ColorPop Books, an online shop selling curated bundles of books featuring diverse characters and creators for families, launches nationwide today. The new venture is sponsored by DonorsChoose, the education nonprofit that helps public school teachers secure donated funding for classroom projects and materials. Five dollars of the purchase price of each ColorPop bundle goes to the DonorsChoose Book Donation Fund, which provides its identified Equity Focus Schools with high-quality diverse books.
The ColorPop idea was born after DonorsChoose began increasing its commitment to equity in education several years ago. “In 2019, DonorsChoose launched #ISeeMe, an initiative promoting diverse learning materials, funding thousands of inclusive books for U.S. classrooms, particularly benefiting Black, Latinx, and Asian students,” said Vanessa Cardona Kepp, director of ColorPop Books. When consulting parents during its research for #ISeeMe, the DonorsChoose team learned more about the shortage of diverse children’s books in the marketplace. The problem persists, as the latest stats from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center indicate that only 39% of the children’s books received by the CCBC in 2022 featured a BIMPOC main character. “Parents of color expressed the work it takes to find books around a specific topic or moment and/or books that include characters that share their child’s race and experience,” Kepp noted. “They were eager to find more books that speak to the topics of everyday life and show kids of color thriving in the world versus talking about inequity or struggle.”
According to Kepp, DonorsChoose designed ColorPop Books to help fill this recognized need. “ColorPop Books aims to tell under-told stories, build representative bookshelves at home, and continue to support kids without access to identity-affirming books,” she added. ColorPop also opens another window for the work of its parent organization. “DonorsChoose wanted to expand their impact beyond the classroom, giving parents and caregivers a resource for finding trustworthy, representative books,” Kepp said. “They draw on 23 years of data from public school teachers and have deep experience working towards equity in access and quality of K–12 education.” She cites this access to teachers’ expertise as a factor that makes ColorPop Books a one-of-a-kind shop.
ColorPop Books uses a combination of teacher input, internal evaluation, and journal reviews to select the titles for its bundles, typically aimed at readers ages four to eight. Each box retails for $45—with $5 going to the DonorsChoose Book Donation Fund—and contains three diverse books, a self-portrait activity book, a ColorPop affirmation card, and an invitation to join the ColorPop parent communities, aka the ColorPop Crew. Members of the Crew receive exclusive parenting content, early access to events, and occasional opportunities to test new ColorPop items. A blog on the ColorPop site is home to articles offering advice and information on literacy, parenting support, representation, and other pertinent topics.
Among the offerings available for purchase at launch is the signature ColorPop Book Bundle containing the picture books Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho; The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly; and Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison. Other inaugural items in the ColorPop shop are the Being Brave Bundle, the Girls in STEM Book Bundle, and the Pride Book Bundle. More packages are in the works, including the Latinx Voices Month Book Bundle, the Neurodivergent Book Bundle, and the Indigenous Stories Book Bundle.
Kepp said that bringing ColorPop out of the gate as kids and teachers return to school and the holiday season approaches has been an exciting endeavor so far. “We want to bring families of color the books they need to affirm and inspire their kids, and to create a valuable, joyful reading experience.”