How I Knew The Mission Was Accomplished Before The Book Release
One thing that is undeniable is how much I look like my mother. We look so much alike that she will stop me, mid-conversation, just to remind me of how much I resemble her when she was in her 20’s and 30’s.
Well, when my son was about 3 months old was the first time it occurred to him, this resemblance between my mother and me. There I was, giving him a mid-day bath. My mother was visiting from Ohio, and since she didn’t want to miss a moment of seeing her first and only grandson, she was right there with me in the bathroom as I wrapped him in a blue pastel, bear-hooded towel for infants. He was at that stage, you know, where breastmilk strangely left his breath smelling like fairy’s kisses and he was showing signs of being used to being out in the world.
I will never forget the look on his face.
First, he looked at me. And then, he looked at her. Then he looked back at me, and the eyes widening grin that he gave us is what made it clear that he had just made the direct association. Perhaps he thought we were identical until that moment and was amazed to find that we were not, in fact, one in the same. Or, maybe he was seeing for the first time how much we look alike and the delight fascinated him. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a 3-month old baby. All I know is that it’s a moment that my mother and I will always think of fondly, and when she mentioned it the other day, I knew exactly what she was talking about.
So, as she begins to take me down memory lane to this ah-ha moment, my son overheard her telling me this story via FaceTime. To him, her rendition of, “Then he looked at you, then he looked at me…” sound a lot like an audio snippet for a TikTok video that I created a while back. See, initially, I created it in Instagram as one of my very first Reels. Later, I repurposed the video, though, and put it on TikTok since that’s where I focus entirely on author life and homeschool mom stuff.
The video uses a sound that lives rent-free in my head, and it apparently lives rent-free in his head, too. The video captures the first time he looked at the illustrations of my children’s book. At the time, they were a work in progress and only my illustrator and I had seen most of the pages. Yet, because we had not shared it for feedback with anyone else, I thought it’d be interesting to put a few pages in front of my 3-year old son to gage reaction. Much to my surprise, his understanding of the characters, the setting, the concept were spot on.
How They Compare
The fact is, children are visually perceptive, even if they don’t know the full background involved with what they see. They can easily draw comparisons between themselves and the characters in picture books. And when children can see themselves in the stories that they read, it heightens their awareness.
They begin to pick up on similarities between themselves and the characters. Consequently, the associations build their understanding of what’s happening in the story, at the very least. This is how learning takes place. And in this case, learning that someone cares enough to write a children’s book that has familiar connections to those that you make each day is what’s happening.
With my son, he believed that the book featured him and his dad. Though, my illustrator gave the characters their own unique physical features, their images inspired by photos of my son and his dad completing home improvement projects around the house.
How You Can Support The Mission
One thing that I told myself that day, over a year ago now, is that I had to do everything I could to bring awareness to my children’s book and others like it. With my son’s acknowledgement, we accomplished the mission of empowering Black boys by allowing them to see characters that they can relate to when they look in the mirror and inside of their households.
To join me in furthering this mission, buy a copy of “Little Mr. Fix It Assists With The To-Do List” for someone you care about who needs to see more diverse images in picture books.