TSR Black Excellence: I love the Black Boy Joy coming out of Oakland, California, thanks to a father and his illustrator son trying to change the narrative about young Black boys and reading.
Their initiative to get boys interested in books started when Omar Bala noticed his son Khalil was drawn to creating cartoon characters as early as 4 years old, Black Enterprise reports.
Omar, being supportive of his young son, ultimately assisted his baby boy to publish his illustrated work in two books–”Why Dogs Chase Cats” and “The Lost Baby Spinosaurus,” according to BlackNews.com.
“I tell Khalil all the time, you’re an artist. Whatever you do and whatever people may say, don’t ever stop drawing,” Omar told BlackNews.com. “I know if he sees his work in a book, that will drive his pursuit to chase his dream in the art industry.”
The illustrations for the team’s first books were completed when Khalil was only 7 years old, according to their official book website.
Their passion to get Black boys reading is crucial in light of reports that Black boys in some states are underperforming in reading and writing.
In their home state of California, three out of four Black male students could not pass standardized tests in those subject areas, “according to data obtained from the state Department of Education,” per an older report issued by the nonprofit, CalMatters.
It’s also noteworthy that Omar and Khalil are creating space in an industry where Black children’s book illustrators are underrepresented.
Omar did what had to be done to empower his son at a young age.
“Whatever you want to be or do, you don’t have to wait, you can do it now,” Omar told BlackNews.com.
Their brand, Books By Balas, features books that combine African-American folklore and imagination. You can click here to learn more about their books and journey.
We applaud Omar for supporting his son in his greatness!
Want updates directly in your text inbox? Hit us up at 917-722-8057 or click here to join!