Soul Sisters: Multicultural Representation Matters in Children’s Literature
Black Girl, Brown Girl Books, a new publishing company created by Ingrid Estrada-Darley and Crystal Hawkins, aims to increase the representation of black and brown children in children’s literature. With the recent release of Crystal and Ingrid’s first co-authored book, Soul Sisters, Crystal shares with Wendy Hernandez and LaWanda Wesley about why she and Ingrid started this company. Together, the three discuss the importance of increasing multicultural representation in children’s literature. Soul Sisters is read aloud in both English and Spanish during the episode.
Watch the read alouds of Soul Sisters in English and Spanish
Founder and Senior Consultant
C. Hawkins & Associates
Supervisor for Preschool and Pre-K – 3rd Grade Early Literacy
Central Unified School District
Director of Quality Enhancement and Professional Development of Early Education
Oakland Unified School District
Crystal Hawkins is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She graduated from Norfolk State University, with a Master’s in Clinical Social Work, where she also received her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Her career has included program development, child and adolescent mental health, and trauma-informed practices. She currently works as a dedicated educator with San Francisco Unified School District where she develops and administers all aspects of the Shoestrings Children’s Center. While working in the early childhood setting, Crystal co-founded “Black Girl, Brown Girl Books” with her childhood best friend in order to emphasize the importance of representation of Black and Brown characters in books for children 0-5 years old. Crystal is a co-founder of ROLOC (Removing Obstacles Lingering over Communities of Color), a transdisciplinary team of professionals of color who aim to integrate different areas of expertise in order to improve outcomes for communities of color through advocacy, research, and leadership development. She also provides individual and family therapy services in Oakland, CA. As a Guest Lecturer at both San Francisco State University and the University of California at Berkeley, Crystal Hawkins loves merging real life social work experiences with learning that takes place in the classroom.
Wendy Hernandez is the Supervisor for Preschool and Early Literacy at Central Unified School District in Fresno County. Wendy has been serving children and families at Central Unified throughout her career, first as a special education and kindergarten teacher, then as an instructional coach and principal before becoming a district administrator.
LaWanda Wesley currently serves as Oakland Unified School District’s Director of Quality Enhancement and Professional Development of Early Education. She supports a cadre of 200-plus dynamic educators and an early leadership team. Dr. Wesley co-directed a statewide leadership fellowship titled the California Consortium for Equity in Early Childhood Education Fellowship and is the Co-Founder and Co-Director for the Center for Equity in Early Childhood Education in service of disrupting race inequities at its root cause.Mostly, she was appointed to the California-Hawaii NAACP State Executive Committee as a Community Coordinator Chair. Wesley is the co-author of the second and third book in the trauma series titled Culturally Responsive Self-Care for Early Childhood Educators and Trauma-Responsive Practices for Early Childhood Leaders: Creating and Sustaining Engaged Organizations (spring/summer 2021 release). Additionally, she is the contributor to the recently published California Department of Education document, Responsive Early Education for Young Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness. She is audaciously dedicated to changing the lives of all children, especially those from communities of color, poverty, and furthest reach from opportunity.
Acknowledgements and Credits
Special thanks to Crystal Hawkins, Wendy Hernandez and LaWanda Wesley
Video and audio editing: Karen Vang and Morgan Vannavilaithong