TTA: Introduce yourself!
RGB: Hi there! We are Sharita Manickam and Jen Bruno. Sharita is the author and Jen is the photo illustrator for the empowering new children’s book, RAD Girl Revolution. We both reside in Forest Hills (Queens) NY.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
RGB: Sharita is the mother of two little girls, ages 2 and 6. Jen is the mother of a little boy, age 5. We are passionate about debunking the typical gender stereotypes that often begin to set in children as early as age six. Sharita wrote a poem for her first born daughter about all the possible things her daughter could one day become, paying special attention to include a future undefined and achievable regardless of her sex. That poem was the inspiration for what has now become our book, RAD Girl Revolution. We want our children to pursue their dreams and support that pursuit in others regardless of their gender, age, or race. We believe representation and diversity matter, and that society benefits when all children are able to see themselves represented.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
RGB: We recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and self published our first children’s book, RAD Girl Revolution. Our book shows storybook style images of real little girls in jobs typically underrepresented by women- fields like president, firefighter, astronaut, CEO, military member, etc. It was important to us for all little girls to see themselves represented on the pages of our book, Our book features 68 girls and 5 boys from over 30 ethnicities and also includes a little girl with Type 1 Diabetes (and a visible Omnipod), a little girl with Down syndrome, and a little girl with Autism and a hearing impairment (her aid is visible).
The “RAD” in our book stands for Rise Above Doubt to Reach Any Dream. We want children to look at the pages of our book and grow up with the confidence to know they are able to do and be anything they dream.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?
RGB: In terms of children’s books, we’ve really loved “The Day You Begin” by Jaqueline Woodson, and “Island Born” by Junot Díaz. For adult reading, we loved “This is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel, “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, and, of course, “Becoming” by Michelle Obama.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
RGB: With the recent publication of our book, this year is full of many exciting unknowns. Last year we spent navigating the world of creating our work and navigating self publishing for the first time. Our goal for this year is to maximize our exposure. We hope to make all the inspiring young girls who graciously modeled for our book pages proud, while reaching the masses. Our goal is to show little girls possibilities for their futures they may not otherwise know exist and to engage little boys in becoming advocates for equality. We believe the future is better when we all work together to demolish gender barriers and stereotypes.
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