Hello! My name is Shqype but I've been going by Shelly since Kindergarten. I'm an Albanian Jewish woman, first generation born in the U.S. I was raised in a very traditional Albanian Catholic home where only Albanian was spoken. I grew up eating home cooked Albanian meals where bread and feta cheese were part of almost every meal. My family is from Malesia (Montenegro) and my favorite childhood memories come from my summers spent there with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I love my Albanian culture, food, music, language and traditions. Once my daughter, Stella was born, I quickly realized how important it was for me to instill and raise her with the same Albanian traditions and values, as well as the language. I searched for Albanian and Albanian-English children's books and found a few great ones but wanted more. This is what led me to create my own books and toys for Albanian children. In addition to my books and toys being in the hands of Albanian children, I would love to see non-Albanian parents introduce my diverse books and toys to their children as well.
Albana Books and Toys aims to inspire families to tap into their heritage, introduce their children to the Albanian culture and help them identify with books and toys they normally wouldn't see. In today's society, representation matters. It's as simple as adding a doll dressed in traditional Albanian garb to their playroom to make them feel included and seen. Our goal is to not teach the Albanian language but to enrich your child's upbringing by providing books and toys that represent who he or she is culturally speaking and a sense of belonging to the Albanian community.
Once the Pandemic hit I was laid off from my job as a Legal Recruiter. With the stay at home orders and my desire to provide as many Albanian influences for my daughter, I decided to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit and create Albana Books and Toys LLC in August 2020. I figured if I was searching for these items, there must be other moms and dads doing the same. And so here we are and I couldn't be more thrilled and excited to share my vision with you all. My daughter is my inspiration and the light of my life. I hope you all enjoy my books and toys and connect with your Albanian roots with your children through literacy and play.
Thank you for your support! Shume Faleminderit!