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Local author on a mission to create representation in children books

Posted at 9:04 PM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 22:04:54-05

BRYAN, Texas — Pew research says within 19 years the Black American population grew by 1.4 million. But representation in movies and books has systemically remained the same. A local author is determined to ensure representation for children through his books.

Relating to characters in books and movies may seem like a small task, but a local psychiatrist says creating inclusivity for kids is important to their cognitive development.

”What I didn’t see in books, just like movies, is representation of myself in them,” said Bruce Van Alstyne, local author.

It's that realization that inspired Van Alstyne to make difference. He has set out to change a systemic issue that's been around for decades.

“I felt that there was a need for film as well as books to have characters of colors because this country is a melting pot,” added Van Alstyne.

Van-Alstyne has published three children's books creating representation for young Black and African American children to feel seen.

“Getting kids interested in reading, and part of including representation in literature makes them more interested in and more likely to pick up a book if they see similarities to themselves,” said Dr. Andrew Harper, Texas A&M clinical professor psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

Harper said encouraging young readers is scientifically proven to impact their growth.

“Cognitive and intellectual development is a big factor as children are growing," said Harper. "We know that brains continue to develop really throughout childhood and into young adulthood so experiences an important shape,”

Young developing readers can represent not only a variety of ethnicities and social classes, but Van-Alstyne is focusing on creating representation for kids with disabilities and all walks of life.

“Disability experiences, different social issues, and events," said Harper. "Different family dynamics and structures those are also important diversity and inclusion elements."

Van Alstyne hopes one of his books makes it to the big screen as he continues to create representation for everyone.