A woman from Wandsworth has launched an activity book aimed at encouraging self-confidence among black girls.
Lauren McLean, 32, was inspired to start her business, Melanin Magic Club, after seeing viral videos of young black girls as young as four crying about the way their hair and skin looked.
Ms McLean, who is a special needs teacher, said: “I was reminded of my own experiences and the experiences of my black female friends growing up and how it felt.
“And not much has changed – it’s the same narrative, just a different year. So I wanted to come up with something.”
Ms McLean realised that despite the number of storybooks with black or brown characters rising, the problem of self confidence still persisted.
This led her to think about tackling the issue in a different way – and the idea for the activity books was born.
She said: “I wanted to do something that was aimed at young children and I knew that young children loved cartoons, bright imagery and fun characters. That’s what draws their attention.
“I was thinking about Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, and Charlie and Lola, and I thought we don’t really have any brown animated characters, and if we had them it would help normalise diversity and representation.”
The books feature five characters, who all have different hobbies and personalities, and are illustrated by Leanne Armstrong.
But the activity books are more than fun characters – they are based on months of research.
Ms McLean said: “I looked at all the ways that you can increase self-esteem in children, and then I made them into activities that children can do.
“So all the books will have a different type of gratitude activity because if you have higher levels of gratitude, you’ll have higher levels of self-esteem.”
Activities include colouring pages showing characters taking part in confidence boosting activities, and handwriting exercises with phrases such as “I am kind”, “I am loved” and “I am special”.
The characters also all run their own business, which aims to normalise black business owners.
Ms McLean aimed her books for children from four to eight.
She said: “The science shows that the ages between zero and eight are the programming years. That’s when they interpret and draw conclusions on their environment around them. That’s why I targeted it at that age group.
“Although it’s like an ongoing process it’s important that we do things that start from a young age, because that’s when we have the most influence.”
The first activity book, All About Esi, is available online now at melaninmagicclub.com
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