Last weekend, 10-year-old Dorcas visited my home with her three younger siblings and noticed a copy of Amari’s Shining Moment in our living room. “I know that girl!” she said enthusiastically as she pointed to the picture of Amari on the front cover. My husband let her know that my colleagues and I wrote the book together. “You can draw?” she asked me in amazement. While only the illustrator John Floyd Jr. can take any credit for the beautiful illustrations in our newest Amari books, I and the Rollins Center staff are grateful to be part of crafting the story for all of Amari’s adventures, including her most recent, Amari’s Blue Ribbon. It is our great hope that when children across Atlanta are asked about Amari, we will hear a resounding “We know that girl!” as children recognize Amari and share how they heard of her adventures and the impact these adventures have on their own experiences.
Our writing team spent many months thinking about what kind of story we might create together, and we wrote many, many drafts. We want the heart of our story to lift up the research of Emory University’s Professor Marshall P. Duke that encourages families to share oral stories because children who know family stories are more resilient. In addition to encouraging oral storytelling, we want young children in our communities to experience interactive story reads and meaningful conversations around topics that matter to them. Our focus is not so much about what Amari will do in the story, but what children will be empowered to do after experiencing Amari’s story.
This summer, thousands of copies of Amari’s Blue Ribbon will be distributed at no cost to children ages 3-5, and The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club will partner with organizations around Atlanta to put on events connected to the book. Children can mark off items on their personal Bingo Cards by attending different events and then receive two free tickets to the Georgia State Panthers football game on October 8th. Download your Bingo Card and find out more by visiting mayorsreadingclub.org. If you are wondering how to get your hands on Amari’s next adventure, anyone around the world can go to our Cox Campus at readrightfromthestart.org to download their own copy of any of our four Amari books or our two other titles: A Heart for Service and TJ’s Discovery. We encourage you to do just that!
My ten-year-old friend Dorcas and her family came to the United States as refugees from The Democratic of the Congo a few years ago. I listen as her father tells her stories about life in their home country that demonstrate such challenge and tenacity, and I hear the hope in his voice that his children will learn to be strong readers and writers and confidently express their ideas while advocating for themselves and others. In the same way, we want Amari’s Blue Ribbon inspire you and the children you care about to believe in the power of their own voices,to take risks, and to encourage others. And, of course, we all strive to lift language and build a foundation of strong literacy as we read and talk with young children.
Download Amari’s Blue Ribbon and other Rollins books, click here.