Wish you a golden autumn!

After a hectic summer, I’ve decided to have a calmer fall. I plan to spend more time writing than traveling, but I will be doing a bit of teaching, too. I’m so honored and excitedly looking forward to teaching an online course in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. For the first half of the semester, I will present interactive lectures (instruction, discussion, and writing activities designed to hone skills and craft). The second half will include individualized feedback. I can’t wait! Among others, writer Hanh Bui (author of the picture book shown above) is registered! Looking forward to meeting many other talented writers. If you’d like to join us, do it soon, as we start this upcoming Monday. Registration and more information: https://slc.augusoft.net/index.cfm?method=ClassInfo.ClassInformation&int_class_id=137&int_category_id=0&int_sub_category_id=0&int_catalog_id=0

I’m also looking forward greatly to being at the Chappaqua Book Festival in a few weeks! It’s on Saturday, September 30th at the Chappaqua Train Station, 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. and admission is free. Here’s more information about that: https://ccbfestival.org/authors/?query-36-page=4&cst I’m also delighted that BORN BEHIND BARS is on yet another wonderful state award list – Arizona! Below are some with photographs taken during a wonderful family trip to that state.

We visited Arizona some years ago, when Kathy Short honored me with an invitation to be one of the featured authors at the incredible Tuscon Festival of Books, which, for me, began with a wonderful dinner, during which I met Margaret Peter Haddix (author of the bestselling novel RUNNING OUT OF TIME, and its recently released sequel, FALLING OUT OF TIME) – and we an absolutely scrumptious dessert (shown above) that was made to look like a book!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful autumn season! And if you’d like to try a writing exercise, here’s a link to my latest writing prompt, inspired by the book MASCOT: https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/2023/08/31/cooking-up-stories-mascot-plus-a-recipe-and-a-prompt/

Thank you, teachers, for your courage & dedication

“Fear is a Lock. Courage is a key.” That’s a quote from BORN BEHIND BARS. It’s a quote that I believe teachers, librarians and other educators live by. Especially these days, when our nation and our world seems so divided. This second day of #TeacherAppreciationWeek, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the teachers who’ve made a difference in my life, and the lives of every child I’ve ever met. Thank you for sharing knowledge so selflessly, and for your bravery – you are heroes.

In the wake of so many recent tragedies, I sometimes feel at a loss for words. Yet words are the only gift I can give to educators. I’m not sure what else I can give – and I realize nothing can ever fully express the depth of my gratitude. So here is a short list of a few new resources, which are free and which I hope you will enjoy and which I hope will help you in some small way.

  • My Opening Keynote for #TheEdCollabGathering is available online until July at: https://gathering.theeducatorcollaborative.com
  • I’m delighted to moderate a panel for PEN America. If you’re in New York City, you can visit our event during the #PENWorldVoicesFestival this Saturday afternoon (see the graphic below for information). The event won’t be live-streamed, but will be recorded and shared on PEN America’s YouTube channel in July, so you can catch up with us in summer if you can’t see us live: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXtC846wFrdIIp4NBrNPKHg
  • My latest #WritingPrompt for my #CookingUpStories series, edited by Alison Green Myers (Schneider Award Winning Author of BIRDS WILL SOAR) and accompanied by a brand new recipe contributed by the incredible Chef Amanda features a tip on writing dialogue, inspired by Torrey Maldonado’s latest novel, HANDS, which I loved holding in my hands, as you can see from the photo below! Here it is, thanks to Bobbie Coombs who regularly puts up these posts on the #HighlightsFoundation website: https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/2023/05/03/cooking-up-stories-hands-plus-a-recipe-and-a-prompt/
  • Finally, here’s a short story I wrote that you can access free of charge, along with discussion questions and more, which addresses the theme of bullying. It’s also uses the first person plural point of view (“we”) so it was a wonderful challenge to write, and provides and unusual address to explore while reading. https://www.commonlit.org/en/texts/her-story

Thanks again. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week and Happy AAPI month!

Teacher Resources

This spring began with so many delightful bits of news: The Bridge Home received another award – The Jerry, presented by WJRC! Born Behind Bars is also on Georgia’s state award list! I’ve been doing a lot of virtual visits, and over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing more.

On my slides, I quote from a lot of articles I’ve written about various aspects of diversity in the field of children’s and YA literature. I also point out that there are plenty of resources on this website for librarians and educators who’d like to use my books in classrooms. However, please note that many of the links may NOT work because of your school / library server. There’s nothing that can be done at my end to help solve that. However, most of the links can be accessed via my padlet.

So please click on this link for now, and thanks for your patience. You an also access many of my videos, including general writing prompts, via my YouTube channel and writing prompts may also be found on the COOKING UP STORIES blog that I write for the Highlights Foundation the first Friday of each month, in which I come up with a writing prompt and it’s paired with a colleague’s book and a delectable recipe by Chef Amanda. As for general diversity resources, an annotated list of some of my articles is below:

  • Weeding out racim’s invisible roots (SLJ) which was one of the most widely-read articles in School Library Journal
  • Compassion, as well as correctness (for Horn Book)
  • Accept, don’t just tolerate (on the importance of including religious diversity, for Kirkus Reviews)
  • My quarantine story (for PW)
  • Classics, colonization and a call for change (Nerdy Book Club)
  • No problem with problem books (about gender inequity in kidlit, for YA Wednesday)
  • A list of awards the celebrate underrepresented and marginalized voices / books for young people (SLJ)
  • Golden silence, gilded words (about microagressions, on author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog)
  • Honoring the history of those who strove for diversity in our field and in our country (WNDB Walter Award acceptance speech, in a way – although the year I won it was the year COVID struck and the ceremony was cancelled)!
  • One of my very early books of nonfiction which was published before I considered myself an author, featured by Renaissance Learning
  • Essay on what writing and reading mean to me in 2022, especially in the context of book banning
  • The Importance of Reading Widely and Reading Beyond One’s Own Experiences (published in Brightly)
  • Chat with Colby Sharp about Born Behind Bars (a parent’s magazine book of the month selection), books featuring incarceration, and more
  • Expanding Our Embrace: Including Stories with International Settings
  • Better and Verse (about verse novels)
  • Diverse Verse (a website that I started which has grown into a marvelous group of poets and educators)
  • Authors Take Action
  • Padma Venkatraman on Voice
  • Speaking as a diversity educator

All Best For the Rest of 2021 and Happy 2022!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year Wishes!

Can’t believe 2021 is nearly over. As this year winds down, I’m taking a moment to be grateful for all the honors and awards and praise Born Behind Bars has been blessed with. So far, to my knowledge, it’s on the Boston Globe, Kirkus, School Library Journal, CSMCL and India Currents Best Books of 2021 lists; on Mr. John Schu and Travis Jonker’s Top 20 Books of 2021 list; and in addition to the starred reviews to which it was released and the glowing reviews from the New York Times Book Review and Providence Journal, it was showcased as Parents Magazine’s November Book Club pick.

Born Behind Bars is also a Project LIT Community Selection! So honored!

If you’d like to order a copy, click the link below, and choose your favorite way to buy from the various possible options (and thank you)! https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/647196/born-behind-bars-by-padma-venkatraman/

Here’s the Born Behind Bars Trailer in case you didn’t watch it yet…

If you’d like to hear the story-behind-the-story or download a discussion guide, Born Behind Bars related writing prompt or hear the first chapter of the audiobook, which I read, or access further reading suggestions or support resources, you’ll find them at the Born Behind Bars page of this website (resources tab top right, Born Behind Bars drop down menu).

Thank you to all the educators who worked so hard as this pandemic continued.

Sending my wishes out to the world for health, above all, and a safe and peaceful end to this year and joy in 2022.