What’s a Cheetah? Chips!

I had a lot of fun the other day while reading my new children’s book, Taj Cleans the Garage to groups of three-, four- and five-year olds. “Does everyone know what chores are?” Various descriptions came forth, but when one child said, “I pick up my toys,” the idea caught on and based on their answers, I could tell that the children’s houses were some of the cleanest on the block.

“Do you know what a cheetah is?” I asked. “Chips!” several kids said. “No, not Chee-tos, chee-tahs,” I laughed. “It’s a big cat!” “They run fast!” “They run like this!” one boy said, curving his hands and making them leap.

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I showed the children my book cover, which pictures two boys riding on a flying horse. “Horses can’t fly!” one little boy said. “That’s a line from the book,” I said, “but let’s make believe that they can, okay?”  He didn’t look convinced until later in the story. Note to self: next time, don’t be afraid to use the word, imagination. New words are great ways to expand a child’s vocabulary.

Before I started reading, I explained that the book is about Taj who takes on a new chore so he can earn money to buy more toys. “Much to his surprise, his new chore turns into an exciting adventure where he is the only one who can save the day.” As you can see from the picture, they were really into the story.

I wrote Taj Cleans the Garage because I was always looking for books like this to read to my son 15 years ago. Like so many parents, I wanted him to enjoy reading and identify with the characters. There still aren’t a lot of adventure stories with African American children in them, and I hope that this book and the others I plan to write, will change that.

In the meantime, I’m learning how to lead children into reading by trying to make it fun. I hope I succeed.

Great news! Taj Cleans the Garage available through Amazon.com  on August 8th!

I Lived and Learned!

TCC Head Start 7-17-2013

Yesterday, my new children’s book, Taj Cleans the Garage, took its maiden voyage inside of a Head Start classroom where I read it to my intended audience: Several little people, from 3-5 years old. Yes, I was nervous, although I didn’t understand why. It wasn’t like they were seasoned book critics who would analyze the quality of Taj’s many adventures, or whether or not the flying horse spread his wings east and west, instead of north and south. No, I think that I was nervous because I desperately wanted them to be excited about my book and to like it.  They were, and they did.

I have several questions at the end of the book, and when I asked, “Where would you like the flying horse to take you?” I was reminded over and over again that all things familiar were things that resonate with them the most. They said, “To Grandma’s house,” “Home,” and “To the store.” And they were so cute!  I was pleased that they sat and listened, and I was ready to talk to them forever, when one little girl asked, “Can I go and play now?”  Of course you can, sweetie; you all can.

So, lesson learned.  It’s not about me. Don’t ask the children all 10 questions at the end of the book, maybe three or four, and let them talk. Because they will, and their answers are priceless.

I met several vendors at the Head Start Fair who asked me to read at their upcoming events and/or passed on info about other opportunities to read my book.  I can’t wait.

To learn more about The Children’s Center Head Start Academy, please call them at 313.831.5535 or email TCCacademy@childrensctr.net.

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