Children’s books that have characters who look like you

A few of the Instagram personalities I follow for lifestyle, fashion, and food have posted in recent years about all of the interesting things that are available to children of today that I never had access to: the ability to have books that teach multilingualism in an inclusive, non-cookie cutter way, customize children’s books so that the characters look like that child’s family (for example, if your mom is Chinese and your dad is Indian, you can have images of an olive-toned mom and a mocha-toned dad), and books that teach anti-racism and inclusion. Many of these books were made by people who felt unrepresented in children’s books, got sick of it, and decided to actually do something about it. Well, we really are the change we want to see, right?

I was giving some of these recommendations to my friend who is just over three months pregnant. There’s a lot of big questions when you’re bringing a child into the world: what types of values do you want to instill in this child? When and how do you want to teach them about racism in society and how to face it? Are you going to teach your child to be apathetic and indifferent, move along with the status quo (which is clearly oppressive and not working for anyone who isn’t White), or teach them to challenge the status quo, learn as much as possible, and actually speak up against it to effect change? How many parents or potential parents actually think about these issues or talk about how to address them? Perhaps not enough, which is why we still have the divided society in the state that it’s in today.

We have to be the change we want to see. We need to be the change we want to see.

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