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My books are invitations to my home, my dinner table - it allows you to learn and taste my culture

The first time I read my children's book to a large group of children at the library, I wasn't prepared for the emotions it erupted within me. First, it was the glow on all the children's faces. Then the deep stares from the black children, their surprise, their contained excitement. I looked just like them. It didn't stop there; the characters looked exactly like them, some born in Canada too...then the opened mouth, smiles and shock when the stories highlighted the Caribbean foods, traditions most of them can relate to. About six kids came rushing to me after and asked to touch the books - then one by one, they told me which Caribbean country their parents were from or where they were born, the Caribbean foods they loved eating at home and Caribbean nations they visited. This one little boy asked if he can hug me, and we did. It was the tightest hug I ever received from a 7-year-old for the longest time. His friends joined in on the hug. I was never prepared for those experiences. The depth of appreciation was felt in my core. For the non-Caribbean children, it was an authentic learning experience, different, and they had a lot of great questions. I am used to it now - it inspires me to keep writing...my books are invitations to my home, my dinner table - it allows you to learn and taste my culture. In my house, my massive family consists of the Caribbean and African diaspora. In here, we feed your child with knowledge, confidence, representation, empathy, culture...joy. Leh we celebrate! Photo: Artist: Esmond Lee - Nuit Blanche 2019 Scarborough... this image caught my attention, it is my life in many ways...

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© 2020 by Yolanda T. Marshall

Toronto, Canada