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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Qu

From Classroom to Kickstarter: Angel Halo Chang’s Journey in Celebrating Asian Cultures Through Children's Books

Updated: Jun 21

Angel Halo Chang with the Abobo Boba Chai Collection

Angel Halo Chang is a passionate educator turned author-illustrator with a deep commitment to promoting cultural awareness and representation through children's literature. Having written, illustrated, and self-published three books now on Amazon, she is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund her next three titles. This new collection builds on the success of her alphabet board book, “ABC: Adobo, Boba, Chai,” and includes "1, 2, 3: Asian Market Shopping Spree," "Circle, Square, Triangle, Buko Pandan Pie," and "Red Bean, Orange Chicken, Yellow Curry." Each book is designed to teach foundational concepts while celebrating the rich diversity of Asian cultures. Motivated by her passion for early education and a desire to counter the rise in anti-Asian violence during the pandemic, Angel's whimsical and engaging stories offer both educational value and a celebration of cultural heritage. Back the Kickstarter campaign before Sunday, June 23 at 11:59 am (AM is not a typo) PST to pre-order the four-book Adobo, Boba, Chai collection.

Adobo, Boba, Chai Collection on Kickstarter

I am excited to present a written interview with Angel Halo Chang, where she shares her background, inspirations, and professional journey, exploring the experiences that have shaped her work and her vision for the future. Thank you, Angel, for taking the time to share your story with us!

Can you tell me a little about yourself, highlighting your background, key experiences, and what drives you professionally?

My first classroom photo while on a field trip to Farmer John’s pumpkin patch right behind our program site. We’re saying “Half Moon Bay Superstars!”
Angel's first classroom photo while on a field trip to Farmer John’s pumpkin patch.

Hi and yes! My name is Angel, and I call myself a “mauthor” (mother + author) and illustrator of children’s books! I’m also a former preschool teacher who taught at a Head Start program for 2 years next to a pumpkin patch. I left my classroom to develop a career in marketing but also with the vision to make an impact outside my small portable classroom walls. Just wasn’t sure how yet.

What is one significant experience or achievement that has shaped who you are today?

Angel's Head Start classroom

I remember wanting to plan events after graduating UC San Diego, but job opportunities like that were rare during the recession. Teach For America was recruiting on campus, and I applied to teach in the Bay Area where I dreamt of a new thriving life in San Francisco! Instead, I was actually placed in a small isolated portable classroom off the coast and surrounded by farmland 30 miles away from the city haha. But that was where the magic was happening, and I just didn’t know it yet. Despite a wonderful and loving classroom experience, I still decided to leave after 2 years to…spread my wings (ha!) and explore how I can still make an impact outside my small classroom. What happened then was that the farther away I was from my classroom memories (ex: a job in B2B software tech), the more my passion for early childhood education grew.

What inspired you to start writing and illustrating children’s books?

Shortly after I left my classroom, I had a marketing job where I was asked to help with a self-published book project. When it dawned on me that I too can create my own book, the wheels started spinning in my head. I wrote and illustrated my 1st book “A Superstar Pencil” that I dedicated to my former preschool students.

What was your favorite children's book growing up, and why?

I don’t have one in particular, but I remember always gravitating to characters that were quirky and funny like Amelia Bedelia, Junie B. Jones, and Ramona Quimby whose names come to mind. Dr. Seuss’s signature zany style also played a big part in my storytelling now. And Waldo! That was a classic too.

In what ways do you believe children's books can shape culture, and why do you think diverse representation in this medium is so important?

classic children's books

The Disney classics that we grew up with largely came from fairy tales written by authors from a long time ago. The Grinch has become a favorite holiday character but started out as a children’s book by Dr. Seuss. One of Broadway’s most popular musicals Wicked started out as a children’s book novel from 1900. These are just a few examples of how children’s books had an incredible influence on our culture, but mostly to the credit of older white men. We need diverse voices to reflect different perspectives, gain empathy, and work towards a more inclusive world!

Do you have any quirky or unique rituals or routines that you follow when working on a book?

Music really helps me focus, but it can’t have any lyrics or else it’d be distracting ha. Check out handpan music!

How does your experience as a teacher influence your books?

After my students inspired my first book, I’d think about what stories I would want to create for other groups of preschool students. 

What motivated you to write your latest series (available on Kickstarter) that specifically focuses on Asian and Pacific Islander representation?

After the anti-Asian violence that spread all around during the pandemic, I’d think about the attackers. Weird, I know. I’d wear my “teacher hat” and wonder if the attackers ever went to a quality preschool and learned how to be a good friend. I wondered if they had a chance to learn about Asian cultures at an early age. I wondered what would be a fun way to share about Asian cultures if I was still in the classroom. Boom, the idea was then born.

What do you hope to achieve through your children's books, both for your readers and for yourself as an author-illustrator?

Angel Halo Chang with her books

(Takes a deep breath.) Self-publishing has been great for creative freedom without the fear of rejection from traditional publishers, but it’s also been hard to grow and scale on my own. I like saying that I wish for just a fraction of Dr. Seuss’s success and the impact he’s had on our modern culture. I also know that I have to work 20x harder as an Asian American woman just for just a sliver of that goal. Would love to be a name and face in the greater children's books world one day to celebrate diverse values, advocate for early childhood education, and help bring a positive impact to traditional publishing norms.

Is there a specific character or illustration you've created that holds a special place in your heart? Can you share the story behind it?

G and H pages from ABC: Adobo, Boba, Chai featuring grandparents

Yes! In my ABC: Adobo, Boba, Chai book, I intentionally wanted to highlight different Asian grandparents. You’ll find gong gong (Chinese grandpa), halmoni (Korean grandma), lolo (Filipino grandpa), ojiichan (Japanese grandpa), ba noi (Vietnamese grandma), nani (Indian grandma), and Yai (Thai grandma)! I did this to honor our elders after so much pain being targeted during the pandemic. 

What advice would you give to another aspiring author or illustrator looking to launch their first project through Kickstarter?

Mockup of 123 Asian Market Shopping Spree

Woot and kudos on committing to share your project with the world and welcome to a new journey of creating something beautiful for the world! It can feel like both the longest roller coaster and marathon, so tap your community to help cheer you on and join you! Let them know what to expect before you launch. Also check out Fiverr for some designers to help you with some mockups!   

Is there anything we haven't discussed that you'd like to share, such as upcoming product releases or events?

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share! It was important for me to create this collection, because learning about cultures should be just as fundamental as learning our letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. My Kickstarter for the complete Adobo, Boba, Chai collection ends Sunday, 6/23 at 11:59 am (not pm) PST.

Correction: This post originally, erroneously listed the Kickstarter end time as 11:59 pm. It is 11:59 am.


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