Poppy Harlow + Laura Jarrett, THE COLOR OF LOVE

Poppy Harlow + Laura Jarrett, THE COLOR OF LOVE

Former CNN news anchor and Emmy-nominated journalist Poppy Harlow and Saturday TODAY’s Laura Jarrett join Zibby to discuss the warmhearted children’s book they co-authored, THE COLOR OF LOVE. Poppy and Laura describe the deep friendship and collaboration that went into this project, which they embarked on as a meaningful way to address the themes of love, inclusion, and race with their young children, particularly after George Floyd’s murder. They share personal anecdotes about their own children, and then Poppy discusses her recent departure from CNN after 20 years with the network.


Zibby: Welcome, Laura and Poppy. Thank you so much for coming on Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books to discuss your co-authored book, the Color of Love. Congratulations. 

Laura: Thank you for having us.

We love Zibby. We're so excited to join with you today. 

Zibby: Yay. Oh my gosh, your book was so sweet and so great. And I've been sitting here being like, what is my color of love? And I feel like it's going to change depending on the day, like there's so many different situations. So anyway, tell, tell listeners about the book and what it's about and how you came up with it and the whole story.

Poppy: I'll just start out by saying, like, what a joy it is to write a book with a friend. Like, because this is, people don't know children's books are a multi year process. You know this would be, because collaboration and then the illustration part really makes it longer. But so Laura and I have had this joy of an experience.

It started during COVID. So a lot of it was on Zoom, the two of us, and we were already good friends working together at CNN, but I mean, I'll, I'll, I'll speak for both of us, Laura, just saying I think it made us so much closer because in tandem, in parallel with writing this book, we were raising children, young children of similar ages.

So we were like, We'd lament at the beginning of the call about, like, Azuma, but the hard things that were happening in our lives, and then the great joys of the kids, and then collaborate on something that had a lot of, a lot of meaning for us. So it's sort of this new experience for me of being a co author, and I've loved it.

Zibby: Aw. 

Laura: It really did make it so special to do it with somebody. Who is equally type A and task oriented, right? People always say like, how did you have time to write a book? And I'm like, well, you didn't write a book with Poppy Carlo. She keeps us on track. We had meetings. We stuck to our drafts. We kept things like moving.

There were no delays. She kept us on track. 

Zibby: That's like the thing with partnership, right? Sometimes it's really great to be on the same page. And then sometimes you need one type A and one not type A. But in a book project, I think this is particularly helpful. 

Poppy: I was just thinking about this yesterday, Laura, like, as we get ready to launch the book, I'm so excited to come on with you, Zimby.

You're our first big interview. Yeah, yeah. I was like, we didn't have any, like, roadblocks together. We didn't have any issues. Like, we went through some iterations of what this, we knew the core of the story we wanted to tell, which was, I'll just get to like the genesis of it. But the idea for us came after George Floyd was killed.

murdered in my hometown of Minneapolis, and Laura and I are thinking as parents, as journalists, how do we, like, talk to our children about love and inclusion and You know, hate in the world that exists and like how do we do it in a way that is gonna be meaningful and touch children and families. And so we went through a few iterations of how we were gonna tell this story.

Right, Laura? But yeah, you didn't ever hit like, I can't work with her or this isn't working. We, we got lucky. 

Laura: No, I think, and I think partly Poppy, it was your sort of genius and your outreach to me saying like, I wanna do this project, but. I don't think that I can do it alone. And I, I need a partner in this.

Who's going to offer a different perspective and her openness. To someone who might have had a completely different experience when it comes to race and, and like hard issues that we want to figure out how to talk to our children about in a way that's age appropriate and not sort of like beating them over the head with a message, but clearly has a viewpoint of, of inclusivity and of embracing all different kinds of families.

Zibby: How old are all your kids? 

Laura: I have two. Almost two and almost five. Uh, and they are a handful, so Poppy has given me more tips. On how to deal with embracing the chaos that is my house. 

Poppy: Yeah, Laura's in it. Let's just come on. Mom's listening. Laura's in it. And it gets better. Okay, these are, you'll see at the end of the book, these are our kids.

So mine, Sienna and Luca are, um, six and eight. And then you'll see our great illustrator, Elisa Shavari with her two children there. You'll see the kids holding hearts because They, all of our kids cut out hearts themselves, which was a very messy project in Laura's living room. And then those are actually the hearts that we send to our publisher and illustrator.

And these are the hearts, right? So the hearts are actually copies of what the kids cut out themselves, but Laura is in it with that age. And I'm telling you six and eight, I'm like. Can you make your own pancakes? Like I'm like, did you fold your laundry this morning? Let's go guys, you know 

Laura: Task oriented 

Zibby: I'm a little ahead of so I feel like I can look back on both of you and be like it gets even easier than That because I have nine I have nine and 10, and then I have twins who are almost 17, which is crazy.

I know. Yeah. So you can survive. Yeah. It's you guys. I mean, it just keeps getting better. I have to say, but nobody is making pancakes. We got, we got to making their own honey.

In addition to the very powerful, real important. themes of the book. I have to just go to the superficial, which is I need to buy this dress. There is a dress that the teacher is wearing and it is the cutest thing and reminds me of this wallpaper in my grandmother's bathroom growing up that was like so happy and everything.

It matches the cover with all these colors and, and anyway, is this a real dress? I have to ask. 

Laura: It's not a dress that either of us, I think, own, but we wish we did. And that was one of the great things, is when you have an idea of what it's gonna look like, and then you actually see it come to life. And as Poppy said, Lisa, the illustrator, is magical, and she sort of captured at least what I think our vision was, and made it even better than I had expected.

Poppy: Totally. That's so in news where Laura and I both work, you write a script, you write a piece, and then it's the editor, right, the video editor and the producer on the piece that helped bring it to life. And I kept thinking about that, Laura, like working with Elisa is analogous to that, because even if you have a great script, If, if the edit isn't magic, it doesn't, what I call sing, it's our story sing.

Zibby: That's so true. And Poppy, speaking of news, you just left CNN in a very public departure. Oh my gosh. How are you feeling about it? 

Poppy: I feel so deeply grateful and like at peace and Laura was with me really every step of this journey because it's been my whole professional career. I've been there almost 20 years.

And so it was like, I felt it that I was ready for the next and ready for something new, but it's very hard to leave a place you love so deeply. And I say that like from the bottom of my heart, it does feel like family. And I cannot say enough about how wonderful they have been and continue to be. Mark Thompson, our great CEO and Amy and tell us.

The two of them, you know, held my hand through all of this and completely understood why I was ready to go. And they're hosting a little party for me next week, which just means a lot to me. So like, it's never going to be easy to leave a place and you're going to grieve all that was. But then I've been thinking a lot about grieving In terms of like they say grieving is like showing that you loved right and that you got love.

I'm not saying that correctly. And so I leave just with like a full heart and a lot of excitement about whatever is next. So I just feel grateful for I mean that place. Raised me. I grew up there as a journalist. As a person. I made so many mistakes. I learned how to lead. I sort of fell on my knees and they picked me up.

And I don't know that we can say that about all corporations. I, I don't, you know, so, 

Zibby: That's so nice. The quote, the, the best grief quote I've heard lately was by Nicole Avant who said that grief is the receipt to show all the love that you've given in the world. I, I think I messed that up, but it's something about a receipt.

Which I really love. 

Poppy: You did way better than I did. I love that. 

Zibby: We can all mangle these quotes, but anyway, so now you two can just become professional and Laura, I know you're busy like covering trial and error. 

Laura: There's a little trial that is just taking up all of my extra time. In the time that I'm not in the courtroom, I'm squarely dedicated to the color of love.

This has like been the best possible outlet, I think, for both what's happening both in my life and Poppy's life like, the color of love is all like goodness and like all of the things we wish the world to be and so it's like been this great sort of like amazing other outlet for us. 

Poppy: 100%. 

Zibby: Yeah. So now you'll just take it on the road.

You'll, you can, you can, I bet you could do like 50 of these a year. You know, if this is all you were doing 

Poppy: So much harder, it took so much more time like then, right?. 

Laura: Well, because you know what, the thing I realized is we were doing the recording for the audio book is that, you know, children's books, I don't, I don't know if you guys have found this, but my son is very persnickety and so if I, you know, stumble over a word or like try to like, uh, speed through something and skip over words, he's correcting me every step of the way and I realized how they are just so zeroed in on every single word choice. And so when you're writing it, obviously you should always have an economy of words for anything you're writing, but children's books, even more so.

Then I appreciated it, you know, reading it out loud. It's such an, it's such an exercise and it's such a like, great experience reading things aloud to your children and so it's, it's just the process of writing this, uh, just sort of brought that home to me. 

Poppy: Yeah. Brevity, concision. 

Laura: Yes. 

Poppy: Right. And like every word matters, which is actually a great life lesson for all of us, right?

I mean, you know, former cable news. Anchor, clearly I like to talk a lot, but actually in life, I think we're better served with fewer, more thoughtful words and that's actually what writing a children's book is. 

Zibby: Yeah. That's true. Sometimes it's about what you take out. And what is it about kids? My kids do that too.

It's like, there's glee every time I stumble over a word or I say the wrong thing. They're like, tingling and pointing it out. I'm like, okay, okay. I know you're about to jump on me for this one. 

Laura: He just, he can't help himself. And I say to him, like, James, I've been up since four in the morning. Like mommy, mommy's going to trip over her words.

And I try to show him, like, it means I'm human too. That's like lost on him. He's just like, you should be able to get this right. Yeah. Yeah. 

Zibby: Yeah. Oh, my. They're all so cute. But the great thing about The Color of Love, too, is that you get people to think about all sorts of traditions and forms of love and cultures, and you do it in this very, as you said, positive and happy way, whether it's the silver of the menorah or the stew on the table.

I'm getting the word wrong. The, what is it? The cake? Not gumbo. What's the? Gumbo! The roux! The roux! The roux! Yeah, that was it. The roux. And that was so cute, too, by the way. Having, like, a younger sibling hugging her older sibling who's cooking. Oh my god. Anyway, so that was really heartwarming. Just all the different ways to celebrate the Jamaican flag.

It's, it's a really neat way and it gets everybody else, hopefully when they read it, to start conversations too. Like, what is your color of love today or what is your color of love as a family? If you two had a color of love today, what would it be? 

Laura: Ooh. 

I know mine. 

Poppy: Yeah, you go first. No, you go first. You know it, counselor.

Go. She's not a Harvard educated lawyer, by the way, just dropping that in there for her. 

Zibby: Amazing. Okay, great. 

Laura: Well, a Yale educated lawyers. 

Poppy: I did one year, Laura master. 

Laura: This is what, again, two type lawyers do to each other. One of each other on their nerdiness. 

Zibby: I love it. I love it. 

Poppy: The first ever Harvard Yale children's book combo.

I'm going to look that up. 

Laura: I know I started something here. 

Zibby: I went, I went to Yale and Harvard Business School. So there you go. I'm like going to jump right into your love power. 

Poppy: Laura, she did them both. Okay. She did them both. 

Laura: Nothing, nothing to sneeze at honestly, Zibby, my, my color is brown because when I, I, I look at sort of the united color of Beddington, that is my own family.

My son has pointed out to us, like every shade now of brown. And it was part of what, I thought I wanted to get across in the book with Poppy is that children see color. Children are not color blind. Children are well, well, well aware of color. And my son constantly points out, you're a little bit lighter, daddy's a little bit darker.

They just don't have all of the baggage caught up into it, right? So they, they see it and they understand it. They're just not bringing any negativity towards it. And I think that that's sort of one of, you know, the beauties of childhood. So brown, brown would be mine if I had to pick a color. I don't know what Poppy has.

Zibby: If only we could just keep it like that, right? Why does it have to change? Why can't it be only brown? Just something you look at and comment on and has no associated meaning. Do you know what I mean? That's why it can't be a color theme song. 

Poppy: Yeah, but they're going to learn and need to learn the important history behind it, right?

Because only from learning our history, full history, can we improve, right? And make it a perfect union. And to Laura's point, They do see it. And I remember the first time that Sienna said to me, like, Oh, your skin is his color and their skin is his color and all those things, but they celebrate the difference abuse, what you're saying.

Like, yeah, that's a great point. I, mine is yellow every day. Mine is yellow for every yellow, like the yellow books, you know, across, it just makes me So joyful and so happy. And I'll remember when Luca, my son, all our kids, by the way, our four kids are in the book, you'll find them. He brought me yellow tulips or daffodils.

And he's like, cause I know your favorite color is yellow. And I just melted me. So yellow is, yeah, yellow is my favorite color. I think because of the joy that I have some days and the joy that I need some days. I can always find it in yellow. 

Zibby: Amazing. Will there be a follow up? Book to this is, is that in the works?

I know I was joking before, but 

Laura: I would love for this to become a yearly project for Poppy and I to take on at a man. Like, I, I think that the great thing about this is that hopefully families and kids and teachers. will attach to it. I, I was, it was fun. I got to read it to my son's class and then a bunch of other classes at his, at his preschool.

And it was funny to see like what the kids attached to and what they found interesting versus like what I thought they were going to find interesting about it. And, you know, like some puzzled looks, but then other things they definitely related to. So I hope that, I hope that we can, we can keep this going and turn it into, you know, it's, it's whole multi part series.

Poppy: One of the fun things to Laura's point about like doing this in the classroom, I think I asked, I forget if it was Sienna or Luca, like, do you want mommy to come read this to your class? They're like, no, it's still going to go, by the way, I'm still gonna show up at some point to school before the end of the year and read it.

But for any teachers who might be watching or listening there, like we also wrote this with a sort of classroom project in mind. Of course, parents can do it at home with their kids like Laura and I did. All you need is construction paper and scissors and some tape to put it up on the wall or whatever but like we think that this is a fun and can A fun classroom activity for teachers listening.

They can also spark some really meaningful conversations with the kids in the class. And when they go home to ask their parents about, you know, their assignments. So we hope, we hope people will enjoy doing that too. 

Zibby: Maybe you could do like a birthday party kit. You know, people are always looking for birthday party themes and party stuff.

Poppy: Harvard business school. Harvard business school coming out here. 

Zibby: Or a board game. I feel like a board game would also be really great. 

Laura: Debbie is going to help us. scale of the color of love. 

Zibby: Yes, but it's really because it's really great and the colors are so happy and it like the way you've already branded it is is great.

I don't know. I think you got to, you know, lean in. 

Poppy: Lean in, Laura. Lean in. I have some time, Laura. 

Try to figure that out. 

Zibby: Poppy, do you know what you want to do next or you're just going to take a little 

Poppy: So I said in my, my note that I am truly going to walk my children to school. And pick them up on most days.

The other day, they were so hard when I picked them up and I was like, why did I agree? 

Zibby: To be honest, like, wait a minute, 

Poppy: For the entirety of my experience as a mother, I have never regularly walked my kids to school before I was on the morning show at CNN. I anchored the nine to 11 am show. So I was still in the office by 4 35 AM.

So I've never had this experience at the last couple of weeks have given me. And the things they say on that eight minute walk are extraordinary. I'm reading a book, uh, re recommended to me by a friend called you might know, you know, all the books called, um, it goes so fast. Parker from NPR talking about, and I think it's the year of no do overs.

So can I just say that I'm going to try to have a, it goes so fast year of no do overs with my family. So that yes, leaning into them, but also. Working. I love working. So I want to, I want to keep working and I have some exciting projects that people have reached out about that I have had in my, in my belly for a long time that I want to lean into.

One of them might involve cooking. No one, this will be, who knows me, will be surprised. I love, love, love cooking. So let's see. Let's see what could happen. Have meetings, explore, sleep, Take my kids to school and try to reclaim some of what I lost, uh, in terms of like not having these mornings that are so special.

Laura: Yeah. You realize when you've been working since you were probably what, like 16 ...

Poppy: Amaco Gas Station. Thank you. 

Laura: Okay. There you go. 14 tour bus. God. You just, you realize like we, we, there's never been a time where it was down, right? You're just constantly going on to the next thing. You're just like, we all are.

And that's sort of why we're doing what we're doing. Um, but when you actually, like, have a minute to, like, sit back and, and reflect and actually think. 

Zibby: Mm hmm. 

Laura: Think in peace. It's, like, a gift. 

Zibby: I don't find it that easy, though, to just, like, sit back and think and relax. Like, that's I don't know. Do you find that easy?

Laura: No.

Poppy: I haven't done it yet. I was like my husband the other day, it was like, what are you going on today? And I was like, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, he's like, Hmm, I don't know what you signed up for. So I need to do a little time editing, but at the same time, when people reach out and I'm like, can we have lunch?

Do you want to have a meeting? How are you? I'm like, wow, you want to talk to me? Like. That is also like, okay, sure. That's exciting. But I do think a time audit is needed because to some really wise woman told me she's a, uh, the other week I met her, she's a performance coach for Formula one drivers and IndyCar drivers.

And she told me her name's Angela Cullen and she said, Poppy, to speed up, you need to slow down. So, so maybe, so maybe some, oh, my birthday gift to myself, by the way, this week, every day, I'm going to meditation classes. 

Zibby: Happy birthday. 

Poppy: Maybe if it works, I'll let you know. 

Zibby: Okay. Okay. 

Poppy: Think, try. 

Zibby: I, I do think though, that there are different ways people relax.

Like some people it's really helpful if they meditate and do yoga and you know, they can, but some people relax by doing other things, right? Yeah. Like relaxing is being just as. You know, focused, but you're not doing it maybe on the news, but you're doing it in the kitchen, right? Like, that's still relaxing.

Like, it doesn't have to look the same for everybody. That's what I'm trying to say. Yeah. The color of relaxation. 

Poppy: Zibby, you're so right about that. What's your, what's your relax mode, Laura? 

Laura: Watching something of, of, of no consequence on HBO Max. I mean, I do, I do enjoy cooking, but I am the last person who's going to do like breast work, meditation, cold plunge.

Like that all, I get it. And I'm so glad that some people are finding that useful, but it's like, I just can't. I just like, I just like put me in front of a television with a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn. 

Poppy: Amen. 

Zibby: I feel like there's a little shame in not being able to relax properly. Do you know what I mean?

Laura: Yes, because this is, because our whole culture now is pushing us overdrive on work, and also pushing us overdrive on self care. Everything is, you have to make time for yourself, you have to have like, there's no time for ourselves. 

There's no time for self care. We're working. We're moms. We're busy. We're wives.

We're like, we have parents who are getting older and responsibilities. But there's pressure now to make sure you have enough time for yourself. 

Zibby: Yeah. I don't want time for myself. 

If anything, I just want more time to read. Oh my gosh. 

Poppy: What's your relaxation, Zibby? 

Zibby: Honestly, reading. Yeah. I mean, occasionally, like, with my husband, we'll watch a movie or, you know, whatever, but I don't like to just spread, like, I have to be like, this is what, like, we should watch this, or like, people have said this is good, let's try this show, as opposed to, I don't know, let's just, like, waste the time and find something.

I don't know. That stresses me out. Oh my gosh. In your spare time, are you reading anything? Yourselves? Grown up books? Kids books that you love? Anything else? 

Laura: I was gonna, I was gonna, or not, which is fine. The honest answer is definitely not. Okay, fine. The honest answer is I am, I am knee deep and if you saw my office, which I have carefully not shown you, it's a stack full of stuff.

Of old indictments and court transcripts that I'm pouring through every night. So that's why when I'm not, when I'm not doing that, I, I just, yeah. I get my fill other, other ways. 

Poppy: Other ways. I would say that that, like, was my life for a long time. I never could read for pleasure or joy. And I'm still not great at it.

I don't find a ton of time in the day, but I am reading the, that book. It goes so fast that I just mentioned by Mary Louise Parker and then a friend recommended a book I just ordered. So it's one of those sitting on my bookstand. I will read you at some point called between trapezes. And it's apparently like about when you jump from one thing in your life.

To the next, but you don't know what the next is. So you're between trapezes and how to like savor that time and make it meaningful. So I'm like in midair, I don't have a trapeze to grab. So I'm like, okay, don't fall. So I'm going to read that book next. 

Zibby: Amazing. Well, this was so much fun. Thank you. Sorry we weren't in person, but next time when you're next time out.

Yep. Thank you for the color of love. I am now going to make it my mission to try to find a dress like this because you both need to be wearing this dress on your tour and everything. Anyway. 

Poppy: Thank you so much for having us. 

Laura: We're happy to inspire, inspire your wardrobe choices. 

Zibby: Yes. 

Poppy: Thanks for having us.

We'll see you on Saturday. 

Zibby: Yes. Very excited. Yes. Thank you so much. Okay. Thank you. Okay. Bye.

Poppy Harlow + Laura Jarrett, THE COLOR OF LOVE

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