Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings has been a long-time supporter of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and as the years tick forward, we continue to be blown away by the talent, passion, and tenacity of this multi-book diverse author.
Her business, Make a Way Media, offers everything from workshops to journals to inspire creativity in kids; creativity founded in writing and reading.
When DeeDee was our first ever Super Platinum Sponsor for MCBD2019, she had NINE beautiful, diverse picture, poetry, and coloring books to her credit. As of May of 2019, book #10 has been revealed to the world, and this book shares an ultra-important message that the world needs to hear.
A new Diverse Picture Book | This is the Earth
This is the Earth is a book about peace, love, respect, compassion, and inclusion. This message bears repeating: peace is meant for all of us. Kids and adults will love the lyrical message and thoughtful artwork all about this planet as our home and every human being as our neighbor and family.
When asked what her inspiration for this unique diverse picture book for kids was, DeeDee had this to say:
“I watch a lot of news shows. Many people in my life have told me to give it up- just to walk away from it.,” she recalled. “But I have not been able to do so because I want to hear what is going on and to stay updated and gather facts for myself. However, it does take a toll at times. Some of the stories we hear now can be devastating and can negatively affect your mindset. Some of the stories stay with you, and you can find yourself overwhelmed. One day I turned the TV off, and I was sitting at the end of my bed staring out a window. I was watching trees blow in the wind, and these words came to me like a prayer. I was praying, ‘Please show us how to live on the Earth as the family we were meant to be on this beautiful home we were given.’”
Deedee reflected on a scene in This Is The Earth where a seagull (a species that is typically considered a “pesty” animal) has a six-pack ring around its neck. The seagull is clearly in distress and it seems so simple to walk up and remove the ring. “This is the reality of our world, and how humans treat the Mother Earth and all that inhabits this planet. We see images on the news of whales washing up on beaches filled with trash and sea birds unable to eat because of discarded fishing line wrapped around their beaks.”
“I had these stories churning in my head about school shootings, Black Lives Matter, family separation, and so many others,” she added. “I thought, ‘how hard is it to step in and remove the ring?’ If I tell you I can’t fly with this ring around my neck…why is that threatening to some people? It should not even be threatening to the people who are addicted to soda. But somehow, in our country, it is. Somehow we have grown comfortable with saying, ‘It is my right to drink soda, and if the consequence is, someone, ends up with a six-pack ring around their neck, well that’s for them to handle not me.’
That is the literal argument, and it is frustrating because removing the ring, or preventing the ring from ending up there in the first place is not that hard, but yet, here we are. In polarizing positions where only two arguments are heard: ban soda forever or let the seagulls suffer and die. And everyone on the opposite sides thinks the people on the other side are horrible people. That is where we are.”
She went on to share that the powerful message (one that kids and adults alike can comprehend) is that the care and feeding of Mother Earth is everyone’s duty. Today it seems as though being a steward of protecting and honoring the world in which we live is like the storm that everyone sees in the distance… but isn’t worried about because “it won’t affect me…”
But it does.
How we treat our Earth, and all who inhabit our Earth, does affect us and all of our generations to come.
This is the Earth is the perfect catalyst for opening dialogues with kids, adults, communities, and thought leaders to step up and care about everything around us.
Kids and adults will love the lyrical message and thoughtful artwork all about this planet as our home and every human being as our neighbor and family.
Deirdre “Deedee” Cummings is the founder of Make A Way Media and the author of ten diverse children’s books including, Heart, My Trip to the Beach, If A Caterpillar Can Fly, Why Can’t I, My Dad’s Job, Love Is…,Think of It Like This!, Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess, and I Want To Be a Bennett Belle.
As a therapist, attorney, author, and mom, Deirdre “Deedee” Cummings is passionate about passing down the life lessons that were instilled in her by her beloved mom. All ten of DeeDee’s diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids has threads of her professional knowledge running through them as well. Colorful and vibrant, her books for kids are not only fun to read, but they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message for love for all, and encourage mindfulness and inclusion. She has spent more than two decades working with families and centers much of her writing around her experience working with kids in therapeutic foster care. Her stories are filled with positive and hopeful messages. DeeDee also uses therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills and lessen the stigma some people feel about receiving mental health assistance.
A diverse picture book timeline from Make A Way Media:
2014 Love Is…Love Is is a charming children’s book that shares a valuable message: that love is a gift meant to be shared by every being. Filled with beautiful illustrations and a stunning palette, this book is poetry in words and color.
2015 Think of it Like This! A book about reframing bad situations. This book teaches therapeutic skills such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to demonstrate the essential lessons of self-control and perspective building.
2015 My Trip to the Beach: Just like adults, children can have bad days too. The good news is that, just like adults, children can better cope with stress by learning and practicing mindfulness.
2015 Kayla: A Modern-Day Princess A series about a little brown girl who never let anything get in her way. Children of all backgrounds love this story that follows a mom and daughter as they learn together about life, love, respect, and what matters most.
2016 I Want to be a Bennett Belle In this endearing children’s story, a smart and curious little girl asks her grandmother what she hoped to be when she was growing up. From there, another future Bennett Belle is born. After her grandma begins sharing the story of how she became the woman she was meant to be, the young girl learns all about the mission of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina: to instill each of its students with self-respect, confidence, compassion, pride, and preparation to compete as a professional in an ever-changing world. As the little girl falls in love with the spirit, sisterhood, and legacy of Bennett College, she discovers it is never too early to think about higher education or becoming the best woman she can be.
2016 My Dad’s Job: My Dad’s Job shares a powerful message about the value of parenting with love, direction, purpose, modeling, and consistency.
2016 Heart: Lyrically and visually beautiful, Heart is a book for ALL ages and ALL walks of life. Heart reminds us that when we close our hearts from fear, we close off other emotions like love, peace, joy, and happiness. Heart was inspired by the children the author serves who are in foster care.
2017 If A Caterpillar Can Fly, Why Can’t I: This book is a coloring and an activity book. Kids struggle with screen time and esteem issues at a higher rate than ever before. This book helps parents and caregivers discuss these issues in a way that kids will be more receptive and open to hearing this message. There are many activities to help guide children through an internal dialogue that reinforces how special they are. Many schools have used this book in their girls’ groups as a fun, therapeutic, and creative way to discuss sensitive topics that are facing our children today.
2019 Like Rainwater: A book that is also a coloring and activity book. Like Rain Water is a tribute to Deedee’s mother, Andrea Mast Pecchioni who passed away in 2003 from breast cancer. This is a story all about hope, love, kindness, and compassion- including the compassion you show yourself. Adult and educators will also find here are therapeutic techniques covered in this book that will help kids and adults with issues such as depression, self-defeating behaviors, and emotion regulation.
2019 This is the Earth A book about peace/ love. Respect, compassion, and inclusion
When asked why is diversity in children’s literature important to her, DeeDee had these exceptional thoughts to share.
“I grew up in a time where there were no characters in kid’s books that looked like me and even back then I knew how important it was to see yourself in a book,” DeeDee added. “To be recognized and validated is a way to share with the world the fact that you are no different from us, you are just as special, and your story matters. That is most crucial to me- that little kids see themselves and their story in a book. But also, I believe in the power of diverse books and what they can do to help build esteem in an individual and better relationships among people.
Diverse books are not written for black people. Diverse books are not just about a brown person seeing a brown character, or a character with a disability, or a character who just does not look, think or act like what we think is typical because it is all we know. Diverse books are written for all of us. We all need to see and hear diverse characters and diverse stories because it helps grow an understanding of each other and it builds empathy and compassion for what others go through. Diversity in children’s literature should be important to all of us.”
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