Bellen Woodard is known as the world’s first crayon activist. In 2019, she started a brand of multicultural crayons called More than Peach. Last year, she was a top-five TIME Kid of the Year honoree, and she’s a 2021 TFK Kid Reporter.
Now, Bellen has written a picture book called More than Peach, telling her story. It will be published on July 26, 2022.
Bellen shared an exclusive first look at the cover of More than Peach with TIME For Kids readers. She also spoke with TFK about the book and the inspiration behind it.
TIME for Kids:
What does it mean to be a crayon activist?
To me, an activist is someone who's active in making change. And there’s no rule book for activism, which means you can do it your own way: There are no wrong answers. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Why did you start More than Peach?
When I was in third grade, I heard my classmates ask for the skin-color crayon, but I knew they actually meant the peach crayon. And I was kind of confused, because my skin isn’t peach.
So that day, when I went home to my mom, I told her about what happened. And she was like, “Well, our skin color is brown. So next time they ask, just hand them a brown crayon.” But I didn't want to do that, because I knew that if I didn't like being handed the peach crayon, no one else would like being handed the brown crayon if it didn’t match them.
So instead, I told her, “No, next time, I’m going to ask what color they actually want.” Because there are any number of beautiful skin colors. And that’s exactly what I did.
My teacher heard me do that, and she started doing it too. And then my whole class started, and then my whole school. And that’s when I decided I wanted to start my project.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I’m really excited about the book. I tell my story. It’s about youth leadership, empathy, and creativity. I hope that when kids look at the book, they can see people who look like them.
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
I hope it inspires kids to make changes—and not just in their classrooms but in the world.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.