The Beginning of Loving Lion Books
Why Loving Lion Books?
Two weeks after the birth of our first child, we left our beautiful, tiny infant with her grandparents and ventured out into the world for the first time since her birth. Our destination for this auspicious re-entry? A small, independent children’s bookstore.
We wanted to fill the bookshelves of our new baby girl. As avid readers, it was important to us that our child have beautiful words and pictures to hear and see in her early days, weeks and months. We knew the best thing we could do for her sponge-like brain was to read and read and read.
As we were looking through board books, a friendly staff member asked if we needed help with anything. I couldn’t find any books that featured babies that looked like ours - babies with beautiful brown skin and dark brown eyes - so I asked for her help. I wanted our daughter to see herself in her books and to see how babies and families like hers do beautiful, wonderful, everyday things.
The woman found a couple of books that had children with brown skin. Then I asked for families that looked more like ours - I’m white, my husband, Randolph, is black, and our daughter is both white and black. The woman blushed. She sent us to the “special families” section of the store, a tiny bookshelf with books about kids that in one way or another were considered not “normal” but “special.” I was heartbroken on the walk to the back of the store. It hurt me to think that my child might, even before she was in the world, was being told she wasn't as important as children with families with all white skin.
Knowing the number of non-white children in the world, in our country, in our state, and in our city, it felt so strange that there weren’t many books that reflected that reality and we began looking through every title. After studying the books, we soon saw that there were, in fact, no books that looked like our family. The woman apologized profusely, but she could not create books that weren’t there.
We left feeling deflated. Angry. And really, really sad. I am white and was raised in Minnesota, and have been a part of the racial majority in all of the places I’ve lived. Randolph, who is black and was born in Liberia, a part of the racial majority when he was a child. Since moving to Minnesota has experienced racism and a feeling of being an "other." However, that sense of belonging and representation at every level in his childhood, has never left him.
This excursion crystalized for us that our children would not feel that same sense of belonging and would not feel represented in the world in the same way we had been as children. And our worry, which was confirmed by research, began to grow our understanding that this lack of representation, this lack of celebration of themselves and their families would harm them. It would make it more difficult for them to see their world and themselves as they are: beautiful.
It would also harm their white cousins and friends, who might not see the beauty in other shades of people but only beauty of people with their shade of skin. It would also harm their cousins and friends whose parents both had beautiful brown skin or tan skin, as they would struggle to find their families represented too. We were determined that we could do something positive to help change this obvious wrong.
We searched the Internet for wonderful stories about kids of all shades. We found a few books with multi-ethnic families and a few books that featured kids and families of color. Many of the books we found addressed racism and told important stories about fighting against hate, and we loved them. We read them to our daughter and now our son, to their cousins and our friends’ children.
Still, we crave more stories that show everyday families doing everyday things for our kids to read. Children of color are the majority of children born in the US today, and yet the vast majority of children’s books primarily feature children who are white. In fact, children’s books feature almost exactly the same faces and families they did 30 years ago.
Our goal is to create more stories with children of color that reflect the everyday beautiful world all families live in. In addition, we want to give multi-ethnic families the option to create stories more reflective of their own family.
We believe our first book, "Love Family," will do just that. It celebrates the joy and fun of extended families from the perspective of a young girl.
As we grow, we will add more and more stories featuring characters of color, characters of all religions, and all types of family structures. We want to ensure that children of families of all looks, shades and makeups can see themselves in the books they read.
Our books will help ensure all children grow up knowing they are and their world is “special” and “normal.”