MiJa Books grew out of the need for parents Stephanie and Muammar Reed to assemble a more inclusive book selection for their newborn daughter. Stephanie grew up with a love of reading and knew passing on this love to her daughter was important, so she was consumed with visions of an in-home library for her little one.
As she and her husband set out to fill their Afro-Latina daughter’s bookshelves, they were surprised to discover they struggled finding books with mixed-race or ethnically diverse characters in stores and online. That’s when the Reeds decided to build a website that could be a resource for other families or educators dealing with this same dilemma. “At first, the website was a curated list of books,” Stephanie explains. As the list grew, so did their social media presence and connections with local authors. “Then fast forward to November of 2021, and we opened our first brick-and-mortar store in Lakewood, California,” she says.
One of the most important things parents can offer their children are words, Stephanie says. This is why MiJa Books focuses on books in the age ranges of 0 to 8 years old. “We try to emphasize the fact that learning starts from day one, and so we focus on board books. They’re actually our best sellers.” You can check out these and other selections online at MiJaBooks.com or in person at their store in Lakewood.
Another way MiJa Books supports young readers is by promoting bilingual education with a YouTube Channel, MiJa Books Storytime, where kiddos can go to get in their read-aloud story time. Reading out loud to your child can introduce kids to words they might not hear every day, which expands their vocabulary and their imagination.
Inspired by a love for their daughter, Stephanie and Muammar are on a mission to highlight books that feature diverse cultures. Stephanie says the vision she holds close is for all children to come into their bookstore and find something they enjoy, “because at the end of the day, we’re trying to create a more inclusive world.”