Shawnta’s corporate career in professional development ignited a commitment to lifelong learning which only grew stronger when she began working with children. Her writing addresses crucial topics like loving ourselves, helping others, overcoming challenges, celebrating diversity, and championing inclusion – in a way that makes them accessible, understandable, and engaging for even the youngest learners. Shawnta lives with her beautifully multicultural family near Milwaukee, WI.
In our home, we turn to books for both entertainment and answers. My partner and I read to our child every night, even as a baby. I found the books we’re most drawn to offer opportunities for social and emotional learning. Even more special are those whose illustrations depict a diverse range of lifestyles, abilities, and ethnicities.
Whether it be color of skin, country of origin, religion, ability, sexuality, or more, there are many ways to feel like our differences make us outsiders. As I search for books, I often find myself frustrated by the lack of stories available that include representation of kids and families from diverse backgrounds, compared to the untold volume of titles with mainstream views and characters. Now more than ever, it’s critical that more of us not only see ourselves represented in the offerings of day-to-day culture, but also that we all be exposed to the broader world at large as early as possible, in as many ways as possible. Then, together as friends and allies, we can champion our differences while discovering all that we share.
Whenever I work on manuscripts of my own, I keep these thoughts in mind. I envision the wide range of readers who may one day see my pictures and words. My goal is to create stories that help all children find their faces, places, beauty, and opportunity, in their communities and beyond. It brings me such joy and purpose to strive to create pieces others can use to help navigate challenges, make special memories, and develop powerful voices for years to come.