… Venkatraman does a beautiful job …showing that a “home” and “family” doesn’t always correspond to a house with a white picket fence…a story that must be shared.” – School Library Connection, Starred Review

“moving” – Sound Commentary, Starred Review

“Venkatraman brings love, support and humor to a story undergirded by tough issues” – SLJ audio, Starred Review

 Padma Venkatraman narrates her own work, displaying the depth of feeling and caring between 11-year-old Viji and her 12-year-old intellectually disabled sister, Rukku… In particular, Venkatraman portrays how Viji’s controlling relationship with her sister turns to tenderness and respect … Venkatraman’s Indian accent adds to the tone and setting, but it’s the range and believability of emotions that will draw listeners into Viji’s journey from despair to hope. A great family listen to launch important conversations. – Audiofile Magazine, Starred Review

Honors and Awards to date (a partial list)

* Nerdy Book Award Winner

* Cybil Awards

* Kirkus Best MG Bks 2019

* NYPL Best 2019

* Chicago Public Library Best Bks 2019

* Booklist Editor’s Choice Best Bks 2019

* Washington Post Best Bks 2019

* Mighty Girl Best Bks 2019

* TX Bluebonnet award nominee

* SLJ Top 10 Audio Bks 2019

* Bklist Editor’s Choice Best Audio 2019

* Jr Library Guild audio selection

* CSMCL Best Bks 2019

* GoodReads Best MG Bks 2019

*Audiophile Magazine Earphone Award

* Washington Post KidPost Summer Reading Selection

* Global Read Aloud, 2019

* ProjectLIT, 2019-20

* Ebony Teach Best Books 2019

* Betsy Bird’s 31 MG titles in SLJ

* Mighty Girl pick

* Today Show

* “beautifully rendered” – SF Chronicle

* “gorgeous storytelling” – NYT Book Review

* “will break hearts and inspire activist longings” – BCCB

* “this bittersweet novel is about breaking the cycle of abuse, reaching for your dreams and finding home ” – Horn Book

* “an amazing book” – Newsday

Order the Book: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/551690/the-bridge-home-by-padma-venkatraman/9781524738112/

Order the Audio (narrated by the author): https://www.booksontape.com/book/551690/the-bridge-home/
Padma Venkatraman lived in five countries, explored rainforests and coral reefs, and was chief scientist on oceanographic vessels before becoming a United States citizen. Her novels, A TIME TO DANCE, ISLAND’S END and CLIMBING THE STAIRS received several honors and awards. Together with THE BRIDGE HOME Venkatraman’s novels have earned a total of 17 stars so far.
Meet the author at an event:
Sat 2 Mar 2 p.m. R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, CT 
Wed 6 Mar 6 p.m. Books of Wonder, Uptown, New York, NY 
Thur 7 Mar 7 p.m. Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA
Sun 10 Mar 2 p.m. Pomegranate Books, Wilmington, NC
Sat 16 Mar RosieCon, Indianapolis, IN
Fri 22 Mar KidlitCon, Providence, RI
Sat 30 Mar 10:30 a.m. Writer’s Loft, MA
Sat 30 Mar 2:30 p.m. Aesop’s Fable, Holliston, MA
Sun 31 Mar Massachusetts School Library Conference, Framingham, MA
Thur – Sat 4-6 Apr Whispering Pines Writing Retreat, RI
Sun – Thur 7-11 Apr Highlights Foundation, PA
Sat 13 Apr North Kingstown Free Library, North Kingstown, RI
Sat 27 Apr Keynote Providence Book Festival, RI
Sat 27 Apr 4:30 p.m. An Unlikely Story, Plainsville, MA
Wed 1 May 6:30 p.m. Maury Lootjens Public Library, Narragansett, RI
Thur 2 May 4:00 p.m. Island Books, Middletown, RI
Fri-Sun 3-5 May New England SCBWI conference, MA
Sat 11 May Books A Million, South Portland, ME

Pre-order The Bridge Home

Padma Venkatraman’s latest novel, THE BRIDGE HOME, is now available for pre-order. Visit your favorite bookstore, or order online through any distributor, or through the publisher’s page, by clicking here: THE BRIDGE HOME, Penguin Random House.the bridge home - cover

“It’s Oliver Twist meets Slumdog Millionaire in [The Bridge Home] this tale of homeless children trying to make a life for themselves in Chennai, India. With lyrical, beautiful, and page-turning writing, this is an #OwnVoices story that will serve as a window and mirror for young readers.”

Reviews and Honors, including stars so far..

  • a global read aloud contender
  • “a blisteringly beautiful book” – Starred Review, Kirkus
  • “exquisitely narrated” – Starred Review, PW
  • “an absorbing novel of love, loss and resilience” – Starred Review, Booklist
  • “stellar…unforgettable” – Starred Review, SLJ
  • “will break hearts and inspire activist longings” –
  • “bittersweet novel.. about breaking the cycle of abuse, reaching for your dreams & finding home in the most unlikely of people & places” – Horn Book
  • A Global Read Aloud Contender

“Readers will be captivated by this beautifully written novel about young people who must use their instincts and grit to survive. Padma shares with us an unflinching peek into the reality millions of homeless children live every day but also infuses her story with hope and bravery that will inspire readers and stay with them long after turning the final page.”– Aisha Saeed, author of the New York Times Bestselling Amal Unbound

Padma Venkatraman’s previous novels are A TIME TO DANCE (Starred Reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, VOYA, SLJ and BCCB); ISLAND’S END (Starred Reviews in Kirkus, Booklist, PW and SLJ); and CLIMBING THE STAIRS (Starred Reviews in Booklist, PW, and VOYA).

Praise for A TIME TO DANCE

“Flowing free verse…A beautiful integration of art, religion, compassion and connection.” * Starred Review, Kirkus  

“In Venkatraman’s delectably scented, sensual world, lyrically told through verse and through Veda, life is illuminated as a beautiful celebration of doing what comes naturally, as best as one is able..” * Starred Review, Booklist  

“The descriptions of contemporary India are beautiful and Venkatraman weaves images so divine that you can see the statues of Shiva, hear the ankle bells in the bharatanatyam dance, and smell the acrid scent of burnt rubber from the accident. Told in verse, this story is magnificently strong as Veda’s determination dances off the page and into the reader’s heart.” * Starred Review, VOYA

“This exceptional novel… is sure to appeal…”  * Starred Review, SLJ                                         

“Heart- achingly hopeful and beautifully written, this story will remain with readers long after the final line of verse.” * Starred Review, BCCB

“Sure to go on my favorites list… This book will definitely dance its way through your heart as it did mine.” * Denver Post

” a powerful depiction”   * Chicago Tribune  

“…dazzles and delights…beautifully written…” * Providence Journal  

“…loved this book…” * Newsday

“…powerful images and motifs of sound…”   * Horn Book


Venkatraman makes a memorable debut with this lushly evoked novel set in India during World War II…More than a feisty Cinderella story …this novel vivifies a unique era and culture as it movingly expresses how love and hope can blossom even under the most dismal of circumstances…
* Starred review, Publishers Weekly

Venkatraman paints an intricate and convincing backdrop of a conservative Brahmin home in a time of change…
* Starred review, Booklist

“With a delightfully strong female protagonist who struggles between tradition and the values she holds dear, this novel will capture the imaginations of many readers…”
*Starred Review, VOYA

Climbing the Stairs… is a passionate story…In the novel, books serve as a saving grace…The central theme of the novel, violence and nonviolence, will appeal to an international audience…
* India Currents

After reading this fine, often heart-breaking novel, I noticed that it’s for “young adults”. Well, I’m a ‘youngish adult,’ and I loved it.
* The Providence Journal

Praise for ISLAND’S END

“[Venkatraman] … succeeds spectacularly… Uido is a remarkable heroine … as infused with spirituality as this novel is, there is also heart-stopping action … the larger issues of modernity versus tradition offer much to think about… an intricate yet wholly accessible story”
* Starred Review, Booklist
“a lovely novel… offering an enticing blend of mystic tradition and imaginative speculation, Venkatraman movingly expresses a primitive tribe’s connection to nature and their struggle to find safety in the 21st century”
* Starred Review, PW
“Vividly written and expertly paced … a moving story that will stay with readers long after the end”
* Starred Review, SLJ
“consistenly engrosses… refreshingly hopeful and beautifully written”
* Starred Review, Kirkus

Awards and Honors for A TIME TO DANCE
*Starred review, BCCB * Starred Review, Booklist, * Starred Review, Kirkus, * Starred Review, SLJ * Starred Review, VOYA,
*ALA Notable *ALA/YALSA BBYA *Booklist Editor’s Choice Best Books *Booklist Top 10 art bk *CCBC Choices *Crystal Kite Finalist *CSML Best Books *Eliot Rosewater (IN) masterlist *IBBY Outstanding bk ypd *IRA Notable (NBGS) *Julia Ward Howe Boston Authors Club honor bk *Kirkus Best Books *New York Public Library Top 25 *New York City Reads (#NYC365) *Nutmeg Award (CT) masterlist *Rebecca Caudill (IL) masterlist *Red dot award (Singapore)*Sequoyah (OK) masterlist *Sanoc/SABA finalist

Awards and Honors for CLIMBING THE STAIRS:
Winner, BAC Julia Ward Howe award; Winner, ASTAL RI Book of the Year award; NYPL Best Book; ALA BBYA; ALA/Ameila Bloomer List Selection; Booksense Notable; Booklist Editor’s Choice, BBYA; CCBC Choice; NCSS/CBC Notable; Bank Street College of Education Best Book; Booklinks Best New Book; Pennsylvania School Library Association Top-40; CLN Top 25; Shortlisted for ME, UT, SC and NJ state awards; Shortlisted for Reading Across Rhode Island; Shortlisted for Cybil awards; Capitol Choice; Starred Review, VOYA; Starred Review, Booklist; Starred Review Publishers Weekly.

Awards and Honors for ISLAND’S END
Winner, SANOC International South Asia Book Award; Winner, Paterson Prize; ALA BBYA; ALA/Amelia Bloomer List Selection; Kirkus Best Book of the year; Booklist Editor’s Choice Best Book for Young Adults; CCBC Best Book; Finalist for the Crystal Kite award and BAC Julia Ward Howe award; Starred Review, Kirkus; Starred Review, Booklist; Starred Review, School Library Journal; Starred review, Publishers Weekly.