Daralynn Walker wants young girls of color to see characters who look like them. That’s why the Farmington Hills mom wrote Madison Miles and Friends – a chapter book series for kids ages 7-11 that addresses self-identity, character and confidence.
The series highlights Madison Miles, Olivia Jackson, Mackenzie Owens and Jihan Taylor. This diverse group of black girls in Detroit – where Walker grew up herself – express themselves through the things they love to do, like math, science and writing.
Madison Miles and the Big, Big Move follows 12-year-old Madison’s struggle to adjust and deal with bullies after moving from Georgia to Michigan. And Olivia Jackson and the Great Cupcake Caper follows Olivia as she tries to juggle her studies, friendships and her first big cupcake order.
“When I looked at the numbers of books that are created per year that reflect kids of color, it is less than 20%,” says Walker, whose three children are ages 8, 6 and 1. “But when you look at books that are created (with) animals, there are 30% of books created per year. So, are we writing books that kids could relate to, or writing books just to write books?”
Walker, who also runs The Urban Rose Foundation mentoring program, wants to promote literacy, too. She was also inspired by Michigan’s new law that says third graders may be held back if they’re more than one grade level behind in reading.
“I decided to set it at a third-grade reading level, since that is a major transition,” Walker says. “The great thing about the book is that it is a chapter book, (but) it will still have illustrations and sight words.”
Each book is 100 pages and 10 chapters of colorful illustrations. Two more books are scheduled for release in spring 2020.
Visit the Madison Miles and Friends website to shop books, a coloring book, backpacks T-shirts and more.