“All too often, the books that our black and brown children have access to are white-washed. This leads to subtle, but underlying inequalities that almost no one is talking about that have Caucasian children subconsciously believing that they are in some way superior because they are on the covers of all the books, while minority children are left to wonder to themselves why they do not look like the kids on these books,” says Lawrence Gordon, Books with Color Co-Founder and CEO who is himself a Diversity-Driven Author. Lawrence is a part of YWCA’s literacy festival taking place on March 27, 2023. Jasmine Hemphill, YWCA Central Carolinas’ Literacy and Engagement Manager, had the opportunity to sit down with Lawrence to learn more about him as an author.
Introduce yourself. Please tell us who you are, share about your family (if you’d like), and a bit about the books you’ve written.
My name is Lawrence Gordon, and I am married with four children. I founded a company called Sport Mode One, where I do sports as social capital, and I co-founded a nonprofit called Books With Color, where we encourage representation in children’s books. The two books I have self-published were written with my children and promote fathers reading to their children.
Out of the books you have written, which is your favorite?
Both books have their own impact on my life. When you write with your children, it is special.
Out of your books, what book and part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?
Staying focused on the storyline is always tough because you have so many ideas that may not fit after editing. So keeping things simple and to the point can be hard at times.
What part of which book was the most fun to write?
Both books had parts about my children that could create an impact on another child. So having a line or two that a child relates to was our goal.
Which of the characters do you relate to the most and why?
I am in both books, so the impact had a father in your life. My dad didn’t grow up with me, so in Dad, the Bully, and Orange Ball, I relate with my son because I wrote the book as if my dad was around.
What perspectives or beliefs have you challenged with your works?
That dads don’t read with their children and dads are not present in their kid’s lives.
What inspired the idea for your books?
My mom passed; she was a teacher.
If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
I miss you. Both books have my parents in them, and they are no longer with us.
Lawrence and his son Landen sharing their favorite illustrations in his book Dad, the Bully, and the Orange Ball.
Lawrence goes on to say, “I wrote my books because there were no books available that featured children that looked like my kids when it came to the subject matters we were dealing with, such as bullying,” says Gordon. “We can do better. All children deserve to see themselves in books.”
During the March literacy festival, students from YWCA Central Carolinas’ youth learning centers will participate in author meet and greets, read alouds, kids yoga, book signings, arts and crafts and more. Each child will receive several Books with Color books from Lawrence and several other local authors.
Jasmine Hemphill is the Literacy and Engagement Manager at YWCA Central Carolinas. She has served as a public educator and literacy facilitator for over 14 years.