Alumna Publishes First Coloring Book About African-American Inventors

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T. Thompson-Gray


By Hazel Scott

Educator, author, publisher and ASU alumna, Dr. Tasha Thompson-Gray, has created a fun way to teach children about African-American inventors.  She has published her first coloring and activity book titled “My People Are Innovative: A Coloring and Activity Book About African American Inventors,” a companion to the author’s book, “My People Are Innovative: A Story About African American Inventors.”  

The book, consisting of 38 coloring pages and 12 activities, gives kids the opportunity to color pictures of inventions, read information about inventors, and complete fun activities such as word searches and mazes. The book features 32 black inventors, including Chef George Crum (potato chips),  John Love (portable pencil sharpener), Mary Van Brittan (home security system) and Thomas J. Martin (fire extinguisher). 

“The coloring and activities book is a fun and interactive way to start learning our Black American history,” Thompson-Gray said. “My second book was written in a narrative format and exposed some of the inventions that were in the house and even things outside of the house that were created by black inventors. The coloring and activity book tells you more about an invention and a few sentences about the inventor like Alexander Myles who took an unfortunate incident (his daughter almost falling through a shaft) to invent elevators doors.”

Although it was illustrated and written with children ages 7 to 10 in mind, the Chicago, Illinois native emphasized all ages are welcome to share in the discovery the book offers.

“This is a perfect book to start talking about these black inventors who have changed history. … We are in a time now that people are a little bit more tuned in to black history, and I would love for this next generation to learn a lot more of the things that we didn’t learn as children. …I want them to understand who they come from, who we really are as a people, how creative and innovative we actually are, and the natural intelligence and talents that we have…if they would just see who we are as a people and be inspired to be innovative themselves,”  she added.

Thompson-Gray, who is the assistant principal of MacArthur Middle School in Illinois, said the story behind her books comes from her passion to learn about African-American inventors.

“I decided to create the coloring and activity book because I’m still intrigued by the topic. I’ve always wanted to do a coloring book and I thought this would be great as a companion because you have the book to read and then you can learn a little bit more about inventions and inventors in the coloring and activity book,” she said.

She credits her maternal grandmother, who was an avid reader, with her love for books.

“My grandmother would carry a book wherever she went and she encouraged me to do the same as a child…She really stressed reading and it stuck with me, and now I’ve passed that habit along to my daughter. My Granny really pushed the love of reading in me.”

Readers can expect more books from Dr. Thompson-Gray soon. She is working on a book focused on friendship.

All of her books, including her first book “The ABCs of COVID-19: Helping Children Understand the Global Pandemic,” are available in paperback, hardback and eBook. They can be purchased online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Target, Wal-Mart and her website at