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ColorPop Parent, Vanessa on the Power of Books That Help Kids Feel Seen

As a parent to two young mixed-raced children, Vanessa connects deeply with the ColorPop Books mission. Learn about her story and the power of identity-affirming kids books.


My family has always been a little non-traditional. I am a first-generation Mexican-American woman married to a white man, Jeremy, who simply identifies as American. We have two young mixed-race children and have experienced how difficult it can be to find quality books that made our children feel seen. For most of Jackson's (8) and Grey’s (7) lives, Jeremy has been a stay-at-home dad while I’ve worked full-time. Since the days my children were born, we’ve been seemingly blending our two identities, experiences, and traditions together — but also often failing at finding families that look like ours in what we read and watch. 

Last year, I joined DonorsChoose to launch ColorPop Books, a new initiative powered by our organization (and inspired by our community), to make it easy for parents to find books that feature underrepresented characters, authors, and illustrators... Because of my own personal experiences searching for books with characters that looked like me, both when I was child and now with my own children, I feel deeply connected to the ColorPop mission.

Looking for a Mirror

Not too long ago, my daughter, Grey, asked me if we were Mexican. We were having our nightly downtime after dinner with the TV on, toys spread across the floor, and I was scrolling through my phone. I was caught off guard, shocked that she was so unsure. Here I was, thinking that I was representing my culture and raising a strong Latina. But to her, it made no difference. It felt challenging to explain my Mexican heritage to her. And — because we were living far away from my family at the time — it felt lonely. 

Looking for a Window

Fast forward to a few months ago, when Jackson and Grey started a new school for 1st and 2nd grade. After the first few days, Jackson came home a little quiet and told me he felt bad because there was a girl in his class who was different and he didn’t understand why. After a few conversations, I put it together. Jackson’s classmate had started transitioning to a new gender identity over the summer. Jackson had simply known her as she was, and didn’t question it until other classmates brought it up. I felt a strong responsibility to explain it to Jackson in a way that built empathy and support for his classmate. 

How Books Help

ColorPop Books was built to help bear the weight in parents' lives. We read hundreds of books,  filtering out harmful narratives or shallow attempts at “diversity”, all with one goal in mind: support parents, help their children feel seen, and build bridges to other identities and experiences. 

Our ColorPop book bundles would have been a welcome addition to the conversation I had with Grey about how beautiful our Mexican culture is; from the delicious food to the vibrant traditions, and warm people. It would also have added so much to the conversation I had with Jackson on how proud his friend should be for living her truth and being herself and ways he could intervene when other classmates were being unkind. 

From One Parent to Another

Not only do we leverage our DonorsChoose network of experts and teachers to help curate our book bundles, we also speak directly with parents. We know that books and representation can be key to navigating tough moments – it’s sincerely our hope that you find support, when you need it, in our book bundles. Whether you desire your child to see more of themselves in the books they read or you want to introduce them to a new experience, ColorPop is here to help. Always inclusive, always high-quality, and always here to share in some of the hard stuff.

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