Maya P. Smart is the author of the novel READING FOR OUR LIVES: A LITERACY ACTION PLACE FROM BIRTH TO SIX.
TBF: Why did you write your new book? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea start?
MPS: When I was a new mom, I was dismayed by news reports of cripplingly low reading achievement among black students. Coverage described vast numbers of children who were labeled “behind” from the moment they arrived in school and considered beyond help by the end of elementary school. That didn’t sit well with me, so I got curious about what exactly needed to happen to help parents set kids up for success. What I learned made me realize how badly this message needs to get out to all parents.
TBF: What’s the last book you read, loved, and can’t stop recommending? Why is it so good?
MPS: I love and recommend Parent Nation by Dana Suskind because resolving America’s reading crisis will require transformation at the personal and policy levels. In my book, I explore how individual parents must grow their knowledge, patience, and consistency to impart the early skills and experiences kids need to thrive. In Parent Nation, Suskind digs into how the government, in turn, can bolster investment in families in the pivotal early years of kids’ life and learning. It’s a both/and scenario. Parent action and public investment are required.
TBF: What’s the first book you remember reading? Who gave it to you?
MPS: I have fond memories of checking out Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain from the Ayres Branch Library in Akron, Ohio. My mom and I always parted ways just inside the front doors of the library, where I hung a sharp right into the colorful juvenile section. The library, previously a residence, was small enough and the librarians familiar enough (one lived on my block) that kids roamed freely. I remember the intimacy of that space, those shelves and the comfort of returning again and again to the same books.
Catch Maya P. Smart on Saturday, November 5 at the State Capitol E2.030 from 12:30 – 1:15 at the 2022 Texas Book Festival!