A few days ago, just before an intense week of protests and democratic uprising across America, I was grateful to talk to the truly delightful, brilliant Meena Harris. She’s an activist, strategist, mom of two, and now, author of the wonderful new children’s book, Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea.

The book is based on a true story from the childhoods of her aunt, Senator Kamala Harris, and her mom, public policy advocate Maya Harris. But once upon a time in the 70s, they were just two little girls, who decided the neighborhood would be more fun with a playground in it…

A young Maya and Kamala Harris: Inspiration for the new children's book, "Kamala and Maya's Big Idea" | Photo via author Meena Harris on InstagramMaya Harris, left, and Kamala Harris, right. Via @meena on Instagram

The story has such universal appeal, hitting all the notes a great children’s book should with themes like problem-solving, collaboration, and seeing the rewards of hard work — all through the lens of two strong, well-developed female lead characters of color. Because as Meena says, to fight for women’s equality, we first have to fight for girls’ equality.

We knew that talking about diversity and representation in children’s books was timely — but it turned out to be even more timely than we could have even guessed this week and I really hope you’ll take a listen.

Listen to our episode here, right now and please be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts, so you never miss an episode.


Topics and related links from this week’s podcast episode

Phenomenal Girl t-shirts

 Phenomenal Girl Hoodies on Meena’s daughters, supporting Meena’s Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign 

– Why diverse characters and more girls as leads in children’s books are so important, and why boys in particular need to read about more strong, well-developed girls and women.

– Anecdotes from Meena’s chlidhood — what it was like growing up in a family of strong, activist women.

– The best advice from her grandma about making change

– How books can help us explain all kinds of issues to our kids to help them develop more empathy, curiosity, and compassion — and what’s missing from a lot of the canonical children’s books right now.

– Why we don’t need to “shield kids from the world,” and how Meena talks to her young children about all kinds of issues.

– Our interview with LeVar Burton on getting more kids excited about books.

– Why she’s partnering with We Need Diverse Books.  (We covered their launch — it started a hashtag campaign — back in 2014)

Matthew Cherry’s book Hair Love, and the Oscar-winning Hair Love animated short it became.

– The book Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd

– Find the Phenomenal Mother t-shirt I own (and wear!) in our Baby Shower Gift Guide

– The answer to the question, “Is your Aunt Kamala really as cool as she seems?”

The new picture book Kamala and Maya's big idea: A wonderful children's book based on a. true story from Kamala and Maya Harris's childhood

Find more info about the launch of Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea by Meena Harris and Ana Ramirez Gonzalez, as well as giveaways and other fun goodies at PhenomenalGirl.com. You can also find a list of local bookstores around the US for purchase, specifically order from Black-owned bookstores which can particularly use our support right now, or order through Indiebound.

Follow Meena on Instagram @meena, or for a lot more politics, on Twitter @MeenaHarris

CMP is an indiebound affiliate..


This week’s awesome sponsor: Breyers CarbSmart

Breyer's CarbSmart frozen treats come in tubs and delicious bars in flavors like almond, mint, and caramel swirl, each with only 3-5 net g carbs per serving! | sponsor

We’re excited to welcome back our sponsor Breyers CarbSmart, from America’s number one favorite ice cream brand. If you don’t yet know about Breyers CarbSmart. It’s a truly delicious line of sweet frozen treats with just 3 to 5 grams net carbs per serving, all under 150 calories, and they’re even a good source of fiber.

They’re so good, we’ve even taken to hiding them from our kids! (Because hello, summer.)

CarbSmart is available in the tubs we love for DIY sundaes, as well as bars in yummy flavors like caramel swirl, chocolate covered almond, vanilla, and peanut butter.  Plus, Breyers has partnered with American farmers to ensure all their treats are made with 100% grade A milk and cream.

Find Breyers CarbSmart at all major retailers, from Target to Kroger, even Amazon Pantry.


Our Cool Picks of the Week


Fill out the 2020 census! It's important! More: CoolMomPicks.com

Meena: She’s so excited to make her own whole roast chicken for the first time! With apologies to her aunt, who makes the best (or now uh…second best?) roast chicken, she highly recommends the recipes in The NY Times for Melissa Clark’s Green Goddess Roasted Chicken and Buttermilk Marinade Roast Chicken by Samin Nosrat.

(PS, Stacie Billis’s new Winner Winner Chicken Dinneris a terrific resource too.)

Liz: Remember to fill out the 2020 US census ASAP! It’s so important to make sure your city, state and community are amply funded for the next ten years — and amply represented at every level of government, right up to Congress. Your answers are confidential and hey, if it was good enough for Alexander Hamilton… Visit My2020census.gov.