1. Tell us about yourself, and what you are passionate about.
A little bit about myself… My first name is Kim, born in Tennessee, raised in Illinois and I now live in Arizona. I have three daughters, two of which are grown and then Lulu who is 8! (Yes, I started all over again…but I wouldn’t change it for the world!) I attended law school, licensed in Illinois and awaiting admission here in Arizona. My background is in education, specifically Early Childhood. Since the age of twelve, I worked in my mom’s daycare which was then located right next to my room in the lower level of our home, so it was not like I had much of a choice! But for almost thirty years child care was my life! The two-room daycare evolved into a 12,000 square foot child care facility with a licensing capacity of over one hundred children. So I guess you could say that children and early childhood education are truly my passion!
2. You and your daughter, Lulu, share your favorite books on social media. Why did you choose to highlight books?
Sharing books on social media was sort of a happenstance! Once my mom retired at the end of 2016 and we sold the business, I found myself for the first time ever as a SAHM! I was enjoying this little sabbatical from working, (mind you I had been working since before I was a teenager!) I found myself missing all the planning, decorating, and fun activities that came along with working in early childhood! I needed a creative outlet!
So one day I had this, “bright idea”, to share the books that Lulu and I read every day with the world! But how does one go about doing that? I was new to social media, and being a somewhat private person, I had just recently just opened a Facebook account. I had heard about something called Twitter, so in my attempt to install Twitter, I mistakenly installed Instagram, and lo and behold…there was a whole world called #bookstagram! I showed it to Lulu’s dad and he actually pushed me enough to go ahead and make that first post, (though now he probably wishes he hadn’t!) I was instantly hooked! And that is how Lulu’s Book Journey was born!
3. You work hard to share a diverse range of books. Why is this important?
Sharing a wide range of diverse books is important because our world is just that, diverse and everyone should be recognized and represented in literature! February 2017, my first Black History Month on Instagram, I began to realize just how many children’s books featuring diverse characters, were not actually written by diverse authors! This was shocking to me, and it was something I had never really thought about. This was a turning point for Lulu’s Book Journey in making it a priority to share books written by diverse authors!
I also began to read more and more historical picture books to Lulu and realized that these books were an excellent way to learn and teach Our History! I have learned more Black/Latinx History from reading books with Lulu than I ever learned in grade school, middle school, high school, or even college! This is why diverse books are so important because these stories are often lacking in our children’s schools.
4. How do you recommend parents diversify their children’s bookshelf?
Parents can diversify their children’s bookshelves by purchasing or checking out books from local libraries that are written by diverse authors and illustrated by diverse artists. There are so many wonderful books featuring diverse characters that a child’s library should never be lacking in diversity!
Encourage children to choose books where the characters look different from them, speak a different language, or live in a different country. Children who engage in diverse books learn to respect and appreciate the diversity of our world instead of being afraid or intimidated by it.
Books are also a great way to travel the world to learn about different countries, cultures, religions, languages, and people from the comfort of your own home! Choose books that take you somewhere new!
Bilingual books are awesome as well. These books not only introduce you to a new language but you also learn about the character’s cultural traditions, foods, family structure, daily routines, and habits. By reading diverse books we experience how different and wondrous our world is, while simultaneously realizing how we all are much more alike than different!
5. Some books you share cover hard to discuss topics like racism. I know as a parent myself, these can be difficult topics to talk about with my children. How do you start these discussions with your child?
Most of our discussions about hard topics begin by reading a picture book together. I have found this the most effective way to begin the conversation with young children. When reading a story you become part of the character and what they are experiencing. While reading I will often pause and ask Lulu her thoughts about what is happening in the story and how she feels about it. We discuss the meaning of words such as: Segregation, Jim Crow, Discrimination, Emancipation Proclamation, etc…
6. I love the books you are sharing this month for Black History Month. They highlight lesser-known African American figures like: architects, cowboys/girls, and environmentalists. These figures along with the more talked about people, like MLK, help complete a picture of the full range of Black Excellence. What are some resources you use to find these books?
Instagram is my biggest resource! There are so many fabulous accounts that feature awesome books everyday! I love scrolling through discovering new books, especially diverse books! I research Black/Latinx History monthly, and always check to see if there is a children’s book on the person or event that I can read with Lulu. My local library is a huge resource as they often have most of the books we are interested in reading.
7. What book are you currently reading?
I am currently reading, The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson, who founded Negro History Week, now known as Black History Month!
8. What is Lulu’s favorite book at the moment?
Lulu is really making that transition to chapter books now. For the past couple of weeks, she has been reading books from the Ivy + Bean Series by Annie Barrows. This weekend she is reading a book from, The Princess in Black Series, by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale.
9. Thank you so much for your time! To close, can you share your most valuable piece of advice for parents?
The most valuable advice I can give parents to develop a love of books and reading in their children is to read to them and with them EVERY DAY! I know life gets busy, but you have to carve out that time during the day to read with your child! Our time is right before bed, this is how we end each day by reading together. I have been doing so with Lulu since we brought her home from the hospital. It is something she looks forward to each night and now that she is older she can read to me, especially on those days when I am too tired to read! Even if it’s just five or ten minutes at a time, find a way to incorporate reading together into your daily lives, I cannot stress this enough. And keep reading together even as your children get older. I look forward to all the chapter and young adult books Lulu and I will read in the near future!