Monday, March 17, 2014
The Real Kids Readers (and Me)
Father and son Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers each published a compelling essay in the New York Times yesterday regarding the absence of children of color in children's literature and the adverse impact created by this lack of representation. The harsh reality is in the numbers. (Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about people of color according to a study cited by the authors.)
I was fortunate to be hired in the late '90's to work on a children's books project called The Real Kids Readers, a series of 48 books for children (Levels 1, 2 and 3) illustrated with photographs. In my role as art director and photographer, I knew the casting had to be multi-cultural and contemporary. Working in NYC meant finding our subjects through a network of modeling agencies and friends. It was a delight to work with such a neat range of individuals. Most of the books are still in circulation and many have been translated in to Spanish. Yet I am the most proud of the diverse kids we found to tell these stories while promoting literacy, fostering role models, and providing entertainment to children and their caregivers everywhere.