Akua is Great

An author interview with
Dr. Artika Tyner

A Picture Book Author Interview is one way to learn about an author and their book. They can be fun and informative. Interviews with authors help readers to better understand how and why stories were written. This week I would like you to meet Dr. Artika Tyner, author of Akua is Great.  I enjoyed reading this story and found the affirmations to be a wonderful part of this book. I think you will too!

Book Title: Akua is Great by Dr. Artika R. Tyner

Book Link: https://planting-people-growing-justice-leadership-institute.square.site/

Short Summary of the book:

Akua is Great is about a young girl’s journey of learning about her identity and heritage. Each night, her mother shares a bedtime story concluding with a delightful list of affirmations. Akua waits excitedly to name the affirmations one by one. Her mother joins in, connecting each affirmation with an inspiring role model who has made a difference in the world. With each affirmation, Akua is reminded of her greatness. This book serves as a source of inspiration and encouragement. This story reminds every child like Akua- they are great.

Website: https://www.artikatyner.com

Social media: https://www.facebook.com/dr.artikatyner

Short Bio:  

Dr. Artika R. Tyner is a passionate educator, poet, author, sought-after speaker, and advocate for justice. Tyner is the founder of Planting People Growing Justice Press and Bookstore. In recognition of her leadership and service, she is the recipient of more than two dozen awards that include: Women in Business, American Small Business Champion, International Educator Citizen, and American Bar Association Difference Makers.

Dr. Tyner has been featured in a variety of media outlets. She is a prolific, award-winning author of adult and children’s books that includes: Amazing Africa: A to Z and The Inclusive Leader: Taking Intentional Action for Justice and Equity. She serves as a global citizen by supporting education, entrepreneurship, and women’s leadership initiatives in Africa. In furtherance of her philanthropic efforts, she created Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting literacy and diversity in books.

When did you realize you wanted to be a children’s book author?

I realized this when I saw many of my clients struggle to read. As a civil rights attorney, I saw firsthand the challenges associated with illiteracy and incarceration when:

  • 1 in 4 children are not reading at grade level
  • You are four times more likely to drop out of school if you cannot read by 4th grade
  • You are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested in your lifetime if you cannot read

Nearly nine-in-ten (85%) children in the juvenile justice system are illiterate. 60-80 percent of the adult prison population cannot read.

I write children’s books to aid in dismantling the pipeline into the tangled web of mass incarceration and creating new pathways to success for all children. 

What is your favorite part of being an author?

Visiting schools is my favorite part of being an author. Students are excited when they see my books. My book collection serves as a mirror for children of color to see a positive reflection of themselves on the pages of the books. Children exclaim: “That’s me!” or “She looks just like me!” during my book readings. They also serve as windows for all children to learn more about diversity and inclusion and aid in building bridges across cultures. 

What inspired this book?

This book was inspired by my desire to provide children with positive affirmations. I wanted children to see greatness when they look in the mirror. This is a reminder of their limitless potential.

How long did it take you to write this book?

This book has been on my heart for a few years now. My goal was to give girls and young women the reassurance to dream big. I am reminded of the word of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first female Head of State in Africa, “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”

I wrote the book while visiting family and friends in Ghana. The young female scholars of Ghana Scholarship Fund were a source of inspiration for this book. Over the years, I have watched them learn, grow and lead. This is a testament to their greatness.

What part of the book was the most fun to write?

I enjoyed writing the conversation between the mother and daughter. Still yet today, my mother affirms my greatness daily. She reminds me to: “Be the best original. Be yourself.” My mother has motivated and inspired me to be great throughout my entire life.

What advice would you give a writer working on their first book?

Read children’s books every day- You will gain a deeper understanding of the style and content of children’s books. 

Volunteer at schools and youth programs- This will give you the opportunity to listen more closely to the voice of a child. Watch how curious and naturally inquisitive children are. Your characters should have these same characteristics.

Join a writing circle- Iron sharpens iron. Embark on the learning journey with others who are committed to your success.

Write daily- Writing is a habit. Start with writing in 5-minute intervals and try new writing prompts each day.  

Refine your craft- Attend writing workshops and join professional associations.

What are you working on now? Or What would you like people to know about you or the book? 

I am working on new STEM series to encourage young people to create, innovate, and solve some of society’s greatest challenges.

Thoughts …

I hope you took note of the great advice Dr. Tyner has for new authors. Her advice is clear, concise and very practical.

It is not too early to start thinking about spring holidays and events that will require a gift. Books make wonderful gifts and Akua is Great  is one of those books that any child or teacher would love to receive as a gift.

If you would like to read more author interviews you can here and here.

Requests …

If you are a new picture book author and would like to have your book featured on my blog, please contact me. The picture book author interview is a way for you to share your book and help your readers learn more about you as an author. I can’t wait to meet you and read your new book!

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