Children’s Book Series Created To Feature Real Stories Of People In The Mayan Community In Mexico

Reading is the foundation of education. Nevertheless, there are more than 100 million children around the world who don’t have access to books or who can’t read. Here is the good news – AllWithBooks is a new social enterprise that creates children’s books with the help of people living in communities in need to build them libraries with every book set purchase.

Enrique Uribe, the co-founder of publishing company AllWithBooks, started to write short stories for his daughter about the places that he had been to. After writing those short stories he felt that there was more he could do for the communities he was writing about.

For several days he thought about different ideas of what to give them in return, when he eventually came up with the idea of making and selling children’s book with these types of stories and then giving the communities books and building them libraries. He invited Phox, a friend and illustrator, and Sean, a former adjunct professor at a university, to join the team.

‘All You Need to Make Mayan Honey’ is a collection of 10 illustrative story books about the people from Katab, a Mayan community in Mexico that harvests honey. Each story is inspired by true community stories, like Lina’s, who was the first woman to graduate from college in the Mayan community, or Victor, a farmer who forgot his harvest offerings and was punished by Chaac, the Mayan rain god. There’s also Mariana, a Mayan healer who travels to the stars, and Memo, the 10-year-old boy who discovered Katab. These are just a few examples of our stories.

There are 5 stories about male characters, and 5 stories about female characters, ensuring gender equality is part of the message children get when reading these books. The notion of cultural representation is also important as we are starting to see a wave of children’s books being written to increase visibility of women, minorities, and people of color especially.

You may recall young badass Marley Dias, creator of the #1000BlackGirlBooks movement who felt she didn’t see enough children’s books featuring black central characters, so she set about making a collection which ended up going viral. And how can we go past the ‘Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls’ book which was created as an antidote to the princess culture thrust upon girls from a young age.

For children in the Mayan community to have access to books that reflect their own culture, traditions, and local role models is going to have a huge impact on how they see their place in the world in the future. This cannot be underestimated, as the saying “you can’t be what you can’t see” certainly rings true.

The people from Katab are co-creators of the books and each book sale goes to a fund to help support any local educational project they choose. The first project identified is a library. The community will be donating land and labor, and the book sales will fund the construction materials, equipment, and books.

Customers not only support this project with their purchase, but they can get even more involved by helping to choose books for the library. Enrique explains that the idea is to also connect readers and have a cultural exchange.

“You will view the world through a person in the Mayan community with one of our books, and they will view your world through your favorite book,” he said.

The books are written and illustrated for early readers, such as children 4 years of age and up. Each hardcover book is 6×6 inches and is printed with soy ink on high-quality paper from responsible materials. They are raising $20,000 through Kickstarter to print the first 1,000 book sets and to build the library in Katab. You can support this project and buy the 10 book set collection starting with the $20 early special.

If they succeed, they want to co-create more children’s books with more communities in need in the world until they make books available to every child in the world. It’s not just about children in Katab being empowered with stories about their community, it is seeing these books potentially reaching so many other kids who will have the opportunity to learn about those who are different from them, and foster empathy and understanding for other cultures and traditions.

We highly recommend supporting the Kickstarter campaign while it is still running. Here’s to more wonderful projects like this giving children the opportunity to read and learn in a way that empowers their own identity. As Enrique says in the video below “We believe books can change the world. However, books have no power unless they have readers.”

Leave a Reply