Publishers writ large are waking up to a unanimous desire for diversity, and wider representation of various identities. The goal is that every child should have the opportunity to see themselve’s reflected on the pages of their favorite books. It’s a long and difficult process, but authors like Jill Barletti are making great strides towards this dream.
She occupies a very niche market: Customizable children’s books. She sells them through her website snowflakestories.com, where users fill in some basic info pertaining to their identities’ and language. They have access to all the same books, with the same plots, but your gender, ethnicity, and the sexual identity of your parents will determine what the people in your book look like.
For example, if you are a Spanish speaking Latino child of two mothers, then your book will reflect that. Each page features two languages; one on the top and one on the bottom. All the books are available in five languages: French, Portuguese Italian, English, and Spanish.
On the genesis of the project, Jill spoke about being married to an Ecquadarian man and being the mother to mixed children.“I have blonde hair and blue eyes and he’s Ecuadorian. How am I supposed to find a book like that for my kids?” she said. “It shouldn’t matter if you have brown eyes or blue eyes, or if you have a single mom or same-sex parents. A personalized book should be available to any child.”
The books have been well received, and have already raked in some awards. Jill is currently working on a fourth book, and looking for ways to make them more affordable.
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