Marching up and down the Exhibitor’s aisles in search of swag, I stumbled across a booth with a very attractive display of books. They were uniform in color and design, with a minimalist sensibility and an even more eye-catching collection of titles. Some might call these “tough topics”- about racism, body image, cancer, gratitude, anxiety, belonging, creativity, emotions and more. I was drawn in by it all – the clean, graphic book covers and straightforward approach.
These books don’t represent your typical character-based narratives with illustrations. While that style of book helps adults broach topics like grief, divorce, gender identity, or bullying, they lack a direct, honest approach. As a youth librarian, my mission is to help foster literacy of all kinds within families. This means cultural, emotional and health in addition to reading literacy. I definitely wanted to know more. The librarian swag would have to wait.
Melanie Wilkins, Sales and Operation Manager for Portland-based publisher A Kids Book About Inc, shared with me the company’s history. In 2019, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, Jelani Memory (owner and CEO of A Kids Book About) wrote this first book about racism. Books on other topics followed, and it didn’t stop there. A Kids Book About Inc has developed into a media company, producing engaging and informative podcasts and videos for children as well as their collection of books. There is even an app with access to all of its content.
A Kids Book About has been a great resource for educators, Wilkins told me. This suite of resources attracts me because it addresses topics important in children’s understanding of the world. It also normalizes the curiosity for children and their nature to ask questions that adults may struggle answering. It gives them the courage to build that bridge of understanding.
As we move past our recent struggles, it’s reassuring to know that there are tools and media resources like A Kids Book About Inc. Having these available can help parents navigate these topics and build a stronger sense of self-worth and well-being.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
Guest conference blogger Stephanie L. Stoner (she/her/hers) is a Youth Services Librarian. She is most looking forward to springing back into the mix of like-minded professionals from around the country- bringing home fresh ideas and and soaking up inspiration! She’s also thrilled to have the opportunity to hear Kal Penn speak! As a children’s librarian, she is partial to baby animals of all kinds; her favorite – next to baby humans – are baby galagos (bush babies).