When my niece and nephew came into my life over a decade ago, I searched to find picture books with children of color as main characters. Representation is important. In particular, I was looking for stories with kids being kids in everyday situations, stories which were a challenge to find. I gave my nephew a collection of Ezra Jack Keats, and how thankful I was to find Not Norman by Kelly Bennett which was a contemporary book at the time. But it was even harder to find books with multiracial families. According to Diverse Book Finder, between the years of 2009-2014 there were 7-14 books published per year portraying multiracial families (yes, that’s 7-14 total books). No wonder I had a hard time finding the books I was looking for! In 2019 that number had increased to 44+, making progress.
About the time my nephew arrived, I got serious about writing. I knew if I ever wrote a picture book, I wanted him to see his family on the page. Representation is important. My niece served as the model for the main character illustration for When Daddy Shows Me the Sky. When my editor sent me samples from illustrators, I took one look at Kate’s illustration and said, that’s her.
At the heart, When Daddy Shows Me the Sky is about a daddy and a daughter learning from each other.
For my young readers: whether your family matches or you’re beautifully different, whether you were raised by two parents, a single parent, two moms, or two dads, whether you were raised in a blended family, by grandparents, or aunts and uncles, with lots of siblings or as an only child, your family has VALUE. A family is defined by love.
Keep looking up.