Winner of the NextGen Pitch Competition 2021, Little Patakha, discusses the Importance of Representation in Children’s Media.
Five years. That is the age by when biases about gender, race and culture set in. This is before children enter kindergarten and usually when caregivers assume they are too young to understand complicated subjects. But research shows that inclusive messaging during these early formative years can change these attitudes in just a few weeks.
Clearly, what kids grow up surrounded by becomes their normal. Images, languages and ideas introduced at a young age can have a deep impact on them. Yet, a survey of children’s media found more books with animals as the main characters than all the minorities combined! And boys were twice as likely to be heroes while girls were twice as likely to use magic to solve problems rather than knowledge.
Characters, storylines and illustrations are vital to how little kids develop perspectives about different aspects of their own identity as well as that of others. Clinical psychologists have talked extensively about how characters that look like them inspire confidence in children, while those that look like others nurture empathy. To encourage these qualities, they say that not only does negative stereotyping of certain groups and cultures need to be reduced, but that positive messages about them should be increased as well. Conversations alone are not enough, engaging and interactive media are imperative to ensure that these essential messages take root and blossom within children.
This is why I launched Little Patakha in 2021 through our successful Kickstarter Campaign. Little Patakha is a WBE located in Jericho, VT.
A patakha is a firecracker and I can’t think of a better way to describe children – full of potential needing just a spark of encouragement. At Little Patakha we believe that representation matters not only to those who see themselves reflected but to everyone, so we can all see different possibilities. Little Patakha sparks curiosity in young minds by introducing them to people, ideas and sounds they normally wouldn’t come across. So they can see that our differences make us vibrant and innovative. We do this through books, games, puzzles and other interactive media that help promote inclusion and shatter stereotypes.
Little Patakha won the NextGen Pitch Competition of 2021 and the winning grant allowed us to begin the design process for our new line of products, including jigsaw puzzles and affirmation cards. Currently, Little Patakha has launched an initiative to have a direct impact on children’s media through a Kickstarter Campaign. Businesses can pre-order our products for local schools, libraries and child care centers and thus promote diversity and inclusion in places that might not be able to access it easily. In less than 1 week we have had close to 25 businesses sign on, most of them women owned. Such collaborations with other small and women owned businesses helps create a supportive community that can help lift up and share important messages. And we look forward to many more such partnerships.
Join us as we spark curiosity, celebrate differences and shatter stereotypes. And like any adventure, it will be more fun if you bring someone along – so don’t forget to share Little Patakha with your friends and family!