Malvernite Carol Basdeo said that one of her biggest goals as a mother was to show her two children — Kayla, 10, and K.C., 8 — that they could pursue any career they wanted while helping them develop a love for learning. She believed that she could accomplish this through her favorite subject, science.
“My belief was that I wasn’t going to decide their career path for them,” Basdeo, 39, said. “But as a parent, it’s my responsibility to expose them to all the different facets that’s out there so that they can make the proper decision.”
Basdeo, who was a bank teller for more than a decade, now owns Nassau HVAC Supply Inc. in Lynbrook, and has also become known as an author. A native of Guyana, she launched the first of four short children’s books with science themes in April 2018. She got the idea for the first one, “K.C. & Kayla’s Science Corner: The Apple Experiment,” from K.C., then 5, when he came home excited about a school experiment.
“My first book was based on my son’s experience,” she recalled. “He’d done the apple experiment” — in which he placed an apple in a bowl of water, saw that it floated, and then explained why.
Later that evening, Basdeo wrote her first draft in a new marble notebook in about half an hour. “I wanted my kids to remember their childhood,” she said, “and that’s why I based my story on them and their experiences, so they can look back on their memories.”
Basdeo’s books, which she is calling K.C. & Kayla’s Science Corner series, are all published by MindStir Media. Her series garnered recognition in the children’s book categories of two national book competitions last month, the Manhattan Book Awards and the Moonbeam Awards.
All four books are aimed at first- and second-graders. They teach science concepts through stories accompanied by instructions for easy-to-perform experiments. “I really did believe in it, and I thought that it was something that kids would love,” Basdeo said. “I think the part that I enjoyed the most was when I would go to the schools or the libraries and I would read to the kids. Just to see the look on their faces — that really gave me the motivation to keep going.”
Basdeo had planned to do a book reading at the Queens Public Library as part of Indie Author Day on Nov. 7, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the event online, and it is now scheduled to take place on Saturday. She will read books to children via YouTube Live.
“It’s different when you’re in the room physically with them, because you can move around and kind of feel the energy, and I like that,” she said. “When you’re on a computer, you don’t really feel that.”
Basdeo and her family emigrated from Guyana to Elmont in 2002, then moved to Houston, and then to Queens, where they lived for more than a decade. They moved to Valley Stream a few years ago, and to Malverne four months ago. She met her husband, Neil Sooroojballie, in Guyana in 1999.
Her career path, too, has been something of a journey. “I’ve worked as a cashier, a bank teller, a telemarketer, a warehouse assistant manager, a teacher in Guyana, and plenty of other jobs,” Basdeo said. “Every job teaches you important principles, and those are the principles that you can use in your everyday life.”
Kate Justine, a close friend from Queens, said that Basdeo was moved moved to start writing when she left her job as a bank teller. “She was really inspired to share something with the next generation,” Justine said. “She wanted to show children that they can really be whatever they want and still have fun.”
Basdeo said that Justine acted as an “extra pair of eyes” who helped her get her thoughts on paper when she wrote her first book. “You could tell that this was something that she really wanted to pursue,” Justine said. “It’s something that everybody can relate to, and her success inspired her to write more books.”
Basdeo said she hoped the books would leave a legacy for her children, a philosophy passed down to her from her grandfather Cyril Lalloo, who died in 1999. “I actually had a bracelet from his mom,” she said, “and I told him that’s how our family would remember him. When I got the recognition for the books, it meant so much, because it was my way of leaving my legacy behind for my children and grandchildren.”
Basdeo said she hoped to publish more science books in the future, and to see them offered by more Long Island libraries. “Not too many children realize that science is such a vast field,” she said. “I hope to continue spreading that knowledge to children to help them experience the same joy that I have for this subject.”
Timothy Denton contributed to this story.