ACT News

Children's books break down big ideas of race and identity for little ones

From the playground to the political arena, it can be tricky to tackle the topic of difference.

As curious kindergarten classmates questioned her son Kobi about having a black mum and white dad, Naomi Kissiedu-Green became transfixed on how to break down big ideas of race, identity and belonging for little ones.

Matthew Green and Naomi Kissiedu-Green with their children Ebony and Kobi.
Matthew Green and Naomi Kissiedu-Green with their children Ebony and Kobi. Photo: Supplied

The Canberra-based mother of three, currently in Perth due to her husband's Australian Navy posting, said she was struck by the scarcity of Australian books that depicted multicultural families and became set on doing something about it.

Her newly self-published titles Same but Different and Baby Surprise are the first two books in The Colourful Life! series about a little boy called Kobi and his mixed-race family.

Matthew Green and Naomi Kissiedu-Green with their children Ebony, 2, newborn Savanna and Kobi, 4.
Matthew Green and Naomi Kissiedu-Green with their children Ebony, 2, newborn Savanna and Kobi, 4.  Photo: Supplied

"Australia is meant to be multicultural, and it would be nice for us to show that and for more books to represent that," she said.

"It is our responsibility – as parents and as a nation – to make children feel included not just in their home, but in the classroom and in life."

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Mrs Kissiedu-Green said the books, her first foray into children's literature, were for everyone.

The storylines are designed to prompt families of all backgrounds to talk about how while people appear different, in many respects they are the same.

The qualified childcare worker created scenarios in the books which offer youngsters a chance to think about the traits passed down to them by their parents, foster pride in their unique qualities and celebrate the same in others.

"It's important every child gets they are a perfect mix of mummy and daddy," she said.

"I wrote this book for multiracial families like mine, and other families who want to embrace diversity and acceptance."

Pleased with the feedback from readers, parents and childcare groups in Australia and worldwide, Mrs Kissiedu-Green said she was considering strong ideas to further the series.

Her husband Matthew's naval career has meant frequent travel for her growing kids. She said exploring the ideas of moving and making friends in new cities was high on the list for a future project.

"Doing the books was never about selling loads or making money they were about helping me and my kids through what they were experiencing," she said.

"I wanted to put the books out there and have been so thrilled hearing from people who are getting something out of the messages they put across."