A Kids Book About has now expanded to A Kids Company About to include podcasts and classes for youth to tackle challenging and critical topics, including mental health, careers paths and social justice. (Courtesy Photo)
By Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
Back in 2018, Jelani Memory, a native of Portland, Ore., decided he would write a book for his five kids. It was titled “A Kids Book about Racism.” As an African American himself, he wanted to find a creative way to talk to his children about what racism is, how it makes those who experience it feel and how to detect when it’s happening. Memory only intended to write it, design it and print a single copy, but the reaction from his children inspired him to do more.
“They had the most remarkable response to it. They were like ‘This is great, dad. You should make more,’” said Memory. “Then, they started to offer me all of these amazing and really tough topics that I was really surprised about and could make more books on.” The adults he showed the book to had the same response.
This led Memory to establish A Kids Book About in 2019. The publishing company launched with a small team and six books. It quickly achieved success and was featured in Oprah’s Favorite Things 2020. Now, the company’s collection houses over 50 books ranging in subjects from immigration to anxiety.
It also garnered over $7 million in capital to officially expand to A Kids Company About in August. In addition to its books, the media company will now employ podcasts and classes to empower generations of kids through diverse storytelling centered on important and challenging topics.
“I wasn’t actually thinking about going out to raise, but when we sort of sat back and looked at what we were doing with books, I thought there were more stories to tell and more storytellers to bring into this ecosystem,” said Memory. The Series A fundraiser was led by Black-owned venture capital firm Pendulum Holdings, and 93% of the raised capital was derived from Black and Brown investors.
Traditionally, the brand’s books have targeted five to nine-year-olds, but Memory and his team wanted to reach preteens and teenagers so they created classes to teach the youth about life skills and careers. A Kids Company About currently offers five classes covering topics that include discovering your passion, being a musician, mental health, living with authenticity and being an entrepreneur.
A Kids Company About’s podcast network provides programming that tackles a range of subjects, including climate justice and current events. It also features a podcast named The Activators, which is hosted by 8-year-old activist Leo Perry. “It’s a really wide set of shows all focused on real, true things,” said Memory. “We think kids’ media is full of fiction, and that’s great. There’s a place for fiction, but those aren’t the only stories that kids are interested in.”
Along the way, Memory’s wife and children have been his biggest supporters. He considers his kids his products’ best beta testers, and they never hold back when giving him feedback. His daughter, Ella, is even part of a pilot for an upcoming podcast called Everyday Feels, where she will discuss her emotions.
Looking across different generations of parents, Memory said before millennials, there was the Silent Generation, who typically didn’t engage with their kids, and the Baby Boomers, who had their hands full with jobs. When it comes to millennial parents, they are statistically more involved in their children’s lives.
“We definitely want to talk to our kids, but we don’t have that know-how,” said Memory. “Our books, podcasts and classes act as this great bridge to help foster and create those conversations.” He hopes that A Kids Company About can help to cultivate a generation of youth who are more inclusive, empathetic, thoughtful, loving and kind.
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