Book Lover: Former Teacher Loves Encouraging Early Readers

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Malika Daniels is a former Chicago Public Schools elementary school teacher who really understands the importance of reading. “Reading opens up the door to so many opportunities.  In order to be successful in almost all other subjects, you need to be able to read,” she said.

She is now a wife and a stay-at-home mom with two young kids. Malika Daniels also has written a book, with her daughter as the main character. In her free time, she enjoys reading, singing (she even tried out for American Idol!!) and spending time with family and friends. She is really special to me because she is also my Godmother. She has given me a lot of books, including Amazing Grace, which I loved. Read her interview below:

Question: What is your book about and have you always wanted to write one? 

Answer: My book is called Tatiyana’s Walk Around the Park and it’s about a little girl who spends the day with her parents at the park and she learns a bunch of new words as they explore the park.  The book (pictured below) has key vocabulary words on each page and also provides parents with tips to further the learning from the book. 

I haven’t always wanted to write a book, but after I had my daughter I had a desire to just do better and be better. I loved watching her develop her language skills and seeing her love for books, so that’s when I got the idea to write my own book.

Q:What did you like most about teaching?

A: The thing I enjoyed most about teaching was seeing the growth of my students from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.  I would have students coming in who barely knew what a letter was and they would be confident readers at the end of the school year.

Q: Why did you stop teaching?

A: After six years as a teacher, I left the classroom to become an education coordinator where I was able to work directly with teachers and support them as they worked with students.  Now that I have kids of my own I have become a stay-at-home mom so I can devote my attention to them and their learning. 

Q: How do you choose books for your kids?

A: I love books with characters that look like my children. I love books that provide positive messages.  I also like books that are funny. 

Q: Why do you think diversity is important in books?

A: Diversity in books helps people develop a stronger sense of self. Being able to see positive images and read stories about people who look like you show you that you can also achieve these things and that anything is possible.

Q: What author really inspires you and why?

A: I was inspired by authors like Angela Johnson and Ezra Jack Keats because they wrote children’s books where the main characters were black children, but the books didn’t always focus on the fact that they were black children.  They were just focused on telling the story of children.  

Q: What is an inspirational quote that really stands out to you? 

A: “If you expect the worst you will get the worst, and if you expect the best you will get the best”  This is a quote from a book I just finished called The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale.

Q: What activities have you been doing during quarantine?

A: I have done some reading, not as much as I’d hope.  I’ve been working with my daughter daily as she is now a beginning reader.  We go for lots of walks in our neighborhood and spend time playing in the backyard. We have found different fun activities online and enjoy trying them out.  Most recently we saw the idea of creating a nail salon using cardboard cutouts of hands and feet.  My daughter loved using the nail polish and coming up with cool designs and patterns for the nails. 

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