Thalia Johnson: Student, Athlete, & Author

Ariel Hall

Here at Delaware State University, we have students that do everything from owning small businesses to taking up crafts such as hairstyling, barbering, or even cooking all while being a college student.

A junior here at DSU is taking things to a new level as she balances being a student-athlete and the author of not just one but two published books. I had the chance to interview her to dig deeper into her life as a student and the thought process behind her books.

Q: Can you state your full name?
A: Thalia Johnson

Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m from Columbus, Ohio.

Q: So, what is your position here at Delaware State University?
A: I am currently a junior majoring in Elementary Education.

Q: Do you participate in any extracurricular activities or any organizations here at DSU?
A: So, I am currently on the DSU Women’s Soccer Team, and I’m also on the board for Aspiring Educators as the Teacher Quality Coordinator here at DSU.

Q: So, you wrote two children’s books. How did you come up with the ideas for them, and what are they about?
A: So, they started as a graded project for Rising Educators, which is a national education program for high schoolers, and I think some college students participate in it. But it’s a big program and for my teaching professions class, I had to come up with competition to compete in and one of them was children’s literature books. I started writing random notes and clips to put in a book. But then I thought to myself if I were younger, what kind of books that I want to read, and what kind of books would I think are more important for me to read? That’s when I got the idea of creating books for young black kids. So, I want them to understand that they are important, and they need things to represent them in the classroom.

Q: Every story has a plot line. So, what are the plot lines for these two books and what are their names?
A: The first book that I ever did was called “The Monster on My Head”. It’s about a little girl who wakes up and she sees a big monster on her head that is her hair, she’s trying to do it and it’s a struggle for her. But then her mom comes in to help her out, tackling the monster and they get her hair done. The monsters are gone, and happy ever after. The second one is called “Dear, Black Girl” and this one isn’t as animated as the other one. But it’s a book where each page is like different affirmations for young black girls. For example, like talking about how beautiful your hair is on one page, how your voice is not something you should neglect, and you should use your voice to speak up about certain things. Some other examples are, you could be anything you want when you grow up, your skin is so beautiful, there’s different shades of color, etc. Just different things that make up a black person’s identity that they should be proud of, and I wanted to really highlight that especially for young black girls.

Q: How have these two children’s book books have been received, what has been the feedback from them, such as the comments/reviews?
A: When I would do these competitions, I did them my junior and senior year so I did both of these books in high school whenever I read it to the judges, who were mostly white and then got feedback from them I was a little skeptical on like how they would feel about the book and how they would interpret the book. But, they really enjoyed the first book “The Monster on My Head”. They enjoyed the plot because I think having to do natural hair is a struggle in itself. So, to make it a story they really enjoyed it and how animated it is, and they enjoyed the pop-ups because they’re both pop-up books. For the second book, I got a lot of positive feedback about how sweet it is and how amazing it makes certain people feel. So that’s why I wanted to write the book to make people feel important and beautiful. So, it was amazing to get all that positive feedback from both books.

Q: Where can these two books be purchased and where can they be found?
A: Right now, they should be published by Thanksgiving break, for sure. But right now, I’m still getting everything finalized. I’m just making sure everything is perfect for each book, but it should be ready by Thanksgiving. Also, Written Gold Publications is the company that I’m using to publish my book.

Q: How do you personally feel about being so young and achieving a goal like this, something as big as having two children’s books?
A: Well, at first, I wasn’t even thinking about publishing. Because I was like, ok I did this for a grade it was cute, it was fun. But now like, seeing it all come together it’s like making me happy that I can actually publish these books and maybe get them in schools, especially predominantly white schools. That’s my target for young African American girls who don’t get the representation they need in the books that they have. So, it just makes me happy that I can participate in trying to help young black kids’ representation.

Q: What advice would you give to somebody who is trying to write a book, specifically a children’s book?
A: My advice would be to make it something personal for the person writing it because if you’re not passionate about what you’re writing about. I don’t think the book would come out as good as you want it to. So, I think if you have a certain target audience, really work to or even you as the audience just work to make it unique to you and how you want to project any message that you want to send out. Try and make it big, colorful and funny because I know a lot of things that kids look for in books because their first instinct is not to pick up a book. So, just try to make it fun for them in a way where they can still get a lot from it but still definitely get their attention.

The Monster on My Head” and “Dear Black Girl” were both published in the winter of 2023. They can be found and purchased on the Written Gold Publications website. The books were received well and sold out through Written Gold Publications. Thalia is now in the process of working towards selling her books through Amazon.

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