Only 7% of 3,200 children's books published in the United States in 2016 featured Asian children
Writer Jerry Zhang is asking for your help to fund his children’s book that stars Asian children.
As a father of two young daughters, Zhang struggled to find any children’s books that featured Asian children who were main characters or heroes.
“Many of the books that did feature Asian children were centred around cultural themes like Chinatown or Chinese New Year,” said Zhang. “But I was really looking for books that followed stories of an child that happened to be Asian.”
According to Zhang, only 7% of 3,200 children’s books published in the United States in 2016 featured Asian children. Zhang describes these stats as a “sad reality of the current homogeneous children’s book landscape.”
As a result, Zhang created Pepper Zhang: Artist Extraordinaire. The story follows an imaginative young girl, Pepper Zhang, who develops a love for art after having particularly bad tantrums. Pepper then goes on a journey of self-discovery.
Pepper was inspired by Zhang’s daughter Madison, who loves art and music. Madison once told her father that she didn’t want to be Chinese at a time when she was obsessed with the book characters Madeline and Eloise. “It broke my heart,” said Zhang. She asked her father why these characters weren’t Chinese and why she was and whether she could have blonde or red hair like them.
Realising Madison couldn’t connect with any characters in her books, Zhang was inspired to create Pepper. “While it’s important for children to learn about their cultures through books, it’s equally important for Asian children to see themselves represented in books as interesting and smart individuals rather than just products of their cultures.”
The book is illustrated by artist Trisha Hautea who hand crafted the characters.
Zhang is self-publishing his book through crowdfunding and is asking for your help to make his vision and mission of bringing Pepper Zhang onto the bookshelves of libraries across the US and beyond.
“Self-publishing these books will allow the book to stay 100% true to the vision and mission. In order to do so, we’ll need your support!”
“This is not just a business venture, but an opportunity to provide a platform for Asian American children. Crowdfunding will allow this project to be made as a direct result of everyone who supports it! The success of this campaign will help dispel the notion that “Diverse books don’t sell”.”
In return, Zhang is offering a number of rewards including the book itself, a colouring book, and the opportunity for your child’s drawings to feature in the book.