Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes. So you could say that Comora’s Stories was created out of necessity. To instill a love of reading in our daughter as early as possible, we read to her anything with pastels on the pages between two covers. We quickly exhausted the popular picture books by Mo Willems, Dr. Suess’ deep catalogue, and of course, everything and anything Sesame, along with various other authors along the way. Moving onto Disney and its characters, my daughter, like millions of girls before her, became enamored with princesses, and bonded with one particular princess in particular. So much so, that we made a special pilgrimage to Disneyland and waited two hours in line to have our picture taken with that particular princess- Princess Tiana.
It was no secret why our daughter identified with Tiana so much. It was the first princess that looked like her. Sure Dora The Explorer was amazing and Doc McStuffins was the theme of her 5th birthday party, but beyond that we were hard pressed to find many other protagonist that looked like our kinky haired, almond eyed, coffee-colored skin daughter-either in print or in HD. Didn’t little black girls have tea parties? Go for walks with their parents? Have sleep overs? Get into all sorts of mischief with their siblings and assorted pets? Aspire to be fashionistas? Didn’t they just be…kids? One question loomed; Don’t Little Black Girls Have Stories?
The world we live in is visual. Images are used across every medium available to enforce, enchant, and indoctrinate. As parents, it’s our job to act as curators and put what our daughter sees into the proper perspective during her formative years.
Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once gave TED talk. It was about the danger of a single story. After listening to that TED talk we realized that every night we were inadvertently spoon feeding our little girl a single story. We became worried that our daughter would grow up with a misunderstanding of herself and possibly the world. If EVERY story about a little girl featured a character that didn’t look like her, whom she could not at least visually identify with, would the morals of the stories be lost on her? Would our daughter grow up thinking that the things in those books that happened to those girls couldn’t happen to her? Sooner or later she would figure out she wasn’t a princess-at least when we weren’t around 🙂 and it didn’t take her long to figure out her toys were talking back to her. It became apparent we couldn’t shield her from story time inequities by focusing on pigeons, pigs, sponges and other assorted seemingly neutral characters.
Right now our daughter is too young to understand the significance of Lupita Nyong’o winning an Oscar, or grasp the concept of Oprah Winfrey’s success and unless the Williams’ sisters take up competitive hop-scotch, our daughter simply isn’t interested-yet. What she does care about is story time. She looks forward to it every night. We aren’t sure if it’s a love of reading or just a ploy to stay in the land of the awake a few more minutes and frankly we don’t care. She is like every little girl on the planet. She just wants a story. She deserves a story, and she’s going to get one. Every little girl has a story. We just have to be brave enough to tell it.