The central character of the first draft of Samara and Alphabet was a boy. A friend rightly pointed out that even though I am a girl, I tend to write in a male voice. I am not sure whether it was from years of reading literature with male protagonists or whether it somehow just seemed that the story would be considered more legitimate if a boy was at the center of it. Or maybe it was because I thought boys may not read a story with a girl in the lead but vice versa was okay. So I forced myself to make the protagonist a girl and find my own voice. When I became a mother to a beautiful girl, it became even more important to do so.
Literature plays a conscious and subconscious role in our understanding of the world and in my parenting journey, I have found that it was important for me to not only pick books that 1) embody the values that I wanted my children to imbibe but also 2) ones that helps my children understand more about their own journey. As a result, I often saw my daughter explain to me her own thoughts in the context of a character in a book. The same way, having a female protagonist allows me to not only help my daughter and other girls have someone to identify with and but also helps the boys who read the books identify with their gender counterparts.
The hope finally though is not just representation but instead that as the gender divide subsides, parents find the story, it’s values of empathy and the skills stressed on of problem solving more compelling than the narrator itself.