Black Girl Books
Development Associate, NABU
Imagine your favorite storybooks from when you were a child. Imagine the pages, the illustrations, the storyline. Whether it was a whimsical fairytale, thrill-seeking adventure or a story on morals, think of how easy it was for us to let our imaginations run wild. Why? We were able to see ourselves and our identities represented within the pages of the books. Take the Disney princesses, for example – The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast. Only one of those characters represents a princess of color. Imagine how easy it is for us to picture ourselves as those Disney princesses when they look like us. For girls of color, this is a rarity.
We are in a time where 50.1% of kids in the U.S. under the age of 15, are non- white. Yet, only 13% of children’s books published in the last 25 years contain multicultural content. That’s half the kids in the U.S. who do not see themselves represented in storybooks.
The time has come for us to champion representation within the publishing sector. It’s time for us to be intentional about the characters we create so that all children will have the ability to dream of endless possibilities and let their imaginations run free. Lupita Nyongo pieced it perfectly with the publishing of her recent book Sulwe. “I had all of these windows into the lives of people who looked nothing like me, chances to look into their worlds, but I didn’t have any mirrors. While windows help us develop empathy and an understanding of the wider world, mirrors help us develop our sense of self, and our understanding of our own world. They ground us in our bodies and our experiences.”
We hope that NABU publishing can create further diversity in the children’s book market. Not only do children deserve to see themselves and their communities within the pages of their favorite fairytales, but they also deserve to be exposed to different cultures and traditions regardless of their skin tone, mother-tongue, and heritage.
Photo via Lupita Nyong’o’s Twitter page.