Houston mom creates subscription box for children's books featuring diverse characters

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Brytani Cavil's love for reading began when she was just a little girl. But, she didn't always have access to books with characters that looked like her or the people she was surrounded with growing up. She remembers having to advocate for more diverse literature in school.

"I don't feel that should fall on children. Not everyone's going to be poised enough or bold enough to stand up to their teachers or stand up to whoever is telling them that they can't read certain books or they can't include certain books," Cavil said.

As a mother of three, she wanted to create a solution to a problem she believes still exists. That's why Cavil and her best friend, Darriana Donegan, created the Brown Book Box three years ago. It's a monthly subscription box that ships to families with hand-picked selections of diverse books for young readers up to nine years old. The box also includes other items such as crafts, activities, T-shirts, and more.

"I really want my kids to be able to see themselves in stories that they read. Not just white characters and animals. There can be extreme consequences on a child's self-esteem (and) self-confidence if they don't see themselves in the books they're exposed to. It's like the world is removing them from stories that help them see themselves in careers, like being an astronaut or a teacher," she said.

Cavil said she spends hours researching book selections that feature characters from diverse backgrounds and storylines, so parents don't have to. She also makes her decisions with the help of her children, whom she calls her "quality control specialists."

"What I try to do is, find books that will fall under themes throughout the year. Such as the cultural awareness months, and I work with publishers. We also want to include books about friendship and nature. It doesn't necessarily have to have a historical context. Just something where kids can still see diverse characters in everyday stories that they love. People can also submit titles for consideration on our website," Cavil said.

Cavil ultimately hopes her business will help build libraries with diverse books in homes everywhere. And to empower children of color to pursue their dreams and break down bias and discrimination through representation.

"Race is involved in every institution in America. You can't look at a system in America without understanding race," she said. "I would love for the Brown Book Box to develop partnerships with schools all over the country one day, to provide our books and activities to families."

For more information about the Brown Book Box, visit their website. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram.

For stories on Houston's diverse communities, follow Rosie Nguyen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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