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  • Kelsey Marie Paff

What's on Your Shelf? Interview with Author, Johnny Ray Moore


I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity to feature poet and children's book author, Johnny Ray Moore on my blog. I hope you all enjoy reading the following interview!


KMP: I recently featured your board book, THE STORY OF MLK, JR., and one of the things I noticed is how beautifully you were able to make the text accessible to young children. Could you share your thoughts on how you go about writing for young children and what some of the challenges are when it comes to creating text for the very young?


JRM: In going about writing for young children, I keep in mind the ages of my young audience. I keep in mind that their attention span is very short. So, …whatever I write for them MUST BE age-appropriate and the perfect length. The challenges I am faced with are staying conscious enough to speak to my young audience and not speak beyond their abilities to understand my presentation. I have to use single words that paint pictures and help move whatever I am writing forward. I thrive to give my young audience a piece of writing with a

BEGINNING, a MIDDLE and an ENDING. All in all, I make sure that I am giving my young audience my very BEST!


KMP: While my blog particularly focuses on board books, I’d love to hear more about

the other books you’ve written and what projects you’re currently working on.


JRM: The children’s books I have written are: HOWIE HAS A STOMACHACHE, only 100 words – It’s about a pig who has a stomachache. A LEAF, only 88 words – It’s about a leaf that falls from a tree and wakes a sleeping cat, and the cat knocks over a bucket. The leaf falling from the tree sets off a chain of events. THE STORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., only 200 words – This bestselling, board book classic tells how Martin Luther King, Jr. excelled in school; became a minister; and worked to end segregation in America.

Because of the limited space in this interview, I will not list and share what the rest

of my children’s books are about. Please go to my website, www.johnnyraymoore.com; google the titles of my books I did not mention; and read their blurbs. Other writing projects I am working on are: I am preparing for the release of a song entitled “A Working Village” that I have written. It will be released sometimes in March of 2021; I am preparing for the release of a rhyming picture book entitled SEASONAL ADVENTURES (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter for the Very Young), scheduled for release in the Fall of 2021; I am preparing to sign another children’s book contract with another publisher; and, I am preparing to do VIRTUAL readings and presentations.


KMP: I always love hearing about the people who have inspired authors and

illustrators to become writers – could you tell us about some of the people who

inspired you to become a writer?


JRM: I was not inspired to write by anyone. As a child, I realized at the age of

about 4 years old that I was very creative. I had imaginary friends of all kinds. In

my late teens, I learned more about the writing process. I learned by reading some

of the writings of William Shakespeare, Kahlil Gibran, Alex Haley, Donald Crews,

Eric Hill, Sandra Boynton, Rosemary Wells and Ezra Jack Keats, to name a few.

And, there are countless other writers and illustrators who I learned from, later in

my writing career. In fact, I am ALWAYS learning how to be a better poet and

children’s author.


KMP: To me, board books are one of a child’s first gateways to understanding the

world around them. Could you share some of your favorite board books?


JRM: Some of my favorite board books are: GOODNIGHT MOON; THE

GOING TO BED BOOK; BARNYARD DANCE; OLIVIA; and TURKEYS

NEVER GOBBLE, to name a few. By the way, I have a collection of about 300,

popular and bestselling board books!


KMP: As February is Black History Month, could you share a list of some of your favorite

children’s books written or illustrated by black authors or illustrators?


JRM: Yes. Some of my favorite children’s books written or illustrated by black

authors are: BIGMAMA’S by Donald Crews; FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE

by Carole Boston Weatherford; TAR BEACH by Faith Ringgold; and, GERMY

GERMY’S LESSON ON GERMS by Jolandra Houston. Of course, there are

many more…


KMP: What are three, good writing tips that you wish to give to aspiring writers?


JRM: Three, good writing tips that I wish to give to ASPIRING writers are:

READ, READ and READ, constantly. WRITE and REWRITE when necessary.

And, STUDY and become familiar with the entire BUSINESS of writing and

getting published. You should ALWAYS thrive for PERFECTION as you pursue your writing

profession.