Penguin Young Readers' Kokila imprint, which launched last year, is publishing the 14th Dalai Lama’s first picture book, The Seed of Compassion. Slated for publication on March 24, 2020, the book will feature stories from His Holiness’s childhood as well as lessons he learned while studying to be a Buddhist monk about peace, empathy, and other tools that can be used to create a kinder world.

Namrata Tripathi, v-p and publisher of Kokila, proposed the idea for a children’s book to the Dalai Lama in a letter about the need for a book that helps young people become who they are meant to be. Calling The Seed of Compassion “a conversation between His Holiness and the children of the world,” Tripathi hopes that readers are as encouraged by the Dalai Lama’s ideas and philosophies as she was when she first met him in 2003.

“Having a moment of direct connection with His Holiness [had] such an impact on me,” Tripathi tells PW. “It made me reconsider the power I might have as an individual to create positive change in the world because he believed that I could. That is a feeling I hope all young readers can have through The Seed of Compassion, because of course it is true that everyone can make a positive impact, and somehow that message is rendered so potently in the voice of the Dalai Lama.”

Kokila focuses on publishing diverse books that help children and young adults understand their place in the world, and the Dalai Lama’s story reflects the confusing reality kids are faced with today, according to Tripathi. “The Seed of Compassion, with its empowering message that tells all kids how they can bring more empathy to the world, reminds us that we are all interconnected and speaks to the very heart of the work we’re trying to do at Kokila.”

Debut Vietnamese artist Bao Luu, who lives in Houston, is illustrating The Seed of Compassion, which will emphasize that being more compassionate is a uniquely human trait that crosses all cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

“This shared experience between His Holiness and young readers is a way for him to offer his belief that building a compassionate world is already within us. This isn’t a matter of religion or spirituality, it’s a practical one,” Tripathi says.