AwareNow: Issue 28: The Mental Edition

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“Kudos to my kids for their insight, intuition, and courage in being able to go there.” JELANI: (continued) doing for my kids. I don't think I understood the possibilities, but I packed all of myself into it. It was my kids who gave me the inspiration, the idea to turn it into more. It was their very first response. They were like, “This is amazing. You could make other books on other hard to talk about topics like divorce or anxiety or shame or death…” And I was like, “You know what? I never considered any of that”. Kudos to my kids for their insight, intuition, and courage in being able to go there. What I’ve found with all kids is that they have an appetite to go there. And what they're usually told by an adult is, “No, we don't talk about that.” Or “Not yet.” Or “I'll tell you when you're older.” I really credit my kids for not just the birth of my own book, but the expansion into this broad reaching collection now we have.

ALLIÉ: With regard to form and function, A Kids Company About functions through storytelling presented in multiple forms. Please share the many ways your content can be consumed.

JELANI: So, we publish in two different form factors right now. In the ‘A Kid's Book About’ series, which is sort of standard children's book, these are a bit longer, 64 pages instead of 32, and designed for five to nine-year-olds. They all tackle challenging, empowering, and important subjects. And then there's our board book series, ‘A Little Book About’ that tackles some really interesting subjects like activism, justice, sharing, and bravery. It's designed for that zero to four crowd; they are beautiful 24 page board books.

We've got a podcast network. There are 10 original shows all produced by us, ranging from topics like activism or interviews with our authors or climate justice hosted by a diverse group of different hosts available just about everywhere you can get your podcasts. And then last, but not least, is the video work that we do that's available on our app. Everything from guided meditations to master classes for kids who are 12+. We have live events and a lot of other really great content that we just hope empowers this next generation. We hope it encourages them and gives them the tools to navigate life.

ALLIÉ: It’s one thing to understand something, it’s another thing to talk about it. When it comes to our kids, in your opinion, Jelani, why is the latter so important?

JELANI: Well, at a very basic level, because our kids ask it of us, right? When kids ask that ever present question, ‘why’, they're asking us to speak, to talk, to use words. Grownups will talk a big game about the power of words, but when our kids lean in and respect that power and go, “Well, where do babies come from?” Or “What's happening in Ukraine?” Or “Why did this thing happen this last weekend?” Or “Where do we go when we die?” All of a sudden we don't know what to say, or what to do, or know if we should even be talking about it. We ask ourselves if it’s appropriate to talk about it. Yeah. I think it's really important that we, as grownups, use our words. We explain, we teach, we guide and we use what we have to offer. Even if that thing that we have to offer is, “I don't know, but let's go find out together.”

ALLIÉ: You have 6 kids. Jack and I do as well. That said, we understand that when you have children, each child is very different. How do you craft your content to apply to all kids and connect with each child?

JELANI: That's a really great question. I think it really comes down to two things. I think it comes down to authenticity. The storytellers that we bring on, whether that's video, audio, or our books, they have authentic stories to tell. I think that authenticity really connects with kids from anywhere and any walk of life. And then the second is that they all tell 131 AWARENOW / THE MENTAL EDITION