We caught up with author and educator LaVon Stennis-Williams, based in Omaha, who wrote a children’s book honoring the Tuskegee Airmen titled “When I Grow Up I Want to Be, Like the Tuskegee Airmen”. It is part of a legacy series targeting grades 6-12. There is only one living Tuskegee Airmen left in Nebraska pictured with LaVon below, a significant celebration of their efforts and historical contribution through this book. Learn more about the journey to creating this book below.
What motivated you to write this book?
My interest in the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen was renewed after meeting Mr. Robert Holts last year during Veterans Day. I attempted to share their legacy with a group of youth who attend our youth program and most felt these men were fictitious based on the movie. I felt compelled to do something to help preserve the Tuskegee Airmen’s legacy after talking with our youth and learning that most knew nothing about these great men. After the book was published I decided to make the first in a series of books to help preserve Black history and institutions which could be lost if we don’t help educate our young people.
Why did you decide to focus on children’s books?
After searching for books targeting young readers about the Tuskegee Airmen, I was not able find books which captured their story in a way that was comprehensive but easy to read and understand for young readers. The pending birth of my grandson Brandon Dean, for whom the main character is named was also a motivation to write the book. I want him, our other grandkids and all children to have access to books about non traditional historical Black men and women other than what that will always get in school.
Is this your first publication? What other titles have you written and their genres?
Yes this is my first publication and I formed TwoBee Publishing to publish additional books for young and adult readers which will help to motivate, inspire, and encourage readers to become all whom they aspire to be. The next book will be an adult book on developing the traits of resiliency. Future children books will be published under my Legacy Series which will be about historical Black men and women or Black institutions in which their legacy might be lost on future generations. Future adult books will focus on building skills that will allow them to overcome barriers and reach their full potential from a practical life skills standpoint.
Is there a curriculum possibly created to accompany it? Or special educational tools?
Yes I am working on the final draft of a curriculum to accompany further learning, reinforce STEM, and explore careers in Aviation. I’m also working on a coloring book and expanded activity book.
Learn more about this book, upcoming events and how to order at: www.twobeepublishing.com or on their Facebook page.