This week's author interview is with Dr. Artika Tyner. Through her new children's book Justice Makes a Difference, Artika is on a mission to inspire young people to read and lead to empower social change in their community. Artika talks about her inspiration as an author and shares tips to spark interest in reading amongst children.
Tell us about your book?
My book, Justice Makes a Difference: The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire, is about a young girl’s journey of discovering the leader within. Eight-year-old Justice learns that you are never too young to make a difference. She decides to start serving in her community and inspiring her friends to get involved. Together, they begin to plant seeds of social change.
Why did you want to write this story?
I wrote this book to inspire young people to read and lead. My goal was to introduce youth to heroes and sheroes from history who can teach important lessons on how to make a difference in your community. Justice learns how to lift her voice for justice from Paul Robeson. Justice explores the importance of environmental justice from Dr. Wangari Maathai (Greenbelt Movement). She learns how to take a stand for justice from pioneering civil rights attorney, Charles Hamilton Houston who laid the groundwork for the school desegregation case - Brown v. Board of Education.
What’s been the best reaction from a reader so far?
I received a beautiful email from a father who gave the book to his daughter. She stated with joy: “Daddy, it’s me!” as she hugged the book to her chest. This is a reminder of the importance of creating mirrors where diverse children can see a positive reflection of themselves on the pages of a book. We need more mirrors when you are more likely to see a black bear or black dog on the cover of a book than a Black girl or Black boy.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration from my foremothers. My Grandma Nellie was my first role model. She demonstrated the power of servant leader as she served in the community. She fed the hungry, clothed those in need, and provided shelter to the homeless. She lived out her faith in her day-to-day interactions. She taught me the importance of our shared humanity and common destiny. These lessons guide me each day as I serve as an educator and advocate for justice.
What’s the most fun part of being an author?
My favorite part of being an author is school visits. This gives me an opportunity to connect my books with lessons students are learning in the classroom. For instance, during Women’s Month, I introduced Shirley Chisholm who was a candidate for the people. During Black History Month, I share about how the pioneering journalist, Ida B. Wells, decided to write for racial justice.
What’s your tip for parents to encourage reading or a fun book or reading related activity parents can do with their kids?
Parents should encourage their children to read a variety of types of books from nonfiction to poetry. This will help to spark interest in reading as children find what they like to read. For example, my mother bought me all types of books from the Nancy Drew series to Maya Angelou’s poetry books. She also gave me comic books and introduced me to the Justice League.
I enjoyed reading comic books since I was a little girl. This inspired me to want to become a superhero for justice. My childhood dream was to become Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire, basically- Wonder woman with a law degree and an afro. This vision inspired the theme for my first book. Justice is a young superhero.
What’s your favorite children’s book of all time and why?
My favorite children’s book of all time is: “I Know I Can!” by Veronica Chapman. It is an inspiring story of a young Black girl who learns how to dream big. She discovers a new world filled with infinite possibilities. This reminds me of the words of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa, “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
Dr. Artika R. Tyner is a passionate educator, poet, author, sought after speaker, and advocate for justice. Tyner is the founder of Planting People Growing Justice Press and Bookstore. In recognition of her leadership and service, she is the recipient of more than two dozen awards that include: Women in Business, American Small Business Champion, International Educator Citizen, and American Bar Association Difference Makers.
She has been featured in a variety of media outlets. She is a prolific, award-winning author of adult and children’s books that includes: Amazing Africa: A to Z and The Inclusive Leader: Taking Intentional Action for Justice and Equity. She serves as a global citizen by supporting education, entrepreneurship, and women’s leadership initiatives in Africa. In furtherance of her philanthropic efforts, she created Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting literacy and diversity in books.
You can buy Justice Makes a Difference here
Find more about Artika and her books on her website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
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