Whether you’re in a library, classroom, or afterschool program there is bound to be a variety of books to select from. As a child, you don’t know the power in imagery, and the role it plays in life especially in developmental phases. As a child, you don’t know you’re being brainwashed through subliminal messaging in picture books.
Here’s why representation is important, especially in the Black Community. From my research on this topic, I gathered 9 points I’d like to share with you below.1) According to a study published in 2001 by the International Literacy Association titled African American Children’s Literature That Helps Children’s Find Themselves: Selection Guidelines K- 3 – “From the time that they enter school, most black children read literature that seldom offers messages about them, their past, or their future.
2) The books used in primary classrooms contain the same few characters, or they include certain characters who “the history books like to acknowledge by their contribution.” or who deem of importance (i.e., George Washington Carver, The Wright Brothers, MLK, and The Tuskegee Airmen).
3) Most stories say very little about the African Diaspora. It's taught that we became slaves, and some of us are sold into indentured servitude.
4) When you can’t find text that relates your life experiences.
5) For children, one of the biggest motivating factors is the ability to relate to the character that resembles them and their life experiences.
6) A question I often ask my younger self; How did I develop my sense of Cultural Identity was I spoon-fed what they wanted me to believe as an adolescent?
8) Modern African American/Black children’s literature, published since 1965, was created in part to fill a void, to ensure that African American/Black children would not continue to be virtually invisible in children’s books.
9) Literature for black children published by black authors first documented in around the 19th century. However, the books were banned from schools, bookstores, and even libraries. It replaced with books that deemed instant classics such as “Peter Rabbit, Charlotte’s Web, The Little Engine That Could, Scarlett Letter and Dr. Seuss.”
In conclusion, representation matters.