I recently completed a children’s literature summer course in which we were prompted to analyze the importance of representation in children’s literature. I was confused to read discussion post responses that expressed the insignificance of diversity.
Similarly to virtually everyone on this earth, I carry many social identities. And a multitude of life experiences have ranked my identities from most to least desirable from a social standpoint.
From a young lens, one of these experiences includes what I saw in media and books. Protagonists with happy endings simply never looked like me.
Instead of letting diverse books find me, I went searching. This year I read titles including
- Under the Udala Trees
- The Vanishing Half
- The Color Purple
- Honey Girl
- Things We Couldn’t Say
- Somebody’s Daughter
Prioritizing Black and more specifically African authors has been substantial in understanding my own social identities and deservingness of “happy endings”.
So in addition to understanding the importance of representation in literature for young and old audiences, it’s time for you to meet characters with storylines that not only parallel but praise your life, and your story.