A mother in California is taking a stand against “lunch shaming” with powerful books on diverse Asian cuisine.
Drawing from her own childhood experiences, Karen Chan launched Gloo Books, a publishing startup that features books that aim to expose young readers to different cultures through their school lunches.
According to Chan, she was shamed by her schoolmates for the types of food she brought to school when she was a student. Now that she has a child of her own, she hopes to inspire other children to embrace their cultural backgrounds and be proud of the food they eat.
“We would have these preserved duck eggs that are black and they look wild — like a rotten egg,” Chan told KCAL News. “But, they were delicious and I loved eating them but of course, my friends were like ‘What is that?'”
She published her first children’s book, “What’s That?,” in 2020 to address the issue.
The story revolves around an East Asian American boy and an Indian American girl who form a friendship over their diverse family backgrounds and the unique meals they bring to school.
Building on the positive reception of “What’s That?” Chan’s Gloo Books
released a children’s food guide on Korean cuisine called “A Very Asian Guide to Korean Food” by author Michelle Li
. The company’s website hints that there are more books to look forward to in the future.
When it became clear that the lack of diversity was also an issue throughout the publishing industry, I realized one book simply wasn’t enough. What started as an idea to write a children’s book turned into a larger vision to create a publishing company that makes books which more accurately reflect the world around us today. We’re just getting started on our journey to empower little readers everywhere.
Gloo Books also offers three new books focusing on Indian food (“A Very Asian Guide to Indian Food” by Julie Ajinkya), Filipino food (“A Very Asian Guide to Filipino Food” by Amira Humes) and Vietnamese food (“A Very Asian Guide to Vietnamese Food” by Cat Nguyen). These books not only provide descriptions of traditional dishes but also include fun facts about each culture.