Alumna Engages Young Children to Learn About Black History
One day not too long ago, Yvette Cole M’16 was looking for a fun and engaging book to read to her Stamford, Connecticut, kindergarten class that related in an engaging way to Black history in America. Her choices were surprisingly few.
So, she wrote one herself.
Cole, who has a master’s degree in childhood education from UHart’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, recently published a picture-story book called Harriet’s Dinner Party, mixing historical facts with a fanciful tale of discovery.
The first-time author, who was born and raised in the Harlem section of northern Manhattan, is a dedicated advocate for implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion into daily school curricula. Harriet's Dinner Party does just that, giving teachers and parents an enjoyable and effective way to enlighten children in kindergarten through third grade about significant figures in Black history, including Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr.
In Harriet’s Dinner Party, a young girl named Destiny takes a walk outside only to find herself at the house of real-life abolitionist and social activist Harriet Tubman. The girl had not previously heard of Tubman, nor of any of the other historically significant guests who are at the party being held inside the house.
For the new author, the most challenging part of writing Harriet’s Dinner Party was trying to tell a story in a way that younger audiences could relate to. Tubman’s life as a slave is not emphasized as much as the fact that she had discovered a way to shine a light about her experiences in such a way as to influence history in a very positive way.
“There is no other children's book quite like this one on the market,” says Cole. “I tried to carefully weave the narrative so that it not only entertains, but also encourages critical thinking, empathy, and the exploration of essential life concepts. I am pleased that it has already touched so many people. Some parents who express their excitement also say how they wish they had a book just like it to read when they were younger.”
In Cole’s kindergarten class, after she discussed Martin Luther King Jr. and his importance to history, she showed her students a page in her book where King appears, and they were excited to see what they already considered to be a familiar face.
The book has been receiving positive reviews on Amazon—which makes Cole, her family, and her former instructors and classmates at UHart very proud.
Yvette Cole M'16, College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions
I hope to write more books on diversity, equity, inclusion, and kindness. I want to make it easier to communicate controversial topics with children. I want to teach children how to be good people and to believe in themselves. I want them to understand that nothing should stop them from reaching for greatness.