When Tamika Ebling was babysitting last summer, the children she watched asked her questions about racial injustice, the COVID-19 pandemic and homelessness.
Knowing other children their age had similar questions about social justice, Ebling, a senior speech, language and hearing science major, was inspired to write a book about the simple ways kids could improve the world around them. “Do My Part,” is a 28-page childrens book describing how children can leave an impact on the world through simple acts of kindness. It was released on Feb. 27 and illustrates children from various backgrounds teaching readers how they can do their part to make the world a better place.
“Making a difference might not always look like a big superpower, and might not always look like saving the world, even though it could,” Ebling said. “It may look like something small, something that you can do in your home, something that you can do in your community.”
After completing the book in August 2020, Ebling originally planned to self-publish it through Barnes & Noble in October 2020, but because of shipping complications, she did not receive a full print version until later, which is why she held book signings in February, she said.
“Do My Part,” intended for children aged three to five, has sold 70 copies since its release and Ebling plans to put the earnings toward her future potential media projects designed to help others, she said.
The book’s illustrations are accompanied by lists of the many ways a child can make their mark on the world, like listening to a friend, sticking up for someone, taking care of themselves or picking up litter. Ebling hopes children learn to understand that “the small things really, really make a difference, and those things are grand in their own way,” she said.
Ebling took time to research and read about different cultures to accurately represent people’s identities through her illustrations, she said.
“I wanted to be inclusive, especially with the illustrations, and wanted to write the book for everybody,” Ebling added. “I thought it was really important for me to make sure that the pictures were in a way that children would understand the message that I was trying to convey.”
Ebling depicted children from all backgrounds in her illustrations, like including Black, Asian, Muslim and Jewish characters or ones who have glasses, freckles or physical disabilities.
Ebling independently wrote, illustrated and published the book but sought help editing from her boyfriend, Victor Adepoju, a medical student at St. George’s University in Grenada.
Although it is a children’s book, Adepoju thinks “Do My Part” can encourage parents to teach and speak more openly with their children about current world issues and to treat all people with kindness in the midst of social challenges imposed by the pandemic and protests against racial injustice.
“We’ve seen so many tragedies, and it’s really unimaginable,” Adepoju said. “This happening changed our perspectives about life and about people and how we need to treat each other better.”
For Marissa Tice, mother of the children who Ebling babysits, the incorporation of inclusivity in Ebling’s book is important to her and her children because they are a multiracial, adoptive family, she said.
“It’s encouraging for parents and it’s like a reminder for us to advocate and to teach our kids about these things, that children have, you know, children have power,” Tice said. “Small things that children do mean a lot.”
Tice appreciated Ebling’s incorporation of self-care, diversity and inclusivity in a children’s novel, as these topics are not widely seen or discussed in children’s books, she said.
Shante Duminie, a sophomore early childhood special education major at Moravian College, appreciates the diversity and representation in Ebling’s book.
Duminie bought “Do My Part” to add it to her classroom collection for her teaching placement at Bonaventure Academy in Bethlehem because there is a lack of diversity in classroom books, she said.
“Seeing the diversity in characters allows children to know that they can do whatever they put their mind to, and it does not matter what you look like, what your eyes look like, or what your hair looks like,” Duminie said. “This book really demonstrates that anyone can do anything.”
Ebling hopes the main takeaway of “Do My Part” is for children to realize that, regardless of who they are or where they are from, they can leave a positive impact on the world, she said.
“Making a difference might not always look like a big superpower and might not always look like saving the world, even though it could,” Ebling added. “Just something small, even like holding the door for somebody, it’s really important just to be a kind person, and I really hope that people get that message.”