"Representation to me, means seeing oneself recognized in all aspects of life, which is particularly significant to people who have been historically marginalized. When a child sees him or herself represented, it gives them confidence and belief that they, too, can achieve any level of success. In the publishing world, all kids not only need access to books but they need to see themselves portrayed in those books. When only a few books with diverse characters are published each year, we are excluding children from the experience of recognizing themselves and their own stories in the books they read."
Fortunately, we have children's books written by author, educator and coach, @twealthst_tuck who creates books with images that reflect positive identity for black boys, ultimately leaving a positive impact in the minds of his young readers. Here's what believes making a positive impact and representation means to him;
Q: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
A:Failure is inevitable, so don't be afraid to explore and take risks. Writing will teach you so much about yourself and you'll never know what it may lead to if you don't try it!
Q:How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
A:After publishing the first book I was inspired to write more than I had ever done before. The feedback I received after sharing this book with friends, family, and even strangers, has been overwhelmingly positive. It motivated me to share more stories with the world, hoping to positively impact more and more people around the world. I always say, "Tell your own story, because no one can tell your story better than yourself."
Q:What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
A:The cost to have my book published was the best money that I have ever spent. Being able to print multiple copies of my story to distribute and share with the world was a feeling that just can't be put into words. If I hadn't printed hard copies of A Rocky Start, people across the nation, and even the world, wouldn't have had a chance to experience my story and hold it in their hands. Giving strangers a brief opportunity to peek into my life allows them to build empathy and understanding and I want that to continue to be the pervasive effect of any books I may publish in the future.
Q:What does literary success look like to you?
A:To me, literary success is when children in poor neighborhoods have access to books in the same way as those coming from a more privilege background. Growing up in East Harlem, I experienced first-hand the challenges of growing up in a poor environment, and in a neighborhood with no bookstores. Today I am a public school teacher, but it took me a while to realize the importance of education and how far it can really take someone. Had I known that as a child, I would have done more, sooner, but sadly there weren't many positive role models that would have allowed me to succeed as a kid. As an adult working in education, I have been thinking of ways I can give back to my community, and especially the children in it. So I have founded "Kicks&Books," which gives children in poor neighborhoods an opportunity to be exposed to books by placing them in sneaker stores. The project's partners share a small section of their sneaker store to set up a bookshelf, stocked with books for kids to read while they visit the store. I figured that by giving children more opportunities to be exposed to books, we could help them appreciate reading, and learn the value of education early on. So to me, literary success is equity and access when it comes to children from poor neighborhoods having the opportunity to explore and experience books within their own communities.
Q: How do you select the names of your characters?
A:In my first book the character was unnamed, because there was a plot twist at the end, revealing the story to be autobiographical. I initially wrote the story during a storytelling celebration that my previous school held and I decided to write a short story based on my life. I shared the story with the students at my school and received an overwhelming amount of support. I also decided to share the story with friends and colleagues, and many of them suggested I turn it into a picture book. In my second book, Tied In, releasing in the fall, the character does have a name, Little Tuckie, a name that comes from my own, but also one that I hadn't seen in any other children's story.
Q: What is your favorite childhood book?
A:Sadly, having grown up in a household with no books, I cannot recollect what my favorite book was as a child. This goes back to my previous comment about the need for kids to have access to books and the opportunity to engage with books in order to appreciate reading. However, as an adult, I do have a favorite book that I used during the fantasy unit when I taught 5th grade. The book is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. The word play in the book is phenomenal, with the right hint of humor. It's a great book to read aloud to a group of children.
Q:What does "Representation" mean to you? A:Representation to me, means seeing oneself recognized in all aspects of life, which is particularly significant to people who have been historically marginalized. When a child sees him or herself represented, it gives them confidence and belief that they, too, can achieve any level of success. In the publishing world, all kids not only need access to books but they need to see themselves portrayed in those books. When only a few books with diverse characters are published each year, we are excluding children from the experience of recognizing themselves and their own stories in the books they read.
Q:Where can our readers find your book(s)?
A:A Rocky Start is catalogued in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Amazon, Avante-Garde Books (avantegardebooks.net), anthony-tucker.com. I have just finished my second picture book, entitled Tied In, which will be released in the fall, and I'm currently accepting pre-orders through my website.
Purchase Copies Here; http://www.anthony-tucker.com/purchase/