Twins tell stories to educate children and donate books to schools in Sri Lanka

Two future medical health professionals have launched a series of books called Twin Tales, aimed at highlighting diversity, communicating health information and helping children become more inclusive.

“We wanted to play a positive role, including encouraging people to get vaccinated,” said Swathi Anphalagan, one of the book series’ co-creators and a student in London.

Anphalagan was inspired to create the book with her sister after they both volunteered at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Brampton. It was there that they saw the need to communicate health information to children whose lives have been drastically changed by the pandemic.

They published their first book titled, “Ahana got a vaccine” in the summer of 2021. He tries to tell children why vaccines are important and acknowledges any fears they might have about needles.

The twins don’t stop there. They have written and self-published a total of four books so far through Amazon. Two of the books deal with vaccines and the other two deal with the acceptance of people with skin diseases and disabilities.

In fall 2021, they entered a Bright Ideas Pitch competition, where groups and individuals interested in creating social change could pitch their ideas to the judges and win grants of up to $1,000. They used the money to create their website and donated 15-20 of their books to two schools in Sri Lanka.

A need for representation

“Our ethnicity is Tamil, of Sri Lankan descent, so that’s why we wanted to give back to our cultural and ethnic community,” Anphalagan said, adding that she also wanted children who looked like her to be represented in the books. that they read.

Anphalagan said his parents put them in touch with teachers in Sri Lanka, who liked the books; many mentioned the importance of sharing representative books with their students.

Students in Sri Lanka read donated books from the Twin Tales book series. (Submitted by Shurabi Anphalagan and Swathi Anphalagan)

A key element of all their books is diversity.

“As individuals from a minority community, we don’t really see ourselves in literature or even in children’s books,” said Shurabi Anphalagan, co-creator of Twin Tales.

“That’s something we wanted to eliminate with our books, including characters from all types of backgrounds,” she said, adding that the characters in the books had diverse ethnic names.

Not seeing yourself portrayed in literature can subconsciously impact your confidence, your choices, and even your media consumption, Shurabi Anphalagan said.

The twins also donated their books to a school in Scarborough this spring. There they read their books virtually in three classrooms and held workshops to help build students’ self-esteem.

“We thought this could be a resource for them to learn positive values ​​of resilience and acceptance, as well as become role models and health advocates for young children around the world,” said Swathi Anphalagan. .

Colin L. Johnson