While the rest of us are adapting to the many changes that the pandemic has brought upon us, Aiden M. Taylor has been busy writing a motivational book for children.
And who better to write a book for children than another child? The 11-year-old is hoping kids his age will feel empowered to practice self-love and kindness after reading his book.
Me and My Afro was written by Taylor with the help of his mentor Spencer Jaffe who he met through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City.
The organization connected these two through a mentoring program three years ago and they’ve been building a close friendship ever since. Even throughout the pandemic, the pair have kept in touch via video call to continue progress on the book.
Jaffe says he was on hand for the brainstorming part and assisted in getting Me and My Afro published but Taylor had full creative control. The young author wanted to create a book that would combat children’s mental health issues, particularly during the pandemic.
“They’re probably feeling down. Because of the pandemic, kids can’t play outside,” Taylor said, “They have to wear masks, and that’s wack. So I decided to make a book about self-love, and that would get them energetic and feeling much better.”
His book is a cheerful story about letting the world know you love yourself, even if it feels like the world tries to stop you from doing so at times. In a time where children may be struggling with a lack of socialization, the book offers a rare chance for kids to connect with another child and his journey to self-love.
Me and My Afro follows Taylor, and his natural hair, all around New York City on an adventure that celebrates positivity, uniqueness, and the beauty of all children.
Taylor has been growing out his afro throughout quarantine and says embracing his hair and has helped him learn to love himself.
For Black children, finding representation in books and media can be difficult and damaging. Without being able to see themselves in the media they consume, many kids struggle with self-esteem issues.
And for non-Black children, when kids they share classroom and playdates with are underrepresented, their view of society is distorted, creating harmful stereotypes and erasure of the Black experience.
For Taylor, his book is a way of countering this issue by encouraging children of all backgrounds to find themselves in his story.
“I want kids to love themselves and love the way they are, love their hair, and be a leader and not a follower,” Aiden said.
The book is filled with cheerful illustrations from Tana Teeya, making it suitable for everyone from toddlers to elementary schoolers, though even adults could learn a thing or two from reading along!
Considering William Shakespeare wrote some of his most famous work in plague isolation, Taylor’s quarantine hobby could pave the way to a very successful literary career.