Children’s books are a vital instrument in developing young minds, and books, like mirrors, reflect our own experiences back at us; thus, reading is a form of self-affirmation. Sontia Levy-Mason, an author and publisher, sees the need to correct the lack of Black representation in children’s literature by producing self-empowering content that reflects the Black experience.
Mason will be reading her latest children’s book ‘You Have a Divine Purpose’ at Nafzger Park Thursday, September 16 from 6-8 p.m. The book encourages children and adults to embrace their individuality and live fearlessly in the path of their dreams.
This exciting, uplifting experience is for everyone in the family. Participants will be able to play games and other activities after the reading. In addition, swag bags with a coloring sheet, crayons, and a keepsake will be distributed.
“I create things. So that little Black girls can see themselves and can be excited and happy about seeing themselves on covers of coloring books and journals,” said Mason. “I noticed that a lot of people my color, we just kind of get trapped in that little box, if you will, and I wanted to be able to do things that made people not feel like they had to stay in that box.”
Growing up in Northeast Wichita, writing and reading became Mason’s escape, taking her beyond the walls of her house at a time when things were at their worst. Mason determined that she wouldn’t become a product of her environment at a young age and blazed her path in life.
Mason has used her experience as a child and as the mother of a Black child to help children who read her books find their purpose.
“If my daughter felt like how I was feeling, I would want her to know that she has a purpose. That’s pretty much where this book came from; it’s dedicated to her. It’s about her and it’s a reminder for her even when I’m not there that she has a purpose even when people make you feel like you don’t,” said Mason.
According to The Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 41% of children’s book characters are White, 29% are animals, and 12% are Black.
In addition to more representation in literature, Mason has a stationary line that includes notebooks, coloring books, planners, etc., with each featuring women of color on the cover.
“I’ve always wanted to see someone like myself in one of my journals or planners, but It’s hard to find, and I just kind of got sick and fed up one day. I decided I’m going to make them myself,” said Mason.
Mason and her husband are also the co-owners of Write Vibez Publishing, founded in 2014 as a tool to equip and encourage creativity in today’s creatives through cultural art, published educational materials, and sponsored events aimed at bringing kids and families together in the ICT community.
To see more about what Sontia and Write Vibez are doing for the ICT community visit their website: http://www.writevibezpublishing.com/