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Meena Harris Books In Order

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Publication Order of Children's Books

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Ambitious Girl (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Meena Harris is the niece to Vice President Kamala Harris that has made a name for herself as the author of the novel “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea.” Just like most of the women in her family, female empowerment and social change is a family affair and she was not about to be left behind. She is the grandchild of Shyamala Gopalan Harris that was the mother of Maya and Kamala Harris and also a prominent civil rights activist and breast cancer researcher. She is also inspired by the spirit of the first female vice president Kamala Harris and Maya Harris her younger sister and prominent public policy advocate, civil rights lawyer and former head of one of the largest ACLU affiliate. As such, it is not surprising that Meena Harris the daughter to Maya follows in the footsteps of her illustrious forbears. She grew up in the shadow of these brilliant and strong women that showed her what it meant to live a life of intention and purpose. Meena grew up idolizing them and hence it is not surprising that at 36 she is the head of the female empowerment organization “Phenomenal” that fights for various social causes. She is also a Harvard trained lawyer and published the bestselling children’s novel “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea” in 2020.

Inspired by her mother and aunt, she decided to study the law and graduated with a bachelor from Stanford and got her law degree from Harvard Law School. Following a short career in the law where she worked for a global firm dealing in cyber security and data privacy, she realized that she did not like it that much. Growing up, her mother and aunt Kamala would often come home complaining that something unfair had been done to them at school. Her grandmother would often give her famous reply ‘don’t sit around complaining, do something about it.” When she was older, her aunt Kamala always urged her to take the lesson to heart and make contributions to issues close to her heart. She had always been political and encouraged her to vie for political office though she has said that she never felt pressured to do it. She also told her that there were many other ways she could use to make an impact. Following the election in 2016 where she was a member of the communications and policy team for her aunt that was running for senate, she started what she believed was a small side project. Meena found inspiration in “Phenomenal Woman” the famous Maya Angelou poem and began printing tee shirts with the words. What she thought was a small side project soon became huge and she thought why not turn it into something bigger and “Phenomenal” the organization was born.

Just like Kamala Harris her famous aunt who somehow managed to pen three books, Meena is now an author. Once she got married and had children, they started looking for children’s literature for their two girls. Meena Harris was proud of the fact that there was a ton of literature about historical women in the recent past. However, she felt that there was a dearth of real stories about girls that her children could relate to. She wanted stories with brown and black characters that were well developed just like with the adult books she had been reading. A report by School Library Justice that she read asserted that only about a tenth of all characters in children’s literature were Native American, Latino, Asian or Black. Being a Harris, Meena decided to right things and in 2020 published “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea.” The story focuses on children that take things into their own hands rather than wait for other people to do it for them. Even though it is written for children, the novel can be read by children and adults alike. Harris has asserted that while she was working in politics and advocacy, people would often come up to her asking how they could be of help. For many people, the notion of taking action and activism seems big, unfamiliar and specialized, which is why there is a need to demystify it from a young age.

Meena Harris’s debut novel “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea” is a picture book that is the true story of pursuing one goals and achieving them. Maya and Kamala are the residents of an apartment block that comes with an open courtyard. They believe the apartment complex needs a playground but the process of getting it is not going to be easy. They first need to convince the owner and he says no which means they have to try again and again. They learn that the project would cost a lot of time and money which the landlord is not willing to offer. Maya and Kamala then decide to band up with other tenants to turn the definite no into a maybe or yes over time. Meena teaches kids that they can make a difference in their communities and sometimes it is about coming together and breaking down seemingly hard projects into bite sized pieces. She also showcases the importance of dedication and teamwork towards achieving goals. The novel could be a great classroom read as it introduces the concept of improving the world around oneself and making a difference in the world. It would be great for encouraging children to reach out both inside and outside of class to attain their dreams and aspirations.

“Ambitious Girl” the second novel by Meena Harris is another children’s novel that asserts the importance of reaching for one’s goals. Too often, young girls are treated to the picture of strong women on TV being labeled too ambitious or too assertive. The lead in the story is a pint sized girl that sees this on TV and decides to change it. She goes on a journey of self discovery determined to right the wrong and challenges faced by girls and women who have been knocked down. She learns to own words such as “too this” or “too that” that were meant to beat her down and gives them new meaning. She also takes up power and space which is a lesson that many of the Harris women have learned over the years. The girl was raised to believe that the best thing one could have was ambition and that it is something that was to be celebrated. It meant having a dream and chasing after it even when others believed the attempt was futile.

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