Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein are two moms who saw the lack of representation in publishing when it came to Latinx stories and they came together to change that. They launched Lil’ Libros in 2014 to share our culture and stories through Latinx characters by Latinx writers and now they’ve launched an equity crowdfunding campaign. According to their We Funder campaign page, changes to securities laws now allow for community members to invest so they’ve opened up the opportunity for the community to become investors and people showed up with more than $2 million in investments. The overwhelmingly positive response is a reflection of the success the company has already achieved and the desire for culturally relevant children’s books.
“By allowing our community to become part-owners of Lil’ Libros, Lil’ Libros will also grow and continue working to create bilingual children’s books and content. Our goal with the equity crowdfunding raised is to substantially increase our book catalog, implement a subscription membership, and create additional family products,” Rodriguez tells HipLatina.
Lil’ Libros has sold more than 1.5 million books worldwide with 36 titles including their “The Life Of” series about Latinx icons like Celia Cruz, Selena, and Walter Mercado. Their catalog, made for kids up to age 8, also includes bilingual books for counting and vocabulary that still showcase Latinidad like Counting with Frida and Evita: Opposites. Stein and Rodriguez, who are both moms, also write some of the books and work with Latinx illustrators.
These details are significant considering the abysmal lack of representation of Latinx culture in publishing. According to stats on their campaign page, only 6.1 percent of books focused on Latinx characters last year and less than 1 percent of children’s books in the U.S. are bilingual. Additionally, 79 percent of the overall publishing industry including executives, sales, marketing and publicity, and reviewers were white, according to a 2015 study by Lee & Low, the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the country.
“I never want kids to think their identity will prevent them from succeeding. I don’t know when it happened but at some point, I stopped believing it was possible. I had to unlearn that and get over my fear,” she previously told HipLatina.
“We created Lil’ Libros because growing up we did not see ourselves in children’s books and now that we have children of our own, we want to create a world where their existence is validated,” they say in the video on their campaign page.
With more than 5000 investors and investments totaling $2,248,686, they are almost sold out of spots. Their Instagram bio reads “dreaming in two languages” and the dream clearly just got bigger.