image credit: GUY VIAU
Society practically spoon feeds us a certain standard that we ought to aspire to attain. Wear this clothing size. Have this texture of hair. One person who is working to make us feel good in our own skin is Betty K. Bynum with her literary series, the I’m A Girl Collection.
Geared towards young girls ages two through nine, her collection of books promote positive images for our little ones of color and have been praised throughout our community from celebrities like Hill Harper and Debbie Allen. Landing an exclusive deal with Target, Bynum’s collection includes age-appropriate reads for a variety of ethnic backgrounds that include I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl! and soon I’m a Lovely Little Latina!, Hooray! I’m a Girl in the USA! and I’m an Awesome Asian Girl! among many others. I recently emailed with Bynum about her 12 book series, the importance of self-empowering young girls of color and the road to getting her literary vision published.
Madame Noire (MN): Why did you feel such a literary series is important to today’s young girl?
Betty K. Bynum (BB): Our girls look towards mainstream ideals of what “beauty” is and too often those ideals are not representative of the natural beauty of little girls as they are. They are constantly being told that they are too fat, not fat enough, too dark just by the images of women who ARE being made celebrities. I want to show little girls in the form of picture books that for that precious time in their childhood (and it goes by so fast) they are pretty in every color, shape and size and hair texture. And that good manners are important.
MN: What inspired you to create the I’m A Girl Collection?
BB: I originally started with one title, I’m a Pretty Black Girl! I shared it with my son, who was much younger when I started all of this, and he said, “Mom, that’s good, but what about the other girls? They are going to go to the library and they want a book about them too.” He attends school with Indian, Asian, Latino, White, and of course, Black kids, and he inspired me to see the world that he is growing up in as he sees it. We have close friends and neighbors who are of every nationality. And with that, I broadened my perspective to realize through my intense personal research and conversations with friends that so many girls of color also go through the same esteem issues. That is how The I’m A Girl Collection got started. Because my child challenged me to think in a global sense.
MN: What are your hopes with this collection?
BB: I would love to have the books become the kinds of books that little girls will look back on as adults and say, “I remember those books and they helped me to feel good about myself – and I loved them.” That is simply my hope, that the books become a kind of legacy of love.
MN: Is there a reason why you chose to focus on girls ages two through nine?
BB: This is the age that they are like little sponges. Children soak up so much so I want to give them something beautiful and positive that they can always go back to and look at the pages and say, “yes, that’s me.” Books can do that more than any other outlet because they have the kind of power to stir the imagination.
MN: What can the readers and parents look forward to with your 12 book series?
BB: I want to make each girl the star in her own book. And that means we will follow her through her world, and that world can expand to include the characters for all of the books so that it becomes a cross branding for the Collection.
image courtesy of Betty K. Bynum