A few months ago, before I got sick I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the most adorable kids ever. His name is Amari Cooper Ferguson and he is a toddler author and future paleontologist! Amari is the youngest son of a very dear sisterfriend and fellow Dope Black Woman, Tammie Cooper! With the help of his mom Tammie, Amari has authored and published two children's books and an accompanying coloring book for his series Life with Mari.
About the books in Amari's own words..."Well I do have two books, Amari Goes to Dinosaur Land. I had a dinosaur ZOOM party and I use a time machine made out of a box to go back in time. In Amari Goes on an Expedition I was digging for Dinosaur fossils. I went to school and it was hard work but I am a step closer to being a paleontologist." Through his books, Amari shares his love and knowledge of dinosaurs as well as his dreams of one day becoming a paleontologist.
Amari's mother, Tammie, recognized that there were not a lot of books or reference materials that highlighted Black paleontologists and wanted to ensure that not only Amari would have representation but that other children would too and hopefully it would foster a love for fossils and dinosaurs like it has with Amari.
According to Tammie, I wanted him to get a taste for what it's like to be free to create your own brand, be yourself and share your imagination with others. It was very important because in his exploration of dinosaurs and scientists who studied them, we didn't see any that looked like him. So we made one.
There is so much more to come from Amari and his journey of learning and growing. He currently has two more books in the making and has spent a great deal of his summer traveling to various museums and exhibits to learn more so that he will have more to write about. Amari will enter kindergarten this fall, so I am sure he will have even more amazing stories to share.
Tammie shares "it was difficult to know which direction to go in but I decided to stay true to Amari's imagination. So I started writing down and making notes of things that he actually said. My job became putting those in a story form that others could relate to and follow. I basically get to organize his creative thoughts and experiences into books.
Tammie's advice for parents looking to publish their kids stories...
"Don't be afraid to stay true to your child's voice and take advantage of the opportunities to self-publish. I actually work directly with an illustrator and directly with a printing company to publish Amari's books. I didn't use Amazon because of the fees and I would have had to overpriced the books in order to recoup the expenses. By self-publishing I had more control over the revenue. Of course platforms like Amazon will give you a broader audience and reach but to start out I wanted to market to our own network first and reap the benefits of more revenue and personal connections to his stories."
Amari is an amazing example of Black Boy Joy and serves as one of the many reasons why we should work as hard as we can to preserve it. Check out my interview with Amari and his mom below and follow his journey on social media. Don't forget to grab a few books for the little ones in your life!