By Ann (Ana) Morris | Categories All | Book Deserts | Curriculum | Diversity | Early Education | Equity | Inclusion | K-5 Literacy | Opportunity Gap | Parents | Reading | Reading Instruction | Summer Reading | Writing | April 23, 2021

All children like to read things they can relate to or that make them feel good. And the best children’s stories I “read” were those on the laps of my parents.

In order to write books for children of a different mold than our own, we need to know them. I grew up in a homogeneous environment. When my junior high social studies teacher inadvertently opened my eyes to the fact that youth around the world had many things in common, my interest was sparked.
My first goal achieved was learning the importance of communication. Not only in English, but in Spanish. I lived and studied in Spain, where I achieved fluency. It has served me well!
I taught Spanish and used Spanish language children’s books as motivators for my students.

I worked for the employment/unemployment office in Iowa’s capital. We had many Latino clients. I did much translating and interpreting to help communicate a concept difficult for many people in their native language.

Aside from this, I had many stories in my memory that I wanted to share with children and those reading to them. That is where my dream launched.

I wrote my first picture book, Mommy and Mikel Go for a Walk. It was a memory from the mid-1980s with my son Mikel. After writing it in English, I decided to tell it in Spanish, too. Working with many Latinos in the USA has taught me that Spanish in Spain is not the same as Spanish in the rest of the world. I was glad to know alternative words to use that would be more neutral help me communicate better.

I learned that not only native language readers liked each language, but learners of the other language.

My second book, Surprise in Auntie’s Garden! made me pause. I am blonde, as is most of my family. Many young people would not relate to blonde people in every book. I decided to use different race and ethnic characters in each book to include other young readers and parents. This time I used Latinas as the characters. My messages are universal, so this merely allowed different readers to see themselves in my books.

My first three books were published in pairs. One in English and the other in Spanish. I had requests to try publishing the stories as bilingual stories to include both languages in one book. I did this with Do It Again! and Lexi’s Special Tooth Fairy Pillow. The reception was wonderful.

During this time of writing, I also began working with Royal Promise, a mission that works with underprivileged children in Anun-Asikuma, Ghana, West Africa. This opened the door even wider. My new friends and the students loved my stories because they knew me and were eager for new literature. I feel very connected to them and feel the need to assist with their literacy opportunities.

It is important to include many aspects of childhood in the characters as well as the stories. Literacy is important to all people and gives them the confidence and initiative to seek and achieve new and unforeseen goals in life. Invest in our future and include everyone, at home and abroad.

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By Ann (Ana) Morris

I have always loved to write. I always wanted to be a teacher. I have written in many capacities and taught or trained many age groups and in various learning scenarios most of my life. The reason I write is to share what I love, what I understand well, or to promote something I feel is very important. Learning, communication, healthy relationships between adults and children seem to be the topics that appear in most of my books. The topics are universally appropriate for all ethnic, racial, and learning groups. Learning should be fun for readers. We authors need to provide ways to appeal to all children. I do what I can with what I know. I write in English and Spanish, since I am professionally and personally bilingual. This way I can reach more readers. My family is racially and ethnically mixed, which has provided me with insight, opportunities, and experience in dealing with other cultures. I take this responsibility very seriously. I share my awareness and love of learning with those who will one day be our leaders. Today, they are the impressionable young minds that need assurance that they are loved, they are part of this world, and they can do many things that they dream of now. To learn more, you can reach Ann (Ana) on Facebook and LinkedIn, visit her website, or view her content on YouTube.


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