Saturday, February 4, 2017

Interview with Veronica Appleton on Literature and Diversity

I recently had a chance to interview Veronica Appleton, author of Journey to Appleville, about literature and diversity.

Question #1: Why did you decide to write a book with diverse characters?

When I first began writing in 2008, I wanted to create stories that breathed engagement and interest. My main goal was to entertain, make a few people happy and filled with laughter. This desire slowly changed as I began seeing the lack of diversity in children’s literature. From there, I sat out on a mission to put literary power back into the hands of diverse families by creating Journey to Appleville, which celebrates children of all colors, the unique characteristics of being human and the variety of roles within everyday life. 

For each of the children, I wanted Kenan, Tu-Tu, Pedro, Liu-Liu, Lizzy, and Cassie to represent a career or passion that other children may want to explore. From being a zookeeper to a magician, the variety of roles gives children an outlook on the possibilities of life and what it’s like being within such a role. In the end, the Appleville Fairy and the variety of fears, makes Appleville the ideal place for any child of any color to visit – with the hope of being the best version of themselves.

Question #2: How can literature help teach acceptance of diversity?

Believing that everyone has a story to tell or a passion they wish to pursue, Journey to Appleville, becomes a simple tool to read for children and adults of all ages. This tale of friendship and triumph, gives a small ounce of hope for everyone on their path to Appleville (aka, a place of opportunity and success). With hope, families across the globe will resonate with the characters, develop a new found love for their learning expeditions, and create an allegiance within their home that connects literature to recognizing and accepting the diversity within all people. 

Question #3: What can parents do to encourage their children to embrace diversity?

In Journey to Appleville, the Appleville Fairy is a piece of hope when children and their families reach Appleville. The Fairy greets the children when they first arrive to Appleville and from there, she asks them what they wish and hope for in the near future. From learning math or learning how to read at a faster pace, or being independent or learning how to be a magician, the Appleville Fairy exists to provide the children with an extra ounce of hope. She essentially brings opportunity to life by providing the children with a path to be exactly who they want to be and to do what they believe is right.

Similar to the Appleville Fairy, parents also have a role in encouraging their children to embrace their goals, and aspirations from adolescence to the present. Taking it a step further, parents can instill within their children, the acceptance of all people by engaging in brave conversations about diversity - whether it be pop culture, politics, race relations or career goals. Parents can foster a safe space for children to never be afraid of engaging in such a conversation and to learn that all people are truly created equal.

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