FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 25, 2021
MEMPHIS, TN – A Memphis area mother and her two teenage daughters recently used the area’s COVID-19 restrictions to fulfill a dream and publish a children’s book to increase early childhood literacy.
“We aren’t going out as much and it was a perfect time to work on this book,” said mother Ayanna Murray. “I’ve always told my daughters we’d give back to the community and write a children’s book to encourage children to read.”
According to a Forbes article published late last year, the U.S. Department of Education reports that barely half of the adults age 17-74 read below a sixth-grade level.
Low literacy starts in childhood. According to the Literacy Project, children are 90% more likely to be poor readers at the end of the fourth grade if they are a poor reader at the end of first grade. This is why Murray focused on writing a children’s book.
“One of the greatest gifts we can give children is literacy and a love of reading. I’ve given that to my kids and I want to give that gift to others. Especially children in the Memphis area.”
CUTLINE: Ayanna Murray and her daughters Jayda (16) and Anaya (14) holding their book, Bear Learns to Share.
ABOUT: Ayanna Murray recently moved to Memphis, TN from Connecticut with her husband and four children. She is a homeschool educator and holds a BA in education and a minor in Spanish from the University of Oregon.
CONTACT: For more information or comments, contact Ayanna Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was a little girl, every MLK Day, my parents would take my four siblings and I to the MLK Day March in Eugene, Oregon. As parents who grew up under segregation and fought for our civil rights during the 1960's Civil Right's Movement they wanted to instill in our hearts a passion and desire to make the world a better a place for our children, and their children' children.
As a child I watched my parents navigate many obstacles within my hometown. They moved from Chicago, IL in the late 70's and wanted to get away from the discrimination and hardships they faced in the inner-city. However, even in Oregon they faced many injustices but as a child I wasn't privy to everything they faced.
For example, when I was about five or six years old, I remember that my father was a fireman. My mother would take us down to the fire station to bring my dad food and I remember saying prayers to God to keep him safe and bring him back home. One time I remember going to visit him at the station, but during the visit the firemen got a call and I watched him jump on the firetruck and ride off in the distance.
Art by Estefania Razo
I never liked my dad being away from home and sleeping at the fire station so I never thought about why he stopped going. It wasn't until I was older that my father revealed the racism and discrimination he experienced at the fire department.
As an author, I wanted to capture his story because I believe it will be an important tool for parent's and teacher's to teach empathy, compassion, and equity. As I interviewed my dad for this story I was challenged with how to make the subject of racism palatable for young children.
I wanted to leave them with a hopeful outlook and so I took Dr. King's quote, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” as a source of inspiration for the story.
Dr. King was arrested over 30 times. He was beaten, threatened, and ultimately killed for his willingness to fight for the rights of Black people. His powerful words spoke to me as I wrote the story about my father. As I was writing, I kept hearing the words, "Keep Moving Forward, Keep Moving Forward." Not original to King, as many generations of African Americans have had to repeat this phrase to themselves after being locked, blocked, and kicked out of parts of American society.
My book, "Keep Moving Forward, Henry" is a story that I hope will teach children what they should do if they ever get knocked down. I am proud to say that it is slated to be released next month for Black History Month.
That's right folks--the Bear Learns to Share Activity Book is now complete! This was such an exciting project because it took me back to when my kids were in preschool and as their teacher--I loved teaching them basic foundational knowledge. I can't believe I have four teenagers now!
Anyway I designed the workbook specifically for kids ages 3-5, and it is a great accompaniment to the picture book, Bear Learns to Share, which shows that sharing is fun!
So now you can get the book, coloring book, AND the workbook!
This 50-page workbook includes recognizing and tracing shapes, identifying colors, coloring, counting, mazes, and more. It's the perfect workbook for kids to practice their fine motor skills and a great way to develop skills for school readiness and success.
Learn more here.
Ayanna is an author that enjoys writing fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, and poetry for children. She has written over 15 stories and hopes to publish them in the near future.