Hello everyone! We hope you have been enjoying this series as much as we have, it’s been great to connect with others in the children’s literature community. This week, Readers Inspired! Aminata’s answers are so thoughtful, and we hope you head over to the links to her website and social media below to check out her work more in-depth!
TTA: Introduce yourself!
AJ: My name is Aminata Jalloh and I am children’s book author and education blogger. Through my platform, Readers Inspired, I highlight African heritage picture books, share advice on publishing books for children and tips for supporting reading development and comprehension for young children.
During the day, I work as an Education Adviser for an international development and humanitarian organization. Through this work, I have co-authored teachers’ guides, student workbooks and learning aids to help children around the world learn to read and write better.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
AJ: I am extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion, moreover, the role of education to support young children to build positive attitudes about diversity and inclusion. As a first generation, Sierra Leonean-American, the intersections of identities always interested me. However, in elementary school, I did not see books that told stories of intersections of identities.
Over a decade later, when I began my career in education as a classroom teacher not much had changed. This is what inspired me to write “The Biggest Little Brother,” the story about a black immigrant family split between two countries. The story follows the experiences of the two siblings—one who was born in the US and one who was born and lived in Sierra Leone— as they navigate their relationship.
Although, things are improving when it comes to the availability of children’s books about African identities, cultures and experiences, many of the traditionally published African heritage children’s books are not written by #ownvoices authors. Moreover, rely on stereotypical and monolithic representations of African identities and experiences. I have been reaching out to some amazing #ownvoices authors writing African heritage books and sharing insight about their experiences on the Readers Inspired blog.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
AJ: Right now, I am working a series of teaching resources for KG-3rd-grade teachers in the United States who want to teach about contemporary Sub-Sahara Africa.
I am super excited about it and putting my African Studies concentration to use in the creation of learning materials.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
AJ: People can stay support the journey by joining the Readers Inspired family through our monthly newsletter! They can join here.
Also, people can tell friend and family about “The Biggest Little Brother,” and even suggest it as a title for their local library to carry.
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2018?
AJ: My favorite book for 2018 is Drawn Together by Minh Lê! It is a great story about the intergenerational relationship of a young boy and his grandfather.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
AJ: In the coming year, I am looking to collaborating with more creative and publishing my second children’s book!