Photos by Dawn Gardner
“Inspire children to dream.”
Carylee Carrington is a literacy advocate who uses her books to bridge the racial divide. Her most recent book, Pretty Hair, follows Sophia on her first day of school. On her first day, Sophia discovers that her cornrows make her look different than the other girls in her class. After Sophia is teased, she begs her mother to style her hair just like her classmates’. Carylee wrote Pretty Hair to help young girls accept their individuality and understand that every hairstyle/texture is “pretty.” PopSugar recently listed Pretty Hair as one of the 20 books in their “Diversify Your Kid’s Bookshelf” list.
As the host of Read With Carylee (now available to watch on SoulVision.TV and YouTube), Carylee prioritizes lesser-known children’s book authors and gives them a platform to reach a larger audience. “It is a new spin on LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow,” Carylee says. “I believe it is important for children to be able to connect with authors and see that they aren’t just celebrities. I hope this inspires children to dream and stretch their reading to more authors. It may inspire them to write too.”
Carylee hopes to increase the show’s reach to parents while they are at home with their children. “With this pandemic, children are now at home with their parents much longer and many are being homeschooled,” she explains. “I want my show to be a valuable resource for parents, teachers, and schools. Read With Carylee gives parents and young readers the equivalent of virtual author visits.”
Carylee’s mother, lifelong educator Dr. Norma McPherson, was a motivating force in Carylee’s life. She encouraged her to write and get her work published. Earlier this year, Dr. McPherson lost her battle to cancer. “This has become a new drive for me to make sure that I continue to do my best and promote literacy education,” she says. “This was a passion for us both and I am honored to continue her legacy in this way.”