Husband and wife duo coin inclusive children's book in an effort to promote diversity and inclusion in their community. Here's what happens when children's books bring a clear understanding of inclusion to the young minds, while teaching and fostering healthy relationships.
The We Belong Bunch: Pookie J.’s School Day. This children’s story is about understanding and embracing each other’s differences to foster healthy relationships. The story is told from the perspective of Pookie J., a fifth-grade boy who wants to one day be a college professor like his father. He and his friends are the We Belong Bunch. Although the kids in the We Belong Bunch come from different places, cultures, and religious backgrounds, they are just kids being kids. They are kids who have dreams, love life, and enjoy learning. The adults in their lives create the environment of warmth and care that the We Belong Bunch enjoy. The story echoes the idea that we can all learn and support each other to improve our environment. The book is a great learning tool to help build a strong sense of self and belonging in our schools and community. Children can enjoy reading “The We Belong Bunch School Day” and meet kids that look, act, and have dreams like themselves and their peers. In addition, Pookie J.’s journey provides an opportunity for parents, teachers, and students to communicate the themes of supportive relationships, empathy, and inclusivity.
Dr. Samuel R. Johnson, Jr., is an educator in Columbus, Ohio. He is married to Angela Johnson, co-author of The We Belong Bunch. Dr. Johnson has served as an educator in Dayton, Ohio; Washington DC; and Columbus, Ohio. He has earned a B.A. from the Ohio State University, an M.Ed. from Wright State University, and an Ed.D. from Howard University. Dr. Johnson believes that it is necessary to create an environment of care, love, and empathy in our communities so children may reach their full potential in society.
Angela M. Johnson was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her B.A. in sociology from the Ohio State University. Angela has served as a caseworker and social worker for over seventeen years. This is the first children’s book that Angela has authored. Angela believes that our differences make us unique; they do not make us outsiders.
Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A: We would probably tell our younger selves to find our literary voices earlier.
Q:How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
A:We had to write our first book from the perspective of 5th Grade Children. In addition, pacing was significant. The book was written in a manner that would keep the attention of smaller children, and yet make the message clear enough for them to understand and apply.
Q:What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
A:The best money spent so far was on the book trailer. The animated book trailer helps to bring the characters and their message to life. It has been great for marketing our book, setting it apart from many in the genre of children’s picture books. In addition, it was a 2018 Purple Dragonfly Award winner of the Story Monsters LLC children’s book competition.
Q: What does literary success look like to you?
A: Literary success means that children take the messages from our book and apply them to help create better individuals, school environments, and communities.
Q: How do you select the names of your characters?
A. Pookie was my nickname when I was growing up as a child in Middletown, Ohio. I had a passion for drawing cartoons. I created the character of Pookie J. while attending elementary school. In addition, I created the concepts and names for the rest of the characters when my wife and I planned to write a book regarding belongingness.
Q: What is your favorite childhood book?
A: Clifford the Big Red Dog and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Q: What does "Representation" mean to you?
A: Representation means that everyone has the necessary opportunity to not only be seen but have a voice in the various forms of media such as books, magazines, music, television, and movies.
Q: Where can our readers find your book(s)?