Mother’s book inspired by her sons

Published 9:13 pm Thursday, October 7, 2010

Staff Writer

What do you do when you want your children to experience a story they can relate to? Instead of waiting for such a book to come out, LaTanya Wilkins wrote one.
Wilkins said she was inspired to write the book, “The Adventures of Dedan and Dylan Jackson,” after going to a Barnes &Noble bookstore and looking for a book with African-American male characters to which her two sons could relate.
Wilkins is scheduled to appear at a book fair today at Chocowinity Primary School. She’s also scheduled to sign copies of her book at I Can’t Believe It’s A Book Store in downtown Washington from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 16.
“I looked through reading, reading comprehension and so forth,” Wilkins said. “And I couldn’t find any books that they could relate to. So. I thought to myself, ‘I think I’m going to write a book about them. They are so funny and I love them so much.’”
Wilkins said she began writing the book immediately. Three months later, she was finished with the first manuscript.
Wilkins has been writing more than just a book. She’s writing a dissertation as she works toward getting a doctorate in education leadership. Working on her doctorate and writing the book concurrently wasn’t easy, she said, but it paid off because it was something she wanted to do for her children.
“My focus for my dissertation topic is African-American literacy, and trying to improve literacy for students,” she said. “And because my kids go to Chocowinity Primary School, this was a good book for me to write.”
Wilkins added that she wants to make the book into a chapter-book series, as each story will be about a character in each book. She bases some of the characters on her life experiences. The mother in the book is working toward getting her doctorate.
“I’ve mirrored some of the personalities after my family and friends,” she said. “Even some of the things they say. For example, Dylan wants to be an iced tea-maker, and there are little things like that in the book.”
Wilkins said she was surprised that the writing process is so tedious, requiring her to write, edit and proofread her work with a fine-tooth comb before sending it away to be published.
Wilkins received input on her work by asking friends and family members to read her manuscript and provide her feedback on her work.
“They read it over, and they loved it,” she said. “They were cracking up laughing. They said it was so hilarious and so funny. They said they couldn’t wait for the book to come out, which motivated me that much more to finish it, to finish a book for African-American males for their young children that they can relate to. So, I was glad I could do that for them.”
The book’s story, in general, is about a divorced couple who reunite for the sake of their children. Wilkins said more than 70 percent of African-American families are single-mother households. That was the case with Wilkins as she grew up.
“So, if there was a book out there for me or my younger brother, I think we would have benefited from it as well,” she said, “which is another reason I wanted to write this book.”
She said her work addresses many topics, such as darker-complexioned children being picked on because of their dark complexions, even by members of their own race.
“It’s very common, but it’s not something that’s usually talked about openly,” Wilkins said. “As a teacher, I saw that a lot with my students.”
Wilkins’ main goal is to get her book into bookstores, perhaps with that occurrence becoming a chapter book.
Wilkins wants to write a book for parents, a book that addresses what questions parents should ask when meeting their children’s teachers. Parents should know details about their children’s school curriculums.
“I think many parents are sometimes intimidated by teachers and don’t know exactly what questions to ask,” she said. “And by doing this, it will hopefully promote literacy in the African-American community and get more parental involvement, which has been shown to increase test scores and grades.”
Copies of her book may be purchased at and