Did you know that, in the children’s publishing industry, books are eight times more likely to feature an animal as the protagonist than a person of color?
In classrooms and home bookshelves across America, children are not seeing it modeled for them that Black children can be leaders too because it is not reflected in the media that they are exposed to from birth.
This fact makes my heart hurt…but it also fuels me to take action.
From the moment my first book was published by Make A Way Media in 2014, I knew I wanted to write beautiful books for kids that modeled equality, inclusion, and social justice for the next generation. I was (and still am) committed to helping young dreamers and doers “see themselves” in the pages of the books they read.
Fast forward 7+ years and I am proud to share that by the end of 2021, I will have fifteen diverse #OWNVOICES children’s books to my credit!
I truly believe that sometimes social justice can be as easy as introducing our children to diversity in children’s literature as early as possible. Children of all colors need to see Black and Brown characters as leaders as well. Seeing a character who looks like them in a book is essential for building self-esteem in kids because they understand that they matter.
They can see with their own eyes that others see and acknowledge them.
I’ve always believed that reading is magic. Providing endless opportunities for young readers to “see themselves” in the pages of the books they read not only reinforces the belief that reading is fun, seeing faces and places that look familiar only amplifies that awestruck wonder. Children of all colors need to see BIPOC characters as leaders, change-makers, peacekeepers, activists, love warriors, heroes, and SHEroes.
This passion has guided my career as a mom, #OWNVOICES author, therapist, attorney, CEO of Make A Way Media. That’s why I am excitedly orchestrating my latest (and most ambitious!) publishing endeavor to date. I also feel like it’s my most important one as well.
With the help of Kickstarter and my illustrator, Charlene Mosley, along with the inspiration of my daughter, Kayla (who is a real-life Broadway actress), I will be releasing the first Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess book as part of a five-part diverse picture book series about family, growth, and following your dreams beginning in April of 2021. The rest of the series will follow in a “rapid release” format of one book published a month.
As I said, this is a HUGE project!
This five-part diverse picture book series shines the spotlight on a little Brown girl who loves musical theatre and never lets anything get in the way of her dreams. It seems that everyone else has an idea for who she should be, but in the end, she discovers that she is the one who gets to decide. The series will also touch on important and timely topics like family dynamics, challenging gender stereotypes, acceptance, social justice, and inclusion.
Unfortunately, the aspirations and goals of young Black and Brown girls are often overshadowed by naysayers and well-meaning adults. One of my goals with the Kayla series is to help all kids understand that they have the right to be true to themselves and their dreams no matter what other people may think.
This series is not for the doubters; it’s for the dreamers.