'Black Boy, Black Boy:' Minneapolis author, illustrator use book to inspire kids of color

"Black Boy, Black Boy" by Crown Shephard and Mychal Baston.

A local author and illustrator are hoping to inspire kids of color to chase their dreams. 

Open up a page of the book “Black Boy, Black Boy” and see how black boys become whatever they dream of.

“It’s for and was inspired by my nephews. I have 13. They’re at a critical reading age and they expressed to me that they didn’t like reading because none of the characters looked like them,” said author Crown Shephard.

So, when the Minneapolis native wrote this book, she said she “wanted to make sure that my dark-skinned nephew could pick up the book and feel represented and my fair-skinned nephew could also pick up the book and feel represented.” 

In the book, boys of different shades and shapes become doctors, engineers and leaders. 

Crown says she has given away around 200 books to boys attending protests or visiting the George Floyd memorial at 38th and Chicago.

“I got to hear little boys scream, ‘Hey, mom, it’s me! It looks like me!’ I got to see their faces light up.”

Mychal Batson is the artist behind the illustrations. As he drew the characters, he said he wanted to inspire Black boys to imagine all kinds of futures.

“It was really important for us for no matter where you come from or what you look like, for Black boys to see themselves in this book,” he said. “The common stereotype is that Black boys are going to be entertainers. They’re going dribble basketballs, they are going to perform on microphones, so I’m hoping they see that there are alternatives in this book.” 

Crown and Mychal said they hope this story opens up a world of possibilities for Black boys. The book can be found on Amazon and Target.com.