About the Author, Deedee Cummings
As a therapist, attorney, CEO of Make A Way Media, and author of fifteen children’s books, Deedee Cummings has a passion for ensuring equality, inclusion, and social justice for the next generation. Since her first book published in 2014, Cummings has been on a mission to help young dreamers and doers “see themselves” in the pages of the books they read.
Deedee Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field, and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care.
By the end of 2021, this #OWNVOICES author will have fifteen diverse children’s books to her credit, including the Rapid Release of her Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess five-book series. All fifteen of Deedee Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life.
Deedee Cummings is also the founder and creator of the Louisville Book Festival, a literacy-based celebration in Louisville, KY, celebrated on October 22nd and 23rd, 2021.
About the Book, Kayla: A Modern Day Princess: Dishes, Dancing, and Dreams
Book Two in the Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess is a delightful and vibrant diverse picture book is a heartwarming story about the importance of family, dreams, gender bias, inclusion, and a determination for growth. This is the second book in a five-part series that shines the spotlight on a little girl who never lets anything get in the way of her dreams and she grows and blooms. Feisty and determined, Kayla shares her world with all around her and learns not to judge others along the way. In Dishes, Dancing, and Dreams, Kayla also meets Tommie; a unique new neighbor that needs a friend who is understanding and non-judgmental. Through Tommie’s eyes, Kayla sees another example of the family dynamic and how dreams for the future come in all shapes and forms.
The Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess series of #OWNVOICE books is for Dreamers and the Doers of all ages. By investing in this series, adults help every child see that Black and brown girls can be leaders, princesses, and the stars of their own stories. Children need to read stories that include characters who look like them. Offering these types of books to young readers is an essential part of building self-esteem, cultivating empathy, encouraging tough conversations, and letting children of color know they matter.
This book series is not just for girls or children of color either. Frequently, adults forget the “Windows” part of “Windows and Mirrors.” A Mirror is a story that reflects your own culture and helps you build your identity, but a Window is a resource that offers you a view into someone else’s experience. It is critical to understand that students cannot truly learn about themselves unless they learn about others. White kids need to read books that provide a “window” into new cultures, races, traditions, family dynamics, and religions to drive the point home.
“If you care about fostering empathy in children, you need to genuinely care about the journey of other people who don’t look and live as you do.” ~Deedee Cummings
Adults also need to provide books for our kids that do not contribute to harmful stereotypes and misconceptions. This can occur much more quickly when the book is not written by someone who lived that life and learned firsthand from experience. Instead, we owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to share books that help us see the world as the vast, beautiful, and fascinating place that it truly is- from the perspective of many. The most authentic story is told by the one who lived it. By investing in #OWNVOICES stories, book buyers support the stories and amplify the voices, of the authors who lived them.
Review of Kayla: A Modern Day Princess: Dishes, Dancing, and Dreams, by Deedee Cummings
Just like with the first book in this series, I accepted a review copy of this book because representation matters to the kids who see themselves in books, but also to all kids, who need to see what the many faces of humanity look like. There are a number of books where Black children are facing racism and discrimination, which should be part of a well-rounded reading list. However, books like these one, which reflect a normal childhood and its usual questions, are just as important–if not, in my opinion, more.
In this book, Kayla meets a new friend. He’s high up in a tree and Kayla is concerned for him. So she reaches out and in the interaction that ensues, a plethora of opportunities are offered to the parent reading this book to their child to discuss the topics of stress and unhappiness, as well as diversity. The book also offers some constructive ways of dealing with adversity, presented joyfully through the careful wording used, as well as the colorful illustrations.
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