When I was a child, I never read any children's books that had brown characters. All of the characters were white, and I could not relate to them. I did well in school, and I loved reading. However, I wasn't reading about my own life as a brown child. As I got older, I began to read urban fiction novels. I was finally able to relate to the characters. This took my love for reading to another level, and I eventually began to write more as well.
I published my first children's book almost a year ago on my 32nd birthday, October 24, 2015. My debut book, Jane's Precious Jewel, reached the number one spot on the Amazon Bestseller's list within 30 days of release. Since then, I've sold thousands of copies, and I've spoken with parents from all over the United States. The parents loved the book so much, and they were ecstatic about their children being able read books about children who look like them. One parent even said that her son did not excel in reading because he could not relate to the characters. However, he loved my books, and he even began to enjoy reading more. This made me wonder how many other children felt the same way. I knew that I grew up with those feelings, but I didn't know that I shared them with so many others.
This raised the question: Are children really color blind? Let's think about that for a moment.
I know some parents teach their kids to ignore skin tone (which is great). But, is this natural for the children? Some may disagree with this; however, my observations and responses from parents prove that children tend to relate better to characters who look like them and share similar backgrounds. They may still enjoy the popular stories that are a requirement for school. But, what do they choose to read in their spare time? Who is their favorite character in a book with diverse characters? Are they really color blind, or have they been trained to choose the most popular books based on a biased selection?