Dr. Stephanie Brown
Representation in the classroom matters
The American population is growing more racially and ethnically diverse every year. In fact, the Census predicts that Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians will outnumber whites for the first time in history by 2060. Therefore, it is more important than ever to bring more representation to children’s literature and to school age curriculum.
Representation in schools refers to the idea that if students see people who look like them, they will be less likely to feel underrepresented. I couldn’t agree more! Although I grew up in a very respectable school district, the curriculum lacked diversity. During elementary school, I can’t remember a time where my teacher read a book with main characters that looked like me. Those experiences in grade school motivated me to become an educator and an author.
My first book is called, “She Looks Like Me!” The main character is a little African American girl named Elena. She notices that the characters in the books that her favorite teacher reads do not look like her. It happens day after day. Elena feels sad because children need to feel seen, heard and represented in the classroom. Children need to feel validated. So, Elena goes on a journey in the library to find books with characters that look like her. Elena finds something amazing!
My second book is, “She Looks Like Me! The Activity Book”. It reinforces the story of, “She Looks Like Me!” while teaching children hidden and historical figures in Black History. It also helps children develop fine motor skills through coloring, tracing, and following patterns. It also has a lesson plan for parents and teachers. The books are apart of an educational resources hub I created called I AM Educational Series. I AM Educational series provides lessons plans for teachers and parents on hidden and historical figures in Black History, Women’s History and Hispanic Heritage. The goal of the lesson plans is to provide teachers and parents with free educational materials that bring more representation to children of color in the classroom.
Representation matters! Children of color should be able to look in the books in their classroom and say, “Hey! That person looks like me!”, instead of feeling underrepresented and undervalued. That is my purpose as an educator and as an author. I want to make sure that students of color see themselves represented well in children’s literature and school aged curriculum one student at a time.
Here is a link with information about the program from our website: