Academy Award-winning Actress, Viola Davis, has released a new children’s book in the ‘Corduroy’ series of adventures. The story chronicles Corduroy and his friend Lisa’s trip to the theater as the precocious and adventurous bear embarks on yet another quest to search for the missing button from his overalls.
What many may not realize is that the Corduroy book series also includes more ethnic diversity than many other children’s books as Corduroy’s friend Lisa is a little Black girl. For this reason, the books soon became a favorite for Davis to read to her daughter, Genesis, who is now 8 years old. After years of reading Corduroy stories together and even authoring some original stories of her own so that she could put her daughter into the experiences to keep her interest, Davis became inspired to work with Corduroy author and illustrator, Don Freeman for this newest rendition of a Corduroy adventure.
Growing up in a very impoverished area in Rhode Island, in an interview with NPR Davis recounts how important reading was to her survival and coping amidst such dire circumstances. “Reading was an escape into an imaginary world where none of those things existed – where I could re-create myself and I could re-create a life where I played a better role. And it’s that place, in reading, it was that place that sort of saved me.” She continued to described how she would go to the library each day after school alone as a kindergartener just to read as many books and get lost in as many stories as she could.
While reading books as a child may have helped her to cope with her home life, Davis also recounts that due to the lack of diversity of many children’s book characters, she often times didn’t feel like she could ever be a part of the story. Much like her, daughter Genesis always wanted to be a part of her stories which inspired this newest collaboration.
“And I think that’s why Corduroy and writing this book has played such a large role, because I want her [Genesis] to be included in the story. I want her to actually feel a sense of worthiness. That’s what it is, a sense of worthiness. That’s why I love Corduroy. The fact that Lisa’s African-American and her mom – it’s her way of knowing that she’s a part of something.”
Davis’ Corduroy adventure is one of friendship, exposure, and imagination where you can create worlds that reflect you and your own experiences. The story represents the notion that simply existing is enough and everyone’s experiences should be celebrated and validated. As she encourages her daughter and all children who may read ‘Corduroy Takes a Bow,’ Davis remarked: “I think that’s what books do…they give you permission to, sort of, be.”