When he was two years old, Qadar Sharif-Harris taught himself to read. Inspired by her son's love of books, Qadar's mother, educator Hamidah Sharif-Harris, founded an African-American children's literature subscription box, called the Little Buzz Book Club, "to address the need for positive self-image and confidence among children."
Although Qadar knew how to read, he was unable to communicate verbally. He has been diagnosed with hyperlexia, a rare condition, which is "characterized by a child's precocious ability to read (far above what would be expected at their age), significant difficulty in understanding and using verbal language (or a profound nonverbal learning disability) and significant problems during social interactions," according to the Center for Speech and Language Disorders.
Hamidah credits both her son's love of reading and the lack of diversity in children's literature with inspiring the Little Buzz Book Club:
As his mom, I learned a great lesson, Qadar’s challenges have given him a very special gift: The ability to go inside himself and take his mind in places he may never have known as a “normal” ﬁve year old. Through Little Buzz, he’s sharing his love of reading with children everywhere.
Sharif-Harris' African-American children's literature subscription box helps black families find books that reflect their experiences. Since 2014, when BookCon's panel of children's authors was exclusively white and male, We Need Diverse Books has campaigned to increase multiculturalism and awareness in the kidlit industry. In 2015, less than 8 percent of the books received at the Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) featured characters of color.
According to a Tuesday press release, the "Little Buzz Book Club is on a mission to promote books about people of color including African and Caribbean culture." There are two African-American children's literature subscription boxes to choose from: one for preschoolers, and another for children ages 4 to 10. With prices starting at $14.95 per month, each delivery includes reading materials and accessories.
For more information, follow the Little Buzz Book Club on Facebook and Twitter.
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