Photo courtesy of Ms. Baptiste and Lesley University
“I came across the book ‘The Friends’ when I first moved to the United States. It was like perfect timing […] the book is about a girl, Felicia, who has just moved from the Caribbean to the United States. It was exactly my story.”
Ms. Baptiste, having recently moved to United States from the Caribbean, was enthralled with this story that finally reflected her life. As Ms. Baptiste mentions in her interview, the character of Felicia mirrored the intricacies of immigration that Ms. Baptiste had gone through as a student: “…[Felicia] was struggling with dealing with the culture, finding her place in the culture, trying to figure out who she was as an American or as a girl from the Caribbean which is exactly where I was.”
Ms. Baptiste stresses the importance of representation, especially for students who may not always be reflected in schoolbooks. She recalls that “It meant so much to me to really see myself on the page in a way that I hadn’t before. I had seen other kids on the page and I had connected with other characters before, but here I was. I was there, this was me, this was my story.” Finally seeing herself represented, Ms. Baptiste’s writing aspirations quickly metamorphosed into something profound and long-lasting: “It was then that I started thinking that this is what I want to do with my writing life. I would like to be that person who gives kids exactly who they are on the page.”
Now, Ms. Baptiste continues to write for children and young adults, always keeping in mind the importance of representation, with much success.
Please follow this link to watch the interview.
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Researcher