February is not only my daughter’s birthday month but Black History month. As an African American woman and mother I know how much representation matters in children’s books and beyond.
When I was a child, my mother made it her mission that all of her children saw themselves in as much as they possibly could. This came to include books, movies, toys, dolls, and even board games. For her, it was imperative that we saw a representation of ourselves in a time when there was not much emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Growing up, Black Lives Matter was not as prevalent as it is today. Disney’s princesses didn’t include Tiana. We didn’t have an African American President, First Lady, or Vice President. To find African American representation in movies, television, toys, etc. was a much more difficult task when I was a child.
As the site Maja Books points out, representation of all races is changing in children’s books. While white characters in 2018 represented half of children’s books’ characters, the push to provide representation of all races has become greater.
Representation Matters In Children’s Books & Beyond
Reading is one thing many agree is never too early to start. From the moment my daughter was born I began seeking out books that represented those who looked like her. My goal is for her to see books that show African Americans as the star of her books. Diversity is just as important. I want her to see African Americans alongside all races shine.
In a world where my daughter is the minority, I want her to know she is still represented. I want her to know that she matters as much as anyone else. That diversity doesn’t mean discourse.