Always Anjali (Always Anjali #1)

by Sheetal Sheth (Author) Jessica Blank (Illustrator)

Always Anjali (Always Anjali #1)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Always Anjali

Meet Anjali! She's the spunky star of this picture book with a timeless message about appreciating what makes us special and honoring our different identities.

Anjali and her friends are excited to buy matching personalized license plates for their bikes--but Anjali can't find a plate with her name. She is often teased about her "different" name, and this is the last straw. Anjali is so upset that she demands her parents let her pick a new name! When they refuse, Anjali decides to take a closer look at who she is--beyond her name--and why being different means being marvelous.

Actress and activist Sheetal Sheth has penned a deeply personal picture book about the experience of feeling othered and the journey toward embracing yourself.

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Kirkus Reviews

The book's message is laudable, and the protagonist is delightfully sparkly ... It's an affirming read that will resonate with many readers.

Review quotes

Sheetal Sheth
Sheetal Sheth is an award-winning actress, producer, author, and activist. She is also the author of the Always Anjali picture-book series and Making Happy. She is known for her provocative performances in a wide range of film and TV roles and for being a fierce advocate of traditionally marginalized communities. She is one of the founders of the nonprofit For the Love of Reading, served in AmeriCorps, and is currently on the board of SAYA and the advisory board of Equality Now. She has had op-eds published on CNN, The Daily Beast,, and Thrive Global. Although she was told she'd have to change her name to work, her successful career has trailblazed paths for other women of color across media. Visit her at

Lucia Soto was born in Spain and is now based in London. She aims her brushes at giving voice to the stories we all need to hear, creating powerful characters with relatable families and strong communities, and surrounding them with colorful worlds lit with the Mediterranean light of her childhood. Visit her at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication date
April 25, 2023
Always Anjali
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV039090 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | New Experience
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Friendship in children
Individual differences
Cultural pluralism

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