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Riya Aarini: “Don’t quit”

As a children’s writer, I have the opportunity to not only entertain but inspire with words. I like to think adults, too, enjoy reading children’s books, so the chance to make an impact is twofold. My picture book, Pickerton’s Jiggle, offers a meaningful message — that it’s important to shake off minor setbacks and move on. Young […]

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As a children’s writer, I have the opportunity to not only entertain but inspire with words. I like to think adults, too, enjoy reading children’s books, so the chance to make an impact is twofold. My picture book, Pickerton’s Jiggle, offers a meaningful message — that it’s important to shake off minor setbacks and move on. Young audiences are likely to find significance in this message, which is perhaps made more digestible through the rollicking rhymes.

Choosing to move on is an important part of being a truly contented person. One more person who learns to shake off the “dirt” of life (as mentioned in the book) is one more genuinely happy person. Happiness is contagious. A happy person spreads cheer to a wider circle, which, in turn, encourages a happy, productive society. It all starts with the individual.


As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Riya Aarini, an author of children’s literature. She writes both children’s fiction and creative nonfiction. Her stories inspire laughs and light bulb moments in the youngest of readers.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Growing up, I loved the written word — reading and writing. As a nine-year-old, I had big plans to write a book. But given my limited life experience at the time, I struggled to come up with a topic that would resonate. I knew I loved writing since middle school, where Literature was my favorite class. Eventually, I had the opportunity to study English Literature in college and was introduced to and inspired by the ingenious works of writers of British Romanticism and American Literature.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?

As a kid, I recall reading fanciful stories, like James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, both by Roald Dahl. I was entertained by the notion of going on an adventure facilitated by a giant, airborne peach. Can you imagine being transported to NYC inside a peach? It was simultaneously incredulous and fascinating! Chocolate, naturally, is a delightful treat, so a winding chocolate river and singing Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were doubly satisfying for the imagination!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Early in my career, I published my first children’s story with a well-known children’s magazine. It was an exhilarating moment to flip through the glossy pages and find my story brought to life by beautiful illustrations! I continued to submit my work to various publications afterward, but was met with constant rejection. For a twenty-something-year-old, it was discouraging. So, I took a step back from writing for a while. That was my mistake. Don’t quit!

It’s helpful to momentarily step back and evaluate, but, by all means, keep going! Achievement, success and even the slightest progress cannot happen by quitting. Perseverance is the important lesson I learned. Persistence is key in not only the creative fields, but in any meaningful endeavor — from the sciences to technology to sports!

Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?

As a children’s writer, I have the opportunity to not only entertain but inspire with words. I like to think adults, too, enjoy reading children’s books, so the chance to make an impact is twofold. My picture book, Pickerton’s Jiggle, offers a meaningful message — that it’s important to shake off minor setbacks and move on. Young audiences are likely to find significance in this message, which is perhaps made more digestible through the rollicking rhymes.

Choosing to move on is an important part of being a truly contented person. One more person who learns to shake off the “dirt” of life (as mentioned in the book) is one more genuinely happy person. Happiness is contagious. A happy person spreads cheer to a wider circle, which, in turn, encourages a happy, productive society. It all starts with the individual.

Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

Pickerton’s Jiggle is all about Pickerton Wickerton, a very particular pig. He has this quirky need to stay immaculate. But of course, he ends up falling in the mud. How does he handle this seemingly (to him) major catastrophe? I can say Pickerton figures out how to handle his upset with ease. I hope young readers pick up on this message when they read the book with a parent, grandparent or caregiver.

What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

Mistakes are a part of life. But it’s less of a mistake when a lesson is learned. I had this hope that my writing would keep others from falling down the rabbit hole, so to speak, and discover a better path. Pickerton’s Jiggle is just such a story, where the central character, Pickerton, realizes that shaking things off is always within an individual’s capability.

Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

A family read Pickerton’s Jiggle together and found it not only entertaining but helpful. The fun part about the story is the Pickerton jiggle, which kids love to do! But the important takeaway for them is to shrug off the little annoyances of life. The parent who read this book to her children said that her son, who has autism, saw the value of moving on, to keep going when messes happen — just like Pickerton does. It was especially meaningful for me to know that my story had a positive impact!

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

People understand that books have the incredible power to change lives. A lot of what is necessary to bring about positive change is already being done. But, to reiterate, parents should continue to read to their children. Choose books with a positive message and discuss the talking points with them. The exchange of ideas is important. There are a lot of great books from which to choose. If buying more books is not a practical option, visit the library or scour online resources for free books.

Donate children’s books to organizations that support underserved communities. Young people without access to quality books also need to learn the life lessons that can be gained from them. Families in underserved communities need children’s books that send a positive message. Children’s books are some of the best vehicles for influencing the lives of young readers and bringing about constructive change, starting at the individual and then societal levels.

Continue to support the literary arts!

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I believe leadership is the ability to influence a large number of people and make a difference for the betterment of society. The extent of leadership is dependent on the reach of influence. A leader can lead a community, a nation or be in the privileged position of leading the world in some good way. My definition of leadership revolves around positive (rather than destructive) influence.

Leaders and followers are interconnected and integral to the evolution of society. Leaders do not exist without followers — the reverse is just as true!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t quit. Pursue what is fulfilling to you. Whether you fail or succeed, the journey matters most.
  2. Success can take a long time. Sometimes it takes ten years to become an overnight success.
  3. Success is not the end all and be all. Doing your best deserves a pat on the back. Create your own definition of success, whether it is as ambitious as winning a prestigious award or as simple as writing a story that satisfies you as an author. Personal success and worldly acclaim are two very different concepts.
  4. Always be open. You never know what audiences will gravitate toward. At the same time, be true to yourself.
  5. Be willing to learn. The publishing industry is constantly changing. Stay on top of how the business is evolving so that you can keep up. Otherwise, the industry will leave you trailing far behind. Twenty years ago, eBooks were practically nonexistent. Nowadays, eBooks are ubiquitous!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One transformative quote I’ve heard is, “It is the journey that counts. There is no destination.” Yes! Life is a journey. No one knows exactly where it will lead.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I admire the lifetime accomplishments of children’s author Julia Donaldson. Room on the Broom is such a fun story. Julia was once chosen to be the Children’s Laureate, which is quite an honor and an estimable feat! She truly connects with young audiences through her written work, her songs and her theatrical performances.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Visit my author website: www.riyapresents.com

Follow on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/riya-aarini

Follow on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18632882.Riya_Aarini

Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/riyamuses

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


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