Firenze’s Light: Encouraging Compassion and Empathy

Jessica Collaco is raising funds for her children’s book about a firefly who must choose whether to hide her light or let it shine for the world to see. Please visit to learn more about this project and co-create it with her. Rewards for your pledges include first-edition copies of the book, prints of original illustrations, school visits and author readings. All proceeds from these rewards will be used to produce the book. The Kickstarter must fund by May 18th, so visit now to be a participant in creating empowering, inspiring books for our kids.

It all started when I became a mother to girls. I realized they could see me when I looked at my toosh in the mirror. I had already fought the demons of an eating disorder and wanted them to grow up knowing the cover of Cosmo wasn’t testament.  So, despite the fact that I was wearing pajamas at 4 pm and was covered in spit-up, I began affirming my strength, kindness, beauty and intelligence and teaching them to speak of themselves the same way.

Fast-forward a few years and I started looking for books that would teach my girls how to take a deep breath, appreciate the gifts within them and build a self-worth like a mini-Marianne Williamson. I came up short. Between feedings, tantrums and trying to figure out how to fold a fitted sheet, I began writing books of my own with love, optimism, introspection, self-worth and compassion at their core.


Character sketch for “Firenze’s Light” by Angela Li

My first book, “Firenze’s Light” is the tale of a firefly who must decide whether to hide her light or let it shine for the world to see. Ironically, I am now the firefly in my own story, as I never intended to write children’s books, let alone self-publish them. This year, I had the perfect excuse to let the manuscript get buried and forgotten about—I was pregnant with my third child, homeschooling my first and trying to keep my second from falling on her head. But my daughters just have this way of making me realize how important it is to “shine my light”. And since I can’t teach them what I don’t know, I created a Kickstarter page for my book and went for it. Here I am with 8 days to go and 5000 more dollars to raise, wondering what the heck I was thinking? I have a newborn, for goodness sakes!

Here’s what it comes down to : it’s too important not to.  When I am sitting at a red light and my child is eye-level with a violent movie poster on the side of a bus, I have to know that I did something to change that. When it seems the books and movies made for our kids dwell on duality, name-calling, competition and stereotypes, I have to know I did something to change that. When the clothes and toys offered to our daughters forget they were meant for little girls, I have to know I did something to change that.

A few nights ago, I found myself at the end of a particularly rough day. While I do my best to practice mindful, compassionate parenting, I’d lost my temper a few times.  I found it pretty ridiculous to think that I could promote conscious children’s books in one breath and yell “BECAUSE I SAID SO” in another. I imagined sitting down and reading my book to my kids after the day I had and I realized that books of this nature give both child and reader the chance to come back to center, reconnect and be reminded of who we are and why we are here. Could this be accomplished reading any old book? Possibly, but using books that encourage introspection, affirmation, and empathy enrich the experience with tools both child and adult can use in a world where these ideas are not often modeled. Is it Utopian to think that changing the way our children are entertained will change the world? Do I really think that replacing violent films and games with peaceful ones will magically make people more peaceful? Is it foolish to assume small independent projects like mine can have an impact in the world of mega-publishers and movie studios? We have to try. It’s too important not to.

Please help make it happen for Jessica and her amazing book:

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