CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s an idea born here in Chicago. A one-of-a-kind workshop where black authors can inspire others and reach younger children who may never see their stories pictured on the pages.
CBS 2’s Steven Graves takes us inside the effort.
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Chelsea is a happy 7-year-old girl who has noticed that she is not like the others.
“Sometimes my hair bothers me.”
Her friends sometimes tease her.
“And my friends say mean things they didn’t mean to say.”
But she learns the beauty of her hair.
“I think you look cute with that crease in your hair!”
The story of Chelsea, one that mirrors author Imani Spencer.
“It’s just a celebration of the melancholy little girl or boy.”
She grew up on Chicago’s West Side – now inspiring other kids through books.
“I see little children opening the book and saying ‘oh!'”
And she cherishes her work as a black author. Along with dozens of other writers gathering in Chicago this weekend.
An event organized by Malcolm X College to connect, learn and show their work to children.
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“Parents always came to tell me how hard it was for them to find books featuring black children.”
Chicago native Darryl Harvey leads the Black Child Book Fair tour.
He takes her around the country to bring African-American authors into the mainstream.
“It’s still alarming in 2022 that I’m going to these spaces and not seeing myself enough,” Spencer said.
And national figures show this disparity. Last year, about 77% of children’s book authors were white — compare that to about 9% of black authors.
That data, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center – which also reports that only 16% of children’s books published featured black main characters.
“That’s why we’re successful because there’s a market and there’s a need,” Harvey said.
Harvey wrote his first book after mentoring a young man.
“And it was age-appropriate. It goes through numbers and colors and shapes. But it constantly reinforces the message that ‘I can do anything’.
Become an author one day. But in the meantime, those in office will carry on.
“Be the change you want to see. So, I will keep showing up. keep writing these books. I won’t stop.
Inspiring more ‘Chelsea’ to come.
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The book fair is held Saturday at Malcolm X College all morning and afternoon.