I am an American
We are One Nation
Each week, this series will introduce you to an exceptional American who unites, rather than divides, our communities. In this installment, read about Sarvinder Naberhaus, a writer who hopes her book inspired by a dream about the American flag will unite people.
Each week, this series will introduce you to an exceptional American who unites, rather than divides, our communities. To read more about the American profiled here and more average Americans doing exceptional things, visit onenation.usatoday.com.
AMES, Iowa - It’s as if everything in her life led to this moment, said Sarvinder Naberhaus.
The Ames woman awoke with the words “blue sky and white stars” drifting between dream and waking. The image of the flag and immigrants at Ellis Island came to her. She began writing a book, “Blue Sky White Stars,” that she hoped would make children feel the freedom and unity that she found in America.
“It was put in motion even before I was born. This dream and this momentum ... from my great-grandfather who was aware that America was the light of the world,” Naberhaus said.
Her great-grandfather boarded a ship in India in the 1920s to travel to America but had second thoughts and got off. Her father, Harpal Bal, had the same dream, but his pocket was picked in Calcutta. A priest loaned him money to go to school. His education eventually allowed him to come to America in 1965, continue his veterinary
education and become an Iowa State University professor.
Naberhaus, 56, arrived with her family at age 4. She was the only face of color in her school class. Three times she was targeted with racist remarks.
But a woman later gave her a book, “Chester the Little Pony.” After that she spent her days sitting high on a tree branch reading books.
She went to college and became a teacher.
But it wasn’t until she had become an American citizen in 1996 and had children of her own, the last of three in 1999, that she decided to write her own books for children.
The dream followed, sparking an image of the flag, its colors a metaphor for the color of the American landscape and the multicultural faces of Americans.
“We are woven together with different colors and threads. The perfect metaphor for people literally woven together,” said Naberhaus, who was paired with illustrator Kadir Nelson to produce the Penguin book, released in June.
The book’s final page is an illustration of the flag on the moon.
“That’s how high freedom can take you,” she said. “It can take you to the moon.”
Sarvinder Naberhaus of Ames, Iowa, said she hopes her children’s book, “Blue Sky White Stars,” will bring people together.