Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o has a new project sure to capture the hearts of young ones: an audiobook version of Sulwe, her inspirational children’s book.
The actress revealed that she had narrated the audiobook of the 2019 award-winning story. To Nyong’o, listening to a book being read aloud is an intimate and personal way to experience the story and its characters.
She added that she wanted to narrate the audiobook herself so that the characters could come to life in the way she had envisioned when she wrote the book.
As an example, Nyong’o cited one of the characters, called Mama. Mama reminds her and is inspired by her own mother, and she used the character to exude the compassion, calmness, and warmth that her mother still shows the actress to this day.
The book tells the story of a girl called Sulwe, who is darker than all her family members and everyone at school.
She dreams of being bright and beautiful, like her sister and mother. However, she goes on a magical journey that opens her eyes and changes her perception of beauty.
Nyong’o was inspired to write the book after she went through some painful experiences as she was discriminated against for her skin color.
She experienced colorism since she was a small child, so she wrote Sulwe to protect other children and give them a feeling of self-worth.
She had earlier revealed that even though she grew up in Kenya, where many people are dark, she had trouble accepting the color of her skin.
The books she read and the TV she watched showed plenty of light skin and not enough dark, so she became uncomfortable with the way she looked.
To make matters worse, her younger sister was a lot lighter than her. People would constantly tell the sister that she looked pretty, yet no one said those words to Nyong’o.
This made her feel unworthy. It took a long time for her to learn to love the skin she was in.
Now that she’s confident in how she looks, the actress wants to help black kids to love themselves and accept their skin color faster than she did, despite what others might do or say to put them down.
Even though the topic is heavy and sensitive, Nyong’o still wanted kids to have fun with it. She gave the story plenty of whimsy and heart.
The book is an inspiration, especially to black children who are exposed to media that makes them feel uncomfortable in their own skin.
It is also a New York Times bestseller, has garnered critical acclaim, and has won multiple awards, from the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Children’s Literary Work to the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Sulwe is an essential read.
It is also one of the books that every child should read, no matter their race. It can help them to empathize with kids who experience discrimination for something they should feel proud of.
The Sulwe audiobook is out now.