Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Children’s book author seeks to help inspire youth

Published:Thursday | December 8, 2022 | 12:44 AM

In her most recent book, Mama, I Want To Fly, children’s book author Claudene Graham seeks to encourage young readers that they can do everything they set their minds to.

“I really want children to understand that nothing is impossible ... nobody is better than you, you guys can do anything,” Graham said in a recent interview with The Gleaner.

“You don’t have to be of a certain colour, you don’t have to be born in a certain uptown, downtown [area, because] if you put your mind to it, you can really accomplish anything,” she continued.

Graham, who is mother of two children – Alex, 28, and daughter Imani, 17 – explained that from an early age her own father, Rudolph, had encouraged her, her six sisters and four brothers that nothing was impossible for them to achieve.

“Our father used to tell us that ‘nobody’s better than you, you guys can do anything’,” she said.

She continued that her dad, who was a farmer by profession, did not have much, but served as a catalyst in her and her siblings’ lives to help them reach where they are today.

“We were poor, and we didn’t even know we were poor because our family was so close-knitted,” she expressed.

Graham noted that this perception is not birthed on its own, but begins in the household where parents are supportive, loving and nurturing to their children.

She expressed that she continues to encourage her children, and especially her son, who has aspirations of becoming an environmentalist.

The book, which targets children age five to eight years, explores the protagonist Imani, who asks her father if she could be a mechanic or a teacher, among other professions. She is constantly reassured by both her parents that if she wishes to pursue those career paths she could.

“Sometimes we all have doubts, and sometime you feel like you don’t measure up ... and you reminisce, ‘Oh, my father use to say this or papa used to say that’... but when you go back to the foundation and you remember that, oh yeah, I remember papa used to say, ‘You can do it’ [and you are motivated once more],” she explained.

Graham emigrated to the United States at the age of 34. She previously lived in the countryside, in Mount Hindmost, Clarendon, and has been writing short stories and poetry since she was 15 years old. She described her mother, Elizabeth, as “a grammar police” who ensured that her writing and use of the English language was up to par. Graham also wears the professional caps of being a nurse and an entrepreneur.

Her children’s book is available on Amazon, and locally through the Jamaica Library Service. Her first children’s book was published in February, titled When I Wake Up in the Morning.

Graham hopes to publish a collection of poems for children in the near future.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com