UT-Austin sophomore publishes children’s book highlighting women of color

Grace Robertson

As Pria Gokhale sat down to make some finishing touches on her children’s book, she felt proud to author a piece of literature that helps redefine heroism for children.

“I really want to deconstruct this idea that people are worth celebrating just because they did big things,” said Gokhale, a Plan II and economics sophomore. “The women that I feature are an antithesis to that idea. They’re heroes because they accomplish amazing things just by navigating spaces that weren’t intended for their success.”

Gokhale wrote, illustrated and self-published “Her Story is Our Story,” which features 10 accomplished and often overlooked women of color.

After stumbling across the @brownhistory Instagram page in March, Gokhale said she saw female revolutionaries and freedom fighters she had never seen before.

“(The page) showed me what representational education can look like,” Gokhale said. “It made me realize (that) this is totally something I want to do.”

Since publishing “Her Story is Our Story” on Dec. 3, 2020, Gokhale has sold more than 45 copies from the Kindle app or as a paperback on Amazon. The goal of the narrative, she said, was to feature women of all professions – everything from a factory worker to a British resistance fighter.

“Looking back on it, once I got to a certain age and I realized that (women’s) history does exist, it’s just not being shown to me,” Gokhale said. “I (felt) very sad that that was something I didn’t have access to.”

The production process for the book took around four months. Gokhale said the project was time-consuming because she wanted to include as many diverse perspectives as possible after growing up in London, Tokyo and Austin.

“(Gokhale) spent time in all these different worlds,” said Ali Sait, a University of Chicago public policy freshman. “She had a really unique experience growing up as a woman of color in these totally different cultures, and that’s formed who she is.”

Sait, who is also a published author, helped advise Gokhale throughout the writing and publishing process. The two met at a refugee center in Austin they both volunteered at during their freshman year of high school.

“She started thinking about what it would be like to research other women of color,” Sait said. “All through her freshman year at UT, it was something she worked on slowly, (then) this past summer ramped up and it came to fruition this year, which was great.”

Gokhale plans on donating all of the proceeds from the book to the Austin-based organization GirlForward, which provides resources for recently resettled refugee women.

“I believe in investing in your community, and I especially believe in investing in other women of color,” Gokhale said. “It’s a cause that I’m passionate about, and I wanted to streamline my efforts with one specific cause.”

Sophia Anderson, who taught Gokhale’s fourth grade class in London, bought the book for her two young sons and the pod of second graders she currently teaches from her garage. She said it’s powerful for kids to have these types of books available.

“The conversations that we have had (are) that you can do what you want to do,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t matter what people say or what people believe. You are a strong person, and you have a voice.”

Anderson said for kids like hers who don’t see a culturally and ethnically diverse group of women every day, books like “Her Story is Our Story” help elicit important conversations between parents and children.

“Even though children aren’t going to be effectively communicative about what representation feels like, I know for a fact that them being able to see somebody who looks like them in a book (is) a feeling they’re going to carry with them for the rest of their life,” Gokhale said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Sophia Anderson’s name. The Texan regrets this error.