When did you discover your love of reading? For some folks, it’s almost immediately, but for others, it’s a later-in-life revelation.
I discovered my love for reading in 1st grade. Every week my mom would visit our local library in Rosedale, NY. My sisters and I would grab so many books that plastic bags would come apart on the way home. We soon learned the importance of double bags.
What’s your favorite book in the whole world? Why?
My favorite book honestly is the Bible. It comforts, guides, and challenges me as I meditate on the scriptures found there.
On a typical week (ha, what are those anymore), what kinds of things would we find you reading?
I’m current reading “How to be an Anti-Racist" by Ibram X. Kendi. You can also find me reading "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" by Michelle Alexander. My minor was is African and African American Studies for my undergrad. So, I’m constantly seeking to learn more about how Black history impacts our present.
You've authored two children's books (so far!) What made you want to write for children specifically?
My sons inspired me to write. My first book, "Fridays with Ms. Melange: Haiti" was born out of frustration because, as a Hatian-American, I wanted to teach my 6 year old son about the history of Haiti but couldn’t find a book to do that with. I shared my frustration with my husband, and he asked, “Why don’t you just write it?” And so I did. My second book, "Momma, Can I Sleep with You Tonight?: Helping Children Cope with the Impact of COVID-19" was inspired by my youngest son, who is 4 years old. On April 5, 2020, he woke me up at 3:00 AM to talk about his real fears and big feelings surrounding COVID-19. This conversation became the basis of the book. At the end of the book, I talk about the five stages of grief and provide free resources that parents, caregivers, and teachers can utilize.
What was your favorite children's story growing up?
I love the story of Corduroy by Don Freeman because the girl who I identified with wanted to take home the stuffed bear despite its flaws. At a young age, I interpreted it as a story of acceptance and internalized that for myself.
You have a background in social work and counseling. How do these skills inform your writing and the stories you tell?
In my work in the social sector, I often come across issues of self identity, grief, and adjusting to change. My writing promotes emotional intelligence by tackling the impact of history towards self identity and teaches children and families how to adapt to grief and change through the narratives I share along with the questions and resources I share. My stories give children language as a tool to express themselves.
What’s your comfort read — you know, that book you always revisit, the one with worn pages and a cover that’s soft like a blanket?
In the Old Testament, the Book of Esther is one I love to read over and over again. It's dramatic and shows the irony of how the oppressor was defeated by their own device.