After doing the rounds at the BBC, the Bookseller and the Voice-Online we finally got a chance to catch up with exciting mumpreneur, Keisha Ehigie, on a mission to gain representation for young readers of colour.

Keisha Ehigie, a former city worker and mum of a three year old, recently launched a monthly book box subscription on realising the absence of characters of colour in children’s books, finally putting these characters on the map.

Diversity is trending and it’s really exciting to see Keisha’s project breaking barriers and enabling belated representation of young readers of colour. It’s a much-needed step on the elusive road to equality for all. Here’s our interview with Keisha herself.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to launch Imagine Me Stories, the book box subscription brand to represent young readers of colour.

A: I’m a former city worker, and mum to a lovely three year old girl. I first noticed the lack of representation in children’s books when my daughter turned two and started asking questions about her hair and skin colour. She was observing physical differences between her and her friends and so I decided to get her some books which had characters that looked like her, in order to affirm her. However I soon realised that it was a struggle to find such books in traditional bookshops and retailers. I then undertook some research and discovered that UK-published children’s books are more likely to feature an animal character than a person of colour, according to the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s (CLPE’s) Reflecting Realities report.

I realised that this was a big issue and that other black parents were also struggling with finding representation in children’s books and so I decided to set up a subscription service to take out the hassle of searching for such books.

Q: What’s your favourite diverse children’s book?

A: Catch That Goat by Polly Alakija. I love how the book beautifully captures a typical market scene in Nigeria where I’m from. The story is hilarious with a mischievous goat that steals everyone’s goods.

Q: Can you tell us a little about how the subscription works (i.e. price and ages covered)

A: The Imagine Me Stories subscription box starts from £18.99 per month and includes 2–3 specially selected books together with empowering activities, that narrate and illustrate black history and culture. It’s split into three age categories, 0–3, 4–8 and 9–12 years of age. There’s also a family combo box for mixed ages.

Q: What impact would you like the books to have on your readers?

A: I’d like the books to foster a love of reading and self esteem. I’d love for them to learn about amazing people who look like them and who’ve made a positive impact on the world. I’d like them to know that there’s no limit to what they can achieve. I’d also love for them to know that they come from great roots with an incredible and rich history.

Q: What has been the response from your subscribers and fans so far?

A: Very positive and moving. I’ve had so many subscribers describe their children’s reaction to the books and packaging as “ oh wow, he/she looks just like me!”. It affirms how important positive representation is.

Q: What other exciting projects have you got lined up?

A: I’m working with schools to help them diversify their libraries as I believe ALL children should be reading diverse books.

Q: Where can people find out more about your work?

A: On my website at Www.imaginemestories.com or at any of the following social media platforms:

Instagram — @imaginemestories

Facebook — @imaginemestories

Twitter — @imaginemebox

YouTube — @imaginemestories

I’d also like to offer Book Therapy readers 10% off their first book subscription — simply use the code BOOKTHERAPY at checkout.

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It’s a unique and powerful gift for any occasion for your little loved ones and with 10% off, it’s a no brainer!

A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I create reading lists/personalised book prescriptions based on your individual needs, this is my signature personalised reading service. You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and A- Z of book prescriptions (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also one for children, Children’s A — Z of Book Prescriptions. Feel free to check out the blog for more literary gems. There’s also a post on my personal story of how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation. And if you’d like to connect, email me at bijal@booktherapy.io or www.booktherapy.io.

Book Therapy is a participant in the Amazon EU, US and Canada Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

Originally published at https://www.booktherapy.io on November 21, 2019.

Book therapist, author, poet & founder of Book Therapy - therapy using the power of literature: https://www.booktherapy.io/ and www.bit.ly/bibliotherapycourse

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