Sacramento State’s child and adolescent development professor JaNay Brown-Wood’s children’s book was shown by the comedian and television host Stephen Colbert to millions of viewers of “The Late Show.”
Colbert shared a mock Dr. Seuss book called “Oh the books you can read” and shared a few kid’s books written by people of color starting with “Imani’s Moon” by Brown-Wood.
Brown-Wood said love and persistence for children’s literature has enabled her to have this great achievement.
“I’ve always liked to write stories when I was a child,” Brown-Wood said. “In fact, when I was being promoted from sixth grade to seventh grade, my teacher made a prediction that I would become a selling author in the future.”
Brown-Wood, a professor who is keen on writing children’s books, has always been inextricably linked with the creation and writing of children’s literature.
“I think it’s amazing Dr. Brown-Wood was mentioned on the show.” said Sophie Carrick, a student of Brown-Wood. “She has such a fire for bringing diversity to children’s literature and making a large impact on communities of color.”
“Imani’s Moon” is a book about a little girl who is bullied by the other children in her village for being so small, until her mother tells her a story about the moon goddess Olapa and Anansi the spider, which inspires Imani to reach for the moon herself.
Story continues below photo gallery.
Reading and writing often seem to be inseparable but Brown-Wood said she didn’t like reading when she was a child.
“When I was younger, I didn’t enjoy reading until later,” Brown-Wood said. “I wonder if it’s because I couldn’t find myself in books, and data shows that there’s lack of diversity in children’s books, and sometimes I think that might have been why I didn’t like reading as a child.”
Brown-Wood said she is motivated by the need for children to see and hear from characters they can relate to.
“I often write books with diverse characters, because I believe all children deserve to see themselves on the pages of the books they read, and work really hard to do that,” she said.
Brown-Wood’s books also bring profound meaning to others.
Story continues below video.
“We celebrate Dr. Brown-Wood and support her contributions for the critical importance in creating a learning environment that honors diversity and promotes justice through children’s books and storytelling,” said Sajdah Abdul-Haqq, a student of Brown-Wood’s. “This is especially needed in a world where children by age 3 already have an anti-Black bias.”
Brown-Wood said she wanted to write children’s books because it allows for personal creativity while serving and educating children.
“I just really enjoy education and creating stories, and I enjoy supporting their development, and one of those ways that I can do that is through the books that I write,” Brown-Wood said.
Brown-Wood has a colorful writing background. Although she does not have a degree in writing, it has always been her hobby and her love of writing permeates her life. She said she has learned and done a lot of writing by herself as well as joining writing organizations.
“I would say my writing background is varied because I just took some classes here and there,” Brown-Wood said.
She also said she joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and has read lots of children’s books and craft books which all helped her to write her own stories and become a published author.
Brown-Wood said that she is always writing books and it’s hard to keep track of how many she has actually written to this point.
Brown-Wood’s love for children and children’s books has enabled her to achieve success. In her writing, she not only works hard to let children audiences find themselves and their interesting stories in the book, but also pays attention to the cultivation of children’s learning ability.
In addition to “Imani’s Moon” Brown-Wood has had two other books published by Penguin Random House including “Shhh. The Baby’s Asleep” and “Grandma’s Tiny House.”
She said she will continue to work and live with this enthusiasm and that continuing to be both an educator and an author is important to her.
“I see myself continuing to be an author and doing things like author visits and talking to teachers and educators about the importance of literacy and diverse books, so that overlaps with the educator part,” Brown-Wood said.