Imagine blogging for fun or personal pleasure, only to discover there is something deeper; a business opportunity for your children and community. Meet Amiyra King. She is the phenomenon behind “The Journal Joy" blog; which has also become ”The Mommy Joy,” which focuses on children literature “for children, by children.” It has become a solid foundation for children discovering their passions in the literary world. Here, we delve into her journey and discovery.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I was born in New York and grew up in both New York and New Jersey. I currently live in Atlanta, and I've been living here for about 15 years now.
Q. Where did you go to school?
A. I went to Devry, and then pursued my MBA at Strayer University.
Q. When was The Journal Joy/The Mommy Joy created?
A. The Journal Joy was created in July 2020, and that led to The Mommy Joy. It all started with my blog, "The Journal Joy;" which was about my life and happenings. It, then, led to "The Mommy Joy;" which was about my life, and happenings with my children: Aspen, my six-year old daughter and Chandler, my three-year old son.
Q. What was your vision?
A. It all started as a blog. It was fun and entertaining as I began documenting my personal experiences, and my experiences with my children. During the documenting, my children wanted to become authors, and that's when things really got interesting. I would take my oldest, Aspen, to the library to check out books. I saw that she would gravitate towards certain chapter books. One day, I suggested different books to her and she said, "mommy I don't like those books. They aren't funny." She, then, came up with the idea to create her own book with her own stories. I never thought my children would want to become authors just by discovering the books they would want to read were not available. It was mind-blowing, and exciting at the same time. My son, after seeing his big sister, wanted to write a book about monster trucks. My goal, originally, was just to support and assist them in any way possible. I had to make it happen. After their firsts books; to my suprise, the kids wanted to write more. I said, "ok let me teach you how to create a business with this." Creating literature for children and by children, authors and illustrators... My workshop helps them create books step-by-step.
Q. Why do you feel encouraging children’s literacy in the Black community important?
A. When I was growing up, it wasn't cool to be into books. It hit me when I took my daughter and son to story time at the library. They wanted to pick out different books. My daughter started reading at the age of five, so she eventually got hooked on chapter books. Unfortunately, there were very few characters that she could relate to. I, then, saw the overwhelming need. It's really important for kids to see themselves in books, because it expands their imagination and beliefs of what is possible. When you plant the seeds of inspiration, children soar.
Q. What are some popular books you recommend to children?
A. I would recommend finding books from a self-published author that resignates with your child. I tend to go more with self published because I feel better about purchasing from someone who has put their all in something they have created for the community. There's nothing like a person putting blood, sweat and tears into making their publishing reality come true. Self publishers deserve to be seen. When your child sees my child in the book, I want them to be inspired to write their own books as well.
Q. Do you have reading events?
A. We will be doing a breakfast and books event. We are also open to reading events on an as-needed basis.
Q. How do the children create the books? What are the steps?
A. Parents can help their children through the process, or the child can create the book on their own. At the end of four sessions, they will have their own finished product, and the option to publish with me.
Q. How do you keep the children engaged and motivated, and how do you promote the child’s voice/choice to help them become self-directed learners?
A. I believe communication is key. Kids will tell you what they want. It's up to the parents to listen, and guide them. Knowing what your child likes, and what they don't like. My oldest, Aspen, now wants to be an illustrator; so I'm going to pour into that, and support her in any way possible. I have already looked into classes for it, and I'm working on helping her turn this passion into a business. So it's really about just listening to what the child wants and figuring out how to help them flourish.
Q. Do you incorporate collaborative and project-based learning? Or is it one-on-one?
A. It's a combination. I'm more focused on assisting with creativity, and allowing them to build on it. I have assistants that have specialties in various subjects. They help me with areas that they are more familiar with; such as science, math and other topics.
Q. How do you use data to differentiate instruction and support students identified with specific learning disabilities, so all students can learn?
A. The parents are involved at the beginning, and often through the entire process; so they tell me what the child wants. If the child has a special need, I work one-on-one with them. The age group I work with is anywhere from five-to-12-years old.
Q. How do you teach 21st-century learners, integrate technology, and guide students to be global citizens?
A. It's important for the parents to understand what works best for their child. The parents can tell me what their child needs, what their learning behaviors are, and we will go from there.
Q. How do the parents feel about the program?
A. Parents love the program! Parents have reached out to me, and have also given me referrals. I, currently, have workshops once-a-year, which may change to three-times-a-year, due to the high demand. I, definitely, want to try to accomodate as much as I can. Especially, Black authors, because of the need.
Q. How do you reach different communities?
A. Just tapping into that community, and joining different organizations. I literally
just spoke with someone in Nigeria about their child, and I am now trying to help them get published.
Q. What do you feel your impact has been on the community at large?
A. I am a small business, and my business is growing rapidly. I am changing a few children at a time. Transparency is very important to me, and our journey. Me, starting here, will inspire children to start where they are as well.
Q. How has it been spreading the word about your brand during the pandemic? Are people receptive?
A. I launched during pandemic, when my daughter got frustrated with the book choices. Since then, I have had many people reaching out to me and many referrals. My business has grown based on the need for children to see people in books they can relate to. Yes, they are receptive and everything is going well.
Q. Any advice to authors trying to get into children’s literature?
A. First, just do it... you are the only one in your way. Second, Call me. I'm happy to help. Third, Network. Lastly, Children can do whatever they want; and I want to inspire, and support that. My youngest, Chandler, recently watched a show about a "Big Foot Monster Truck," and asked me if he could create another book about that. It was just amazing that he asked to create a book, and not the toy. I have helped him discover a passion outside of what typical three-year-old consider the norm.
Q. How do we get involved with The Journal Joy? Social media handles? Contact?
A. You can contact me on my website www.thejournaljoy.com or at my instagram page @journaljoypublishing