Sisters Dee Fogarty and Georgette Fogarty Clemons are ready to make a difference in the world of reading. I recently spoke with them about WAM! Book Bundle, their new subscription book service for young readers that offers stories that celebrate the diverse and multicultural world we live in.
Tell me about WAM! Book Bundle.
WAM! Book Bundle is a monthly subscription service providing diverse children’s books to young book lovers ages three to eight, and we are launching this fall! We will conveniently deliver our book bundles containing two to three brand-new books right to our customers’ doorsteps. Included in each bundle is a family activity guide, which will help to facilitate extension activities that allow further engagement with the books received.
We are also curating educator book bundles. They are perfect for any educator who is driven to promote diversity and inclusiveness in their classroom. They will also include two to three diverse books as well as an educator activity guide that provides Common Core Standards extension lesson ideas for reading, writing, and the arts.
Our team is led by a certified teacher and literacy consultant with over a decade of experience, and we extensively review and handpick each and every book. We ensure that our selections are age-appropriate and reflect stories that celebrate the diverse and multicultural world we live in.
Why did you decide to start it?
Dee: As an educator, finding diverse books for my students has always been something I have been passionate about. I saw that it allowed my students to relate more to the characters. I also noticed the curiosity that was sparked when my students read stories with children of other backgrounds. I started the Instagram account @ILoveBooksAndICannotLie in January 2016 to showcase various diverse books so that others could be aware of the great diverse children’s literature out there. I soon realized that many people did not have access to those books in their area and often many of the authors of those books were unable to get them into major bookstores; from this, the idea of WAM! Book Bundle came about.
Georgette: I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. It has always been a dream of mine. So, when my sister created the Instagram account @ILoveBooksAndICannotLie, I quickly realized that she had an amazing skill and talent that could positively impact my family’s life as well as the lives of so many others. Recognizing my own struggles in finding diverse and inclusive texts for my children to read and connect with, I understood that I was not the only parent suffering from this problem. Unfortunately, there is a real void in this country where books that feature characters that look like me and my children are not the norm. Ultimately, I was inspired by my sister’s passion and drive to finally pursue a dream of my own and start a business that helps other parents and educators find a better solution to accessing inclusive children’s books and thus, together we created WAM!
Who is eligible to join, and what can members expect?
Absolutely anyone can join…moms, dads, grandparents, teachers and the list is endless. Members can expect to enrich a child’s reading experiences through exposure to stories that celebrate inclusiveness and the multicultural world we live in. They will also eliminate hours spent searching for great, diverse books as we do the searching for them. Furthermore, each member gains access to exclusive and useful information and practical tips from our activity guides all while enjoying convenient monthly delivery right to their doorsteps.
What has been the most surprising thing to happen since launching WAM! Book Bundle?
The most surprising thing to happen since the announcement of our launch was the overwhelming support we have received from family, friends, and the social media community. We’ve had numerous people share our posts and give us “shoutouts” on Instagram as well as encourage others to follow us and subscribe to our pre-launch campaign. We really appreciate all the love because it shows us that we have people in our corner rooting for us and also demonstrates the fact that there is a real need for our product, WAM!, and for parents and kids to have access to diverse and inclusive texts.
What do you want women to learn from your business?
We want other women to understand how important it is to truly believe in whatever project or business endeavor you are pursuing. It can’t be about the money or the fame, because there is a lot of hard work and long hours that are put into creating a business. Our business was created because we truly believe the power that lies in children being able to see themselves in books. We also know how critical it is for children to see characters unlike themselves in books. It can inspire a child and allow them to see their hopes and dreams as a reality. Our children will grow up to be the future politicians, teachers, doctors, lawyers and business owners, and it is important that they are prepared for this diverse world that we live in. That is the mission that drives us each and every day.
What is the biggest lesson you want people to learn from your life?
We want people to know that if there is something you are passionate about, pursue it. You don’t have to wait until “the time is right” or for when things are “perfect”. Pursuing it doesn’t necessarily mean jumping right in and starting right away, it can mean taking the time, doing your research, making a plan, learning from others who are doing something similar, finding one way each day to work on what you are passionate about, even if it is in a small way and just immersing yourself in your passion.
What advice do you have for women who are juggling raising a family or having another career with pursuing their dreams?
Dee: As a full-time educator as well as a literacy consultant and now a business owner, the biggest piece of advice I have is to be organized and well planned. I plan out each hour of my day from the morning to the evening. I also try to create times in my schedule where I devote time to focus on the different projects that I am working on. For example, 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. is always devoted to journaling and working on blog posts. I also make sure to include time for self-care and doing things to keep me happy such as spending time with loved ones and reading a good book. This is essential because running a business is hard work, so we must make sure that we are taking care of ourselves in order to be the most effective.
Georgette: Self-care! Take the time to take care of yourself so that you can be healthy, feel balanced and your mind and body can perform efficiently. As a wife and mother of three very active boys with a demanding full-time career, I, like so many other moms, have been guilty of continuously placing everyone else’s needs before my own. It is so important to not do this…it is unhealthy, you lose your way and ultimately your entire family suffers when you aren’t functioning well. I understand it isn’t easy to find the time, but it is necessary. It may mean waking up a little earlier than everyone to journal, meditate or pray or heading to spin class directly after work before you go home to help with homework and cook dinner. In the end, you will feel better, have more energy to pursue your dreams and your family will benefit from your elevated mood.
What’s next for Dee Fogarty, Georgette Fogarty Clemons and WAM! Book Bundle?
We would love to expand WAM! Book Bundle services to include access to online texts as well as develop relationships with schools so that all teachers can have access to diverse books for their students. Lastly, we want to add additional grade levels.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
We think it is also important for people to understand where the name of our business is derived and what we stand for. Inspired by the literary metaphor “Windows and Mirrors,” WAM! enriches reading experiences by furnishing books that serve as “mirrors” to underrepresented children, allowing them to see themselves in stories thus becoming empowered. We also provide books that serve as “windows,” enabling children to see the world from a new perspective with hopes that it fosters understanding, empathy, and acceptance for others who may appear different from them. It is critical that readers see their place in the world as well as share the connections they have with others who may be different from them.
Find out more about WAM! Book Bundle by following Dee Fogarty (@ILoveBooksAndICannotLie) and Georgette Fogarty Clemons (@wambookbundle) on Instagram, or email them.