I woke up last Saturday to such a beautiful surprise! So many people downloaded the "Keep Moving Forward, Henry!" e-book that it became Amazon's #1 New Release in Children's Prejudice & Racism category!
Since I was a child--I've had the intention of combating racism and prejudice. At the time, I thought that if I could become a U.S. Ambassador then I could travel the U.S. and the globe and influence others to see that people of color are just people. I wanted to share the message that we are all apart of one race--the human race.
Well, I didn't become a U.S. Ambassador but I still feel called to carry the message: that although we may look different, eat different foods, have varying cultural traditions--we all deserve the right to be treated with compassion, dignity, empathy, respect and kindness.
As I was reflecting on having a book become number one in the category of race and prejudice--my eyes were peaked when I came across this post on Facebook: "If children are old enough to experience racism, white children are old enough to learn about it."
The topic of race is something that many children of color have to grapple with at a very young age. For me--it was when I was 5 years old and in kindergarten. I remember a boy in my class called me a "nigger."
If children are capable of name calling, bullying, ostracizing, etc....then they are definitely old enough to learn how to respectfully treat people who look different than them. But many parents are hesitant to broach this subject with their kids. In fact, I had a white homeschool mother tell me she didn't teach about slavery until her kids were in high school. She wanted to protect them from such a harsh subject. In my mind, I was thinking how in the world do you teach our countries history without talking about the millions of enslaved Africans who helped build it? Shocking--right?!
But before you get mad at her--to be fair--the school systems really aren't much better. That's why I feel so honored and privileged to write about this topic to make it easier for parents and teachers to address issues of race and prejudice. I want to see change and I know it can actually happen if we address it with the children.
So when I got this picture (below) from a teacher in Texas--my heart exploded with joy and thankfulness. If the children catch on to the message---then brighter and better days are ahead for all of us!
Click here to learn more about the background of "Keep Moving Forward, Henry!"
I am soooo close to launching the paperback edition of "Keep Moving Forward, Henry!" but in the meantime I wanted to offer you all the opportunity to read the story for free on Amazon Kindle (March 22-26th 2021)!
So many people have asked how they can support me during this time and today I would answer that by saying:
1. Read the E-Book (English and/or Spanish version)
2. Write a PPR which stand for "Positive-Professional-Review" ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Focus on commenting on the story itself, the plot, the message/themes, illustrations and of course if you would recommend others to buy.
3. Share the E-Book with individuals who will also write a review. Ask them individually--this will ensure a better response.
Reviews are a wonderful way to give social proof and give potential buyers the confidence to buy the book. So thank you in advance for any help you can give to spreading the word about "Keep Moving Forward, Henry!"
I'm so excited that I will be launching my new children's book this month, "Keep Moving Forward, Henry!" As I get closer to the release I am looking to build a launch team to help me spread the word and write Amazon reviews.
I have such a wonderful community of people who want to support my work and help spread awareness of this project so if that is something that you are interested in, please consider joining my launch team!
All you have to do is click here to get started.
I'm super happy to announce that my next children's book "Keep Moving Forward, Henry" will be launched next month and it will be addressing themes of justice, empathy, and overcoming obstacles.
I'm so excited that the picture book will have an accompanying coloring and activity book to help children dive deeper into the difficult topics.
"Keep Moving Forward, Henry! Coloring & Activity Book” is the perfect companion to the picture book and is full of crossword puzzles, mazes, inspirational coloring sheets, and more!
Geared toward kids 7-12 years old, themes of empathy, compassion, and self-empowerment will be addressed in an age-appropriate and fun way. This workbook makes a great vacation or travel workbook and is perfect for boys or girls who like to learn while being entertained with activities that stimulate thinking and creativity. It is a great gift for any kid!
COMING MARCH 2021!!
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.
I am so excited to share, that after 6 years of writing, I am officially a published author! What’s really special about this book project is that I co-authored it with my 14-year-old daughter Anaya. And to make it even more significant, my 16-year-old daughter, Jayda was the illustrator and book cover designer.
We started the project in May 2019 but moved from New York to the south so basically, our momentum and publishing process was completely interrupted.
However, a few months ago, I picked the story back up and now we are happy to present, “Bear Learns to Share” with an accompanying, “Bear Learns to Share Coloring Book.”
Kids will relate instantly with the main character, Little Bear, an only cub who loves to play by himself and is not used to sharing. He becomes terribly upset and engages in a full out tantrum when his cousins come to play. Ultimately, Bear realizes that if he calms himself down, he too can experience great joy and fun when sharing his things.
The girls and I plan on writing a complete Bear Learns series which is geared towards children pre-school through second grade.
Learn more by clicking 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.