Childhood is magical, and preserving that magic as a parent is powerful and delicate work. That’s why I was thrilled to see Paperless Post, a leader in eco-friendly virtual invitations, has partnered with #1 New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Vashti Harrison for a line of digital children’s party invitations.
Novelty and whimsy are a beacon in childhood. The thrill of dancing in the rain while jumping in puddles. Gathering all the blankets in your house and arranging the furniture to make a fort. Procuring the absolute best, no-one-will-ever-never-find-me spot in an epic game of hide-and-seek with your cousins.
A part of the novelty of childhood is sending and receiving invitations to special events and parties. But for so many Black kids, those invitations don’t include illustrations of children who look like them.
That feeling of not being seen or included isn’t magical—it’s disappointing, the last thing you want to feel when getting excited for a party. But thankfully, this line of digital invitations by Vashti Harrison for Paperless Post allows Black children to see themselves represented and celebrated.
The Vashti Harrison Collection for Paperless Post will help make your child’s special day shine. Vashti has a dreamy art style that’s instantly recognizable. Her characters are often illustrated immersed in a moment of wonder, and her work is a symphony of subdued hues, gorgeous lighting, and sweetly serene faces.
(For those unfamiliar with Vashti’s work, she debuted in 2017 with Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History. Since then, she has stayed on top of the bestseller list illustrating award-winning titles such as Hair Love written by filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry and Sulwe by actress Lupita Nyong’o.)
“I want to tell stories that haven’t been told before, but give them the same power and significance as the books we deem ‘classics,’” she explained in a Paperless Post blog. “To achieve that same level of thoughtfulness the classics have, only now, it’s in stories about little Black and brown girls, and children of every race.”
As an educator and mother, I am aware that children notice everything about their surroundings. They begin understanding environmental print before they can read. (Don’t believe me? Show any kid an image of a certain restaurant with golden arches.)
Children being able to see themselves in the characters they grow to know and love is important. Vashti recognized that this is especially important for little Black girls. She draws them specifically to preserve their innocence, citing a study by Georgetown Law “showing that adults view Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers, especially in the age range of 5–14.”
If adults see young Black girls in such a negative way how do these children see themselves? This question is being asked in a time when children have access to images and content online that may prove detrimental to their self-esteem. Being able to affirm our children down to the stationery we use to celebrate their special days is powerful.
And the Vashti Harrison and Paperless Post collaboration provides a way for us as parents to make sure our children are fully seen for their wonder and innocence. Create something magical for your child’s next party today!