Ylleya Fields, children’s author, entrepreneur, and mom of four noticed a cultural need in literature around the time her oldest daughter, who was two at the time, gained a love for books.
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Fields looked around and realized that though there were some really great picture books on shelves for children, very few were illustrated with contemporary African American characters.
The 37-year-old South American native decided to become a part of the solution and began writing a series of relatable stories for parents and little ones, centered around a spunky little African American girl , named Princess Cupcake Jones.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Ylleya Fields to talk how she created the Princess Cupcake Jones character, what books influenced her as a child and how to get started as an author.
BlackEnterprise: Tell me a little about yourself, and what you do for a living?
Fields: I’m 37, a mom of four, and a children’s book author. I also work for my parents as their “office manager”, which allows me not only to work at home, but gives me quality time with my children, as well as free time to brainstorm ideas for Princess Cupcake Jones.
When did you first realize the cultural gap within children’s literature?
I first noticed it when my oldest daughter was two. She was/is a voracious reader. Back then, circa 2006, there just weren’t a lot of books with contemporary African American lead characters. I don’t think she noticed, she loved picture books no matter who was on it. But I noticed. I wanted her to see herself in at least one of the books we read and there just weren’t really any.
When you were a child, where did you turn for a sense of identity and was your culture present within books you read?
This is a very interesting question. Let me start by saying I was born in South America. Therefore I didn’t really have access to books and television the way others would until I moved to the United States at the age of 6 or 7. My early years were spent reading whatever books my Mom and Grandma managed to have sent from the States and one very overused Sesame Street VHS tape. Once I got to the US I don’t remember reading any books that had anyone like me in it. In fact, I read books with characters that looked nothing like me, ie the Sweet Valley High series or Taffy Sinclair. Let’s just say I definitely had my share of identity issues as a child. Which is why my children not having them was so important to me.
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