Essence Magazine Dec, 2013
Madame Noire.com Interview
- You can find the original article at Madame Noire.com
- Society practically spoon feeds us a certain standard that we ought to aspire to attain. Wear this clothing size. Have this texture of hair. One person who is working to make us feel good in our own skin is Betty K. Bynum with her literary series, the I’m A Girl Collection.
- Geared towards young girls ages two through nine, her collection of books promote positive images for our little ones of color and have been praised throughout our community from celebrities like Hill Harper and Debbie Allen. Landing an exclusive deal with Target, Bynum’s collection includes age-appropriate reads for a variety of ethnic backgrounds that include I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl! and soon I’m a Lovely Little Latina!, Hooray! I’m a Girl in the USA! and I’m an Awesome Asian Girl! among many others. I recently emailed with Bynum about her 12 book series, the importance of self-empowering young girls of color and the road to getting her literary vision published.
Madame Noire (MN): Why did you feel such a literary series is important to today’s young girl?
- Betty K. Bynum (BB): Our girls look towards mainstream ideals of what “beauty” is and too often those ideals are not representative of the natural beauty of little girls as they are. They are constantly being told that they are too fat, not fat enough, too dark just by the images of women who ARE being made celebrities. I want to show little girls in the form of picture books that for that precious time in their childhood (and it goes by so fast) they are pretty in every color, shape and size and hair texture. And that good manners are important.
MN: What inspired you to create the I’m A Girl Collection?
- BB: I originally started with one title, I’m a Pretty Black Girl! I shared it with my son, who was much younger when I started all of this, and he said, “Mom, that’s good, but what about the other girls? They are going to go to the library and they want a book about them too.” He attends school with Indian, Asian, Latino, White, and of course, Black kids, and he inspired me to see the world that he is growing up in as he sees it. We have close friends and neighbors who are of every nationality. And with that, I broadened my perspective to realize through my intense personal research and conversations with friends that so many girls of color also go through the same esteem issues. That is how The I’m A Girl Collection got started. Because my child challenged me to think in a global sense.
MN: What are your hopes with this collection?
- BB: I would love to have the books become the kinds of books that little girls will look back on as adults and say, “I remember those books and they helped me to feel good about myself – and I loved them.” That is simply my hope, that the books become a kind of legacy of love.
MN: Is there a reason why you chose to focus on girls ages two through nine?
- BB: This is the age that they are like little sponges. Children soak up so much so I want to give them something beautiful and positive that they can always go back to and look at the pages and say, “yes, that’s me.” Books can do that more than any other outlet because they have the kind of power to stir the imagination.
MN: What can the readers and parents look forward to with your 12 book series?
- BB: I want to make each girl the star in her own book. And that means we will follow her through her world, and that world can expand to include the characters for all of the books so that it becomes a cross branding for the Collection.
MN: What inspired you to get into the literary industry?
- BB: I have always loved books! As a little girl, I would pray that the library would be built closer to my home so I could walk to it. I have always loved great stories and the power of words when used well, so it was an easy transition for me. I actually worked at Publishers Weekly as a temp filling in as an Editorial Assistant. It was the best “job” job that for me, as a performer, I have ever had. And I still adore the people at PW. Some of us are still friends.
MN: Were there any challenges in securing a publisher or someone who shared your vision?
- BB: This road to getting this book published was one of the hardest tasks I have ever met. When I first wrote the book, I felt victorious and decided to get it published. I contacted my old boss from PW and he suggested an agent. I called that agent, sent the text of the book and within two weeks signed a contract. Within three months, I had interest from several major publishing houses including HarperCollins Publishing which suggested that I change the title to make it more “universal” (I refused to do it). They basically asked me to change to book to “accommodate” an audience that was not going to buy it anyway and I said no. Then in the midst of that process, Candlewick Press offered me a contract saying that I could keep the title, but they had a very, very hard time finding an illustrator who would give the illustrations a vibrant life to match the text. They found an illustrator but told me that I could not talk to him!
- This, as I learned, was standard in the picture book publishing forum. I was like, “What, he’s going to need to work with me so he can get that hair and those skin tones right!” Within those 10 months, I went further and had created The I’m A Girl Collection brand and took several meetings with Target. They loved it and signed on. Candlewick was not interested in Target so I got out of the contract, got my book back and decided to self-publish. And what a challenge that was!
- After scouring the work of dozens of illustrators I found Claire Armstrong Parod through a friend of a friend, and Claire has been such a joy to work with. Then I searched the internet and found an amazing book chaperone who led me through the whole process, got SBA (Small Business Association) funding and here I am. Target led the way by opening the door to me, and then came the other retailers. This whole process took about four years and a lot of personal funds. But I have a supportive family, my son Joshua and my husband Warren, both worked and prayed with me all the way through. You need that. It’s a long hard road in publishing – or any start-up business if you want to do it right.
MN: Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs looking to write a book or get published?
- BB: I know is sounds routine, but NEVER give up. Keep going. Believe in what you are doing because sometimes you will be the only one believing it. And remember, “Worse than being blind is to be able to see, but not have any vision.” Helen Keller said that. I have kept that saying hanging in my presence in my home for years. It reminds me daily. It works.
Betty K. Bynum Empowers Children Of Color With I’m a Girl Collection
- You can find the original article at Madame Noire.com
Shelf Awareness.com Interview
- the original article can be found here: Shelf-awareness.com
- "I always call my own bluff," said author Betty Bynum. "I tell my kids that if you don't like something, do something about it. Don't complain--do something about it in your own way."
- Bynum, who works primarily as a screenwriter and actress, called her own bluff when she wrote I'm a Pretty Little Black Girl, a children's book about a young black girl named Mia. After waking up with her hair tangled and disheveled, Mia, instead of finding it unappealing, thinks, "I'm a pretty little black girl!" From there, she goes to school with her friends, who are other little black girls of varying skin tones and hair types.
- "There have been books out there with little black girls in them," Bynum said. "But they don't address the issues of skin tone and hair in a joyful and celebratory manner like this book does. There's Pinkalicious and Strawberry Freckleface and all that great stuff, but no book with a little black girl starring in her own story. I said, you know, I'm going to write that."
- Mia's name, in fact, comes from the abbreviation M.I.A., or missing in action. "She wasn't on bookshelves," Bynum recounted, laughing. "I called her Mia because she had to show up."
- Bynum never expected to write a children's book; she was 600 pages into a novel before diving into I'm a Pretty Little Black Girl. Before securing a publisher, Bynum drew interest from Target, which wanted Bynum to write two more books similar to I'm a Pretty Little Black Girl. Bynum then found a publisher, but the publisher wanted to do only one book. The real "dealbreaker," Bynum said, came when Bynum and the publisher had to agree on an illustrator.
- "They didn't want me to communicate with him at all," she said. "They wanted me to go through them. But I had to talk to him. Otherwise he's going to have issues with skin tone and hair textures. It's complicated, and it has to be very specific. If that wasn't done right, people would know it's not right. The book would fail."
- Bynum decided to publish the books herself, through Dreamtitle Publishing, and after some initial difficulties finding an illustrator she could work with, met Claire Armstrong-Parod via the recommendation of an artist friend. "Some artists can be a bit temperamental," said Bynum diplomatically. "But Claire is just so wonderful and so incredibly talented and patient."
- The three-book deal with Target includes two more titles, I'm a Lovely Little Latina Girl and Hooray I'm a Girl in the USA, due out in spring 2014 and fall 2014, respectively. Beyond that, Bynum has planned three more books for each girl in the series. She also wants to grow the brand with a line of dolls and apparel, which she hopes to launch in time for Christmas. A sculpting of the dolls has been made already; as Bynum put it, all that's needed now is to "add some clothes."
- I'm a Pretty Little Black Girl reached stores on October 7, and Bynum has been thrilled with the response. She's seen word of mouth spread through social media, been featured in Essence magazine and Publishers Weekly, and drawn interest to appear on the Queen Latifah Show. Bynum has also made appearances in the Los Angeles area, including a visit and talk at the California African American Museum, and is in the process of connecting with local schools and libraries. The plan is to establish a base in Southern California before gradually bringing the book across country.
- "It's been a nice slow burn," said Bynum. "People are hitting me up on
Facebook and Twitter, sending me messages saying they're buying five or
six copies and saving them for Christmas gifts. It's been really sweet."
Betty Bynum's Bluff: The I'm a Girl! Series
Fine Success Magazine
- By Suzette Hinton
- “I look in the mirror, and on some days, my hair is just a-going every which-a-ways! And when I see myself in the mirror, I twirl and I yell, “I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl!”
- One need only to open the pages of this beautifully written homage to little black girls featuring Mia–big brown eyes, a cute round nose and beautifully full lips dancing with joy–to feel the love and compassion that author Betty K. Bynum and illustrator Claire Armstrong Parod have put into this adorable children’s book, I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl. Every word and every illustration celebrates the is-ness and innocence of our baby girls and speaks to the little girl heart of generations of Black women who were never preferred as they are.
- It’s been a challenging 4-year journey for this actress, singer/songwriter and moviemaker now author. She boldly points to her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as what has sustained her and what infuses her passion and determination to fight on. “When you’re starting from scratch and you’re doing something that’s never been done before and people haven’t seen it before, you’re constantly trying to address the why’s, the how’s and the why come’s,” reflects this founder of the I AM A GIRL brand. It has been an uphill battle. Publishers were resistant. They were uncomfortable with the title and tried to persuade her to make it more universal. “Why change the title for somebody who isn’t going to buy the book anyway?,” she debated tenaciously. “The audience for this book is exactly those who are being celebrated by it.” And celebrated they are! From the coily texture of their hair to the rich iridescent tone of their skin, the title says it all.
- “There were no picture books for little black girls,” recalls Bynum. She saw Julianne Moore’s Freckleface Strawberry and books with fair complexioned girls on the cover but none celebrating little girls of darker hues in that way. This was troubling! She visited kids sections of bookstores and children’s stores in search of it and saw nothing. “It’s as if Black women are being pushed aside for other choices,” says this advocate, who while a model in the 1970s remembers no dark skinned faces in the catalogs. “When the media is promoting everything that you are not, you’re going to turn that inside yourself at some point.” Subconscious Genocide, Bynum calls it. “It is killing our spirits subconsciously and we don’t even know it until we grow up and want to wear blonde hair and bleach our skin out.”
- “I wrote it for myself,” she reveals. “I wrote it for the little girl in myself who wishes she had this when she was little.” Though proud of her dark skin and thick hair now, there was a time when Betty herself didn’t feel pretty. She was 4 or 5 years old and remembers being referred to as the darkest of her 5 sisters and the skinniest. Unable to recall the particulars, she did remember one crucial thing. How it felt. “I assumed this made me unattractive,” she admits. Her father’s friend must have noticed this. He said to her, “I want you to go upstairs and look in the mirror and I want you to say ‘I’m a pretty little black girl.’” She never forgot what that did for her.
- I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl speaks to black girls all over the globe. In fact, that’s the reason Bynum carefully chose the words black girl rather than African American girl. She wants all little black girl hearts to rejoice.
- To Bynum’s surprise her focus was challenged by someone else: her son Joshua who was in the 6th grade at the time. Betty had instilled in him the value to honor everyone but love yourself first. Perhaps that, along with his being part of a generation where diversity is the norm, is why he was concerned about other little girls who wouldn’t see books about them too. This got Betty to thinking. And later when Target Stores reasoned that she could do I’m A Pretty Little Black Girland get in some of the stores or she could do an entire collection and get in all the stores, she had her answer! Why get a place at one table when you can have a place at all tables. Hence, the I AM A GIRL Collection was born.
- The I AM A GIRL Collection is comprised of books, clothing and dolls that reflect the joyful spirit of all little girls. Todd Black, who is the producer of one of the movies Bynum wrote, “All My Beautiful Sisters,” and produces movies for Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Oprah Winfrey described it best. “It’s a return to innocence!,” he exclaimed. Images of teen girls trying to look older and women dancing with a string here and not enough string are bombarding our youth. “Those images force our young girls to grow up so fast,” complains a concerned Betty. “If my message is sent early enough, perhaps little girls won’t grow up with the issues of the older generation.” At least she hopes so.
- With the vivaciousness of Mia, the book is dancing and twirling into stores, libraries and hopefully will soon grace shelves, tables and hands of countless children in L.A. classrooms. “Books will be at Target, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million and Indy Books,” says the proud momma. Her goal is to get it into as many hands as possible. She sees it becoming a birthday gift or a baby shower gift, even a girlfriend’s gift or a Valentine’s Day gift. Sales have already been significant. Libraries have begun ordering the book. And Betty feels confident about getting her books in schools.
- There is much on the horizon for Betty K. Bynum and her collection. Her signature doll will be unveiled at a red carpet event in L.A. on October 26, 2013. Celebrities and the media will be invited to attend this invitation only event. “It’s going to be great,” says an excited Betty. “The doll has already been sculpted out and is so cute.” It will be different from the black doll in the American Girl Store she visited, where the only black doll was a slave. Just in time for Christmas, I’M A PRETTY LITTLE BLACK GIRL! T-shirts will be available online in pink and in white. Betty has strived to make them easy to afford and oh so pretty.
- “The purpose of the book is to celebrate all little black girls and to be able to show them in a way that honors them,” says Betty K. Bynum. “I want every little black girl to look at this book and know that somebody worked really really hard to show them love. And that person was me.”
I'm A Pretty Little Black Girl
The Huffington Post
- By Brennan Williams
- the original article can befound here The Huffington Post/
order your copy here
- Following the success of her earlier books I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl! and I’m a Lovely Little Latina author Betty K. Bynum wants to spark the minds of young black boys with her latest book, I’m A Brilliant Little Black Boy!
- Highlighting moral values and encouraging black boys to explore interests leading to success, the inspirational book was co-written by Bynum’s 19-year-old son Joshua B. Drummond, who was motivated to work on the project given the void of black cartoon characters on television.
- “I would watch Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. Every once in a while, there would be that one Black character within the friend group,” Drummond said in a press release. “But for my age, there was never a whole group of just boys, like cool Black kids for the cartoons in particular.”
- He went on to add that he wants to “bring some positivity to the table” and some “light to the world” in the midst of the national conversation surrounding race and inequality.
- For Bynum herself, creating the book was also in response to a number of requests she received, following the release of I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl, for a book dedicated to black boys.
- “We need great books for our Black boys. There is a huge void on the shelves for books without Black boys at the center of the story,” Bynum said in a press release. “And that truly matters, that they see themselves in a happy, joyful a colorful way. They will believe what they see. Black books matter, and they matter to our society and world, as a whole.”
- To date, the book has been endorsed by a list of celebrities including Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Ealy, Vin Diesel, Omari Hardwick, and Denzel Washington — who all submitted mobile video clips through the book’s #Bbrilliant social media campaign.
- “I’m A Brilliant Little Black Boy! is a complete and thorough study for children,” Washington said in a written statement shown in at the opening of a promotional video clip. “Positive, constructive tools to assist with self-esteem issues, strong examples of identity…a lesson plan is achievable for success.”
Inspiring Children’s Book Encourages Black Boys To ‘Be Brilliant’
Why Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Vin Diesel and more are celebrating the new book.
Black America Web.com Video Interview
Sybil’s Book Club: I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl
Everything Girls Love Interview
- Betty Bynum wears many hats! She is an actress, entrepreneur, and author! Some of her acting performances include roles in the TV series ER and Law & Order. Betty has also received acting roles in various films including Death at a Funeral.
- Lately, Betty realized that there was a lack of children’s books that appealed to young girls of different ethnicities that taught them about empowerment, self-love, and self-acceptance. She decided to put on her entrepreneur hat and created a unique series of 12 children’s books. Those series developed into her creative brand—The I Am A Girl Collection. The collection is geared to young girls of color ages 2-9. As part of The I Am A Girl Collection, Betty is launching a doll and clothing line! The first book of that collection, I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl, was released earlier this month as an e-book through Amazon.
- EGL had the opportunity to receive further insight on Betty Bynum’s book collection and creative process of her new brand through an interview!
- There is a huge gap in representation of girls of color in the mainstream children’s books. It seems as though the books that are on the shelves are not created with consideration of girls of color, meaning also Asians and Latinos. In addition, when there is any attempt at presenting books to girls or children of color, there is a heavy-handed use of historical figures, and with such dull and gloomy color palettes! I mean, deep purples, midnight blues, burgundy and navy-hued blacks! There is a deliberate lack of “fun” in these books, as if our children should shoulder the responsibility of the civil rights at the ages of 3 – 7! I mean, they learn this history in school anyway, so it is important for our kids to find playfulness and joy as children NOW, because so much of that will be lost along the way once they find the “reality” of our world anyway.
- There are many factors, but the most common is lack of presence and representation of who they really are in the “mainstream” media. I can go to the grocery store on any given hour of any day of the week, and all you see on the cover of every magazine, are the latest movie starlets of the latest blockbuster movies. And of course, that rarely includes girls of color. So what does that say to our girls of color? I want our girls to see themselves in a beautiful way, so they can feel that way.
- Lack of roles and lack of roles that are fully developed by writers, directors and producers who want to fight that fight. This leads us to creating our own work and that brings its own challenges — and those challenges can’t be met by every person. There are those who can write, can direct, can produce. The question remains: are they up for that struggle? Are they in it to win it? Only people like Ana DuVernay can answer that call — and with quality work.
- Mia is in a way, every little girl. She sees herself in the mirror and questions what she sees — is it of “value”, is it a “worthy” look? What saves her is her willingness in her childlike manner to find the joy in her looks and know that she is fine just as she is!
- Yes, that finding what “Pretty” means within herself and her friends, goes beyond what the mirror shows.
- What they share in common is the desire to be a part of the American fabric of beauty, and being celebrated and honored for the value of their culture.
- The I’M A GIRL COLLECTION launched the first book, “I’M A PRETTY LITTLE BLACK GIRL!” as an ebook online available at Amazon. The deluxe hard copies of the books will be available in Target Stores in Spring 2013. The Collection will then roll out each component of apparel and dolls, as the brand becomes available throughout the year 2013 and beyond.
- I am growing and developing the brand with a great creative team and wonderful manufacturers, and each day brings more exciting elements, so each step will bring some new and delightful surprises!
- By Jazmine Kilpatrick
What was a major flaw or misconception that you noticed in books that were geared to young girls of color, specifically African Americans, Latinos, and Asians that motivated you to create the ”I Am A Girl Children’s Book Series”?
In today’s society, what do you think is a common trend that causes young ethnic girls to have low self-esteem?
What are some hurdles that you had to overcome as an African American woman working in the TV/Film industry?
How can young girls relate to the main character, Mia, in I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl ?
Is there a theme or underlying message that is portrayed throughout the book series, and if so what is that message?
Your book series gives perspective into the lives of young African American, Latino, and Asian girls. What is something that you think that these three ethnicities share in common that can be seen in your books?
Where can people purchase your books, doll collection, and clothing line for I Am A Girl?
With the book series, doll collection, and clothing line for I Am A Girl, what can people expect next for your brand?
EGL wishes Betty Bynum much success in the New Year and many years to come!
The Steve Harvey Show
Black men supporting young men - Steve Harvey
Black Star News Interview
- The original interview can be found at Black Star News
- I had the pleasure of speaking with the multi-talented Betty K Bynum about her newest venture, the "I'm a Pretty Girl Collection". A collection of children's books, apparel and dolls that remind us of just how beautiful different can be.
- Thanks so much! I just feel so blessed to be doing what I am doing. I wish I could say it's all me but it's mostly GOD and my belief in HIM. Not to mention a lot of help from some immensely talented people!
- I was watching Julianne Moore on the Today Show. She was promoting her children's book, "Freckled-Face Strawberry". She spoke about how being a red-head little girl with freckles wasn't so popular back then and how it had made her feel like she didn't belong. It got me to thinking about how we, as Black women, have issues about how light or dark we are. We're so many beautiful colors and tones. We should be celebrating that instead of being divisive. We need a joyful, natural way to celebrate each other and be one.I had a big moment of clarity when I attended the Toy Fair at the Jacob Javits Center as Madame Alexander's special guest. After walking around the fair I realized I was the only Black person there, absent the coat check and security. I was like, wait a minute this can't be! I walked through the entire fair again and yep I was the only black person. Now if this is a representation of the people who are designing and manufacturing the toys, this is why what we see in the stores is not diversified.
- The credit definitely goes to Todd Williams, an amazing Black man. He is responsible for chaperoning me into the deal with Target. He really pushed the idea. Also Keith Harrison [Marketing] was instrumental in helping me close this huge deal. We have been working on this Target deal since January of 2010 with some really great people. They are very specific about the merchandise they carry and how it reflects their brand and purpose. Luckily, my products fit the niche and were exactly what they were looking for.
- We are on schedule with Target to debut in Spring 2013. I'm so excited to see this come into fruition! I jotted down the first draft of my book in 2008. It's been a long time coming. The first book, "I'm a Pretty Little Black Girl" is available now at AMAZON.COM
- I had the honor of working with an amazing Illustrator, Claire Armstrong-Parod. She took what was in my head and made it beautiful. She's such a joy to work with and an artist in every sense of the word. Claire made sure every color was perfect, every shade matched. We worked side-by-side. I wound up art-directing the entire book. Who knew I could be an Art-Director?
- I'll have to make some! [Laughs]
- To my utter surprise, after one meeting with Madame Alexander, they decided to come on board. I was floored! You can imagine my shock. Lawrence Christmas, a dear friend of mine, created seven dolls (one for each character in the book). It was his beautiful craftsmanship that snagged us this deal! He said to me, "Betty, this never happens. No one gets a 'yes' after a 30 min meeting. It's unheard of!" Me telling them about the dolls paled in comparison to them actually seeing Lawrence's work up close. I cried when he showed it to me for the first time. It was perfect.
- Actually, I have my son to thank for that. He said to me, "Mommy, I go to school with Spanish, Chinese and Indian girls too. They want to go to the library and read a book about themselves!"
- Yes, he is. There is a void that needs to be filled for all girls and women of color. I've read my books to grown Black, Latino, Asian and Indian women and they all cried! It's so important to me that the girls feel loved after they read my book. I want them to know that they look exactly the way they're supposed to and they are fabulous.As a dark-skinned woman in the film industry, I can't tell you how many times I've been looked over for a role for another black woman who was lighter or more caramel than me. It creates a sense of competition between us instead of a sense of community. I pray that this book series will start the healing process by teaching our young girls and women of color to celebrate each others' differences because they are what makes us beautiful and unique.
- That's very interesting. Claire's five year old daughter was looking at the book and said to Claire, "Mommy, this is great! When does the movie come out?" I would love to see that happen!
- Wow! That's awesome. You should let Bill Cosby know that! He would be so happy. I'm going to try and find that for my son too. I would love for, "I'm a Pretty Little Black Girl" to become an animated series for all children to enjoy.
- Thank you so much. I am happy to have support from people like you. I love your magazine and am honored to be in it. Note: The "I'M A PRETTY LITTLE GIRL COLLECTION" is a joyful and natural way to celebrate diversity among all colored girls and women. Filled with positive self-images and moral messages, it's sure to start a cycle of healing in our communities. She's already received accolades from the likes of Chris Rock, Debbie Allen and John Singleton. We salute you, Betty K Bynum; talented writer, actress, singer/song writer, entrepreneur for tackling this most important issue and making it PRETTY!
Good morning and congratulations on your new collection.
What was the inspiration behind this collection?
That being said how difficult was it to shop your idea?
When can we look forward to seeing your collection in Target stores?
I had a chance to see the book cover art and it is gorgeous.
Wow! Let's add that to your already extensive résumé? Do you have any room?
I understand that this collection will also include a line of dolls. Tell me about that.
I love the fact that you not only have a Pretty Little Black Girl's character but you've also included a Latino, Asian and Indian characters.
He's a smart boy.
Have you thoughts about bringing this book to television or the big screen?
We are definitely lacking diversity in cartoons and animated films these days. In our era we had the "Jackson Five" and "Fat Albert" to watch. I bought a DVD box-set of "Fat Albert" and my children love it.
The collection is phenomenal and we look forward to its debut in April of this year. I'm sure it will be a huge success. Best of luck to you and thank you for your time.
Elev8.com Exclusive First Look
- the original article can be found at Elev8.com
- In an ideal world, young girls of color would be showered with infinite messages of self-love and self-acceptance reflective of their inherent and immeasurable worth. They would be inundated with a plethora of affirming role models urging them to reach for the stars just within their grasp. Yet in 2012, there remains a dearth of these aforementioned messages and role models essential to the well-being and self esteem of young girls of color in the United States. In one fell swoop Betty K. Bynum – an accomplished journalist, screenwriter, and actress (ER, Law & Order, Death At A Funeral), brazenly steps in to fill the void with her multifaceted The I’m A Girl Collection. Promulgating positive images and mantras to young girls of color ages 2-9, the collection finds its genesis in a series of 12 children’s books authored by Bynum and illustrated by prolific English illustrator/animator Claire Armstrong Parod (Space Jams, Curious George) – beginning with the inaugural title I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl!
- Filled with radiant colors, captivating characters, and age-appropriate affirmations woven into unique story lines, The I’m A Girl book series has received praise from the likes of esteemed director/choreographer Debbie Allen, comedian/actor Chris Rock, actor/activist Hill Harper and legendary Academy-award winning actress Ruby Dee. The series itself was inspired by a confluence of events – including the introduction of President Barack Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia into American public life. After a visit to a local bookstore’s children’s section, Bynum was further inspired to push forward with her undertaking.
- "When I looked at the section of books for children of color, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Our girls have a beautiful abundance of colors, but they don’t get celebrated as they should. The I’m A Girl Collection really does fill the void for girls of color that have not been included in the big picture," says Bynum.
- The I’m A Girl book series represents an ethnic inclusiveness amongst young girls of color in many ways unparalleled in any other children’s series. I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl! seeks to engender a positive self-image amongst young black girls – a sentiment largely absent in the children’s book market. I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl! follows the main character Mia on her wondrous journey from waking up dismayed at seeing her disheveled hair to her marvel of an epiphany of self acceptance and self love.
- Initially courted by children’s book publisher Candlewick Press and global publishing giant Harper Collins for over a year, Bynum made the decision to helm the series through her own Workhouse Road Productions in tandem with Levy Books and Downtown Bookworks – securing an exclusive deal with retail monolith Target in the process. Subsequent titles in the series include I’m A Lovely Little Latina! (February 2013), Hooray! I’m A Girl In The USA! (March 2013) and I’m An Awesome Asian Girl! (April 2013).
- Bynum has also expanded The I’m A Girl Collection to include a line of dolls celebrating an array of hues and hair textures which will arrive in stores in time for Christmas season 2013. Esteemed doll manufacturer Madame Alexander has signed on to exclusively fabricate the series of 18” vinyl dolls designed by illustrator Lawrence Christmas (Jim Henson, Nickelodeon).
- "I carry the love of our girls and our women in my heart so deeply. There is no book on the market that celebrates little black girls in the way they should be celebrated and honored. The bottom line is that it serves our girls in a way that they’ve long been ignored."
I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl. [EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK]
A Documentary by Betty (work in progress)
IT'S ALL IN THE TITLE:
The Women Speak on the Importance of I'm A Pretty Little Black Girl!