Child author returns to Bennettsville for book signing
This Saturday, March 25, the Marian Wright Edelman Public Library will welcome first-time author Jakayla Green for a book signing.
That’s an accomplishment for any aspiring young author, but it’s especially so when you realize that this one in particular is just nine years old.
“I’m excited,” said Jakayla, daughter of Jason and Tamell Green, formerly of Bennettsville, speaking by phone from her home in Columbia about the book signing. “I think lots of people are going to come.”
Jakayla’s just-released book, Daddy’s Girl, chronicles the experience of a little girl who is devastated by her parents’ separation, then ultimately uplifted as she realizes she still has her father’s love and support.
It came straight from her heart, as her parents did separate when she was in kindergarten. She said the message of her book for other children is that they are not alone, and someone else understands them.
“I want other boys and girls to know how I felt,” said Jakayla. “I want them to know they’re not the only ones separated from their families. That way they won’t feel so lonely.”
According to her mother, Tamell, writing the book was therapeutic for Jakayla. On its pages, she talks about her feelings and also the way her father always remained present in her life and that of her sister, visiting often, video chatting when he couldn’t be there, and even continuing a family tradition of “daddy-daughter dates.”
It is a message of hope for young readers. As Jakayla says, “If someone you love goes away, it doesn’t mean you can’t still hang out with them.”
Fortunately for the Green family, Jason and Tamell reunited after almost two years apart, creating a happy ending for themselves and their three children, Jakayla, 12-year-old Jasiya, and the newest addition, three-year-old Jason Jr.
The whole family is proud of Jakayla, who was only eight years old when, on a trip to a bookstore with her mother, she announced that she wanted to write a book of her own.
“Once I realized she was serious, I hired a friend who is a writing coach to help,” said Tamell. The first step was choosing a topic, and as it turned out, that was an easy decision, according to her mom: “Loving her daddy was always a theme she liked.”
As the book came together, it of course needed illustrations. These came from another Bennettsville native and current resident, Chuck Collins, whose colorful drawings bring to life the love story of a daddy and his little girl.
For Jakayla, a straight-A student in third grade, writing a book was something she wanted to try because she loves to read. “It was hard, but it wasn’t that hard because I got help,” she said.
For any other young people who might want to write books of their own, she had this advice: “You don’t have to give up. All you have to do is find an illustrator and a publisher, and type the words.”
Jakayla will be at the center of several events in Bennettsville this weekend.
First, there will be a “Meet the Author”event on Friday, March 24, for third graders throughout the Marlboro County School District.
This leads up to the main events on Saturday, March 25, beginning with a book signing and “Meet the Author” at the Marian Wright Edelman Library from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Visitors will be able to buy autographed copies of the book, and visit and take pictures with Jakayla.
Finally, the Greens have partnered with Man-2-Man Fatherhood Initiative and Fathers Inc. to provide “the ultimate daddy-daughter movie date experience from 12 to 2 p.m. featuring the movie “Courageous” and a “Promise Ring” ceremony where dads make a pact with their little girls that, no matter what, they will be in their lives. Limited spots are available for this event.
According to Tamell, holding Jakayla’s first book signing at the Marian Wright Edelman Public Library is especially significant because this is also where, as a small child living in Bennettsville, she got her very first library card.