“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo
In the age of COVID-19, many travelers are stuck at home and missing the hustle and bustle of the airport. For the avid traveler, it’s a matter of counting down the days until the desired destination re-opens to international visitors. For expats, it may mean not being able to travel to see friends and family situated across the globe. For many others they may not have the option to hop on a plane and jet set, even if it were not for the pandemic. Everyone has coped in their own ways, including through extended quarantine periods, by connecting virtually with family, enjoying arts and culture and reading books. This Black expat has linked her passion for traveling, living and working abroad with her passion for reading, through telling diverse, global stories!
As an international development professional currently based in East Africa, Morgan Limo, a Chicago native, is an author and entrepreneur who is actively exposing diverse youth to books about the world. Many of these youth are like her own children, who are used to ups and downs of frequent international travel and living abroad. She credits them with her inspiration to pursue her author journey. These global stories resonate with her experiences – frequent travel and living abroad, including in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Guinea, Nigeria and Uganda. But avid travelers are not her only target audience. Through these stories, Morgan is also bridging the gap to inspire communities of color across the diaspora to read about the world and pursue global connections.
With her debut children’s books released in 2020 Escape from the Baggage Claim – ebook, and The Trip of Your Dreams, both ebook and paperback, she aims to give a glimpse of the world to youth in places like her hometown, and encourages them to dream big! Whether it is traveling, trying new foods, studying a foreign language or experiencing other cultures, exposure to even the basics of international living can light a spark that doesn’t go out. For those fortunate enough to have international travel experiences, they can directly relate to the lost baggage that leads the main character into the baggage claim, where she discovers a baggage troll! They can identify with the young girl who falls asleep dreaming of her perfect trip, and even plan their own dream holiday to Spain, China, South Africa, Uganda and so on. For many youths, the only way they can travel to a variety of international destinations will be virtually, or through a good book. These titles therefore offer a great teaser to spark their interests and expose these young readers to unique cultural traditions, foods and geographies. She recently sat down for a virtual discussion with the founder of Burst Into Books, a Chicago based non-profit organization dedicated to impacting the lives of children and families through literacy. In a Front Row series she details the importance of partnership with such organizations, to expand the reach of creators of color and foster a sense of global citizenry among youth in predominantly Black communities.
Photo Credit: Morgan Limo
After publishing her own works, she was inspired to reach out to aspiring authors to curate relevant, globally minded stories. She quickly connected with other authors who shared the desire to publish books on topics related to diverse global experiences – including traveling internationally and/or living abroad. In 2020, she founded her company Molo Global Consulting, LLC, with its own indie publishing arm Molo Global Publishing, to bring these manuscripts to life. While she explored the traditional publishing route, she recognized that the publishing industry is grappling with its own diversity challenges. According to a 2019 US survey conducted by Lee & Low Books, seventy-six percent of publishing staff, review journal staff and literary agents identify as white. Those who identify as Black/African American are only five percent and bi/multiracial are three percent. In the UK, the Guardian reported that children’s books are eight times more likely to feature animals than Black, Asian or other ethnic groups. Many Black children do not see themselves represented in books, and many Black writers may face barriers when looking for an agent or publisher. When searching for books about international travel/living, she came across nearly no titles that featured Black children, so she decided to create them.
Her company endeavors to support children and families to read books from an inclusive range of creators – telling their stories objectively and from their point of view. While she has a special interest in children’s books, she also supports novelists, poets and illustrators. Molo Global Publishing celebrates the Black international experience – not just creating books about Black and brown children but written by Black and brown authors who have lived these experiences. The publishing firm has several new titles that will be released soon, including an exciting children’s book about a boy who travels to far away lands when he meets a lady bumblebee, and a manifesto about women’s movements across the world.