Why Representation Matters


colorful paper people holding hands in a circle. representation. Des Moines MomUnless you have been living under a rock, you most likely have heard of the movie Encanto. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a movie about the Madrigal family that lives in Colombia. The story follows the lead character, Mirabel, on her quest to save the family’s magical home. 

Why am I talking about this movie you may ask? Shortly after this movie came out, there was a viral video of a little girl who was spitting image of Mirabel. In the video, you could hear her saying, “Look at me mommy!” as she was pointing to the screen. That girl’s reaction to the character exemplifies why representation matters, especially at a young age. When children see themselves represented in various roles the impact can be profound. 

The way the media portrays characters of color has a direct influence on how people see, understand, and treat them. It is no secret that people of color are underrepresented across many platforms. If they are represented, it is often based on a harmful stereotype. While we can’t control the media, here are some helpful ways you can incorporate more diversity into your home. 


There is are so many children’s and young adult books available that truly portray varying races and cultures. A couple of my favorite children’s authors are Jaqueline Woodson (The Day You Begin), Derrick Barnes (The King of Kindergarten), and Grace Byers (I Am Enough).

Representation in TV Shows and Movies

This is easily the most popular form of media for children and young adults.  Misrepresentations are hopefully becoming a thing of the past due to more culturally accurate entertainment.

Some of my favorite BIPOC TV shows are Mira, Royal Detective (Disney), Molly of Denali (PBS Kids), and Glitch Tech (Nickelodeon). A few of my favorite movies are The Proud Family Movie (Disney+), Rodger & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Disney+), and Ada Twist Scientist (Netflix).

I can not tell you how many times, as a classroom teacher, I see the face of a child of color light up when I read a book with a child of color as the protagonist. They are able to relate and make connections with those characters and realize their dreams are possible. 

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