What were you doing when you were in second grade? Probably not writing a book, like the incredible 6-year-old Vanae James-Bey was.
Along with her mother, Veronica Bey, Vanae created The Indigenous Adventures of Princess Vanae, a 20-page coloring book that educates children ages 5 through 13 about black Indigenous cultures around the globe. The book officially launched March 31, and has increasingly gained popularity over the past month.
The coloring book features an illustrated version of Vanae as a princess, who travels the world to learn more about Indigenous cultures in Africa and the Americas.
Vanae, who is currently home-schooled in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, at a second-grade level, was inspired to create The Indigenous Adventures of Princess Vanae after she noticed traditional coloring books didn’t represent her or her roots.
“I think it’s fun to share knowledge on some of the oldest people on Earth.”
“Being home-schooled, we tend to stick to a more Afrocentric curriculum, and noticed how hard it was to find specific materials for lessons and how many other parents [and] students must feel the same…” Veronica told Atlanta Black Star.
“We have friends whose children go to public schools and are taught that Native Americans are extinct, or are only taught about slavery as Black history,” she added. “I didn’t want that to be my children’s introduction to their history.”
When learning about Indigenous cultures to help fill in these gaps, Vanae would ask her uncle, Johnathan Ellerbee, to draw pictures of her wearing Indigenous clothing and jewelry from different black communities around the world.
The coloring book became a product of that collaboration, with Vanae, her mother, and her uncle coming together to create the story of a princess who’s passionate about preserving and learning about black Indigenous cultures. The family worked with artist Johanne Immis to finalize the images, and give them a more digital, coloring book-friendly look.
“In my family, our history and culture are very important to us,” reads a quote from Vanae on the coloring book’s website. “I think it’s fun to share knowledge on some of the oldest people on Earth.”
The Indigenous Adventures of Princess Vanae is available for purchase here. The family says there are more books to come, hoping to eventually represent all black Indigenous cultures from around the world.
[H/T The Root]