Dr. Artika Tyner of St. Paul, Minnesota, is encouraging children everywhere to shoot for the moon.
As a lawyer herself, Tyner felt it was important to educate children about law and justice. Thus far, Tyner has written seven books following her first – Justice Makes a Difference. The story follows a young girl named Justice who dreams of following in her grandmother’s footsteps by helping the community. She learns about many distinguished African American historical figures such as Ella Baker and Charles Hamilton Houston, eventually becoming a lawyer.
Tyner discussed her reasons for starting out with such a story.
It started off with Justice Makes a Difference because I wanted to respond to the need to promote more literacy and also diversity in books because at the time I wrote [it], only about 10 percent of books were written by authors of color and also had a main character or protagonist of color. When I thought about it, I was like, ‘it’s time to be able to tell the stories that reflect the beauty of America.’ To be able to talk about our history, about cultures.
Tyner additionally founded a publishing company, Planting People Growing Justice, in 2014. The company’s online shop sells several books written by authors of color as well as dolls, including one of Justice.
Perhaps most of all, Tyner believes that literature can influence social strain and bring individuals together.
I’m challenging folks to say ‘what are you reading?’ Because then we can expand our knowledge and get a deeper sense of who we are as a nation, who we are as individuals, and more importantly we can build bridges and we can build something that no one can take away from us. If we had more knowledge about each other, more knowledge about our history, we may be able to see a little bit more clearly.