Modern First Library: Creating Lifelong Readers by Varsha Bajaj

We love hearing from different community voices about what a Modern First Library means to them! Today, author Varsha Bajaj talks about the value of building a diverse first library for young readers. Explore more from the series here.

Your child’s first library hopefully has many picture books with stunning art and magical words. Books are a springboard for ideas and conversations. An adult typically reads first books aloud to a child. This first book club between parent/grandparent and child involves reading, rereading, questions, discussions, giggling, hugging, and helps the child fall in love with the written word on the page.

9780399166846Picture books are so much more than the sum of their words. They are possibly a child’s first introduction to humor and a joke. Rhyming picture books are an early introduction to patterns, poetry, reading and literacy. As they grow older, nonfiction book help kids gain knowledge. Picture books have so few words that each one has to earn its place and I love the process of choosing and constructing the right group of words to convey the plethora of emotions that make the best books meaningful.

My book This Is Our Baby, Born Today is set in India. Its universally accessible theme of the birth of a baby elephant makes it the ideal baby shower gift anywhere in the world.

The Home Builders, my new book, speaks to the love of family and conveying a sense of security to the youngest child. An older child will love the bustle of activity in a serene woodland and realize that Home Builders are all around us.


A modern first library can be diverse in content and diverse in terms of the content makers. A lifelong voracious reader it took me a while to realize that I too could be a writer. Growing up in the sixties and seventies in India, I read British and American writers. I wish I’d seen a name like mine on the cover of a book back then.

Let’s encourage all our children to be readers and content makers and see themselves in the pages of a book!

Varsha recommends:

New author picture.jpgVarsha Bajaj is the award-winning author of picture books and middle grade novels. The Home Builders, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani, is a trip to the woods which are alive with home building. Her second middle grade novel, Count Me In will be published in August 2019. Both books will be published By Nancy Paulsen books from Penguin Random House. Her picture book, This is Our Baby, Born Today, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler, was published by Nancy Paulsen books in August 2016 and was a Bank Street of Education, Best Books of 2016. Varsha’s middle grade novel, Abby Spencer goes to Bollywood, (Albert Whitman & Company, 2014) was on the Spirit of Texas middle grade reading list, was shortlisted for the Cybils and won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. Her picture book, How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight? illustrated by Ivan Bates, was on the Texas 2×2 list in 2005. Born in India, Varsha came to America in Fall 1986, to pursue graduate studies Psychology. After earning her master’s degree, she worked at the St. Louis University Medical Center as a licensed professional counselor (LPC). Varsha lives in Houston with her husband, two children, and dog, Scamper.


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