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Writer's Spotlight: Carylee Carrington

Hi Heart of Hollywood Magazine readers, we want to introduce you to Carylee Carrington who is an author, entrepreneur, and literacy advocate. We truly support and are so very proud of Carylee's work as a businesswoman, and writer.

One of Carylee’s biggest motivators was her mother, the late Dr. Norma McPherson, who was a literacy coach and life-long educator. With her encouragement and guidance, she set out to bring the love of reading to as many children as she can. Along with her work as an author and literacy advocate, she has been a regular contributor on WJLAs, “Outside The Classroom,” and a board member with Reading Is Fundamental Northern Virginia.

She also serves on the board of the Prince William County Arts Council. Her latest book “Pretty Hair” has been listed as one of the top 20 books to diversify children’s bookshelves by PopSugar in 2020, and her first release, “Everyone, Just Like Me,” has been a feature to assist in speaking to children about race.​

Carylee has a great passion for young children, and she realizes the power of literacy in educating our future generations. Please enjoy our interview!

Hi Carylee, it’s very nice to interview you for the Heart Of Hollywood Magazine. Please tell us about your take on the importance of literacy in educating our future generations?

I think we have come to the sad reality that literacy doesn’t seem to be important to some of our younger generations anymore. Everyone is on a device. We have this new text slang, that teachers are seeing show up in reports. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but “LOL” should never be in submitted work.

We are preparing a new generation to be the leaders of tomorrow. As I tell my children, reading is the bedrock of all education and learning. It is important to be able to read, to be able to know things for yourself.

What was your childhood reading experience like?

Well, I can probably let you know that my mom was a teacher, and that would probably sum it up right there. I actually liked reading when I was younger. My favorite thing would be to go in either my backyard or lay down under a window and read. Reading was my escape from other areas. I loved reading books where the author used a lot of imagery. My present world would melt away and I would get immersed in wherever the author was describing. And as I said, having a teacher for a mother. My mom made she that I kept reading, even during Summer breaks, there were book reports due.

What has the reaction been from your books?

The reaction from my books has been an excellent surprise. I started out writing for my sons. I didn’t really get in this to be known, but I when started getting great feedback, especially from teachers, I figured I was on to something.

I’ve gotten great feedback, especially from my book, “Pretty Hair”. I’ve had a lot of women come up to me and said, “I wish I had this book growing up.” Even yesterday, I had a mother say to me, “Oh my daughter could have used your book when she was younger.” Her daughter is of mixed race and is so beautiful, but growing up, she didn’t understand her hair and didn’t like it. It’s moments like those that really help me to see how needed my book is and it brings me great joy.

What do you enjoy most about being an author?

I enjoy seeing the reaction of children when they find out I’m an author. I love seeing them light up, I love their questions. The thoughts that they have in their minds, blow mw away. And then there is that moment when a child comes to me and says, you make me want to become an author, that makes my heart soar.

What is a super fun fact about yourself that most may not be aware of?

I am not all tutus and sprinkles. I have 2 rough and tumble boys, who scare me any time I her things crash, but I know they got that from me. Growing up I was that girl who played with the boys, climbed trees and explored nature on my hands and knees. I still love to get out in nature, I love to DIY and make my own things. My wish is to someday make a treehouse with my boys. I just need a sturdy tree and time.

What is a quote that you live by?

There are a few quotes that I live by, many of which come from the wonderful Maya Angelou, the one that I feel sums up my work is, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It’s why I wrote my first book. It’s why I started Read with Carylee. My why has always started small, but it expands to being something that I saw that was missing from my world or from the world of those around me.

I am a person of faith and my faith is rooted in service. You may start out by serving one need, and then another, and another, and another, by the time you look around, you may be fulfilling the needs of so many. I could have just said, I’m just going to teach my children the right things to do or make sure they love to read. But, I saw a need and I’m doing everything I can to meet that need, I may not change the world today, but what I do has ripples.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently building out Read With Carylee, Inc. I have started this nonprofit to work with authors to create more diverse literature; get indie authors known in their communities, so that they may be a resource. I’m also on a crusade to get those diverse books written for children at a young age. Diversity usually starts getting taught in upper elementary or middle school, I believe we need to start early so that we build a foundation of understanding in children. I believe will help us have a kinder and more tolerant generation, who will learn to accept difference, rather than make difference divide us.

What advice would you give to aspiring children’s authors?

Keep writing, get your story out. If you feel that your story needs to get out and you don’t know how to get it to traditional publishers, self-publish. There are so many avenues available to us now to get these stories out, what are you waiting for? And most importantly, from a cultural perspective, remember the stories you may have been told and write those, all children need to hear those stories, don’t just keep them in the family.

How can our readers keep up to date with you?

Social Media Pages @readwithcarylee on all social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok)

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