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Penguin Random House: Namrata Tripathi On Book Banning & Kokila’s Mission to Center Marginalized Voices

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Namrata Tripathi, Founder, SVP and Publisher, Kokila, recently gave opening remarks at the Atlantic Festival in Washington D.C. for a panel on banned books underwritten by Penguin Random House.

In her remarks, Namrata spoke about the inspiration behind Kokila—the PYR imprint she founded in 2018—the book banning landscape in the children’s book space, and the importance of kids seeing themselves in books.

Namrata Tripathi

“As a culture, we make art about what’s important to us. And when entire swaths of our population—kids who are Black and brown, queer, disabled, poor or undocumented—don’t see themselves in books, we send a very clear message to them. The absence speaks loudly. So Kokila aims to publish stories that center those readers,” Namrata said.

She went on to discuss the incredible influence books have on young people from their earliest years: “Ask anyone about the 10 books that have shaped them, and most likely at least half of them are from their childhood because this is where readers and thinkers are made. So it is no accident that over the last many years, the focus of book bans have shifted more and more to the world of children’s literature,” Namrata said. “If books connect us— to ourselves, to our past, to our true histories, to each other—if they create lines of empathy and understanding, and most radically, if they show us not just what is or what was, but what can be, then the most dangerous thing about them is that they might lead to change.”

Watch Namrata’s insightful remarks below, and click here to learn more about Kokila’s mission and view their recent titles.