LoLo Smith is a children’s book author on a mission to positively reshape the way children of color see themselves. As an elementary school teacher, she was dismayed with the lack of children’s books with characters of color on the market. So she established Do The Write Thing of DC (DTWT), with two other like-minded individuals. This 501(c)(3) tax exempt not-for-profit publishes books by, about and for African Americans to address the lack of diversity in books. “I’m filling diversity gaps in children’s literature and doing my part to normalize the appearance of African American and Hispanic girls and boys in books,” she says.
LoLo has written 10 books for children. Her books feature anime characters, American Girl dolls, superheroes and even dogs! She writes on topics such as kindness, bullying, community workers, and the COIVD-19 pandemic.
She has taken her commitment a step further by developing a literacy program, Living Storybook, through which she re-issues her original books with photos of African American and Hispanic children that participate in DTWT’s after-school and summer programs. “When children see photos of themselves in a book, it becomes a powerful incentive for them to read,” she says.
I Know My Community Workers by LoLo Smith
This picture book exposes young children to 17 different occupations, some of which they may not have considered for themselves such as being a chef, astronaut, or politician. Many are playing important parts during the COVID-19 pandemic such as the doctor, nurse, teacher, grocer, chef, construction worker, fire fighter, police officer, train engineers and the mayor.
The 4 pages of JUST FOR FUN facts are a very creative way for parents to determine if their child understands the information in the book. Beautifully produced books like this will get the children off the internet.
Purchase I Know My Community Workers by LoLo Smith
VIDEO: I Know My Community Workers by LoLo Smith
For children age 4-7. Teaches young children the titles, tools and workplaces of community workers and encourages them to set career goals. Four pages of activity sheets are available to delight and excite the children. Watch the Living Storybook Program: https://youtu.be/nLb1u6gGTMM
Community Workers & COVID-19 by LoLo Smith
(A Children's Book About Coronavirus)
Looking for an engaging book to teach children about the coronavirus and explain what community workers do? This is it! In Community Workers & COVID-19, kids are introduced to a special town called Share-A-Lot where a doctor, nurse, teacher, construction worker, grocer, chef, emergency medical technician (EMT), police officer, and a mayor all work together to save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout this engaging story, children will learn about the role each community worker plays in the town while learning the virtue of sharing. From the teacher who reminds students to wash their hands, to the research doctor working on a vaccine for COVID-19, to the grocer and chef providing nutritious fresh food and vegetables to keep the body healthy, each worker plays an essential role in the town and they are all happy to do their jobs to help the community get through a difficult time.
But what happens when the mayor decides to offer a special prize to the most essential worker in town? How will they ever decide who plays the most essential role? You'll have to read to find out.
By the end of the book, children will have a greater understanding of how each community worker helps combat coronavirus pandemic and a newfound appreciation for the community workers keeping them safe in their own community.
Purchase Community Workers & COVID-19 (A Children's Book About Coronavirus)
Max & Bo: Two Dogs On The Go by LoLo Smith
Meet Max and Bo, two fun-loving dogs that like to celebrate the holidays including New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, July 4th, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Young children will enjoy seeing the illustrations of the dogs in their different hats, ties and costumes. This is a delightful book with rhymes on every page to engage young kids. JUST FOR FUN facts help parents determine if their child remembers the information in the book.
But it is not all fun and games for Max and Bo. At the end of the book, they are shown in face masks. This illustration can be used as a springboard for parents to discuss COVID-19 with young children. Max and Bo are in face masks since it's not too much to ask, to help prevent COVID-19, and avoid being in quarantine!
Purchase Max & Bo: Two Dogs On The Go by LoLo Smith
Intimate Conversation with LoLo Smith
LoLo Smith is an educator and a children's book author on a mission to positively reshape the way children of color see themselves. As a teacher, she was dismayed with the lack of children's books with characters of color. So she established a nonprofit with two like-minded individuals that publishes books by, about and for African Americans. LoLo is doing her part to normalize the appearance of African American and Hispanic children in books. She has taken her commitment a step further by developing a literacy program, Living Storybook, through which she re-issues her original books with photos of African American and Hispanic children. She believes that when children see photos of themselves in a book, it becomes a powerful incentive for them to read.
BPM: Please share something our readers wouldn’t know about you.
In addition to writing books for children, I am a sports enthusiast and have published a book about Michael Jordan retiring from the Bulls then spending his last playing days with one of the worst teams in the NBA - the Washington Wizards (Mr. Jordan Goes to Washington). I was also a sports columnist for a local Baltimore paper, in the early 2000's, and wrote a column early on after Kobe Bryant's arrest in Colorado about why he should be found not guilty if his case went to trial.
I also developed a publication, Guide To Wedding Publicity, in which I provided information on how brides can obtain free publicity for their weddings. This DIY (Do It Yourself) guide was based on my experience in getting the wedding of Jeanne Roberts, daughter of then-billionaire businessman, Michael Roberts, featured in 20 different print and on-line newspapers and magazines, including the front cover of a white bridal magazine that had never had a black bride on its cover.
BPM: If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Intense, naturally funny, and helpful.
BPM: Tell us about writing your first set of children's books. What was the journey like?
When I was teaching 2nd grade, I asked my students to bring a book from home. One student brought a copy of the Yellow Pages and said that was the only book in her home. I became determined to produce a book that each child could take home for their personal library. I took photos of my students dressed as community workers and wrote a book based on a kiddie play I produced with the children, called Share-A-Lot. The play was about the community workers learning the value of sharing. That book was put together on a shoe string budget. Was I ever glad when Amazon.com started helping self-published authors with their own print-on-demand company called CreateSpace which is now Kindle Publishing.
BPM: Introduce us to your most recent work. Available on Nook and Kindle?
While I have been home-bound because of COVID-19, I tailored a book I had previously written about community workers to describe what these workers would be doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The book, "Community Workers & COVID-19" includes tips on how to avoid getting or spreading the disease.
I also wrote "Max & Bo: Two Dogs On The Go" and present information about COVID-19 in a very gentle way so that children will not be so afraid and know that they can protect themselves in very simple ways from getting the disease. All of these titles listed below are now available at Amazon and on Kindle.
BPM: Who do you see reading your books? What age group will benefit from the stories?
My children's books are geared towards ages 4-8 in kindergarden - 2nd grade primarily. I do have one book, Sista CindyElla Mae (The African American Cinderella) which is written for students in grades 3-5.
BPM: Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips self-care for creative folks?
I feel very drained when I write because I am in front of the laptop for hours. I find that it helps to take Kelp (Iodine) when working on the laptop.
BPM: Do you have anything special for readers that you’ll focus on this year?
When anyone purchases any of the books featuring community workers, they will receive the following for FREE: Boy and girl paper dolls with paper clothing/uniforms for 6 of the community workers (doctor, chef, firefighter, police officer, teacher, judge). Activity Sheets for Community Workers (24 pages of spelling, reading and math activities).
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I am working on two projects at the present that are very important to me:
1. The nonprofit that I co-founded (Do The Write Thing of DC) is currently offering a Video Book Club to 20 students in Kg-2nd grade who attended Plummer Elementary School in the second most deprived area of the District of Columbia (Ward 7) during the 2019-2020 school year. Do The Write Thing implemented an after-school program at Plummer from Oct 2019 through Mar 13, 2020 when schools were abruptly closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We called all the parents after the school was closed and asked if their child could participate in our Video Book Club. We have been reading books from a list selected by the CHILDREN'S DEFENSE FUND for its FREEDOM SCHOOLS. The last books that will be read to these young children will be: Max & Bo:Two Dogs On The Go by LoLo Smith and Community Workers & COVID-19 by LoLo Smith
2. I have just issued a second edition of my book about kindness (Ten Acts of Kindness) and I previously published an anti-bullying/kindness book (My Doll & Me: Superheroes Fighting Bullying with Kindness). These books feature anime characters in superhero costumes with American Girl dolls, also dressed in matching superhero costumes. These books include the following material:
Ten no or low-cost acts of kindness that children can perform at school or in the community with their parents;
No Bullying Pledge; Kindness Pledge; the Walk-Talk-Tell strategy to deal with bullies; 10 Kindness slogans (examples: no act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted; kindness is always in season; kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see, it's cool to be kind).
JUST FOR FUN facts: lyrics to NO BULLYING, an original song written by local DC artist. All purchasers of either book will receive FREE KINDNESS BINGO or BULLYING BUSTING BINGO.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work in the community?
Do The Write Thing of DC (501)(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization established by LoLo Smith and two others on April 5, 2010 that publishes books for, about and by African-Americans. Do The Write Thing also implements academic enrichment programs after school and during the summer.
Learn More About Do the Write Thing Foundation of DC
Do The Write Thing addresses the need to offer youth from economically and socially vulnerable communities in the District full access to performing, literary and visual arts instruction which teach actionable strategies and constructive methods of self-expression. Research shows art education helps students in low performing schools where learning is impeded by the detriments of poverty.
The needs of our target population are well documented in research which shows children from vulnerable communities have low social-economic indicators that are inextricably linked to lags in academic performance, inter-generational health disparities, mental and behavioral health challenges, social isolation and criminalization. There is evidence within the research that promising approaches for minimizing the harmful effects of poverty should be culturally appropriate, align with school-day instruction, include parental involvement, develop self-esteem and expand safety net opportunities.
Kids have the best chance at success when they feel listened to, empowered, and respected. That’s why Do the Write Thing designs its arts-based after-school pro- grams – reaching 250 students in DC’s most under-served wards – with the help of the youth themselves. Younger children write and produce their own books, casting themselves as the heroes and proudly presenting their creations, while middle and high school students use poetry, songwriting, music production, and more to raise their voices about issues that matter to them.
The Kindness Project uses art and literature to encourage little and big acts of kindness, while Fashion Against Bullying spreads positivity through a fusion of fashion, stage production, writing, and entrepreneurship. Your support teaches kids to fight hate with creativity and compassion. Isn’t that what our world needs?
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