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 me feel like I was part of those magical worlds. As a child, I even tried writing and illustrating a few books of my own.

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 there weren’t books about people like us.

I was born in 1985 and, in those 35 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. And I hope to see more books from other underrepresented individuals, so that kids can grow up knowing we are all worthy.

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