We must make change in the world among us — and it begins with our children.
Growing up, I remember the selection of cartoons and TV shows that filled my home. They typically portrayed children exactly like me — white and middle-class.
When I went to school, I was exposed to people exactly like me. My neighborhood was filled with people who dressed and acted just as I did, with few exceptions. Clothing advertisements pictured the idea of the perfect American family. Even the books I read and the stories I heard lacked diversity.
As a future educator, I'm passionate about exposing children to different perspectives and avoiding the dangers that a single story creates. Netflix's "Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices" does just that by fostering a sense of empathy, sense of self, and reflection. Here are five reasons why this show is a must for all children to watch.
1. The creator of the show is an advocate for justice — and she's only 15 years old!
So often, children are told that they cannot do important things until they are older, but the creator and executive producer of 'Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices' shows us otherwise.
Marley Diaz began her advocacy work at age 10 with her #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign—an initiative to combat the lack of representation, especially among Black men and women, in literature. Her original goal was to collect 1,000 books to supply communities across the US with diverse books, and she far exceeded this goal with 12,000.
Now, she's launched a 12-episode series dedicated to empathy and self-love. Our children need to know that regardless of their age, they can do big things, and the first step in doing this is by exposing them to individuals like her who made their dreams a reality.
2. The series centers around vital topics such as identity, respect, justice, and action.
Something unique about this series is that is both entertaining and thought-provoking, not only for children but also for adults. As parents and teachers, it is our job to not only teach our children but to grow alongside them.
This series gives us the opportunity to ask questions, engage in discussions, and correct our old ways of thinking. Each episode centers around a children's book written by a Black person, while also giving real-life examples and applications. A sampling of questions tackled in the series includes how racism can occur in our daily lives, how to promote inclusion, and how to love who we are.
These lessons are appropriate for all ages, so watching an episode of "Bookmarks" is the perfect family activity after a long day of work or school.
3. 'Bookmarks' presents our current social climate in a way that children can understand.
Our children are growing up in a world of immense change in the face of the Black Lives Matter and #BlackoutBestseller movements. History is unfolding right in front of our children, and it's our responsibility to give them the skills to notice it.
Often, parents have trouble introducing topics such as social justice and racism, leading them to not introduce their children to these topics at all. Children who are uneducated in social issues often become adults who are indifferent to the world around them.
Many of the books featured are written from the perspective of a child as well, creating a relatable voice that helps children learn. If we want to enact social change, we must do so by teaching our children to empathize at a young age.
"Bookmarks" doesn't just present the issues, but also provides ways to fix them—together.
4. 'Bookmarks' encourages children to love themselves—and others.
With titles such as "I am Enough, I Am Perfectly Designed," and "I Love My Hair," this series advocates for self-love and kindness. "Bookmarks" advocates that children love who they are authentically and live each day with confidence, and what better message could we send to our children than that?
The series itself features a wide cast of readers—both young and old, male and female, musicians, advocates, and artists. By exposing our children to the beauty found in themselves and others, we encourage our children to live out this message in how they interact with friends at school, speak to others, and fight for what is right.
5. Netflix plans to donate copies of books featured in 'Bookmarks' to educators across the nation.
Netflix announced that it has partnered with First Book to distribute select titles from the show across the nation—and internationally. This series not only shows children the importance of representation, but it also shows our future what it means to give back.
The creators of the series are hopeful that with each book donated, another child will become an advocate for representation and inclusion. The series shows us the beauty in starting small and loving our communities well, and our children can aid in this effort by sharing what they learned with friends, neighbors, and family members.
The hope is that with more exposure, educators across the nation will find the resources available to serve and celebrate all their students—and this effort begins with our children.
Ultimately, "Bookmarks" shows our children what it means to make meaningful change around us, no matter how small—and that it begins with them.
Our children are world-changers, so we must educate them on what really matters in hopes that they will leave the world a better place than they found it. Until then, it's our job to love them, celebrate them, and educate them right where they are.