Prakash L Dheeriya, PhD – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

I don’t have one book, but 20 children’s books. They are part of a series called “Finance for Kidz”. They were published simultaneously.
These books are written in a child-friendly format, from the perspective of 5-6 year old, and have financial lessons weaved into the stories. Parents and children work out the exercises at the end of each book, thereby reinforcing the financial concepts learnt in those books. I wrote these books because I have been teaching finance for over 2 decades (I am a Professor of Finance) and have 2 young boys, ages 5 & 7 years old. Newspaper articles covering these books actually suggest that these books are meant for all ages, and not just for kids, since they are written in such simple, jargon-free, easy to understand language.

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born in Mumbai, India and I came to the US in 1984 to get a doctorate in finance. That was one of the ways of entering the US but it was risky, since I had never left home.

I got my PhD in 1987 and started teaching, since universities were the only group of employers who would sponsor me for a “green card”. After settling down in Los Angeles, and having 2 boys, I decided to write these books in summer of 2009. I saw the effects of the financial meltdown all around me and decided that we need to start solving the problem from ground up. Hence I started writing these books which explain basic financial concepts to children in elementary schools. I know that these concepts can be taught, as long as they are in a form that kids can digest. So I wrote these books in a story book form, with a family of 5 characters (huband, wife and their 3 kids) with financial lessons embedded in those stories. At the end of each of those books are exercises that parents can do with their children, which strengthens the learning on part of their child. I really believe that these books are meant for everyone, but, since they are brightly illustrated, and are written from a child’s perspective, they will appeal more to the children than the adults.

What inspired you to write this book?

My 2 boys, Kapil (7 years) and Vikesh (5 years) and the effects of the financial crises happening all around us.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I self-published because the mainstream publishers did not want to categorize it as a text-book in finance, nor did they think it was a children’s book. In any event, from a finance point of view, it made more sense for me to invest my own capital and reap the rewards.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

In my professional experience, I have to write refereed journal articles in my discipline. That is evidence that I am being current in my profession. But writing a children’s book is completely a new experience. It is extremely difficult, in my opinion, to write a children’s book on finance, because, you have to think like a child and then look at the world around you, and ask questions like a child, and then try to explain complicated financial concepts in a language a child can understand.

It was challenging, but I managed to come up with the examples that I needed to explain complicated financial concepts.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

As I said before, thinking like a child, experiencing the world like a child, and trying to explain finance to a child in a manner that he/she can instantly grasp.

How do you do research for your books?

I didn’t do much research. I came up with a list of topics that every child should know, in terms of finance.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I think people still find it difficult that books like mine can teach principles of finance.

What are you reading now?

My plan, if I get time, is to read “The Quants”, and other books explaining the financial mess we have inherited.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I like to read books that make me think. My favorite authors are Ayn Rand, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell. I think it is amazing how they invented a world of their own, with great characters, and yet make the books difficult to put down.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I am planning on a series of books “for Kidz”. I am looking for authors who will write something like
Biology for Kidz
Astronomy for Kidz
Archeology for Kidz etc etc

These books MUST be written in a child-friendly language, be free of technical jargon, must have the 5 characters (from my books) and be written from the perspective of a 5-6 year old. I think it can be done.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Just do it. And do it because you want to leave a legacy or something for future generations. It is a great way to leave a mark in this world.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I have been responding to blogs on parenting and financial issues, donating my books to PTAs for their fund raisers, going to book fairs organized by schools. Very soon, I may start classes that will teach children these topics that I covered in my books.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Readers can get the books from my website http://www.finance4kidz.com
They can also find me on facebook (“Finance for Kidz”), twitter (finance4kidz). On Amazon, just search for “dheeriya” in the author field and you will get all of my 20 books listed.