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Watch out libraries! “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Where the Wild Things Are” have a huge competitor coming into the arena. “A Lion’s Mane” is an empowering new children’s picture book that celebrates the Sikh identity. Written by Navjot Kaur and illustrated by Jaspreet Sandhu, the book colorfully documents a young boy’s journey around the world, through different cultural lands, and within himself. It aims to encourage Sikhs and non-Sikhs to maintain a positive self-identity and to steadfastly challenge bias and intolerance. “A Lion’s Mane” will be available in August 2009, but watch the mini-trailor here:

This book will make a great addition to any personal library (both young and grown up!). Make sure to let your public library know about its release as well. To receive updates, you may leave your e-mail address at saffronpress.com.

I have scoured many a library and bookstore back in the day in an attempt to look for books, articles, anything! on Sikhi. Just imagine your Sikhpulse writer at age 6, a seasoned master of the Dewey Decimal system (or at least she thought she was), learning that the institutions she revered and placed so much faith in had failed her. The smile she usually wore instead resembled the same form as her pigtails: a frown.

She may have transitioned out of the pigtails and gained some command of appropriate expletive usage, but, twenty years later, the frown persists.

Two Sikh pals and I checked out a major bookstore in a major US city that had a major section dedicated to Philosophy and Religion. Six stacks were reserved for Christianity alone. Two stacks were filled completely with Bibles. Judiasm won three stacks and Islam and Hinduism competed for two stacks. There was another stack for Eastern Religions including Buddhism and Taoism. Atheists and agnostics got some love too with their own stack.

How many stacks were dedicated to Sikhi? Brace yourself now.

There were more Sikhs within the bookstore than there were books on Sikhi. Only two books made up the entire Religion and Philosophy section. Not stacks, but books! Both books were tiny and less than 75 pages in length. And both books were awful representations of Sikhi: one even made strange and incorrect correlations to Hinduism.

Is there a dearth of Sikh literature? Is this what resulted in the dismay of three Sikhs over the selection of two books? Perhaps but certainly there are more than two books that could have populated the stacks. The Sikh Coalition’s campaign to supply local libraries with resources about Sikhi is a great start but it shouldn’t be become our endpoint. We, writers and artists of the future, need to keep fresh and new thoughts in the mix by continuing to document our history, past and newly-formed, and think critically about Gurbani in a way that is accessible to Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.

Please help me from ever telling a corny joke that starts off with “three Sikhs stood in front of a stack of books…” Work the supply and demand theory by reading and buying our texts. Help the Coalition with their project or speak up with your pen or voice and ask your bookstores and libraries to accurately represent a major world religion through the number of quality books offered on their shelves.