One day my son came home and would not take off his shoes. When we asked him “why,” he said some other children had told him his feet were dirty because they were brown. It was a reminder that how we needed to reinforce the positive self-image. Moreover, I think the other children’s development could benefit from more developmental exposure. So we decided to search for more children’s books that featured diverse characters. In this part of the country, finding these types of books proved to be very challenging. At one point, we asked a sales woman if she had any books with diverse characters, to which she replied ” I have some books with animals from Africa.” This didn’t help. Next, we searched the web and friends sent us books. For example, we found some Sesame Street books focused on appreciating differences and similarities. However, the options remained limited and dated. At this point I decided that I would Self-publish a book.
My brother shared a great organization called “ We Need More Diverse Books.” The main focus for this organization seems to be to provide a vehicle for authors like myself to connect our content with readers interested in stories which feature diverse characters. I was encouraged to find like-minded artists.
To develop my story “Joshua’s Amazing Gift,” I attended Diversity in Books workshop sponsored by an organization I joined called the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. One of the speakers said the number of books which feature an African American Character has largely stayed flat for more than 20 years. This is mostly true for other groups in America. Another audience member commented on the lack children with disabilities being represented in stories as well. So I am going to continue to encourage representation of everyone. If you agree that Diversity and Inclusion in Children’s literature is an important goal, please add comments.