Vashti Harrison’s Little Leaders book first started off during a social media challenge to create art throughout Black History Month. Eventually, these drawings became the beginning of Harrison’s first bestselling book. Harrison created images of black girls dressing up as different female role models from history and turned them into a book in which she tells these women’s stories. She says she wrote these books with her younger self in mind, imagining the types of people she would have wanted to read about, the people who would inspire her to keep dreaming. By creating the books, Harrison shows readers just how much representation matters. Through seeing themselves reflected in the pages of these Little Leaders books, young children have the opportunity to see that their dreams can become a reality.
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History focuses on 40 black women throughout American history. All of these women contributed very differently to our history: some were scientists, some artists, politicians, pilots, mathematicians, poets, filmmakers, actresses, and so on. No matter what they did, there's one thing all of these women have in common: they're inspirational. These women all did something to make the world a better place for generations of women to come after them. In her thoughtful illustrations, Harrison imagines these women to be "little" versions of themselves, versions in which the children reading this book can easily see themselves reflected, because the stories aren't just stories of what these women have done–they're about what the children reading these stories can also accomplish.
The highly anticipated follow-up to Harrison's award-winning Little Leaders book is Little Dreamers: a book that illustrates and chronicles the stories of 35 inspirational women from across the globe, both living and deceased. Harrison introduces readers to trailblazing women from many countries and time periods, including: environmental activist Wangari Maathai, architect Zaha Hadid, modernist painter Mary Blair, and many more. Vashti Harrison says that in this book, she wanted to fill the pages with the stories of creative people, but in doing so she also wanted to challenge the traditional notion of what it means to be creative. Harrison argues that any field that requires critical thinking and invention can be a creative one. With that in mind, physicist Chien-Shiung Wu definitely counts as a creative thinker just as much as an artist like Frida Kahlo would.
This board book is a version of Little Leaders for a slightly younger audience, because it's never too early to introduce your little one to inspiring role models. Dream Big, Little One highlights 18 black women from American history who helped pave the way for other dreamers.
With Kwesi Johnson
In Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History, Vashti Harrison shifts her focus away from important women throughout history to applaud black men's accomplishments. Little Legends documents the lives and accomplishments of black men throughout history, spanning centuries and continents. Harrison's latest book features the stories of important men like the musician Prince, photographer Gordon Parks, civil rights leader John Lewis, writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, and many more.