Local authors hope children of color will be inspired to enter medical field
By Katie Arvia
LANSING, Ill. (October 10, 2022) – Two Chicago Southland authors are celebrating the release of their new children’s book, When I See You. The book, co-written by Dr. Mide Adeleye, MD, MPH, and Bria Jackson, MS, tells the story of 7-year-old Nia and her trip to the emergency room. Nia is a bright young girl who “loves to explore the world around her.” After she has an accident, she travels to and navigates the world of the emergency room and is able to learn from her doctor while being treated.
Cultivating aspirations for the medical field
Adeleye said the idea for the book came about during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020. During casual conversation with Jackson, the women discovered they were both interested in writing a children’s book that would allow kids to see themselves represented in and learn about different medical fields.
“First and foremost, I definitely want young kids, especially Black children, to see themselves represented in the book, to know that they can be a physician, and to also build that trust of doctors and know where they can go if they need help,” Adeleye said.
Jackson said that she and Adeleye believed there was a disconnect with young children not aspiring to be doctors.
“Our takeaway is that children of color will look at our main character, Nia, and see themselves. What we have done is attainable, and healthcare needs you,” Jackson said.
A video trailer for When I See You can be viewed below:
Personal journeys into science, medicine
Adeleye said she also hopes that readers of all ages learn more about the emergency department, what it does, what it entails, and what emergency department doctors do. She added there is nice vocabulary that children can learn from too.
Adeleye’s journey to medical school sprouted from her love for science. She said she thought learning about the human body was interesting and science was the subject that would capture her attention in school the most.
“It turned into a social cause for me, because I realized that healthcare, medicine, and all the things in between are not equitable, and not accessible to a lot of people,” Adeleye said. “I wanted to be a part of that change and I also wanted to represent because there’s less than 5% of Black doctors in the United States. Knowing that I would be someone who’s Black in the field made me want to definitely represent more and take care of underrepresented populations as well.”
Adeleye was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to Lansing in the early 2000s. After attending Memorial Junior High School and TF South High School, Adeleye attended Northern Illinois University for her undergraduate degree. She completed graduate school and a post-baccalaureate program at Southern Illinois University and completed her medical schooling at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Currently, Adeleye is an emergency medicine resident in Houston, Texas.
Jackson was raised in Homewood and now resides in Chicago. She is an aspiring physical therapist who Adeleye described as her best friend and sorority sister.
“Mide and I have grown from coworkers, roommates, line sisters, to best friends. I honestly wouldn’t want to write this with anyone else. We complement each other very well,” Jackson said.
Adeleye said that the love of her current program is what drew her to Houston. She said she may stay in Texas for a few years (she loves the amazing weather) after completing her residency but is also considering moving back to the Chicagoland area.
Writing and publishing When I See You
When Adeleye and Jackson were writing When I See You, they experienced many hurdles along the way. Because they both have busy schedules, Adeleye said there would be months where “we would do a lot and make a lot of headway, and then there were months where not much was happening in terms of the book.” After writing and working with an editor to tweak the story, Adeleye said they got feedback from friends and family. The next step was to find an illustrator, which wasn’t an easy task.
“We wanted someone that fit our brand but also fit how we pictured the book. Thankfully, we came across Whimsical Designs by CJ. She’s an awesome illustrator,” Adeleye said. “She was very patient showing us what she had and taking into account our ideas.”
Adeleye and Jackson spent time watching YouTube videos to help them along the way. Finally, When I See You was self-published. The book is available for purchase at Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart.
“The driving message behind our book is to see yourself represented. We want young kids of color to see themselves represented in these healthcare professions,” Adeleye said. “‘When I see you’ is a phrase that Nia says at the end of the book; she says, ‘When I see you, I see myself,’ and we think it’s really important for kids to visualize themselves in that spot.”
For more information or to buy a copy of When I See You, visit wheniseeu.com and follow @wheniseeyou.book on Instagram for updates.
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