Indian-American children’s author Rajani LaRocca wins prestigious national award

Rajani LaRocca, author of several children’s books. Photo: @rajanilarocca.com

Bangalore-born Indian-American children’s book author and primary care physician Rajani LaRocca received second place in the Newbery Medal of Honor for Children’s Literature for her book ‘Red, White and Whole’.

Of the 100and anniversary of this prestigious medal first awarded in 1922, the highest John Newbery medal for children’s literature went to Donna Barba Higuera’s “The Last Cuentista”.

The medals were announced on January 24, 2022 and are considered the highest recognition for children’s authors.

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Other winners were announced at the same time, including the Asia/Pacific American Literature Prize which was awarded to “Amina’s Song” by Hena Khan.

Other children’s books by Rajani LaRocca include Midsummer’s Mehhem, Much Ado About Baseball, Seven Golden Rings, as well as My Little Golden Book About Kamala Harris, among many others.

The Indian-American author also received the 2022 Walter Dean Myers Prize for Young Readers, awarded by We Need Diverse Books.

“When I first wrote this book from my heart, I didn’t know if anyone else would want to read it or care. To see it recognized in this way is so amazing and humbling. The world needs all kinds of stories!” LaRocca says on her eponymous website rajanilarocca.com. “This story was inspired by aspects of my own life and childhood, and is dedicated to my parents, who are my heroes.” , she adds.

Other accolades for the book include its January 17 listing of Notable Books 2022 for a Global Society Award.

On January 16, Red, White, and Whole was declared A Mighty Girl 2021 Book of the Year. And on January 1, the book was included as a finalist for the 2021 Cybils Prize in Poetry.

Her biography on the website states that she immigrated to the United States as a baby and grew up in Louiseville, Kentucky.

LaRocca trained in internal medicine at Harvard College and Harvard Medical School at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A primary care physician since 2001, LaRocca lives in eastern Massachusetts with her husband and two children.

Describing herself as “an omnivorous reader,” whether it’s cereal boxes, comic book magazine articles or novels, LaRocca says the books she read as a child “helped shape who I am today in a way that I’m still discovering.”

“The books inspired me to pursue a career in medicine; the books made me want to live in different worlds; the books helped me think about what it’s like to put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” she says. His tastes were varied ranging from science fiction to Shakespeare.

“I believe promoting diversity in children’s literature leads to empathy, and empathy makes the world a better place,” says LaRocca.

By her own description, LaRocca writes mid-level novels and picture books, some of them reflecting her “experiences as an immigrant, book lover, and foodie.” Some of his books explain medical topics to children and some are just ideas that come to mind.

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