Why Children's Books?
Last week, I read (ok,
listened to) the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek.
I have made it my 2018 goal to read at least 2 books a month. I am counting audio books. No, it’s not cheating. I’ve also made it a goal to walk more. Listening to books on my morning walks has been magic.
Start with Why proposes that, in whatever work you do, you must first begin with why. Why are you doing it. The “why” inspires and motivates people to act. Unfortunately, we too often begin with the how and what. That’s easy. Start with why.
This morning on my walk, I began thinking about the why. Why did I begin my writing journey with children’s books? I feel that my writing is moving from soaring down the runway to achieving some lift. I have taken time to learn. I have braved my fears and sent copies of my first draft to friends for feedback. I have registered for my first writer’s conference. I call myself a writer. This is huge for me.
But, why children’s books?
It’s because I want to inspire little brown girls and boys to be amazing in this world. I want to see our stories in print. I want to diversify who and what gets published. I want children who don’t always see themselves in books, to know they are seen and loved.
The truth is that I began writing several years ago. I found a coach to deal with the demons I had to release. I blurted out that I always wanted to be a writer, a commentator. I wrote a memoir that sits somewhere in a folder in my computer. But, that’s not my calling right now.
As a child, I would create the most elaborate stories. Usually told behind the bathroom door, out loud. That was my only place of solace. The only room with a lock on the door.
I got lost in reading. I loved summertime when I could walk to the library every day and go through dozens of books. The lives of the children in the books seemed so fun, so far away, so easy. I wished for that life.
I made up my own stories in that blue bathroom. My mom would hear me. She would knock on the door and ask, “are you talking to yourself again?” Yes, I was.
The stories I made up were always about characters that didn’t look like me. For years, I made-up stories about a royal British family. I even used accents when I told their story.
All these years later, I am still surrounded by other's stories. I think about the books, podcasts, and inspirational words that fill my media channels. Most of the voices that inspire women to be vulnerable, to lean in, to be bold are white women. Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sheryl Sanderg, Glennon Doyle Melton, and Brene Brown. Yes, there is Oprah Winfrey. Thank goodness (but, she really is in a category of her own!).
Why am I not bombarded by more diverse voices? We are no less creative, inspiring, amazing.
Individual and collective identity, how you and I take up space in this world, begins at such a young age.I begin with children’s books because I want to tell stories that validate our brown skin, our creativity, our realities. That is why.