“If your little ones are the right age for board books, they need Goodnight Jesus, Angie Isaac’s new story about a little one kissing everyone good night.”
I was doubly excited that she wanted to highlight the diversity of characters within Goodnight Jesus. In an increasingly diverse world, our children’s books have lagged behind. Recently I was looking for a baby shower gift for a couple at church. It took not one, not two, but three bookstores to find a single board book with a non-white character anywhere in it. This lack of diversity is the reason the We Need Diverse Books campaign was created. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I saw the diverse characters in my book.
Wait, you’re thinking, wasn’t this my choice?
Actually, no. Children’s book authors generally get little say in the artwork for their books. This means that artistic choices stay in the hands of artists who know what they’re doing. (Unlike me.) So when I wrote the manuscript for Goodnight Jesus I didn’t specify at all what any of the people should look like.
Charlotte Riggle interviewed the illustrator, Nicholas Malara, to ask him about the choice to make the family in Goodnight Jesus transracial.
“Malara made another choice in his illustrations. ‘Orthodox Christianity,’ he said, ‘is rich with cultural diversity, and we wanted to celebrate that a little through the artwork in this book.'”
He “’wanted to represent as many ethnicities in the book as possible so that there would be no potential for any family reading the book to feel excluded.’ So he made the very interesting choice of making the little one’s family a transracial family.”
So, no, it wasn’t my choice. But, yes, I couldn’t be happier.
And you can get your own copy of Goodnight Jesus at the Ancient Faith Store.