Imagine not seeing yourself in the stories that you read. For many, this is real life. And it hurts.

What happens when you can’t see yourself reflected in the content that you consume?

Imagine if you looked wholly different than everybody else that you lived life with. If your boss, your grocer, your teacher, your best friend …. All looked totally different than you. Imagine if every movie you watched, or book you read, or commercial you saw on TV, featured people that don’t look anything like you. For a moment, just stop what you’re doing and consider this. Stop reading. Just think about that until it sinks in. Try to disengage from your mind’s desire to process information and really reflect on how you would feel if you couldn’t see yourself reflected in the content that you consume.

For some of us, that exercise (if taken seriously) is exhausting. It’s alien and uncomfortable. Why? Because it doesn’t, at all, reflect our reality. For people like me, I constantly see myself reflected in the content that I consume. Before founding Keepsake Tales, I’ve never been forced to confront any other version of reality. For some of us, this exercise is a stretching experience which, in its difficulty, illustrates how fortunate we are to have always had the opportunity to see ourselves reflected by characters in the stories that we read.

For others, this exercise requires approximately zero effort. It’s your life. You don’t have to imagine what it would be like to be seen as “other” and try to fit into a world of “normal”, you live it every day. If this is you, we want to affirm the truth that you, as a human being, have intrinsic value. Those things that make you one of a kind are beautiful and deserve celebration, not derision. Thank you for choosing to read this post and, in so doing, to become part of the Keepsake Tales family. We need you.

So, what happens when you can’t see yourself reflected in the content that you consume?

Sandra Osorio, a professor of teaching and learning at the University of Illinois State, states that “When students don’t see themselves reflected in their class curriculum, it gives them the impression that they are not valued, that something must be wrong with them.” Speaking of Latino/a students, in particular, Osorio states, “Lack of representation in texts makes them feel like they have to assimilate or change who they are to fit into what is being shared”.

Conversely, says Osorio, “When children are provided that mirror – when they see characters like themselves described in the pages they’re reading – they are often more drawn to or interested in the texts. The students are more highly engaged. Any child, when they feel some connection to a book is going to be more into it- and that leads to what we all want, which is greater gains when it comes to reading and critical thinking skills.” Note: This interview was taken from an excellent article entitled No Longer Invisible, linked here.

There’s a mountain of literature on this topic.

Simply put, when children can’t see themselves reflected in the content that they consume, especially in the stories that they read, they question their value. They question their self-worth. Some children even wonder if they matter at all.

At Keepsake Tales, we exist because we fundamentally believe that every single child has immense, infinite, value. We believe that just because they exist, they matter. We believe that there is beauty in those things that make each of us different – those aspects about our personality that make every one of us one of a kind.

We believe that, together, we can show every child that they do matter. We believe that, through the power of stories, and by creating children’s stories which can, for the first time, help every child see themselves as the champion of their story, we can finally begin to bridge this gap in children’s literature that’s been overlooked for too long.

But we can’t do it without you. We’ve developed the world’s most robust (or, if you prefer, magical) illustration model. We start our illustration process with a picture of the child. We turn that picture into a character that matches the illustration style of the story so that every child – regardless of what they look like – can see themselves as the champion of their very own Keepsake Tale. And, in so doing, we can show each child that they do matter. That they are one of a kind and intrinsically valuable.

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