About MiJa Books
To find and showcase multicultural and diverse children’s books. And to create a platform for indie and self-publishers to reach a greater audience.
For children of color to be prideful of their heritage and identity by seeing themselves and their culture more often reflected in children’s books. And for ALL children to have more inclusive bookshelves in an effort to combat racism by raising moral and empathetic human beings, and book lovers from day one!
About the Reeds
MiJa Books was created by the Reeds, an entrepreneurial wife-and-husband team. What started as a home library for their Afro-Latina daughter has turned into an online resource for others looking to diversify their children’s bookshelves. They want their daughter (and her future siblings!) to have shelves full of inclusive books with relatable and inspirational characters. And they hope MiJa Books helps make this possible for the children in your life as well. Both born and raised in Southern California, they are currently based in the “heart of screenland”, Culver City, CA, where they reside and operate their businesses.
About the name “MiJa Books”
The meaning of the portmanteau “MiJa” is two-fold: it is an amalgamation of the first two letters of their daughter’s first and middle name, and it just so happens that this spells out the colloquial word for “daughter,” mija, in Stephanie’s ancestral language, Spanish.
About Stephanie Moran Reed, ADC
Stephanie Moran Reed is a nationally certified Activity Director dedicated to helping seniors attain the best possible quality of life. In 2016 she started her first business, Senior Sensory, a Los Angeles-based service that provides purposeful and stimulating activities for seniors. She received her ADC (Activity Director Certified) status through the NCCAP (National Certification Council for Activity Professionals), a federally recognized organization that certifies activity professionals who work with the elderly.
Stephanie earned her B.S. in Cognitive Science, Minor in Gerontology, and Specialization in Computing from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her interests in cognitive development and gerontology and the gratification she received from providing quality, person-centered care led her to a professional career working with seniors.
Unfortunately, her senior business was severely impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Visitor restrictions on senior communities meant that she could no longer service most of her long-time clients. The pandemic also halted the launch of her second company, Reed Musicians, a musicians-for-hire booking service. But, in true entrepreneurial spirit, she took advantage of the extra time gained during California’s stay-at-home orders and created her third company, MiJa Books!
Upon reflection, she feels that she was destined to become a bookstore owner. Exhibit A: This childhood photo of Stephanie, circa 1990, from her 2nd birthday party. While guests are enjoying birthday festivities, Stephanie decided that she’d rather read a book in her newly gifted puppy chair.
About Muammar Reed, Esq.
Muammar Reed is a civil litigation lawyer and owner of Reed Law, P.C. He prides himself in protecting his clients and their best interests, providing passionate, effective, and caring representation. Muammar earned his B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, and his J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
More about our vision
Our hope is that our Afro-Latina daughter and every other child will discover not just one, but a plethora of books that subconsciously engage them in the way that makes them proud of their ethnicity and unashamed of their skin color.
We’ve been on a constant mission to find children’s picture books that represent the diversity of culture and ethnicity in our world. Sadly, we’ve been dismayed by the effort it takes to actively search for these types of books. You can read more about the lack of diversity in children’s books in our blog post. My husband and I created this website to make this search easier for anyone seeking diverse children’s picture books. We will continue to update the site with new additions as we find them. Please feel free to message us with any suggestions!
Stephanie’s childhood experience with children’s literature
Growing up as a Mexican-American, in a low-income household of five, my weekends weren’t filled with weekly excursions to the zoo or aquarium. I didn’t spend my summers at space camp or dare to sign-up for those grade school field trips across the country. As much as I wanted those things, I assumed that those activities just weren’t for a brown and poor girl like me. But, thanks to my mother, what I did have was a bedroom full of children’s books and countless memories of her taking me to the local library as often as I wanted. And I lived for Scholastic book fairs at school! Living vicariously through the pages of a book was the next best thing to physically exploring the world.
Before the age of one, our baby was lucky enough to have visited the San Diego Zoo and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. And we’re certainly planning on many more adventures with her, which is a great fortune and privilege! However, I also want to create for her the same memory that my mom was able to give to me: a home library full of colorful and diverse children’s books.
I remember the classics: Charlotte’s Web, countless works by Dr. Seuss, and The Little Miss series by Hargreaves. But only one other book from my childhood home library stands out prominently in my mind, The Woman Who Outshone the Sun, adapted from a poem by Alejandro Cruz Martinez.
I was obsessed with this book. It wasn’t until my reflection upon this memory, in adulthood, that I came to understand the reasons why. With bilingual text, it was a story I could read in either of my two fluent languages (English & Spanish). The story is set in a traditional Mexican village. The primary character is Mexican, brown-skinned with extremely long, brown hair, which was so vividly depicted throughout the pages of the book. As a kid, I had long, brown hair that flowed past my back. My family members all had various shades of brown skin. I saw a reflection of myself and of my ancestors in that book. It was the only book of its kind that I owned.
With MiJa Books, I hope to change this anomaly I experienced as a child. I want my daughter to have shelves full of books with relatable and inspirational characters of color, and I hope MiJa Books helps make this possible for the children in your life as well. Happy reading!