We all know that reading is fundamental; however, it’s also important for children to see themselves in the stories that they read. In 2017, only 7% of children’s books were published by Black, LatinX or indigenous authors. As we move towards a more diverse population, the lack of representation across the diaspora in books is appalling. Non-profit organization NABU saw this inconsistency and decided to help close the diversity gap with NABU Publishing.
NABU Publishing is founded by Taniya Benedict, Tanyella Evans, and Isabel Shein. Together these women are making sure that reading is not only accessible but also representative of marginalized communities. Benedict who is the Director of Global Operations and Programs shared, “The significance of seeing one’s reality in a storybook, should not be taken lightly. When you grow up reading in your mother-tongue, and actively seeing yourself represented in illustrations, you develop self-confidence that is unbound and powerful. You begin to believe that you are the creator of your own destiny, and this intrinsic belief ultimately leads to self-actualization.” Currently, only 13% of children’s books published in the US in the last 25 years contain any kind of multicultural content. NABU Publishing is actively changing this.
The publishing company was birthed when the co-creators of NABU realized how much talent was in Haiti and Rwanda. They created a network of authors and illustrators who are creating engaging children’s stories for their respective local markets (and in their local languages) to help increase and encourage literacy amongst children. NABU Publishing is helping to take this a step further by translating the stories into bilingual English editions for the US children’s book market. This is incredible for second generation children and parents who want to make sure their children have diverse books or books with characters represented from their home country.
Every month, they will be releasing two new children’s books from up and coming authors and illustrators. To launch their program, today, on International Day Of The Girl, NABU Publishing chose two stories from their Haitian collection: Princess Maniya and Lila Plays Soccer. The books feature the original Haitian Creole and English translation side by side and strong girl protagonists. What a way to promote and encourage bilingual behavior amongst children! Given that NABU is a non-profit, the proceed from the books will fund NABU’s early childhood literacy work in Haiti as well as enable them to commission more creatives to create books in their language.
The organization is even going a step further by utilizing a one-to-one model. For each book that is sold, NABU will give a free digital copy to children in Haiti who are reading on tablets and smartphones. If you look on the back of each book, you’ll find a QR code and readers can see a live tracking of how many pages children in the NABU programs have read! So cool.
There are over 7,000 languages spoken in the world today and almost half of them are in danger of extinction. For Black communities, story telling has often been a way of passing down traditions, history and more. This is the direct way that culture survives. By creating NABU Publishing, the organization is encouraging the preservation of languages, traditions, and overall culture so that the next generation can benefit and thrive.
While your children may have access to books, there are many that do not. Purchase a copy for your child here and a digital copy will be sent to a child in Haiti. If you want to go a step further, you can donate $50.00 to NABU and it gives one child and their family access to reading materials in their mother tongue. If $50.00 is too much at the moment, you can donate $7.00 a month (that’s less than your Spotify subscription), which will give one hour of reading a day for a child. Click here to donate.
We love organizations that support young Black girls to see themselves, their strength, and their potential. Learning fundamental life skills and resilience through reading is an easy way to build our next doctors, lawyers, engineers, CEO’s and Presidents.
You can find out more information at www.nabu.org.