When I connected via Skype with Audrey O. Hinds, I was expecting advice on the importance of reading and sustaining a child's mental health during this new season of digital learning. Instead, I received a great lesson about diverse books and how they impact a child's ability to see the world differently.
Do you remember the first time you learned something extraordinary in one of your child's books? While reading to my five-year-old during a family read-aloud, I learned about the importance of teaching Black History even among Black families.
Though my daughter understands her culture, she did not realize there was a month set aside for Black history. Our cousin began to read a book detailing African American artists to my daughter, and I saw her eyes light up. Not only was she fascinated, but she was excited to hear more.
Subsequently, when I interviewed Audrey O. Hinds, a children's book author and publisher, I learned how important diversity is for establishing a child's confidence. Within her community, Audrey Hinds is known as an impactful educator on a mission. Her creative works are filled with purpose and precision. She is a safe space for individuals ready to share their stories and leave a creative legacy.
When she didn't see many books on the shelf with African American characters, Hinds knew she wanted to write books that helped focus on inclusion. As a former educator, her library of books is extensive, but she still felt called to fulfill an urgent need. Now her full-time role is assisting others in publishing diverse books with different types of characters and narratives.
Her main advice for parents who want to diversify their collection of books is to seek fewer mainstream sources. Some of the best children's books are published by independent publishers. Consider asking your child what types of books they would write if they could, and use it as a bonding exercise. Search for those types of books when considering what to add to your book collection.