Haitian culture has been the apple of social media’s eye lately. As gouyad videos, konpa music, and Haitian cuisine flood social media platforms, we are seeing highlights of the culture being praised, favorited, and reposted. While the Instagram reels, and Tik Tok videos make an impact, Melissa Phillippe decided to find a way to make her impact more permanent.
Melissa Phillippe, a children’s book author started her career as an educator. “I double majored in English and Psychology. I taught for a little bit and then transitioned into Educational Consulting. My mother was my influence to become an educator” Phillippe explains. While working with students and creating a lasting impact within the four walls of school buildings, Melissa sought out another avenue for influence. Melissa began curating children’s books, with the hopes to showcase Haitian culture as well as be a martyr or representation in the literary space. “I have always been inspired to write. I’ve had a love for books for as far back as I can remember. By the 6th grade, I’d read over 1000 books. Even though I knew the library like the back of my hand, I knew very few authors that looked like me” Melissa says. Her desire to curate a library of books in Kreyol and by Haitians sparked her interest in creating the Pictionary series.
Melissa Phillipe is one of the few Haitian authors who has created a Haitian Pictionary in Haiti’s native language Kreyol. Her books, My First Kreyol Ayisyen Pictionary are a series of 10 books that cover various topics from numbers and animals to jobs and human body parts. These kid-friendly books are not only resources that can help educate and spread the language of Kreyol at the flip of a page. But a permanent and tangible piece of Haitian culture. Ensuring more than one translation of the book, no matter what part of Haiti the reader is from, their specific linguistic characteristics are represented and honored. “It was crucial that my daughter was able to see books with people who looked like her and spoke like her. It was even more important that my daughter see these things being created by someone who looked like her.” Phillipe explained.
Melissa Phillipe’s children’s books are sold on Etsy and Amazon. Her desire to continue amplifying Haitian culture and represent in spaces where many Haitians aren’t visible will continue to be the fire that keeps her going. With more books soon to be released, Melissa hopes to have her books in every Haitian home. “My dream for Haiti is for her to shine again as the Pearl of the Caribbean. Ayiti was never given a fair chance to indeed be a world powerhouse. However, other world powers use our resources to power themselves. My dream for the diaspora is that we, as people, begin to realize our energy and strength. Written on our flag is "L'Union Fait La Force". They knew what they were saying. We're broken because we fight things separately as if we all aren't hurting” Melissa explains.
With many more books to come, she aims to inspire more Haitian creatives to join her on her quest of curating literary works for the kids and the culture. To access Melissa Phillippe’s books check out her Amazon.