As a child growing up in rural Africa, Nonku Adumetey did not have access to books. When she became a mom and found herself living in Rogers Park, Adumetey was disappointed to find that while access to books was no longer a problem, she was unable to find books that represented diverse characters like her own toddler-aged kids.
“As a mom, raising my children in America and also knowing the disparities in diverse representation, it became my mission to ensure children see themselves in books,” says Adumetey, a public health leader at both Rush Hospital and Northwestern Hospital.
This led Adumetey to write the first book in the Celebrate trilogy, I Celebrate My Skin. This picture book for kids ages helps parents, teachers and caregivers have meaningful conversations about skin color and colorism by focusing on celebrating and embracing skin tone diversity.
“Having diverse books for all children to see themselves in is key in building lifelong self-esteem and confidence in children,” she says. “Every child deserves to see themselves in books — to relate and enjoy books with characters that look like them.”
In time for Black History Month, Adumetey recently released her second book, I Celebrate My Voice, a picture book that inspires children and families to recognize how vast and powerful their voices are. The book takes children on a journey of self-discovery and empowers them to understand the power of using their voice.
“In today’s world, we need books that build a child’s confidence and provide tools that help them understand their own strengths,” says Adumetey, who visits schools in person and virtually to connect with young readers.
Adumetey’s life has now come full circle, as she is working with the non-profit organizations, Heart for Africa and Books for Africa to ensure kids from her country do not grow up without books by donating hundreds of her own books to these organizations.
Through her imaginative, heartfelt and beautifully illustrated stories, Adumetey hopes the first two books in her series will empower all children to love and embrace themselves and their stories.
“We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences, and that contributes to the value we bring to this world. We matter just the way we are,” she says.
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