ASU Alumna Pens Second Children’s Book
By Hazel Scott/ASU
Educator, author, publisher and ASU alumna, Dr. Tasha Thompson-Gray, hopes her new children’s book, “My People Are Innovative: A Story About African American Inventors,” is the right kind of book to spark kids’ love for reading.
Her first book, “The ABCs of COVID-19: Helping Children Understand the Global Pandemic,” has sold about 500 copies. She said the book reignited her creative writing skills, which led her to write her second book.
“My People Are Innovative” begins with Kareem and his younger sister, Karen, discussing a well-known African-American inventor during their homework. The siblings spend the evening learning about other African-American men and women inventors from their parents.
“The kids are working on a black history project and their mom and dad teaches them about black inventors by taking them through the house pointing out the various objects invented by African-Americans,” she said. “They also highlighted things outside of the house.”
Kids, ages 7 to 10, will learn from the book that African-Americans invented potato chips, cell phones, the hairbrush, the traffic light, automated elevator doors and much more.
“The book is geared to a specific age group, but the knowledge in the book is for family,” she said. “My idea with his book is to inspire children to understand how innovative they are. We all have some creativity in us. So, I want them to understand how amazing it is that so many African Americans invented so many things we use on a daily basis. I hope that will inspire them to tap into their creativity, not necessarily for them to invent anything but ask themselves what is this creativity within me that I need to unleash.”
The inventions mentioned in the 34-page book were created by Stephanie Rogers Carter.
“Her vibrant illustrations brought the inventions mentioned in the story to life,” Thompson-Gray said.
The Chicago, Illinois, native said the story behind the book comes from her passion to learn about African-American inventors.
“I’ve always been intrigued by African-American inventors who used their ingenuity to produce many of the things that we use in our everyday life. After years of sharing information about African-American inventors with my students, friends and family, I decided to write a story to highlight these ingenious individuals,” Thompson-Gray said. “As an educator in the classroom, I have really focused on that.”
Dr. Thompson-Gray’s love for books came from her maternal grandmother (Granny), an avid reader who took a book with her everywhere she went.
“I was the first grandchild and Granny always made sure that I had books. She took me to the library, paid for book clubs and magazine subscriptions, and maintained an extensive home library,” Thompson-Gray said. “I have maintained a love for reading and work hard to instill good reading habits in my students. My Granny really pushed the love of reading in me.”
Readers can expect more books from Dr. Thompson-Gray soon.
“I’m now working on a coloring book version of my second book, and I’m writing my third book about friendship. I try to create children’s literature that explores relevant topics,” she points out.
Both of her books, which are available in paperback, hardback and eBook, can be purchased online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and her website at www.tashathompsongray.com,