Harmeet Mann/Etsy

These Punjabi board books help preserve the Punjabi language

Tasheal Gill/@tashealgill

Harmeet Mann, founder of @jaagderaho, a community organization for the farmer protests in India, has created board book sets in Punjabi, one of the first of its kind. 

In a set of 5, these board books are designed with images of vegetables, fruits, animals, birds, and colours that include the Punjabi term in Gurmukhi script, along with transliteration and translations in English. 

According to her Instagram, Harmeet Mann designed these books to share something she found was lacking when shopping for her own baby; “cute, safe, board books in my mother tongue”. 

There are a plethora of benefits that come with these adorable and educational books, including language, bonding, cognitive development, and memory retention.

“Young kids are like sponges and will soak up everything you teach them,” says Mann.

These books are pivotal for those teaching children a new language, and children who experience two languages from a young age typically become native speakers of both. The books are a guaranteed boost to help quicken the learning process, and work to preserve the Punjabi language.

The books also provide a great opportunity to bond and connect with whomever you read them to, whether it be your child, niece or nephew. Research suggests kids feel secure when they’re read to, and it also allows for caregivers to have a positive influence on how children perceive literacy. 

A 2013 study showed that “babies who are read to and talked to score higher in language skills and cognitive development, like problem solving.” These books are a wonderful way to verbally interact with children while teaching them their native language.

These books can also be used to help children develop concentration and self-discipline skills. When children are listening, they’re more likely to develop a longer attention span by sitting still and subconsciously elongating their memory-retention skills.

Harmeet Mann’s board books are especially helpful because of their duality; they are in both Gurmukhi script as well as English. It’s an incredible way to connect with Indian culture and pass down the Punjabi language to future generations. 

A language is at risk of being lost when it no longer is taught to younger generations, while fluent speakers of the language pass away. In urban areas, it can be rare to find a child speaking in the mother tongue with their family or friends, unless that language is preserved and taught.

When a language dies, the knowledge and ability to understand the culture who spoke it is threatened because the teachings, customs, oral traditions and other inherited knowledge are no longer transmitted among native speakers. 

A language is not only a vehicle for the expression of thoughts, perceptions, sentiments, and values characteristic of a community; it also represents a fundamental expression of social identity.

Language is particularly important to linguistic minority communities, such as Punjabis, seeking to maintain their distinct group and cultural identity, sometimes under conditions of marginalization, exclusion and discrimination. 

A language is a major aspect of the culture that speaks that language. When the language dies, a major part of the culture dies. By preserving languages, we preserve the cultures of those who speak them.

Harmeet Mann’s books are a gesture by which Punjabi culture and language can be passed down to future generations. 

You can find out more information on the books and how to order them, by visiting Harmeet Mann’s instagram @creativemannco, or check out a direct link to her Etsy below:


About the author: Tasheal is a screenwriter and poet who believes creativity fuels true happiness. She is studying her first year of Film Production at UBC. Tasheal first discovered her passion for telling stories when she typed up old manuscripts for her dad at the ripe age of 9. Ever since, she has fell in love with the art of storytelling. Tasheal is an Aquarius who uses sarcasm as a defence mechanism and enjoys binge-watching Frasier on a regular basis. Find her on instagram at @tashealgill

5X Press is a forum for opinions, conversations, & experiences, powered by South Asian youth. The views expressed here are not representative of those of 5X Festival.

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