Jambo Book Club exists to broaden the perspectives and build the empathy of our readers and their families. We shine a spotlight on diverse children in their everyday and fantasy lives. We hope that our efforts will start conversations that underscore the beauty of our common humanity.
The stories parents and grandparents tell children matter. From their youngest years, kids learn who
and what adults value. Finding children's books with characters that more accurately represent the rich diversity of modern America is hard. In fact, a recent University of Wisconsin-Madison found that only 14% of children's books published in 2015 had a nonwhite main character. Today's America is diverse and growing more so by the day.
My husband and I started Jambo Books because we were searching for high-quality books starring children of color in situations where children’s literature rarely places them — making friends, raising pets, loving grandparents and fighting dragons. We focus on finding books that give our children a vision of the world we want them to live in — diverse, vibrant and kind. We’re excited to share those books with other children through Jambo Book Club. We are passionate about helping parents raise children who won't have to be taught to tolerate people who don't look like them because they will crave a diversity of perspectives and traditions as part of a rich life.
Jambo Books is a children's book subscription company. We send our members 2 or 3 books each month that feature a child of color as the star of a fiction story. Jambo Books serves children from birth to age 13. Our oldest members, ages 10-13, receive a middle grade novel and a nonfiction companion book that expands on a topic discussed in the novel. We focus on stories about children of color to delight your young readers and reaffirm your values of creating an inclusive and welcoming community. The books arrive in boxes decorated in art that celebrates the joy of childhood.
Jambo” means “Hello” in Swahili. “Hello” is an invitation to start a connection, to learn something new, to expand our notion of what it is to be human. Similarly, we invite our readers to build their own empathy muscles by reading about people who aren’t exactly like themselves. Together, we affirm the humanity of every person.
We started experiencing explosive growth in May. Once the Black Lives Matter movement started to garner a lot of attention and support, our monthly subscriptions jumped from about 150 per month to over 600 currently – a 400% increase! It's important for us to leverage this moment as an opportunity to offer as many families as possible the chance to diversify their bookshelves and learn more about themselves, our country and their neighbors.
The Jambo Book Club offers a wonderful opportunity to show inclusive values from a child’s earliest reading experiences. With book titles like Lucia the Luchadora, A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars or How To Trick The Tooth Fairy, parents select one of five age categories for their carefully curated subscription --
ages 0-2, ages 3-4, ages 5-6, ages 7-9 and ages 10-13. Each captivating tale engages children, reinforcing a lifelong love of reading. Jambo understands many households have multiple ages under one roof so we offer the Mixed Ages Jambo Book Box which allows parents to choose two different age groups. One or two inclusive books per age group arrives at the home every month.
We have found that once people learn about Jambo Books they are really excited to subscribe, so our job is make sure people hear about Jambo Books so we can help them to diversify their home libraries. We will use funding for marketing as we prepare for the holiday season. We are creating pre-roll, short videos and a commercial to get the word out about Jambo Books. Longer term, we have a part-time social media manager who is incredibly talented. We would like to be able to bring her on full-time to engage longer term marketing efforts as well as social media outreach.
An important long-term project that requires funding is the launch of Jambo Book Club IRL. We have many members who are clustered in neighborhoods where they may not know each other. We want to give our members an opportunity to meet up online or in real life (when it is safe). Those connections will help members to build relationships across racial lines with other people who are close by and are also dedicated to social justice. Their kids can meet each other and play or discuss the books and most importantly, the parents will be living out the meaning of Jambo by starting conversations and building bridges. We need funding to hire someone who will lead the Jambo Book Club IRL program, forming the Facebook groups, reaching out to members and preparing materials for the clubs to use when they meet.
It's clear to us as parents ourselves that adults are looking for ways to discuss our nation's complicated history and present with their children. Jambo is in the process of creating an online course to help caregivers understand the systems that have given rise to the injustices we are currently experiencing and offer concrete ways they can explain those systems to their children at different developmental ages. The goal of the course is to help adults to feel less helpless because having an understanding of the systems and the history of race in our country will help them to better place themselves and their families in the narrative. Such knowledge will empower Jambo members to change the narrative in their lives and communities in lasting and impactful ways.
Jambo Books is led by Mijha Godfrey. Mijha is a former affordable housing developer and lawyer. She was educated at Wellesley College and Yale Law School. Mijha believes that children of color should never feel like outsiders in their own country. Mijha believes that white children are enriched by exposure to children of lots of different backgrounds acting as the stars of their own lives - not as sidekicks. Mijha believes that exposing children to people of different backgrounds when they are young will help them to see the humanity in all people when they are adults. Mijha believes that empathy is a muscle we can grow with use and that literature is a powerful way of exercising that muscle. Mijha believes that literature needs to be transformed from treating only the stories of white males as universal. Mijha believes that the child of Iranian immigrants and a Black girl with afro puffs can convey universal themes of humanity just as powerfully as any story ever told about a white male.
Thank you so much for your support!!