Becoming a children’ e book writer isn’t what I imagined. It was by no means on my my bucket checklist. I’m kind of an unintentional writer. … [I remember] studying the classics to my older daughter and questioning, , the place the black kids had been. They weren’t represented on the pages of books. We would shade the pores and skin shade in with a brown marker; usually we’d change pronouns from he, to she, to they.

And I noticed, , firsthand … this concept that you could’t be what you possibly can’t see. … Now [my daughter] says she needs to be a president and an astronaut when she grows up — and that’s as a result of she noticed a member of the family running for president. It’s as a result of she learn a e book about [astronaut] Mae Jemison.

Meena Harris and Marissa Valdez/Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers

On the concept you shouldn’t let anybody else outline you

“Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. You tell them who you are.” … That is definitely one thing my grandmother used to say usually to my aunt, my mother and to me. … You are the one person who has energy to outline who you’re — what your ambitions are and what your affect on the world might be. No one else ought to have the facility to try this. And I believe inherent in that’s, once more, claiming your ambition.

Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers

On daring to be the primary

We must proceed to elect women leaders and to nominate women to positions of management … My grandmother had one other saying, which was: “You may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.” … Daring to be the primary girl elected to do one thing, or the primary black girl to be elected is, by definition, bold. And it is also not solely … reaching illustration, however in doing so, , persons are not in a position to inform us: “Oh, it can’t be done — it’s never been done, so it can’t be done.” It’s about difficult the established order.

On the place she will get her artistic spark

My grandmother was such an influential determine in my life. And whenever you say that “spark,” I imply, I instantly consider her. That’s the life that she lived — simply unapologetically her — and inspired all of us to pursue our desires in the identical method.

I come from this household of social justice legal professionals and I had these unbelievable position fashions. Right? But I used to be all the time inspired to pursue my desires — to not be corny — however that is how I used to be raised … and I’m tremendous grateful for that.

Meena Harris and Marissa Valdez/Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers

Kalyani Saxena and William Troop produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Beth Novey tailored it for the Web.

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