Day 8: Brittany J. Thurman

Brittany J. Thurman is a talented writer using her education, experience, and sheer creative talent to craft endearing stories for children of all ages.  She is certainly one to watch as she creates an abundant catalog of work.  We congratulate Brittany on all her past and future successes. Learn more with us as Brittany shares her journey in this post for The Brown Bookshelf.

BRITTANY J. THURMAN writes award-winning books for kids. She is the author of Forever and Always, illustrated by Shamar Knight Justice (Greenwillow/HarperCollins), Fly, illustrated by Anna Cunha (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Simon and Schuster), and two middle-grade novels in the Fearless series, co-written with Mandy Gonzalez (Aladdin/Simon and Schuster). Brittany’s upcoming titles include The First Library: The True Story of the First Library by and For Black America, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera (Clarion/HarperCollins), Come Catch a Dream, illustrated by Islenia Mil (Greenwillow/HarperCollins), and two middle-grade novels in the podcast adaptation of Opal Watson, Private Eye (Pinna/HarperCollins) all out in 2025. Brittany’s picture book, Fly, won the 2023 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Kingston University, London, England. Brittany currently lives in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, where she holds tight to her elders, roots, and her childhood home.

Journey to publication

I began writing stories around the first grade. I was inspired by bi-weekly trips traveling down a long country road to visit my great-grandparents, watching my grandmother return home from charming vacations, and listening to stories told by my elders minutes after they thought I had gone to bed. My journey to publication began as a kid with an imagination I could not control. My love and appreciation for writing stayed with me and peaked again as an undergrad studying abroad in London, England. After writing a play, a professor urged me to pursue writing professionally. I did, but I had no idea that it would take years before I would see my words in print. While working with children as a Children’s Specialist in a library, I began to send my work to agents and editors. The wait was long, but I felt so lucky to witness the joy, curiosity, confidence, and sometimes worries, of the kids around me. They became the reason why I write.

While reading to children constantly helped me understand dialogue, structure, and characters, so did the ability to connect with kids of all ages. While working at the library, my first picture book, Fly, was acquired. On a day off, I found myself at the laundromat, doing my usual ‘day off’ routine. It was then that I received ‘the call’ from my agent. Needless to say, all the kids knew the news the following day. My publication journey has been long, twisted, and full of the unexpected. To this day, rejections pop up in my inbox, and I am constantly practicing the art of patience. I try my best to honor the child that I once was by recognizing that back in the first grade, I saw a path. I hope my journey inspires others to stay on theirs. 

Backstory of one featured title:

As a child, I worried about everything. Allergies caused my eyes to swell shut and I became afraid to go outside. A reluctance to speak meant that I panicked at the thought of a teacher calling my name. But what I worried about the most were others, especially my family. My worries and anxieties still exist as an adult, and while writing Forever and Always, I needed to highlight that kids experience these emotions as well. I began to write the first draft of Forever and Always around 2018. I wanted to find a way to share, in the form of a story, that young children wait, wonder, and yes- worry, often about the people around them. As the lives of Black men, women, and children were lost across this county, often at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve, I began to question the meaning of safety and the fact that no soul has the right to take a breath from another. With the news at our fingertips, I also knew that if I saw and heard of these injustices, kids did, too. I began to shape Olivia, her voice, and the world around her. This led to me asking more questions. Who do kids turn to when their worries feel too big? In what ways do they cope? How can the materials found in one’s home help turn worry into hope? I aimed to show that while children worry, adults do, too. In the same way that a child waits all day to express how much they love their parents, I know that parents wait to say the same. 

Forever and Always is a hug in book form of a daughter’s love for her father and the desire to keep him protected, always. I hope the story allows children to know that our emotions are normal, but there are ways to cope. In the story, Olivia creates art when the world feels too big to handle, and she makes a special gift for her father, letting him know that she is thinking about him. As the years go on, worries don’t go away. I hope adults find a hug in this story, too. 

Positive impact or benefit of being an Amplify Cohort member

It is hard to believe that almost three years have passed since Amplify began. From the community that has formed, I am in awe. We first met over informational publishing Zoom sessions in the evenings, and this led to much-needed in-person trips to Highlights. Through friendship and community, Amplify has allowed for me to see that I am not alone on this journey. The knowledge shared among us has been priceless.

Amplify is a community for me. It is one fueled by friendships, knowledge, and the recognition that we are on this publishing journey together. It is easy to feel isolated in the world of writing and publishing, and I am forever grateful to know that I am not alone. I belong.

Learn more about Brittany J. Thurman online:

X (Twitter): @janeebrittany

Instagram: @britjanee


TikTok: @brittanyjthurman 


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