Happy Saturday! Chag sameach to those celebrating Passover, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate tomorrow! This week we are lucky enough to feature Golzar & Lisa! These hardworking women run Baby Ventures, a book company based in Maryland. Both of these women use their experiences in non-profit work along with travel & activism to inform their creative and literary endeavors! We hope you enjoy the adventure of getting to know the wonderful and intelligent Golzar & Lisa!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself!
Baby Ventures: Greetings! We are Golzar Kheiltash and Lisa Hall, co-founders of Baby Ventures™, a Maryland-based, women-run indie children’s book company creating diversity and adventure-inspired board books and artwork. We met while working at a nonprofit in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Washington, DC in 2005, and have been close friends and collaborators ever since.
Golzar is an avid humanitarian and advocate. She trained as a lawyer and spent eleven years working on behalf of vulnerable populations at leading advocacy organizations worldwide. When motherhood entered the picture, Golzar started pouring through all the board books she could find to read with her daughter. Many of the “baby books” she came across featured oversimplified topics and images, leaving her to crave more for her budding bookworm. As co-author of all Baby Ventures™ books, Golzar is deeply committed to creating a more enriching, globally informed reading experience for young children.
Lisa has been a lifelong artist and traveler, visiting over fifty countries across six continents. Her travels include serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa, backpacking by herself across Latin America and volunteering at orphanages in Bolivia and India. Upon returning home from each of her trips abroad, Lisa painted the rich diversity of people and places she’d experienced. As co-author and illustrator of Baby Ventures™, books, Lisa combines vibrant imagery with bold colors to bring her real-life adventures to life in each book.
As avid travelers with a deep reverence for the rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and locales that make up our global village, we founded Baby Ventures™, in 2016, with one simple mission: to encourage children early on to explore all the people, cultures, and places that make our world the wonder-filled place that it is, one literary adventure at a time. Our inaugural title, the ABCs of Washington, DC, is an ode to the real-life adventures we had while living and working in DC!
TTA: What are you passionate about?
BV: While there are several key principles that drive us, one core tenet we are particularly passionate about is working to ensure that all children – regardless of income or circumstance – have equal, unhindered access to quality board books from an early age. Although we are a small company, we are dedicated to donating our books and time to organizations that are working tireless on behalf of children and families, with causes ranging from early literacy to life-saving humanitarian assistance.
Because reading with children is a proven way to foster early literacy as well as a lifelong love of books, we also prioritize hosting story times as often as we can. Last year, through collaboration with the Family Library at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, we were honored to host a very special story time with our ABCs of Washington, DC, which was broadcast live to patients throughout the hospital.
We are also big believers in the power of a library card – we strongly support local libraries nationwide, and we are working hard to ensure that our books are available for circulation at a number of public libraries across the US. We are thrilled to announce that our bilingual Spanish-English counting book, ¡Números, Baby!, has just been accepted for circulation at several branches of the Chicago Public Library!
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
BV: We have just released our third title, ¡Números, Baby!, and are undertaking an ambitious and targeted distribution plan across the US. ¡Números, Baby! is inspired by our own travels across Latin America and Spain, and introduces youngsters to the stunning beauty and linguistic, cultural, and geographical diversity of the Spanish-speaking world. Each page combines numbers and text with vibrant illustrations depicting the unique attributes of nine Latin American countries, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and Spain.
¡Números, Baby! also embodies one of our core company goals: to encourage bilingualism from an early age. Studies have shown that learning a new language is invaluable for the development of babies’ brains. Beyond the science, we believe it is also a singularly powerful way to foster empathy and develop kinship with our global brothers and sisters.
We are also honored to help give back to local communities that inspired ¡Números, Baby! – a portion of all sales of this title goes to World Central Kitchen (WCK), a nonprofit food assistance organization founded by chef and humanitarian advocate José Andrés. WCK is doing exemplary work on behalf of vulnerable populations in Latin America and beyond – please visit their website to support their incredible efforts.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
BV: The publishing industry is changing drastically, even from just a few short years ago when we waded into this field. We keenly welcome the uptick in indie authors and publishers who are creating one of kind, timely books that are helping raise tomorrow’s compassionate, connected adults. Get to know your local authors, seek out indie authors who are tackling issues you want your children to grow up reading about, and most of all, shop at your local indie bookstore! Since launching our first book, we have had the privilege of having our books sold at a number of incredible indie bookstores in the greater Washington, DC area. Many of these indie bookstores are women-owned and/or run, and we couldn’t be prouder to collaborate with them. Throughout our indie literary community, women are lifting up other women in the most inspiring and empowering way. Support that by supporting them– go to Indie Bound and find your local indie bookstore!
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?
BV: That’s a very tough question! If we had to choose just two, they would be: All Are Welcome, written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, and Alma and How She Got Her Name, by author and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal. We are voracious readers with our own little ones, and we find ourselves feeling both moved and hopeful when we read such inclusive, empowering titles with them.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
BV: While there are a number of opportunities we are excited for this coming year, top of the list is our upcoming trip to Puerto Rico! This incredible, resilient island inspired page 5 of ¡Números, Baby! and we feel strongly about going to visit whenever we can. Leading up to our trip, we are striving to set up several book donation drives with our local partners in the US, to help bolster school libraries in Puerto Rico. If you would like to donate a new children’s book or Young Adult fiction or non-fiction book, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
We will also be hosting several author events throughout this year, including this month: If you and your little ones are in the DC area, join us on March 23rd at newly opened indie bookstore Loyalty Books for story time with our ABCs of Washington, DC – we’ll be celebrating cherry blossoms and the global friendship they represent, and much more from A to Z in our capital city! Check out their website for more details!
Happy reading adventures,
Golzar and Lisa
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