Why Representation Matters

That’s me when I was around 4 years old.

When I was a little girl, I absolutely loved books. I loved the magical stories they told and the beautiful illustrations that helped further tell those stories. As a child, I even tried writing and illustrating a few of my own books.

However, I soon discovered that there was an undeniable pattern in the picture books that were available – none of the characters looked like me (or any person of color, for that matter).

At the time, I didn’t realize the huge impact that had on me. But looking back, I clearly remember thinking that only white people were special. I thought only their stories were valuable and important enough to share. And, worst of all, I thought that people of color didn’t make any significant contributions and that’s why we didn’t have books about people like ourselves.

I was born in 1985 and, in those 34 years, not much has changed (in terms of minority representation in picture books). The infographic above, shows just how underrepresented people of color are in picture books. A LOT MORE NEEDS TO CHANGE.

Growing up believing that our stories, our contributions to society, aren’t worthy of mentioning, can have a horrible impact on a child’s psyche and feelings of self-worth. I genuinely believe that I subconsciously steered away, for many years, from following my true passions, storytelling and illustrating, because I didn’t believe anyone would find worth in what I had to share. I hope to prove that wrong and one day be able to share my own picture books illustrated and written by me – a Mexican American woman born to immigrant parents.

My goal is to help represent the underrepresented, by writing my OWN stories, illustrating books with people that look like me (as well as people from all walks of life), and by sharing books by people of color that we should all be reading to our children, regardless of our background. I hope you join me in sharing more books written and/or illustrated by people from underrepresented groups.

I will soon start sharing some of my favorite books, but for now, what’s your favorite children’s book written and/or illustrated by a person of color?

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Make sure you check back and follow me on Instagram (@CynthiaGDeLaTorre) to get sneak peeks, updates, and opportunities to win some of my art.

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