Why Am I Here? A Child’s Book About Purpose follows two children as they think about what the future can hold for them. What was the inspiration for your story?
I was inspired to write this story while watching the news one day. It was during the time of the protests and sometimes violent occurrences about police violence and brutality and race issues. I thought about how disturbing and hurtful it all was and I wondered, “If I am feeling this way, what must the children be feeling, especially children of Color?” That deeply bothered me and I began to ponder what I would want them to know. I wanted them to know that they mattered. I needed them to know that regardless of their background, skin color, zip code or even the ability of their bodies – they were all important and each had a purpose and a place in this life.
The art in this book is fantastic with all the bright colors and inspiring images. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Megan Rizzo?
Megan Rizzo is such a gifted artist! She was once an art therapist, so she truly has a gift for giving life to my words. Because of the serious message, but sensitive delivery, our goal was to evoke emotion through the illustrations, and Megan absolutely delivered! She truly understood my message, my heart, and she was just as committed as I was in reaching the children. Early on, we were in agreement that attention to specific features, body variety and skin tones would be crucial to our message. We were truly partners in expressing diversity, love and inclusion for all children. We wanted the beauty of the message to be received from looking at the pictures, whether or not the child could read the words. I believe we accomplished that.
What do you hope is one thing children take away from your story?
What I hope children take away from this story is that they each have a special purpose and a unique path to follow in life, made just for them. I want them to know they are each important and they each deserve a future that is bright. We need them, each one of them, in that future.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a couple of exciting projects in the works. One is the sequel to my first children’s book, Johari The Great. I’ve received many requests for another adventure for Johari, and it’s coming. Also, after my recent trip to Tanzania, East Africa, I was inspired to write a fun children’s book that introduces them to the Swahili language. I’ve been taking lessons for several months now, and I am very excited to share. Megan will soon be enjoying the new joys of motherhood, so we will be working around her schedule, hoping for early next year. She’s illustrated both of my books and she’s so important to me. She’s worth the wait!
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Why Am I Here? A Child’s Book About Purpose is a beautifully written picture book about diversity, dreams, perseverance, and potential. Written by Naomi V. Dunsen-White and illustrated by Megan D. Rizzo, the story follows two children that are contemplating their purpose here in the world. They wonder what they can do in life and imagine all the different possibilities. Some of the things they dream up are funny and whimsical, while others are realistic and inspiring.
With each whimsical full-color page, the message of diversity is made clear. All the children are different. This book showcases different cultures, genders, desires, and abilities. This allows anyone reading this exceptional children’s book to see representations of themselves and their friends. The many differences in children shown happily dreaming of their future highlights any child can become anything they put their mind to. The message of overcoming obstacles and limitations placed by other people is taught in a gentle manner through the graphics and the rhyming lines.
The message of unity and fighting against racism, ableism, sexism, xenophobia, and bigotry is presented in a manner appropriate for kindergarten and young elementary-age children. They are shown it is ok to have confidence, dream big, and keep looking for the next accomplishment. Readers are encouraged that they are not limited by their race, culture, gender, their bodies, or where their families come from and that others not like themselves are also not limited by these invisible boundaries. This compassionate story confidently tells readers that we are all able to dream and belong to this world.
Why Am I Here? A Child’s Book About Purpose is an awe-inspiring picture book that will capture young readers’ attention with the bold, colorful graphics and the well-thought-out story. The message of diversity and inclusion will stay with them as they can see themselves represented in the pages of this magnificent work.
Pages: 33 | ASIN : B09PZB2CKY
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Zara is frustrated by her weekly ritual of having her hair styled in traditional afro puffs, twists, and braids. She wants to have silky smooth hair instead. Zara’s mom then tells Zara the history of all the different hairstyles she puts her hair in, explaining the significance of each one and why Zara should be proud to have kinky curvy hair.
Author Zenda M. Walker is a licensed cosmetologist who turns her own memories of growing up and having wash day every Saturday with her own mom into this magnificent book. She recalls her father explaining how their hair is their connection to the Maroons of Jamaica that are descendants of their ancestors from West Africa. This history is brought to life in Know Your Hairitage: Zara’s Wash Day.
Walker gives readers a fascinating look at the different hairstyles and the meaning behind each of them. The historical relevance is a great topic of discussion for cultural diversity and teaching children of African descent to appreciate their unique hair. The stunning illustrations provided by Princess Karibo give this awe-inspiring picture book an edge to become an extraordinary experience for children. It is one thing to learn about hairstyles, but to learn the value and importance of your past and see it represented in literature is paramount for children of color.
Know Your Hairitage: Zara’s Wash Day is a must-read picture book for all children. The representation of culture, heritage, and diversity make this phenomenal book an excellent choice for teachers, parents, and anyone that has or works with young elementary-age children. This cultural journey will entertain and educate children of all diversities and show that just because someone’s hair is different, it does not make it strange or weird, rather it is rich in history and tells a story of its own. It will also help children struggling with their own kinky curvy hair understand that their hair has value and is part of who they are and where they came from.
Pages: 40 | ASIN : B0984H77V4
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, childrens books, early elementary, ebook, emotions and feelings, goodreads, kids, kids books, kindergarten, kindle, Know Your Hairitage: Zara's Wash Day, kobo, literature, nook, parenting, picture book, preschool, Princess Karibo, read, reader, reading, social customs, story, teachers, traditions, writer, writing, Zenda M. Walker