Anisha Mack Blumenberg wrote a children’s book to teach her 7-year-old son a valuable lesson about giving.
“One thing I’m sure everyone is familiar with is packing up your toys, you know, going through your stuff and packing up what you need,” she said.
A Madison native, Blumenberg received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a certificate in Leadership and Management from Northwestern University before working in Chicago and later relocating to Los Angeles. She currently resides in the Washington D.C. metro area with her husband and son, and works as an IT consultant to the United Nations. In April, Blumenberg published “Bye-Bye Toys: A story about giving,” illustrating a life lesson shared with a boy named Ronald after his mama gives away his old toys.
The idea for the book came after Blumenberg instructed her son to clear out his old toys to make room for new ones. After clearing out the old toys, Blumenberg and her son went to The Salvation Army to make a donation. At the moment, her son did not quite understand what was going on.
“We went and we were leaving them. A friendly guy in a red shirt came over and had us sign a form and he was completely confused,” Blumenberg said. “When you’re going to a Salvation Army, (young children) can’t conceptualize you’re giving away your toys to another kid. They just see that you’re leaving the toys.”
She thought about how to explain to her son what would happen to all his old belongings. Blumenberg said she often looks for children’s books to touch on topics that can be difficult to explain in terms simple enough for children.
In this case she had difficulty finding children’s books about giving. Blumenberg said she also struggles to find children’s books featuring young black boys that are easily accessible. Instead, she said most children’s books will feature animals rather than humans.
Blumenberg decided to write her own children’s book about giving. She based the story on her son giving away his old toys to his cousin. Blumenberg said this way he would be able to relate to the book directly.
“I wanted to show him this story about how you’re typically giving it to another kid or a younger kid, or sharing,” she said.
Blumenberg said the process of creating the book was exciting. She would often show her son illustrations of himself. Blumenberg said he would often giggle at the sketches of himself in the early drafts.
“I found that many African-American children’s books are not illustrated or written by Black folks so they may not necessarily have the way we talk or swag,” she said.
Blumenberg said it’s important for young children to see representations of themselves in books, on television and in their role models. She also said children benefit from seeing diverse images and people different than them.
Each piece of “Bye-Bye Toys” is based on an actual conversation between Blumenberg and her son. The book is also available in both English and in Spanish.
A portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to charity each year. Blumenberg hopes to donate to organizations related to literacy.
The book is available now at Amazon.com.