I love reading and reviewing children’s picture books. I think it is so important to expose all children to reading at an early age. After having read so many books, one thing that stands out is the lack of books with children of color. This is what propelled me to self-publish my first children’s book: Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle. This topic got me interested in interviewing authors of color. My desire is to help promote them and the contribution they are making to the publishing world. Today, I present to you Jaquitta McManus.
Can you tell the readers about yourself?
I’m a wife, a mom and a fanatic of the fantasy/adventure genre. Blackberries are one of my favorite fruits. And one of my favorite quotes is: “It is sometimes necessary in life to do something extraordinary” by Sagalevitch. I think I’m creating something extraordinary by creating exciting new fantasy adventure children books with characters of color.
My first book for ages nine to 12, Labyrinth’s Door: Anyia “Dream of a Warrior, is about Anyia, whose dream of becoming a Nagoran Warrior is infused with adventure and danger. Running from her duties as a Yora, she dares to break tradition to follow her own dream, during a time when Empress Zarina threatens the magic treaty that protects her village.
And my second book for ages four to eight, Talee and the Fallen Object, is about Talee, a girl who lives on the gas planet Gala who has her curiosity piqued when she sees an object fall from the backpack of a mail flyer and journeys out to see what it is.
Talee and the Fallen Object is currently just an ebook but the coloring book adventure is available on my website.
What inspired you to start writing children’s books?
Overall it was my children and the love of the fantasy adventure genre. But the actual inspiration came over time through a couple of different things but the one that stands out the most was the desire to read fantasy adventure books to my daughter with characters that look like her. And since I couldn’t find any I thought I would write them!
What are your thoughts on the lack of children’s books that portray children of color in a positive light?
I can find positive books with children of color … not a lot but they are out there if you are looking for picture books and some earlier readers. For me, the lack of variety is what concerns me. With the age of technology it’s hard to get children interested in reading and one genre that I’ve noticed that keeps my children reading is the fantasy adventure genre and there is a lack of books with children of color for them to choose from.
What kind of books do you like to expose your children to?
I have a 12-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter and I like to expose them to a variety of books, from comic books to novels in any genre. I just want them to read, so if they are reading I’m happy. Do I wish more of their books were with characters of color? Yes. But I can’t recommend books that aren’t there.
What in your opinion are the most important thing African American authors can do to make a huge dent in the children’s publishing world?
We have to write and publish more books in all genres. We have to give mothers and children more to choose from. And we have to stick together. I would love to attend an African American children’s book event. I would love for other authors to reach out to me so that we could do something together.