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Writers Against Racism: Irene Smalls

Award-winning Author/Storyteller, Irene Smalls, is the author of 8 multicultural books for children. She is writing a 12-month Black History book series based on slave narratives. Specializing in physically engaging children with reading, Smalls has performed her Literacise program all over the world.

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Briefly describe the impact racism had on you as a young person.
I grew up under segregation with the standard reading text being Fun with Dick and Jane.  That was one of the things that fueled my desire to have books that looked like me.  I knew that the one million black people in Harlem who looked like me, they and I, were not invisible.
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Has your personal experience of racism impacted your professional work as a writer?

My personal work has a writer has been about writing universal stories that have African-Americans as the independent main characters. I have written a number of universal family stories “Jonathan and His Mommy”, My Nana and Me, My Pop Pop and Me and “Kevin and His Dad” but because the characters have brown faces the books are not seen as universal by publishers.

In what way can literature be used to combat the effects of racism and promote tolerance?

Literature is one of the best ways to combat racism.  As a child is taught is how they will grow up to believe and to act.  If we told the real american history, racism would not continue to be a problem.  Publishing is not an industry with a lot of diversity.  Until we get editors and publishing people who reflect or at least understand the real America we will continue to get more books like what we presently have.

Creator of Literacy+Exercise=Excellence

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