Canadian author’s first book showcases experiences of growing up as a Sikh

Harman Singh Pandher wants kids of all backgrounds to know that their stories are important.

As Harman Singh Pandher was growing up in Burnaby, British Columbia, he saw that there were not many characters in children's books that looked like him or shared the traditions of his family. So many years later, he decided to go ahead and write his own children's book.

Stories that represent the Sikh culture 

Pandher’s first picture book, ‘Gurpreet Goes to Gurdwara: Understanding the Sikh Place of Worship’, tells the narrative of a six-year-old Canadian boy who reluctantly goes to gurdwara with his family on Sundays until he learns more about his religion and culture and becomes more enthusiastic about it.

Pandher, who is now a father and teaches in an elementary school in Surrey, British Columbia, said that it is beneficial for children's self-esteem to see that their stories matter, and he hopes that his effort inspires other writers from different cultures and walks of life to do the same. 

He stated that the book, which is currently available for purchase, is also his contribution to the global protest against systemic racism. He further said, 

“We really need to actively do the anti-racist work to make a difference. This is my small effort in that regard." ​​​

Adorned with beautiful colours and pictures 

Surrey illustrator Gurpreet Kaur Birk created the book's colourful, vibrant and playful illustrations. According to Pandher, it is intended to be as relatable, accessible, and enjoyable as it is instructional. He further said that we can never underestimate the potential of a good book to change, influence a child's life, or transform the way people think. And some of the best learning occurs while children are unaware that they are learning.

On a Wednesday in 2020, the newly published author told CBC that a second book is in the works and that readers should keep tuned for the next chapter of Gurpreet's school escapades.

Some years back, there were almost zero books or stories that had Sikh characters or told the experiences of the Sikh community. Many times children following Sikhism question why there is not even one character like them in their favourite books. The first-ever initiative by Pandher is a step towards making Sikh children feel close to their culture and faith. Books with Sikh characters like Gurpreet help children feel that they belong to the society and that there are more kids like them in the world. 


*Based on an article published in CBC News, on 19th September 2020 


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