Ranji LaRocca photo

By nature, we are diverse. We have individual wants, cultures, beliefs, gender identities, and ages. By design, we are united within a hodgepodge of humanity by our needs: food, shelter, hope, a sense of belonging, a sense of faith beyond ourselves, to be loved and to love. Within our growing years and onward, we live many lives as “one” person, spirit, or soul. However we label it.

Rajani LaRocca lives many lives as one. In her diverse life, Rajani is a mother, an award-winning children’s book author, and a primary care physician, having graduated from Harvard Medical School and trained in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Rajani was born in Bangalore, India, and immigrated as a baby to the United States. Spending her childhood in Louisville, Kentucky, Rajani grew up learning to manage the diversity within two worlds: India and America. Rajani believes that “promoting diversity in children’s literature leads to empathy, and empathy makes the world a better place.”

Red, White and Whole middle grade novel book cover

Rajani’s highly-acclaimed middle grade novel Red, White, and Whole (written in verse) tells the heart-breaking, yet hopeful, story of Reha. A girl torn between two worlds: one that is Indian and one that is American. The story reminds us that our diversity at times makes us feel disconnected. Separate from the world and the people around us. Her well-told story highlights that what often binds us together are the tragedies in our lives.

Buy Rajani’s Red, White, and Whole to share with yourself and others: https://www.indiebound.org/



Julie Hedlund photo

Julie Hedlund eats and breathes a diverse life. She’s an award-winning children’s book author as well as the founder of the “12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge,” co-founder of the “Picture Book Summit,” and co-creator of the Complete Picture Book Submissions System.

Julie works tirelessly, and often tiredly, helping illustrators and other authors of children’s books become better at their craft. To succeed in their dreams to publish. To share their voice with children around the world. Her mantra—imagine, create, inspire—guides her passion for writing, promoting, and supporting the KidLit Community.

Over Bear! Under, Where? is Julie’s newest picture book (illustrated by Michael Slack). The tale tells about two unlikely animals discovering the fun of friendship. Julie’s punny wordplay and laugh-out-loud story celebrates how diversity is all around us. How connection binds us together.

Yes…we are a diverse people. Living many lives as one. At the core of our individuality, we are bonded together. One organism of humanity. This poignant truth is spoken perfectly by the young Indian girl Reha from Rajani LaRocca’s Red, White, and Whole:   

The cat Skittles looking a an outdoor bird.

“I have one life,

where I try to merge all the places I’m from,

India and America,

Mother and father,

past, present,

and future.

I have one life.

That’s all any of us gets.

And I know that I will make my way.

For all rivers lead to the same ocean,

we all look upon the same sky.”

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Marsha Elyn Wright

Bursts of belly-laughs. Raised eye-brows. Teary trickles. Heart tugs. Grumbly mutters and more. Good storytelling sparks emotions and memories in us. It connects cultures and generations. The best words create melodies on a page we can sing reading aloud. These story songs expand, challenge, affirm, and delight us. My hope is that my storytelling creates this magic for you.


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