May 25, 2024

Maryland Teacher Launches ‘SweetPeas’ Book Series to Increase Literacy Among Young Black Readers

Dallas, Tori, Leah (Photo via SweetPeas / Images used courtesy of SweetPeas/ NewsOne)

A Maryland teacher crafted a platform to represent young Black girls in a positive light and promote Black literacy.

Lakita Wilson, who’s an educator and author, came up with a plan to motivate Black-pre-teen girls to not only read more African-American narratives but to also be able to write stories too.

“SweetPeas” is actually a book series that I’m working on right now,” Lakita Wilson, who’s taught elementary and college students, told NewsOne. “It’s pretty much all about girl power and representing girls of color in a really positive light.”

The 35-year-old who won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ award in 2017, is an educator at a community college and owns a center for children.

Wilson told the news outlet that she’s “always been heavily involved in education in my community” so it’s no surprise that the author took to Instagram to inspire young girls of color to read, write and review books.

The writer’s “SweetPeas” collection came about after noticing a shortage of Black books for her daughter to read that weren’t primarily centered around slavery or the civil right era.

“People of color live in the suburbs… People of color come from two-parent households. I wanted that to be represented, as well,” Wilson said.

The mother then began writing her own series of book that portrays positive images of Black people who children could relate to. Her Instagram series flourished into something bigger than she originally imagined.

Tori, who’s an 11-year-old author wrote, “Being a SweetPea Girl lets me spread a positive message about reading to other kids my age or younger.”

9-year-old Dallas, who is Wilson’s step-daughter said, “When Tori shared the book she wrote, I didn’t know girls my age could write books. It made me want to write my own stories, too.”

Wilson said her business “just kind of took off” when parents recognized what she was doing.

Leah, 11, said, “The SweetPeas are like my reading besties… We talk about books that have Black girls in them, which feels great because there aren’t that many Black girls in the books we read at school.”

Literacy rates among Black students in the community have plummeted, but “SweetPeas” was created to hopefully reverse the ongoing issue.

“I would call it sort of a call to action or a movement to inspire other girls of color to read,” Wilson stated. “[Black girls aren’t] just only interested in the latest lip gloss or Beyoncé or whatever. We may love those things too but there are a lot of bookworms out there with my same brown skin color.”

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