Shionka McGlory’s love of books grew after watching her own children fall in love with reading. As their passion blossomed, the 31-year-old pre-K teacher’s assistant wanted to fan the flame by helping them find books to which they could relate.
But McGlory soon identified a lack of brown and black characters in children’s literature, particularly as heroes or characters of influence. "Most books where you can be a doctor or chef were not geared toward African Americans, or they were not the main character," McGlory says. "You can’t see a different perspective of the world if you don’t see yourself in the world."
In 2017, she founded Mocha Books from her Tulsa home. "You have to start where you are," she says. The business is now an online platform with the mission to promote literacy through new and used, culturally represented and diverse books for children and adults.
The site has grown to provide book reviews and literary resources and spotlight authors who write about diverse characters. McGlory introduces readers to her finds daily from her Instagram page, @readwithmochabooks.
"I get to combine my passion for working with youth and families with my passion for books," she says.