I’m pretty sure I hadn’t even wiped the sonogram goop off my belly before I rushed off to pick out dresses and books for my unborn child. I was on a mission: My daughter was going to need all the pink dresses and all the books with brown babies.
Finding adorable dresses was easy. Finding children’s literature with pictures of children of color was not.
Books with white children and, like, ducks, were de rigueur, which I guess was fine for parents who were having white babies or ducks. But this was not going to work for my brown baby, who would spend a lifetime looking for her image in a pop cultural landscape that all but ignored children who looked like her. I wanted — needed — her to see her beautiful brown self reflected in the music and stories I hoped to feed to her as consistently as food. In my house, she would be visible.
Eventually, a friend helped me track down Ezra Jack Keats’s “The Snowy Day,” and the lovely “ ‘More More More,’ Said the Baby.” And my stepson gave his copy of Nikki Giovanni’s “The Sun Is So Quiet” to his baby sister. I eventually discovered the treasure trove that is Just Us Books, and works by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Eloise Greenfield. Still, the pickings were slim.