Here I Am: Celebrating Diverse Experiences in Children’s Books

Originally posted on The Loft’s Writers’ Block

One of the most serious jobs I have as a father is to get my daughter hooked on books. When I was a little boy, my father taught me how to walk to the Franklin Avenue library and back to our house, which cut down on my begging for toys and the Atari 2600 while keeping me out of gangs and other trouble in our neighborhood. It was in books that I learned that other worlds existed, and indulged (perhaps too much) in fantasizing I was someone else, somewhere else. In my dreams, I often imagined myself as white because all the characters in the books, the myths, the comic books I liked so much were almost always white. They were so unlike myself and my family: poor, alien, shouted at in the streets as Americans of all colors blamed us for the sorrow and hurt of the Vietnam War. So in my dreams I made myself white, too. Handsome, brave, heroic, perfect. Call it a nerd refugee survival mechanism.

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