My Kickstarter children’s book campaign was a great excuse to catch up with classmates from a long time ago. I went to UCLA’s Anderson School for an M.B.A. nearly 30 years ago.
My favorite extracurricular activity was this program called T.E.C. on Campus. It stood for The Executive Committee and it was run by a volunteer who was an industrial psychologist, Larry King (but not the one on CNN). He worked with family-owned businesses as well as entrepreneurs to help them manage their work/life balance and focus on the elements of their business that needed tending to but perhaps they were avoiding.
We would meet once a month at a company and hear from the entrepreneur, who, because of his close relationship with our leader, would share with us very personal parts of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Then, we would meet with just our small group of M.B.A. students — I think there were only 1o of us — and talk about our own dreams, anxieties, and problems.
It was a forum in which we got to know each other very well. John V. was in this group and when I reached out with my Kickstarter book, he not only donated but also set up a classroom author visit with his sister who teaches 4th grade. It was my first time doing an author visit for my new book. I always want to add content that kids can relate to so I decided to talk about the time that I was in 4th grade in an elementary school located also in Southern California.
I told them that I read all the middle grade biographies and fiction books in my school library. It took me more than two years. And guess what? I never saw a character that looked like me.
Later, when I had three children, I found lots of children’s books with Asian characters and thought it was a remarkable improvement. I started my blog when my youngest was 5 years old. He’s 16 now. It was from blogging that I learned that only 6% of the children’s books published had diverse characters or themes. That number had not changed in more than 14 years!
I was shocked and I decided to focus on diverse children’s books for my blog. Multicultural Children’s Book Day, a nonprofit that I co-created with Valarie Budayr, came next.
Changing the Game: Asian Pacific American Female Athletes also was a very personal OMG moment. My teenage daughter who played a lot of sports growing up told me that she didn’t think that there were ANY Asian female athletes that were any good.
What?!!! That shocked me! So I decided to write a book and that is how Changing the Game came to be.
There was more to my story but I’ll save that for another day. In the meantime, their teacher had her class write questions. Here are some of them:
My virtual class visits are free. Feel free to contact me if you would like me to visit your school!
p.s. Related posts:
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.