A Kids Book About is a publishing company founded by Jelani Memory. It sought to create nonfiction books for kids covering topics that his kids were ready to discuss, even if they were difficult to explain. Since its start in 2019, the company has continued to publish empowering, challenging, and essential books that have now published over 50 books ranging from autism, diversity, disabilities, adoption, immigration, addiction, sexual abuse, and more.
“The thing about kids media these days is it has one goal: to entertain,” explained Memory. “That’s good, and all, and I love toys that can talk as much as the next dad, but these can’t be the only kinds of stories kids hear, see, or read. Kids need entertainment, distraction, and fantasy – that’s true. But they also need to see themselves in the stories they interact with, and more importantly, they need to see their experiences. Kids need a space where they learn how to understand and overcome what they face on a day-to-day basis.”
A Kids Book About believes that children have intuitive minds that are curious about the world around them. This is why their goal is to create books that help answer these questions. The brand also celebrates diversity, and each book is written by a different author that can provide an authentic point-of-view on the topics of their books.
How A Kids Book About Came About
“I wrote a book back in 2018 titled A Kids Book About Racism, but it was just for my kids,” Memory recalled. “I printed only one copy because I couldn’t think of what I’d do with two. My kids loved it, and it unlocked all sorts of new conversations. But it didn’t stop there. My kids were the first to give me the idea that the book that I made for them could be a series of books that talked about things kids wanted to know about, but grownups were perhaps too afraid to discuss.”
From learning about cultures to forming ideas to understanding play, their collection features insightful topics for all early readers that even includes a line of board books are created for grownups to level up storytime with their toddler or baby.
Their site mentions that their books aren’t about princesses or slaying dragons. To Memory’s point, while those are entertaining, they want to take on stronger topics that can be difficult to tackle. The throughline is learning about others who don’t look, sound, think, or act like you.
Memory explained that they pick their topics based on a mix of influences. “The first is taking a look at what conversations are parents least likely to have with their kids, not because they aren’t important, but they don’t know what to say,” he said. “The second is, what stories could have a massive impact, but traditionally don’t get told because publishers aren’t built to tell them. The third is paying attention to the world around us, what’s happening, what’s important, and what questions kids might have.”
Finding Those To Share Their Stories
Memory shared that they have been lucky in finding remarkable stories from incredible authors.
One example is A Kids Book About Autism by a son and father, Justin P. Flood and David Flood. David has dedicated his career to traveling the country as a youth speaker. With Justin’s help, he talks to students about dignity and respect. In this book, they hope to create a better understanding of autism, what it is like and help others understand that even if you are autistic, you’re not that different from each other.
“Diversity and inclusion are at the center of our search for authors,” Memory stated. “We are looking to highlight underrepresented voices and give their stories a long-overdue stage. Since we create all of our content collaboratively, we don’t take pre-written submissions. Instead, we focus on getting to know the author and their story. Then, once we’re confident that they bring a high level of authenticity to the topic, lived experience, and credibility to talk about it, we move to bring them on to create the story with us.”
Transition to Media
Recently, A Kids Book About leaped from tackling tough topics in books to expanding to video, audio, and beyond for kids of all ages. “There are so many more of these authentic stories to tell through so many more mediums (audio, video, interactive, etc.),” said Memory. “Since we are at heart storytellers, we had a tremendous amount of confidence in being able to take our storytelling abilities into engaging podcasts for kids and social/emotional classes for teenagers.”
Their new initiative is a podcast network that extends their book’s topics and A Kids Class About, a streaming platform for kids (10-15) to explore different careers, life skills, and ideas.
A Kids Class About features diverse teachers, thinkers, professionals, creatives, and individuals who talk directly to the kid. With classes like Discovering Your Passion with speaker and catalyst Kevin Carroll, Living With Authenticity with stand-up comic JJ Barrows, and Being a Musician with singer Liz Vice, there is hope to empower a generation of kids through diverse storytelling.
“Our mission as a company is to empower a generation of kids through diverse storytelling,” said Memory. “We believe ALL kids should be able to see themselves in the stories they interact read. In addition, we want to fill the gap for a generation of grownups (parents, educators, etc.) who never talked about these things with the grownups in their lives but desperately wanted to.”