Why You Need to Know Stephanie!
I’m serving up a major dose of Black girl magic today. Are you ready? So I have these questions in my head that I want to know about these phenomenal people who write these incredibly important books for our babies. I had the pleasure of interviewing the author and publisher, Stephanie Bridges and picking her brain about her books, her journey, her commitment to the culture, motivation, and her overall vibe. Check Ms. Bridges out below and be sure to purchase her books for the precious babies in your life!
I’m a music lover so I need to know who you’re listening to right now or who’s in heaviest rotation? My favorite artist of all time is Prince. I am still in mourning, so it is hard for me to listen to his music or talk about him. My favorite contemporary artist is Rihanna. I got a lot of Bajan in my spirit, if not in my blood. When I clean, I listen to hip hop, rap, trap music – arguably my favorite genre, but I don’t have a favorite rapper, not since Tupac.
How did your love for reading begin? My love for reading started by seeing my mother read books. I was very young, and I believed that everything she did was perfect, so reading had to be perfect too.
What is your favorite book right now? I love Toni Morrison. I am definitely more into the rhythmic lyrical flow of storytelling than I am into the story itself. She is in a class by herself when it comes to seamlessly marrying poetic prose.
What made you decide to write and publish books catered to African-American children? I have always wanted to be a novelist. I have attempted a couple novels, but have not completed one to date. So, I decided to write a book of poetry, and then I decided to write children’s books to keep myself writing, authoring – journeying towards Best Selling Novelist. My children’s books are a reflection of my children. I believe being African American is something to be celebrated and not enough of us are creating positive imagery for Black youth.
What age range do you focus on? My children’s books are most suitable for young people ages 3-8. Although, I have had many adults delight over my books because they do not stray from genuine familial dynamics; neat, bowed, and boxed to awkward, ill-fitted and uncovered.
What was your greatest challenge with getting started? The acknowledgement that my gift is so precious that very few may recognize it. Living the life of Walter Lee and trying to convince my existence that it’s more like Van Gogh – and that’s the joyous part.
What is your greatest challenge now? Learning how to be in business; pimping the masterpiece.It aint gon’ sell itself.
What has been your greatest reward? The greatest reward is receiving feedback from readers, parents and grandparents about how much they are enjoying the stories – “My grandson could not get enough of If I Were Part of the Animal Kingdom. He had us read it to him six times in a row.”; “My daughter has tea parties and reads, My Favorite Color is Blue to all her stuffed animals.”; “My granddaughter got such a kick out of Fight the Air Guy. She could not believe the characters are real!” (That was coming from my little cousin); “I just love Can We All Just Get Along. Now I wish I had gotten all of the books!”
What is unique about your books and publishing company? All Black Everything. As an unpublished writer, I decided to start my own publishing company, In Spirit Power and Truth Publishing, LLC. I also took pains to find and hire African American illustrators for all four of my books. I continue to contract black photographers, graphic artists, event planners, videographers, musicians, caterers to get high quality professional results for my business. All the main characters in my books are Black and portrayed in a down to earth, bigger than the universe light. And of course, my biggest supporters are African Americans who support Black owned businesses and recognize the need for children’s books that reflect our unique and beautiful culture.
Which of your books is your favorite and why? I wrote and published four children’s books – one about each of my children; Khalil, Asha, Jelani and Nandi. I do not have a favorite.
Do you have any thoughts on how we can improve literacy among African-American children? A child’s education and entertainment should not highlight the accomplishments of others. Show up for them, and they will show up for us.
How did you incorporate reading into your children’s lives when they were younger and do they enjoy reading now? Did you see any positive results? When my children were younger, we had our very own library. My daughter, Asha, recently corrected me and stated that it was a book shelf (two tiered). But in my mind, it was our family’s library. That same daughter is the most avid reader out of all of us, and she is currently a senior at Howard University. She will be graduating in May 2018. My oldest son, Khalil, graduated from H.S. with honors and was inducted into the National Honor Society. My son, Jelani, was voted “Student of the Year” at his H.S. by the teachers and administration for his positive impact on other students through mentoring, public speaking, poetry and performance art. He is a student at Ohio University. And my youngest daughter, Nandi, is an honor roll student and plans to attend an HBCU when she graduates from high school. Reading has helped them successfully matriculate through school, do well on standardized tests and research information for clearer understanding of myriad subjects.
What would you like to share with parents? Adulthood is far more difficult for people who never experienced childhood. Please make your child’s environment kid friendly, even if it means not being able to do you.
You have 30 seconds to address our youth. What would you say? You are far more intelligent than your parent’s generation, but they have a lock on wisdom. Respectfully accept their advice as needed and necessary – decipher the pearls of wisdom – then propel in the direction that is your destiny.
How do you hope children receive your books? I hope my books will spark a desire for children to start a business, create, build – sell something. Black children will see an author and illustrator that look like them and know, I can be an author and/or illustrator, as well. They’ll read the book, and even if it is a favorite, they’ll think, I can create better publication. They’ll put the book back on the shelf and weigh their options – I’d rather be an architect, orthodontist, culinary artist, investor, inventor, community activist.
Where can we find you and your literary gifts? All my books are available on Amazon. Please search my name, Stephanie R. Bridges, and my full catalog will come up. All Amazon reviews are crucial to growing my business, so please do a short review on any books that you read. You will find fully illustrated children’s audio books on YouTube at Stephanie R. Bridges. The aforementioned and more, can also be found on my website – stephanierbridges.com.
In addition to purchasing your books, what other ways can we support your movement? Buy Black.
It was my pleasure chatting with Stephanie. Her books are blessings to our babies. Reading is the foundation of learning and this type of literature sparks an interest in reading and allows children to see positive reflections of themselves in books. I’ve got my copies for my little Love Bugs so I suggest you quickly go out and purchase yours!
Peace and Love