Johnny Ray Moore realized at an early age that writing was in his future. Thank goodness for his readers, he followed his passion. Share his literary journey and if you haven’t read his work, February is the perfect month to add his books to your collection.
As a child, I was shy, and I spent a lot of time daydreaming. When I got into school, I loved reading, especially, reading poetry. I wrote my first poem while in the third grade. I don’t recall the name of the poem. In high school, I took creative writing classes. Years later, while in the
Army, I received two checks from Aim Magazine for two poems I had written. Getting paid to write felt good. Because I had studied and written so much poetry, to eventually write children’s books became my destiny. Thanks to poetry, I can say what I want to say with
very few words. And, my books, A LEAF, only 88 words; and, HOWIE HAS A STOMACHACHE, only 100 words, are both proof that I can communicate with very few words.
As for writers and illustrators who inspire me, I am inspired by all writers and illustrators who are true to their profession. Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Alex Haley, Eleanora Tate, Kelly Starling Lyons, Don Tate, Carole Weatherford, and Tameka Fryer, to name a few, are blessed and creative people who inspire me. What I know of the few authors and the one illustrator that I have listed is that they were and are committed to their work. And, that is inspiration enough for me.
The Back Story
One of my children’s books that was a blessing for me and a struggle was THE STORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., a 200-word board book biography. My former agent, Etta Wilson, informed me that Ideals Publication wanted someone to write a board book about Martin Luther King, Jr., in about 300 words, that would speak to young children. I thought about what I was being asked to consider, for a day or two. I struggled with what I could say about Dr. King that would be of interest to young children. Well, after musing over the opportunity at hand, then praying, I started to write. After about 10 rewrites, I emailed the manuscript to my agent. And, it was accepted.
As for the good things THE STORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. has caused, I have gotten a few emails from teachers expressing how their young students could not get enough of it. I have gotten similar responses from parents.
The mentioned board book has gotten pretty good reviews, in general. And, in December of 2015, I was informed by the publisher, Worthy Kids/Ideas, that THE STORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. has sold well over 100,000 copies, is still selling well. Furthermore, the book has been reformatted to a slightly larger size. I am elated and blessed, to say the least.
The State of the Industry
As time goes on, I want to see more African-American children’s book publishers come on
the scene. I want to see more African-Americans write for children, period.
Why? Because, our children must be prepared to shine for us in the future as we have done and
are doing for them.
you are not African-American, you cannot write about the black experience, convincingly. GOD
knows we are intelligent, creative and gifted enough to inspire, teach and support our very own,
first. So, let’s continue to INSPIRE; TEACH; and SUPPORT our children by writing and creating
the very best children books that we can.
Read more about Johnny’s fascinating journey here.