A Book Subscription Box Created For Black Children
Words: Ashley Poag
A business venture born from frustration, Just Like Me! Box addresses the lack of African-American representation in children’s literature.
Tamara McNeil loves reading to her son, and she’s not alone. It’s a daily activity that creates a bond between parents and infants as they learn the rhythm of language. Both parent and child find comfort in the cuddles shared while reading.
Reading time can also come with its own set of challenges, like restlessness and a desire to find out what a book’s pages taste like. But for African-American children like McNeil’s baby boy, there’s an additional challenge—the lack of representation.
The Black community is bombarded with images of people who look like them experiencing extreme violence, sadness, and despair on an almost daily basis. The need for positive representations of African Americans in media, especially in early childhood literature, is increasingly important.
It’s why movements like #WeNeedDiverseBooks started in 2014—and it’s why McNeil decided to launch Just Like Me!, a subscription box service that sends families two to three books a month based on your child’s age. For $25 a month your child will receive African-American focused literature from award-winning authors, as well as up-and-coming writers. From Black history to finding the magic in our ordinary lives, the service seeks to bring the very best of African-American children's literature to those who need it most.
It was McNeil’s frustration that led her down a path of discovery, empathy, and finally entrepreneurship.
“I go to the library all the time to get books for my son,” McNeil shared in a press release for Just Like Me. “One day I looked around and wondered, ‘Where are all the books for Black children?’ I got frustrated and couldn’t believe that, of all the children’s books there, not enough of them were representative of my son or any of the Black children I knew.
“I thought about how I wasn't finding books for my son and … how there are children’s authors who are actually creating these books but don’t really have a lot of exposure and said ‘That’s it!’,” she continued. “This is what I want the box to be: introducing children to books they can relate to and also supporting those creating the books.”
Since its launch in May 2016, the company has launched monthly boxes featuring unique themes like “Fun In The Sun,” “Black Excellence,” and “Back To School.”
For more on the service, visit their website justlikemebox.com