PROFILE — 11-year-old uses Instagram to celebrate books with Black characters

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-01-26 14:30

Breaking stereotypes and inspiring kids through books

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Ainara Alleyne


Hamilton, Ontario



A screenschot of an Ainara's Bookshelf post with Ainara holding

Claim to fame

Ainara Alleyne won a Women Who Rock Award in October for her Instagram account Ainara's Bookshelf (@ainarasbookshelf).

The EMpower Strategy Group gives this award to women and girls in Canada who are making big changes through their accomplishments.

Her Instagram account is dedicated to diverse books for kids with main characters who are Black or people of colour.

"I wanted kids to actually be able to see themselves in books and believe that they can do amazing things too." - Ainara Alleyne, Age 11

With her dad’s help editing the videos, Ainara posts reviews and recommendations and does readings.

She even does interviews with authors.

A screenshot of Ainara's Instagram post with her pointing to a giant 3K floating above her

She has now reached more than 4,000 followers.

Representation matters

Ainara started the account in May 2020 because of how much representation means to her.

It was something she said was missing from a lot of the books she read.

“I would never be able to see a Black girl doing something really cool, being an astronaut or something like that,” she told CBC News.

A major inspiration for her is Moon Girl, a superhero from Marvel Comics.

“They made her the smartest person in the universe,” she said.

“That's so crazy because she's a Black girl and she's my age…. She's like me. And it makes me believe that I can grow up and be something great. I can grow up and be supersmart like her.”

Beyond book reviews

Ainara wants to share more than book reviews. She wants to share physical books as well.

She is working on a project called Diverse Readers, Future Leaders, which is meant to connect low-income households with books.

“It's hard getting into reading if you're reading the wrong books or only get leftover or general books,” she said.

A screen shot of Ainara reading in a post on Instagram

That’s why interested kids can fill out a form with their likes and dislikes to get matched with the right books for them.

She’s collecting funds and donations.

“It means so much to me, and it's so important to me because it means I'm making a difference,” she said. “Even though it may be a little bit, it's still a difference and it's still really important.”

Next up for the young reader is writing her own children’s books, two of which are already in the works.

“I just want [kids] to know that they are not just the stereotypes that some people make them,” said Ainara.

“You are way more than the colour of your skin, and you are worth so much.”

With files from Christine Rankin/CBC News
TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Image submitted by Shani Alleyne

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