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North Fork natives pen children’s book to celebrate diversity

After Tracy Booker had a conversation with her supervisor about the lack of representation for children of color in current children’s literature, she knew she had to contribute to changing that. She sat down one day in August 2020 and started writing her book, “Taylor Wants to Play.”

It’s about a resilient, energetic little girl who finds a way to have fun even when everyone around her seems too busy to play with her.

Ms. Booker and her sister-in law, Katy Taylor, both North Fork natives, teamed up on the project, with Ms. Taylor creating the illustrations, and the book was published Sept. 1 by Kindle Direct Publishing.

Ms. Booker’s muse was her 10-year-old daughter, Taylor, whose resilience and spark she found inspirational. 

“I wanted to show the world that there are girls out there like that and to relate to other children out there … you can be celebrated, too. Your uniqueness is wonderful, and it should be something that’s captured and showcased and celebrated with the world,” said Ms. Booker.

The illustrations of the central character reflect many of the real Taylor’s physical attributes, which were included with representation in mind. Ms. Booker and Ms. Taylor were meticulous about how they wanted to portray the character.

“I wanted to depict certain things — like the curls that she has, that her hair is braided, her skin complexion, that her body size is a little bit rounder, that she has a gap, that she wears glasses, that she has baby hairs,” Ms. Booker said.

Author and Mattituck native Taylor Booker. (Courtesy photo)

The illustrations also feature bright colors — pinks, blues, purples, yellows and greens — that reflect Taylor’s personality.

Ms. Taylor said her niece “fills the room with energy as soon as you see her or are around her. It’s like you can’t help but smile so I wanted to get that energy on the page.”

This is Ms. Booker’s first published book and she is extremely proud to be able to share it and know that other children can see themselves depicted in Taylor’s character. She also hopes it will motivate others to reach for their goals as well.

“If I can do it, you can do it ,and I think that says a lot when you can see yourself in print; it’s a completely different feel,” said Ms. Booker.

Ms. Booker, a graduate of Mattituck High School, is now an English as a Second Language teacher in Virginia and Ms. Taylor, a Riverhead High School alumna, is a stay-at-home mom in Florida.

The book is for sale only through Amazon.