SHARE YOUR STORY PARTNERS
These are the kind authors that help us inspire future authors in our Share Your Story Program!
2020 Summer Authors
Becoming a children’s book author is something Jeanna Ganas has aspired to do since childhood, and thanks to a crazy situation she experienced with her classroom pet hamster, the idea for her first story, Boo, was born.
As a Mom and educator, Jeanna finds herself reading children’s books daily whether it be to her own children or to her elementary classroom students. Check out more stories by Jeanna at www.jeannaganas.com
DeCorey Hale, was born in the city of Sylacauga, Alabama, a small town 30 minutes south of Birmingham. His parents are the late Mr. Donald Hale and Mrs. Delores Hale. He has one sister Dana. After graduating from Sylacauga High School, he attended Alabama State University, majoring in Sales and Marketing.
His first passion has always been writing. In 2014, DeCorey began blogging and freelancing for magazines such as Hip Hop Album Debate, Xkluziv, and London LeBlanc. He grabbed the attention of many readers, eventually becoming a regular writer for the Huffington Post.
In 2015, DeCorey decided to revisit a story he was writing for his daughter, Nylah, that he named Ebenezer the Sneezer.
When she was a child, she used to say, “I’ll be a teacher or lawyer when I grow up.” However, the happiest moments in her life were spent traveling to worlds beyond where the young girl was living at that present time. In the back of her mind, she knew that writing could take her wherever she wanted to go. The “Letters to God” would prove that to be true. She has journeyed to far-away places: here, there, and everywhere…mostly within herself. Writing for children gave the now grown woman back her childhood and has put smiles on the faces of many. She has landed the gig of a lifetime. That is, to become a nationally recognized children’s book author named Carmen Rubin.
Carmen is the author of several children’s books and animated children’s programs. For decades, the Rutgers graduate and former teacher has used her voice to empower youth, promote literacy, and reinforce the importance of keeping music in elementary schools. She has worked diligently to bring diversity and inclusion into education – allowing children to see themselves in one way or the other in her work. The author’s signature stamp is peppermints hidden throughout her stories. The peppermints are inspired by Carmen’s grandfather, a minister, who created the Peppermint Candy Club. It is a club where he passed out peppermints and called kid to action to be kind and show love to others. As she reads across America, Carmen continues to spread her grandfather’s message. When they see peppermints in the books, they are reminded to show love!
Ty Allan Jackson
Ty is an award-winning children’s book author, literacy advocate, and captivating motivational speaker. In 2011 he founded Big Head Books, LLC, a literacy organization that aims to introduce children to the joys of reading. Ty travels around the country inspiring children and educating adults about the impacts of illiteracy. A three-time TedX presenter, Ty believes that literacy is the foundation for a successful life and promotes it with humor and enthusiasm. Ty’s work as an author and literacy advocate earned him the Massachusetts inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Content of Character Award, as well as citations from the Massachusetts Governor, Senator, and the House of Representatives. Ty’s books have been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, The Steve Harvey Show, PBS and countless other media outlets. In 2012, Ty’s books were gifted to former First Lady Michelle Obama by his hometown mayor. He is the co-founder of the Read or Else movement and Danny Dollar Academy.
Shirley Rilett is originally from Lima, Peru. As a little girl, Shirley loved animals so much that she would often find strays on the streets, and bring them back home. Afterwards Shirley and her mom would clean, feed and often find new homes for the strays.
Shirley came to the United States when she was 17 years old and settled with her mom and sister in the city of Stamford, Connecticut.
In 2002 Shirley graduated from Stamford High School and continued her college education for couple of years.While in school, Shirley held various jobs, one in particular was working with children celebrating birthday parties. This is the first time Shirley noticed how easy it was for her to connect with children and to understand their innocent world.
In 2004, Shirley left to join the ranks of the U.S. Army where she proudly served until being honorably discharged in 2007. While enlisted Shirley received several awards for her service.
Shirley came back to Stamford where she completed her Bachelor's Degree is General Science with a concentration in Psychology, Human Development and Social Studies from the University of Connecticut. Shirley is a retired Town of Greenwich Police Officer.
Shirley's inspiration for writing Oso's Tails comes from the sweet, and hungry nature her Rottweiler has and the love she feels for children.
Kate T. Parker
Kate T. Parker is a mother, wife, Ironman, professional photographer and New York Times Bestselling author who shoots both personal projects and commercial work for her clients. Her STRONG IS THE NEW PRETTY photo series led to collaborations with brands such as Disney, Athleta, Kellogg’s, and NBC. It has also inspired Kate to launch a philanthropic arm of SITNP, partnering with organizations such as Girls on the Run, Girl Up, The Arthur Blank Family Foundation, Disney, Glam4Good, and The Bully Project by investing in childrens’ health and education. Kate is also the author of Strong is the New Pretty: The Guided Journal, The Heart of a Boy and Play Like A Girl.
Her work has been featured in Huffington Post, O Magazine, A Mighty Girl, Vogue, Redbook, NY Magazine, People, Good Morning America, Shape Magazine, Buzzfeed, Self Magazine, DailyWorth, CNN, Vanity Fair Italy, Today Show, PDN, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Garden and Gun, and ESPN W.
Strong is the New Pretty was included in The Best Books of 2017 (Amazon), Books of the Year and Pick of the Day, (A Mighty Girl), Feminist Kids Books for Dismantling the Patriarchy (NY Mag), “Heather’s Picks” Chapters/Indigo (Canada),
Orezime is a 25-year-old artist born and raised in Georgia. She studied biology in college (Georgia Tech) and graduate school (Georgia State University), and now, she is going to be a medical student in August 2020. She wants to become a doctor and author-illustrator. She self-published her first children's picture book called "Girls For Medicine," which exposes kids to different careers in healthcare!
Kobi Yamada serves as the President/CEO of Compendium, Incorporated, an inspiring gift and publishing company. He is also a multiple New York Times bestselling author including the award-winning picture books: What Do You Do With An Idea?, What Do You Do With A Problem?, What Do You Do With A Chance?, Maybe and Because I Had A Teacher. The books have sold millions of copies, inspired a dance performance, a symphony performance, a musical theater performance and an upcoming animated film. His titles have been translated into over two dozen languages.
Since 1992, Mr. Yamada and his staff have created numerous critically-acclaimed lines of inspirational books, products and programs. Compendium has had the honor of collaborating with some of the most recognized brands and retailers including: Target, Starbucks, Amazon, Nordstrom, Costco and Barnes & Noble. Compendium’s products are featured in thousands of stores throughout the world.
Mr. Yamada is married to Heidi Wills, has two children and lives in the Edmonds community just outside of Seattle, Washington.
Personal mission statement:
“One by one, we can be the better world we wish for.”
Winter 2021 Authors
Black History Month Inspired
Makayla Rose Hubbs
MaKayla Rose Hubbs lives with her mom, dad and little sister in Southern New Jersey. For as long as she can remember, reading has been a part of her bedtime routine. MaKayla loves to write almost as much as she loves to read. However, she has never been a fan of bedtime. Inspired by her own family and bedtime struggles, MaKayla created the opposite of a bedtime story. She turned her story into a picture book at the end of the school year, as an appreciation gift for her first grade teacher. MaKayla questioned if her book could, one day, become a “real book”. Thanks to those who supported we journey to becoming an author, MaKayla was able to publish her first book, Why Bedtime Sucks! the opposite of a bedtime story. When MaKayla is not reading or writing, she is baking, watching other kids bake on television, making handmade soap and beauty products or cuddling with her dog, Pepper.
Anna Nyakana is an Award-Winning and Bestselling Author, Motivational Speaker, and Business Owner of Niyah Zuri Books and Niyah Zuri Studios. Anna was born in Berlin, Germany in 1986 to a Ugandan father and German-Moldavian mother. Her family immigrated to the United States in the early 90’s, settling in Stamford, Connecticut. Anna pursued her writing and musical passions beginning at the age of 6 and spent her teenage years honing her skills of songwriting and live performance until releasing her debut album in 2007. Anna Nyakana proceeded to attain her Bachelor’s degree in Business in 2011 and soon after extended her writing talents into her first literary work, “The Student Survival Guide to Online College.” She was able to guide thousands of students during their journey of attaining higher education through an online platform through this quick guide but yearned to help a different demographic close to her heart: children.
Through her own personal experiences, Anna discovered there was an overwhelming need for multicultural children’s books where heroines could slay the fiercest of dragons versus filling the typical princess in distress role. Out of this desire, the Niyah Zuri series was born and Anna took the next few years to write and publish her greatest literary work. "Niyah Zuri and The Pharaoh's Throne" hails as a time-bending exploration of ancient lands lead by the headstrong Niyah Zuri and her best friends Miguel and Hugo Gonzales. This chapter book is geared towards upper elementary through lower middle school readers and comes equipped with a full glossary and free online resources for parents and teachers to access.
Anna has been featured on many media outlets to spread the Niyah Zuri message including SiriusXM, Entercom Radio, FOX Soul, PopFuzion TV, NBC CT, ABC WTNH, FOX 61, and News 12 Connecticut. During her interview on SiriusXM’s “The Karen Hunter Show,” Anna stressed the importance of diversity in the classroom and the purpose of the Niyah Zuri series, “It is critical children see a reflection of themselves in the books that they read. My mission is to inspire them, one adventure at a time.” Working directly with school administrators in her state, she has implemented the Niyah Zuri series into the curriculum of several school districts and is working tirelessly to spread the Niyah Zuri message across the country through in-school author visits, virtual lessons, and conferences. "Niyah Zuri and The Pharaoh's Throne" was re-released in June 2020 as a second edition on her own book imprint Niyah Zuri Books, hitting #1 in 7 children's categories. Anna is currently completing the next book in the series “Niyah Zuri and The Mayan Eclipse”. Building upon the book series, Anna exclusively announced in Sheen Magazine July 2020 issue, “I am finally bringing a huge dream to life by creating a cartoon series based on my books! It will be visually striking and educational, so kids can enjoy both at home and in the classroom all while building their vocabulary and knowledge through world adventures. I am in production now and preparing to pitch to networks before the close of the year, so keep an eye out!”
All of her work has build the foundation for her Niyah Zuri movement, heard through Anna's motivational speaking events and engagements as she "breathes life" into the youth, women, and all individuals to inspire them to "live purposefully" on their paths. Leaning on her "Fundamental Truths of Niyah Zuri" Anna Nyakana will stay true to her mission to transform the world! “Niyah Zuri and The Pharaoh’s Throne” and “Niyah Zuri and The Mayan Eclipse” are available on , Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major bookstores and retailers. Anna Nyakana lives with her children in Connecticut, U.S.A.
Lariah Alexandria is an actress, model, author, and most recently, creator of AccordingToLariah.com! This multi-talented 9-year-old had an opportunity to listen to and meet Bishop T.D. Jakes during his “Soar!” book tour in 2017. Lariah was overjoyed and listened intently during this surprise event coordinated by her mother. She told her mom and aunt that she learned that you’re never too young or too old to follow your dreams! Following this exciting meeting, she was inspired to write her own book called “Lariah’s BIG Dreams!” Lariah wanted to encourage all people, regardless of their age or anything else, to follow their dreams!
However, during this time, her great-grandfather Idus Sanders, Sr., whom she affectionately called “Granddaddy,” was very ill and unfortunately passed away before she was able to share with him what she was planning to do. Despite this loss, Lariah found the courage to push forward and honor the memory of her Granddaddy by completing the book and dedicating it to both him and Bishop Jakes!
Today, Lariah is a lover of acting and science, taking 5th and 6th grade classes, and has just revealed plans to write another book! Despite the pandemic, Lariah continues to be encouraged, hopeful, and wants everyone to know that it’s still okay to have dreams that you can look forward to and work toward!
In less than one decade of life, best-selling Ghanaian-American author and philanthropist Nicholas Buamah has already made an indelible mark on this world, serving as a source of motivation and inspiration in his communities on two continents. At the age of 7, Nicholas began the adventure of a lifetime with the release of his first book, Kayla And Kyle the Walking Dictionaries: Election Day, a children's book written to help kids build their vocabulary. His journey as a new author has landed Nicholas onto the digital pages of renowned outlets such as Ebony, BuzzFeed, News One and more; and into America's living rooms thanks to television appearances and coverage by Whoopi Goldberg on her show, The View and The Steve Harvey Show, to name a few. Along the way, Nicholas was able to have his book cataloged into the Library of Congress. Beyond his goal to inspire individual readers, Nicholas also had two pretty big objectives: to place copies of his book in every elementary school library across the US and to deliver copies to Ghana through his non-profit Books Without Borders, Inc. While the former remains a work in progress, Nicholas attained the latter goal in 2019, with the support of Steve Harvey.
While 2020 interrupted Nicholas' plan to embark on a physical book tour in Ghana, he still made sure to make an impact on the country. He used his nonprofit to help purchase essential supplies for orphanages and a children’s hospital during the pandemic. Even though Nicholas loves writing books, he loves participating in philanthropy work even more. His ultimate goal is to build several libraries and computer labs throughout the continent of Africa.
Nicholas will release three new books this year to add to his growing portfolio.
Hi! My name is Imani Ariana. I am an author, a blogger, and an entrepreneur.
I started writing books when I was 8 years old. My first book Disco Balls of the Universe is a very fun book that teaches kids about the 8 plants in the solar system from a child's perspective. My second book entitled The Golden Life of Sally Sunflower teaches kids about the reproduction and growth of the plant cycle using the example of a sunflower. I recently finished writing my third book and am looking forward to publishing it soon. You may learn more about me and shop my books at imaniariana.com
My passion for making reading fun led me to establish a non profit organization and book club named The Love of Literature Inc. The book club is for children ages 5 to 14 years old. The mission of our book club is to help kids discover the fun in literature, expose them to different authors, strengthen their writing skills, build self confidence through group interaction, and more. You may learn more about the Love of Literature Inc at The club meets online once per month and features different authors globally.
Anthony is an author and public school assistant principal who teaches and writes in the South Bronx. His first book, A Rocky Start, won the 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Award and was a finalist for the 2018 International Book Award. A Rocky Start has also been catalogued in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. His second book, Tied In, also won a 2019 Purple Dragonfly Book Award. Through his work as an educator, as well as former high school basketball and volleyball coach, Tucker encourages students from neglected neighborhoods to pursue their education with passion, commitment, and a higher sense of self-confidence.
Lyndsay Archer is from Detroit, Michigan and is the author of the children’s book, Fly, Doctor, Fly! She is also founder and president of Roots Strong, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving access to educational and developmental resources for youth both locally and globally. Through Roots Strong, she has worked in disaster relief, community outreach, literacy improvement, and has organized the building of libraries and a computer lab for students in Glengoffe, Jamaica. In 2019, she received her Bachelor’s degree in African-American Studies on the Pre-Medicine track from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She has recently graduated with her MBA in Healthcare Administration and will begin her medical school education in the fall of 2021. Her ultimate goal is to serve her community as a physician dedicated to serving underserved and marginalized youth.
Devin and Erica Alphin
Devin‘s first children’s books were written in crayon on his parents’ computer paper, stapled together and sold for one dollar to all his family. As he grew up in Georgia, those stories evolved into a collection of poetry and songs. In addition to being the cofounder and co-author of Crown the Kid Books, he has built a career in finance. He lives with his wife Erica, two boys, a boxer pup and a tortoise. He enjoys vinyl records, stand up comedy, Hey Arnold and Taco Tuesdays.
Erica is well known by her family and friends for being a bottomless source of creativity and imagination. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, the cofounder and co-author of Crown the Kid Books has been passionate about expressing herself through the visual and performing arts since she was a little girl. When she’s not working on a new project, you can catch her painting, reading or singing obnoxiously at the top of her lungs. Erica loves trees, Volkswagen campers and peanut butter cookies.
Devin Alphin and Erica Doggett were both creative kids. There are notebooks full of Devin's old stories boxed next to VHS tapes of Erica's childhood ideas. They find inspiration soaking up nature, enjoying music together, and trying to solve the many mysteries of parenthood. They currently reside in Georgia with their two boys, dog, and tortoise.