The All Good within the Hood image e book celebrates June 19th

Dwayne Reed wants to redefine the way people think and talk about the Hood. His new picture book, All Good in the Hood, is out now and takes Juneteenth in a whole new and positive way.

Dwayne grew up in Chicago, which is also where the book’s story takes place. Now he works as an educator in the same neighborhoods where he grew up and raises his family there as well. (That’s his adorable son modeling the book below!) Dwayne says Juneteenth was never talked about growing up, and he hopes this book will help change that so it’s a date to remember all children learn something and that they can celebrate.

Read our Q&A with Dwayne below, which also includes his advice for aspiring writers. By the way, if you think Dwayne looks or sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen his viral singing videos or even seen him in some WeAreTeachers videos. You can Check out his website here.

Why is it important to have a book that talks about Juneteenth?

I didn’t know what Juneteenth was until I was in my early 20s. As a black man in America, I felt confused when I learned what it was. For example, why didn’t anyone tell me about this? I should have been made aware of that. Juneteenth was a good thing. It was good news and now I want to share this good news with others.

Is there a part of the book that relates to your own life or childhood?

Yes. I’m a big brother, just like the character in the book. Throughout my childhood I was the one who guided my brother through things and tried to put on a brave face even when I was scared. This book shows a brother overcoming his fears like I did when I was younger.

Also, I live and grew up in the city of Chicago. You will see this on the city skyline and houses in the pictures. They look just like the apartment buildings on Chicago’s West Side. The entire book is drawn from my life, my childhood and the lives of my current scholars.

How do you hope this book will help people redefine the way they talk about “the Hood”?

The hood has so many beautiful and brilliant parts. There are life-giving pieces and people. I hope a book like this will help break stereotypes and become a true story about great people and great neighborhoods.

How can teachers use this book in their classroom?

I hope teachers will use this book to show that it’s people who make a good neighborhood. Fear, a common theme throughout the book, is universal. Teachers can talk about this with all children. Also, we need to celebrate life and June 19th. Teachers can use this book to teach about brotherhood, fellowship, celebration, and much more.

What was it like working with the illustrator on this book?

The illustrator is Gladys Jose. (Check out her website here.) She really got what I wanted and her illustrations are so much fun. I would actually take photos of real things and places in Chicago and send them to her. I would take photos of a dog or a basketball hoop in the middle of the street or inside houses. She took all of that and brought the hood to life in the book.

Do you have any tips for other teachers who want to write a book?

Write the story you want to write. Tell the story you want to tell. Sometimes we feel pressured to tell the story we think others want. But it’s always better if we tell the story within ourselves.

Do you love picture books? Share your top tips in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Also, check out this article about Black Children’s Book Authors We Love.

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