Thursday, November 23, 2023

It's time to give thanks.

And there's no better way to show gratitude than to give back! That's why this year, we're thrilled to announce the Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection® Scholarship supporting education, literacy and children's publishing.

Here are all the details:

(Nov. 21, 2023—Palisades, NY) Valorena Publishing is delighted to announce the launch of a new initiative aimed at furthering empowering literacy, children's publishing, and emerging female professionals in this field.

Hosted on, The Valorena Publishing & Cocoa Kids Collection® Scholarship seeks to support BIPOC and multicultural women to live authentically and share their unique stories by providing a $500 scholarship to support their studies and development in fields related to children's picture books.  

This scholarship is open to female, BIPOC, and multicultural high school, undergraduate, or graduate students with a creative portfolio, published projects, or those actively engaged in a course of study related to literacy, literature, poetry, writing, publishing, editing, or illustration. The application deadline is March 12, 2024.

Dr. Valerie Williams-Sanchez, a Ph.D. in Literacy (St. John's University, NY) is the founder of Valorena Publishing and the Cocoa Kids Collection® books. 

Dr. Williams-Sanchez expressed her hope that this scholarship will assist other BIPOC and multicultural women, like herself, in doing work or pursuing study relevant to the development of children's picture books.

"When I was developing my own book series, I faced a significant need for financial support to complete my publishing projects and academic studies," Dr. Williams-Sanchez said. "It is my hope that this prize, in even a small way, will make the journey a bit easier for the next generation of aspiring women of color looking to make their mark in the publishing space."

Valorena Publishing strongly believes that books serve as the backbone of society, imparting valuable lessons from a young age. For children, books often represent their first encounters with the world, shaping formative experiences that influence their views on society. The importance of diverse voices and characters in books cannot be overstated. Children's picture books featuring children of color, telling stories of empowerment, and supporting literacy development are crucial in communities of color and to readers everywhere. 

To learn more about the Cocoa Kids Collection® series, visit:

To apply, for this scholarship, visit:

Just a few days in, the scholarship has already received some amazing submissions. But we'd like to hear from more applicants! So please, do help spread the word. 

Also, know that the early support of the Cocoa Kids Collection® books Indiegogo campaign contributors have made so much of this possible, for which we remain eternally grateful! 

Wishing you and yours a holiday season full of grace, gratitude and thanksgiving.

Dr. Valerie ~

Friday, October 13, 2023

Cocoa Kids Collection's Silver Edition & Dyslexia Awareness Month

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, a time to acknowledge the genetic condition that stems from differences in the brain and its ability to process language (neurodivergence).

Silver is the ribbon color for Dyslexia Awareness.

It is a condition that often runs in families and accounts for about 1 in 10 people. Globally, there are some 780 million people who are dyslexic; and in the US, more than 40 million adults have it, though only about 2 million have been diagnosed.

For the Cocoa Kids' Second Edition, the book series was reimagined with neurodivergent readers in mind. That's why I'm thrilled to share our first review of the newly designed book that comes from my ADCOLOR Leaders colleague, Ms. Lois CastilloShe is a mother of two sons, who like herself are dyslexic.

Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain, Second Edition

By Valerie Williams-Sanchez

Publisher: Valorena Publishing    

Published: 2023

ISBN: 978-0-692-46639-1    

Pages: 22 



  Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain: An Inclusive Adventure for Young Readers


Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain is a delightful children's book that embarks on a unique and heartwarming journey. As a parent familiar with the challenges of dyslexia, I was delighted to discover that this book not only weaves a captivating narrative but also offers a dyslexic-friendly font, ensuring a more enjoyable and accessible reading experience for both my child and me.

           The story revolves around Isaiah, a young boy who, to the surprise of many, holds a strong aversion to chocolate. With his birthday just around the corner, Isaiah cannot fathom receiving chocolate as a gift. However, his well-intentioned Aunt surprises him with an enormous box of chocolates, thinking it a special gesture. Little does she know that this seemingly simple gift will set in motion an extraordinary adventure.

           The author masterfully portrays Isaiah's emotions and frustrations, making it effortless for children, especially those with dyslexia, to empathize with the character. The dyslexic-friendly font, thoughtfully employed throughout the book, significantly enhances readability. Well-spaced letters ease the reading process, allowing young readers to follow along without being overwhelmed by dense text.

           As the story unfolds, Isaiah's initial anger and disappointment drive him to make a bold decision—he leaves his own birthday party in search of a place free of chocolate, only to find himself on a chocolate mountain.

           The book's message about self-acceptance and the strength of individuality is both heartwarming and universally relevant for children of all ages. It encourages young readers, including those with dyslexia, to embrace their uniqueness and never shy away from standing up for their beliefs.

           The vibrant and captivating illustrations in Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain offer valuable visual support for the narrative. They skillfully convey the characters' emotions and enhance the overall reading experience. In conclusion, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain is a beautifully crafted children's book that goes beyond mere entertainment.

           With its dyslexic-friendly font and valuable life lessons, it is a must-read for families seeking to foster inclusivity and self-confidence in their young readers. This book not only enriched my child's reading journey but also provided us with a meaningful and enjoyable story to bond over. I wholeheartedly recommend it to children and parents alike.


Lois Castillo is the creator of The Change Maker's Table podcast.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Cocoa Kids Collection®, Second Edition is Here!

Valerie's Vignettes has been quiet for some time. Now, I'm happy to share why. We've been developing what I'm happy to announce --There's a new book in the Cocoa Kids Collection®

Celebrating the series' 10th anniversary, the new title is a reimagining of the title that started the series, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain.

The story remains the same: When Isaiah gets the one thing he hates - chocolate - for his birthday, anger leads to adventure and a lesson in emotional intelligence.

New to this second edition story, dyslexic readers will enjoy new story features intended to make reading easier, including dyslexia-friendly fonts and sentence word lengths.

The new edition was made possible with the support of our donors, listed below.

So, please, check it out as well as the fresh new look of the Cocoa Kids Collection® websiteLike the new, second edition book, it's cleaned up and scrubbed down for easy reading. 

Happy reading, 

Dr. Valerie Williams-Sanchez, 

Valorena Publishing

Sending thanks to the new edition donor