Bear Learns to Share
I never imagined that my first published children's book would be a collaborative work with my teen daughters, Anaya 14 years old and Jayda Murray, 16 years old!
It was such a fun AND challenging process. I think my daughter Jayda had the toughest job because as the illustrator she had such a high learning curve when it came to formatting and designing the books.
So far there are two completed books, Bear Learns to Share Picture Book and Coloring Book. We are excited to say that a Spanish version and Activity book are in the works and will be available mid-December 2020!
I am sooo blessed to have such talented children--I'm already dreaming up what I can write with my boys.
How Was the Process?
As far as the process of working together, Anaya and I wrote the manuscript in a couple of weeks. I had a group of authors critique the story-line and then we revised it some. Once the story was solid, I sketched out some drawings for Jayda to work with and she did an incredible job of bringing the story to life.
I know for a fact that she grew tired of me and all the revisions we had to make. :) But we are already working on the next book, in the Bear Learns series, so I guess it wasn't too bad! LOL!!
What Has The Response Been Like?
We have been so encouraged with all the positive feedback and excellent reviews. One of the best parts of this process has been seeing how children are responding to the story--it has made all the work worth it and we can't wait to bring more books into the marketplace.
Check out the Amazon reviews here:
A few days ago I wrote a Facebook post about my boy's walking to the store and "the talk" that occurred prior to them leaving the house. I wanted to share it here along with some of the comments because it will give you more insight into my life as an African-American mother and maybe just maybe, make a difference for them in the future.
Facebook Post October 25, 2020
"My boys are walking to the grocery store for the first time since moving into our new neighborhood here in Memphis.
Why is this something to post about?
Well if you could have heard how we prepped them...Here is what we said:
The goal is to come home.
Don't get distracted, get to the store and come right back.
"So we don't look suspicious."
When you enter the store what should you do?
"Take off our hoodies and don't put our hands in our pockets."
If you're stopped by a police officer be respectful and what else?
"Keep our hands out front and don't reach for anything."
What if they ask for ID?
"We'll tell them, we're only 13 and that we are homeschooled."
Ok--we think you're ready.
"Mom, I'm a little nervous."
"Don't worry son, God is with you. Hold your head up high and walk to the store."
What do you say to your son when he walks to the store?
#raisingblackboys #raisingblackteens #conversationswithblackboys #imablackmother #GodProtectOurChildren
When they came home--I could breathe again!
As of today, this Facebook post has been shared over 50x's and it really it struck a chord with the public. Here are some of the comments--I'm hoping you will find them eye-opening and educational:
There is so much about parenting that is inherently frightening. I cannot imagine how heavy this extra burden of racism must be. I’m sorry and I want a better, safer, kinder society for these two boys and for all of us. We need to heal this ill. Thank you for the reminder. -Comment
Definitely an added burden. I mean walking to the grocery store shouldn't be so stressful. But my boys came back and said, "Mom, it was no big deal." And that's how it should be!--My Response
Had the same talk the first time my sons walked to the store. --Comment
Parenting is hard enough--I'm just glad they made it back home!--My response
We have had this conversation with our kids, my parents had it with us. We explained it is a cops job to look for suspicious behavior and investigate and that they have dangerous jobs. They are confronted daily with people who would rather do them harm than be obedient. So they are to be very respectful, obedient and keep their hands in plain sight. We cant assume they will u understand that we are safe people, no matter what we look like.--Comment
You are right, we can't assume they will think we are safe. But I've had a father falsely accused for being a wanted man by the FBI, I have been "arrested" as a teenager--accused falsely while being a straight A student and school president, cousin convicted of a crime he didn't commit and sent to prison, a cousin shot and killed in his own home for no reason, and the list goes on and on. The suspicion for black suspects has always been high in this country and the cost are even higher. That's why I had the talk with my sons---history.--My Response
My dear Ayanna, that was so heartfelt it put tears in my eyes.
May our Lord be w/ your boys and EVERY colored kid.
May our country one day become COLOR BLIND.--Comment
My heart is settling down, now that they made it back home safely. Yes, may God be with all our children.--My Response
It's so heartbreaking. Mine isn't that independent yet but have had the talk when she started making her own store transactions, even with me, especially with others, to keep her receipt until she got to the car.--Comment
Oh yea--I forgot about the receipt part---I'll remember that for next time!--My Response
#whiteprivilege the inequity it is beyond words that is what has to happen. Ill tell my son about cavities and crossing the street you have to tell yours how not to get shot. I can’t. Thank you for sharing this.--Comment
Yes cavities, crossing the street, and how not to look suspicious, how to interact with police in a way in which they will make it back home---and hope and pray that its enough. But my treasures are back home and all went well this time!--My Response
I’m literally tearing up. This conversation shouldn’t have to happen. But this conversation must happen. Thank you for sharing for those that don’t know about the talk.--Comment
I didn't want to have the conversation but I wasn't allowing my boys out the house to explore the neighborhood. It was time but wow--it's hard trying to have the balance of letting them know there is a potential for danger but not wanting them to live in fear.--My Response
What do you think about "The Talk?"
Photo by Alexander Dummer from Pexels
“All of us have a sense of wanting to ‘do something meaningful’ with our lives. We call this universal and powerful longing a Big Dream. And, like the genetic code that describes one’s unique passions and abilities, your child’s Big Dream has been woven into his or her being from before birth--therefore it never is quite like someone else’s Dream. In fact, your child’s unique makeup points toward his or her Dream. And as a parent, it is your privilege to help your child discover and shape his or her Dream.”
--Dream Giver for Parents by Bruce & Darlene Marie Wilkinson.
Tomatoes from My Garden
I have four children and every day I ask God to show me what He has placed inside them so that I can encourage their growth and curiosity. With my girls, I can see so much fruit but I’m still waiting to see what’s inside my boys.
Waiting doesn’t cause me to worry because as a novice gardener, I know that every plant bears fruit at different times, even if planted at the same time.
So in the meantime, I keep praying, watching, listening, observing, watering, and providing sunlight--waiting to see if I can get a glimpse of what’s to come.
When I heard those words, it made me feel so old! The book they were talking about was a phone book! My kids had never seen one before and I had to explain what a phone book was in the first place. “But that’s crazy! People can just go on the internet and look things up!” they said.
In that moment, I felt ancient...really ancient! Technology is changing our culture at lightening speed. I mean think about all of the things that our kids have never seen or used:
My kids really have no idea how far technology has come in the last 30 years. When I was growing up my dad use to own a computer store. He would build and fix computers and we grew up with the latest technology. But if my kids were to see those same computers that I grew up with, I’m sure they would respond the same way as the kids in the following video:
It’s funny because I thought I was pretty hip to the latest technology and then one day I was inputting our babysitter’s information in my phone when she informed me that I was totally a “mommy-texter” aka “slow!”
What’s really funny, is that this generation of kids are totally making fun of parents and grandparents using the technology of this age. Watch these funny videos:
Times are changing but I’m going to do my best to keep up. At least I don't have an AOL email address!!
I am so proud of all of my kids but I want to give a shout out to my eldest daughter Jayda. She loves to draw, design, create, build--she is always doing something with her hands. This past month she really stepped up when she willingly agreed to design and sell t-shirts as a way for her to contribute to my father’s kidney transplant fund.
She was so excited throughout the designing process and because of her willingness to share her gift of drawing she was able to raise over $200! I am a firm believer that God gives us gifts to bless others and Jayda definitely did that. A big thanks to everyone who purchased a shirt you have encouraged her to keep giving to others!!
Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.
I've been married to my best friend Bryan Murray since the year 2000. Now we have four incredible children and a super full life with extended family and friends.