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This Bay Area Mom Launched A Children’s Book Series To Increase Representation of Black Boys In Literature

This Bay Area Mom Launched A Children’s Book Series To Increase Representation of Black Boys In Literature

Black Boy Joy!

A Bay Area mom launched a children's book series inspired by her son to increase the representation of Black boys in literature, making history as the only indie artist featured in a new Netflix series. 

Thomishia Booker is the author and founder of Hey Carter! Books, a collection of children's literature centering Black and brown boys. Booker was inspired by her son Carter to write the books, becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of representation of Black boys in children's books. The Bay Area native started from the ground up, building up the business book-by-book over the last four years, placing Black boys at the center of her stories about self-identity and joy, and working overtime to get her books recognized. While nine months pregnant, Booker was still pushing her message, hitting the Black Joy Parade in Oakland to sell her books with family and friends' help. 

Photo Courtesy of Hey Carter! Books

"Books are often a child's first exposure to the outside world and the doors to a child's imagination. Representation in stories is important because it allows children to see themselves and tap into their full potential. The characters within Hey Carter! Books were specifically designed to build a connection with the reader and create a sense of belonging," Booker told Because Of Them We Can.

"Brown Boy Joy," one of Booker's first books, has already received several accolades, being endorsed by the Black Caucus American Library Association and Association for Library Service to Children. The book was also featured on Netflix's Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, narrated by singer Jill Scott, making Booker the only Indie author featured among the cast of celebrities. The book was chosen for Bookmarks to create a social justice education framework centered around identity, respect, justice, and action. 

Photo Courtesy of @melaninmommy/Instagram

A full-time healthcare administrator and licensed therapist, Booker, uses her and other authors' work as a member of the Black Literary Collective in the Bay Area to help decolonize educational spaces. Many of her books, including "Brown Boy Joy" and "My Brown Skin," also offer Spanish translations. In addition to her book series, she operates a children's boutique complete with several educational offerings and accessories to encourage Black children's intentional representation.

Photo Courtesy of Hey Carter! Books

"The series intentionally focuses on Black boys in order to dispel negative stereotypes and provide a narrative reflective of their environment and culture. Each book is filled with affirmations aiding children in developing a positive self-identity. A positive self-image is foundational for children to value diversity, show empathy, and eventually stand up for social justice later in life," the author said. 

Booker says she is determined to show "happy Black kids living their happy Black lives" and will stop at nothing to see it through to fruition. In the future, she hopes to turn Hey Carter! Books into an animated series. 

"I hope to expand...into as many areas as possible where representation is lacking for Black children. This includes television, film, fashion, and toys. It is my hope to elevate Hey Carter! as a recognizable brand worldwide," Booker said. 

To learn more and order your copy from Hey Carter! Books visit their website here.

Photo Courtesy of Hey Carter! Books