Stacey Abrams releases her first children’s book ‘Stacey’s Extraordinary Words’
Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is also an author. She’s penned romance novels, a thriller and works on leadership and politics. Now Abrams finds a new audience in her first children’s book, “Stacey’s Extraordinary Words,” telling the story of a second-grader whose love of language ends up teaching her more than just words. The author joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about the new book and its reflection of her younger self.
The semi-autobiographical story of young Stacey:
“Stacey is in the second grade, and she is having difficulty acclimating. But her teacher, her second-grade teacher Mrs. Blakesley, recognizes that she loves words, and that those are her friends; that this quiet child has turned to words to understand where she is,” said Abrams. “By inviting her to participate in the spelling bee, she gives her a chance to use her superpower to present herself to the world. And Stacey thinks about how words have helped her, but also how she has not always lived up to the words that she believes in; that she has not done enough with her words to make a difference in the lives of her friends.”
On Abrams’ own lifelong love of words:
“I love children’s literature. I grew up the daughter of a librarian, and my mom … [is] a research librarian by training, and her sub-specialty was children’s literature,” Abrams said. “So I literally grew up surrounded by books — and using literally the appropriate way — sleeping in the stacks and reaching for books about and for children, and they’ve always stayed with me as some of the most complex writing that one can do. And when given the opportunity to write my own picture book, I jumped at it.”
“When my mother would say, ‘Go look it up,’ this was not a rhetorical statement. We had every reference book at our disposal, and thus I grew up looking up words, and I remember time and again getting caught up reading not just the word I was looking up, but looking at the words around it and looking up the reference words. I enjoyed immersing myself, not just the stories that words could tell, but the words themselves as their own passport.”
How words can bolster a young person’s courage and resilience:
“For little Stacey in the book, it’s one of those ways to understand yourself when you’re a kid, when you don’t have the language to describe what’s happening,” said Abrams. “But there are these little words that you hear or that you read about that suddenly explain what you’re feeling. That you’re not just a little scared, you’re ‘petrified.’ That you’re ‘grumpy’ or you’re ‘anxious.’ And it’s not only the word itself but how the word sounds in your mouth and how it feels when you say it that help you create more context for what’s going on around you.”
“I wanted to do two things. One is to acknowledge the instinct to help and to acknowledge that sometimes we don’t do what we know we should, that Stacey made a mistake, or simply didn’t have the courage of her own convictions. And that’s okay if you remedy it. If you stumble, it’s okay, as long as you try to succeed the second time …. I wanted Stacey, and all of the little readers, to know that it’s okay if you don’t do everything you should because you have a chance to do it the next time.”
“Stacey’s Extraordinary Words,” the new children’s picture book by Stacey Abrams, is available now through all major publishers and can be found here. Abrams is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary for governor in 2022, setting up a potential rematch against incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.