Dad creates adorable children’s book after daughter asks why no characters look like her
When four-year-old Madison turned reading time into an inquisition about why she was Chinese, unlike the characters in her favorite books, Madison’s father knew something had to change.
Jerry Zhang decided to take things into his own hands and publish a book that fills a bit of the gaping hole in the children’s book market when it comes to Asian-American representation.
Thanks to Zhang’s very successful Kickstarter campaign that closes Tuesday, Pepper Zhang: Artist Extraordinaire!, a book about a Chinese girl who discovers her artistic skills after rebuking bedtime, should be hitting your bookshelves soon. The Kickstarter netted more than $28,000, nearly six times its original goal. Zhang plans to use the extra money to fund even more books.
“I created the character Pepper Zhang because when Madison was a little over two and a half, I couldn’t find any interesting, illustrated children’s books that featured an Asian child as a main character or hero of the story,” Zhang said in a Kickstarter video, explaining that many of the books he did find focused specifically on cultural experiences.
“I was really looking for books that followed just the story of a really cool and awesome child that happened to be Asian without the story completely being focused about the fact that she was Asian,” he said. Zhang partnered with illustrator Trisha Hautea to produce the hardcover book.
According to the Children’s Cooperative Book Center, just seven percent of more than 3,000 books reviewed in 2016 featured Asian-Pacific American characters.
“While it’s important for children to learn about their cultures through books,” Zhang wrote on the crowdfunding page, “it’s equally important for Asian children to see themselves represented in books as interesting and smart individuals rather than just products of their cultures.”
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[h/t Huffington Post]