Q: What inspired you to write All People Are Beautiful?
A: The year 2020 was the inspiration behind the book. I wanted to weigh in on the conversation of diversity, but had no idea what I wanted to do or who I wanted to talk to.
2020 had lots of events that affected the diversity space and generated responses from the entire globe. We elected the first African-American, Asian-American, and woman as vice president of the United States — which is exciting — but we also had issues around racial equity.
It was beautiful to see people everywhere stand together! That’s when the idea for the book was born. I truly feel the conversation of diversity never gets old and can never be talked about too early. I feel our differences help this world be a really cool place to both live and love.
I wanted to do something to highlight the beauty of our differences with the intention of showing how they unite us. My thought was, “Who better to influence than our children — tomorrow’s presidents, doctors, teachers, politicians, pastors, policemen, and lawyers!”
Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: Like many times when I feel inspired, I write the idea down, walk away from it, and come back when a connecting idea comes to me. The idea just kept come getting bigger and bigger so I kept writing down title ideas.
The title “All People Are Beautiful” came as I was watching television one day. It just hit me. I pulled out my black book where I keep all my ideas and I wrote the title down. From that moment, the words flowed and I knew I needed to use the title as a refrain throughout the book.
For me, the title is a universal message, but it’s also a movement. With it being a universal message, it was important to make this book available to children all over the world, so I’m publishing the book in seven languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Swahili, and Chinese.
I am over the moon excited that so many children will be able to read this book over and over again.
Q: What do you think Cha Consul's illustrations add to the book?
A: Firstly, my partnership with Cha was kismet. Cha is an absolutely phenomenal illustrator. By the time we connected, I already had in my mind what I thought the illustrations would look like. Cha took my vision, added her creative flare and gave my words a face.
It was important to me that readers got to see bright colors, different skin tones, features, and faces of children from all over the world in this book. Cha helped me achieve that goal and I’m grateful. It was great to work with her because she loves diversity just as much as I do.
Interestingly enough, All People Are Beautiful was the first children’s book she ever illustrated, so I feel very special.
Because of COVID, locations, and our time difference, we did all the collaboration for All People Are Beautiful virtually from opposite sides of the world. Cha is based in the Philippines and I am based just outside Nashville, Tennessee, so there were lots of virtual video calls to make sure we aligned on the presentation.
I am forever grateful for her artistry and I am looking forward to working together again in the near future!
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?
A: I want kids to take away that everyone is beautiful regardless of what you look like, where you’re from, your culture, your hobbies, or anything else that makes you different. I want kids to know we like different things and that’s OK. Our differences are what unite us, not divide us. I want kids to know that it’s cool to talk about our differences in fun and interactive ways.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: So I’m a true ENFP, so I’m always on the go! All People Are Beautiful is my second children’s book, but I’ve recently finished writing a few new stories.
I’ve written a really cool story about a group of animal friends that decide to switch places for a day and realize it’s no fun being someone else. I’ve also written another book about beautiful rainbows and the things the colors remind us of.
Both are books for early readers so I’m looking forward to sharing these with children everywhere.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: My desire is for All People Are Beautiful to be a conversation starter, so I’ve created an interactive website for educators, parents, and students. It’s full of exercises, discussions, crossword puzzles, word searches, sing-a-longs, and readers also get to take a world tour, all from the comfort of their PC.
All of the 10 activities compliment the book and are useful for both the classroom or home. For anyone who subscribes to my mailing list, they will be given access to the site. They can subscribe by visiting www.VincentMKelly.com. I can’t wait to connect with readers around the world!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb