port of harlem magazine
paranormal sagas
The Enchanting Power of Representation: Why Diverse Characters in Children's Literature Matter
Jul 27 – Aug 09, 2023
isabel cintra

zeka cintra

Once upon a time, I fell in love with the magical world of fairy tales. As a young Brazilian girl, I was captivated by dazzling worlds of fantasy and imagination, where good triumphs over evil and dreams come true. But I noticed one thing was missing from those beloved stories - characters who looked like me.

I longed to see the skin, hair, and features of Black children reflected in those timeless tales. I dreamed of the day when children of every race could open a book and know that they too could be the hero of any story. That inspired my life's mission - to bring the enchantment of diversity into children's literature.
Here are seven key benefits of diversity in kids' books:

The Value of Representation
Seeing diverse characters fosters empathy, broadens perspectives, and empowers children of all races.

Promoting Inclusivity
When children of minority groups see realistic portrayals of characters from their culture, it promotes a sense of belonging. Representation sends the message that their stories matter, helping them feel valued and accepted. It is important for children to see themselves reflected in the stories they read, as it can provide a powerful validation of their identity.

Breaking Stereotypes
Books starring diverse protagonists introduce unique narratives beyond stereotypes. They provide insight into new worlds, experiences, and traditions, challenging assumptions. By depicting diverse characters in a variety of roles and situations, children learn that people are not defined solely by their race or ethnicity, but by their individuality and the choices they make.

Building Cultural Awareness
Rich representation exposes children to customs, languages, and traditions different from their own. By reading about characters from diverse backgrounds, children develop a deeper understanding and respect for different cultures, fostering a more inclusive and tolerant society.

Amplifying Marginalized Voices
By including diverse voices in children's literature, we create opportunities for marginalized authors to be heard and celebrated. It ensures their stories are valued.

Boosting Self-Confidence
When children see characters who look like them overcoming challenges and achieving great things, it inspires them to believe in their own potential.

The Positive Impact on All Children
Critics sometimes argue stories should remain faithful to their original form. But I believe classic tales can be reimagined to reflect inclusive values that resonate with today's diverse young readers. Diverse books teach that while characters may look different on the outside, inside they share common dreams, fears, and hopes. By exposing children to diverse characters, we foster empathy, understanding, and a sense of shared humanity.

By incorporating representation in kids' books, we empower children of all races, foster empathy, and nurture a more inclusive and accepting society. The enchanting power of representation lies in its ability to ignite young minds, broaden horizons, and inspire generations to come.
Note: Her Special Edition Hardcover Black Diamond Collection, designed for kids aged 6-12, includes three magical tales with illustrations by her brother, Zeka Cintra.

Nigeria has the largest Black population on earth, Brazil second. Brazil Has More Blacks Than the USA: There are about 73 million more Africans in Brazil than in the United States. Over half of Brazil’s 215 million inhabitants—56 percent or about 120 million people—are Afro-Brazilian. Only 14.2 percent or about 47.2 million people in the United States self-identified as Black.
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