I realized a few years ago that because we were only reading “classic” children’s books out loud to our kids, we were only reading books with white children and animals as main characters. (It’s not to say there are NO classic children’s books with people of color as main characters, just that they are few and far between. My journey to figure out why and wrestle through this issue is chapter two in White Picket Fences, so you can read more on that when the book comes out!)
Since that time, we’ve been more attuned to populating our bookshelves with images and stories that reflect the diverse nature of the human story. Two books were added this year that deserve mention because not only do they involve women of color, but they also demonstrate the powerful and courageous actions these women have taken throughout history. First, there’s the story of Ruby Bridges, a 6-year old girl who not only endured the taunts and hatred lobbed at her every morning on her walk to her newly-integrated elementary school, but who did so with peace because she had been taught the love and forgiveness of Jesus. She prayed for the people who screamed at her. This picture book tells her story.
Second, Little Leaders, a book that tells the (brief) stories of 40 black women throughout history and the change their lives brought through social activism, artistic expression, and accomplishments in other fields.
Books can be a portal into different times and different experiences that open up our sense of wonder and compassion. And they can connect us through time, place, and experience to those we haven’t had the privilege to meet in person.