TaariMaa kaun che? | Who is TaariMaa?

 

 My inspirations, Leela & Milli

Even before I became a mother, I knew it was very important to me that one day my children learned about both of their parents’ heritage – I am Gujarati and my husband is Puerto Rican. 

  

As Gujarati was regularly spoken in my childhood home, I spoke it so readily that I wasn’t concerned about passing it on to my kids. What I worried about most was how I would teach them Spanish when I wasn't fluent and neither was my husband! Then a funny thing happened: I moved away from NJ when my older daughter was 7 months old and was left as the only Gujarati speaker in her life. I started to struggle with talking to her in Gujarati because it would exclude my non-Gujarati speaking husband. I desperately wanted to create a way to make learning Gujarati easier for both of them. 

  

Board books are some of children’s first early learning tools and I decided that I wanted to help fill the gap in Gujarati books for American-born children - something I had noticed was missing almost 10 years ago when my oldest nephew was born.  I had played with the idea for so long, but I had no excuse to talk myself out of it this time. I had to do it for my daughter (and my nephews...and my husband!). 

  

While researching the books, I realized that Gujarati is an age-old language with many dialects, and some of the words you know may differ from the ones I used in my books. I am also aware that Gujarati is complex and spelling Gujarati words phonetically in English can be very tricky. I've provided the pronunciations based on the Gujarati spoken in my childhood home, and in the way I felt was best for American born children to connect with. As you read these books with your little ones, they will become familiar with the nuances of the language, and with your help, expert Gujarati speakers! If you ever have a question on how to pronounce a word, please don't hesitate to reach out to me!  

  

I am not an expert, but a passionate mom seeking to teach others the language I learned while growing up and loved to speak with my parents. My hope is that this series of language primers will serve as an aid to help you teach your sweet little ones the Gujarati of your childhood, or maybe even help you learn a new language yourself!  

 

Chitra Peña