So that young girls of color can see characters who look like them, native Detroiter Daralynn Walker authored Madison Miles & Friends, a children’s chapter book series that addresses self-identity, character and confidence.
The series highlights four characters – Madison Miles, Olivia Jackson, Mackenzie Owens and Jihan Taylor – a diverse group of black girls who express themselves through the things they love to do while traversing their worlds as brown-skinned girls.
Madison Miles and the Big, Big Movefollows 12-year-old Madison’s struggle to adjust and deal with bullies after a big move from Georgia to Michigan. Olivia Jackson and the Great Cupcake Caperfollows Olivia as she tries to juggle her studies, friendships and her first big cupcake order.
“When I looked at the numbers of books that are created per year that reflect kids of color, it is less than 20%,” says Walker, who also is mom to three children ages 8, 6 and 1. “But when you look at books that are created (with) animals, there are 30% of books created per year. So, are we writing books that kids could relate too, or writing books just to write books?”
The series aims to promote representation through a fun but thoughtful take on the young black girl’s experience, but Walker also wanted to push literacy. “I decided to set it at a third-grade reading level since that is a major transition. The great thing about the book is that it is a chapter book, (but) it will still have illustrations and sight words,” Walker explains.
Each book is 100 pages and 10 chapters of colorful illustrations for that leap from character to chapter books. Two more books are scheduled for release in spring.