Lift Every Voice: "You Are the Author!"

Ashley Bryan Photo: Bill McGuinness

I can’t remember a time when I have not been drawing and painting!

As a child I loved picture books and memorized Mother Goose poems. I attended public elementary school in the Bronx, New York. In kindergarten, the teacher taught us the alphabet. She asked the students to draw a picture for each letter. When we reached Z, she helped us sew the pages together.

She then said, “You have just published an alphabet book!”

“You are the Author!
You are the Illustrator!
You are the Binder!
Take it home!
You are the Distributor as well!”

When we returned to class the next day, the teacher asked, “What happened when you shared your book with everyone at home?”

We shouted, “We were hugged, kissed, and praised by everyone!”

The teacher said, “Oh, you were receiving rave reviews for your one-of-a-kind limited editions! We will keep on publishing books!”

And to this day, from under five to over ninety-five, I am still publishing books!

From the May/June 2019 Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: CSK Book Awards at 50. Find more information about ordering copies of the special issue.

Ashley Bryan

Ashley Bryan is the winner of the 2012 Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and the 2009 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. In 2017 he won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Picture Book Award for Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life, and in 2020 he won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Award for Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.