Author Sharde Redmon: Unlocking the Potential of Children in Proper Fashion
Many African American children grow up in communities where Standard English is not the primary dialect, and there is a suggestion that there is a certain way to speak “Black” and that anything else is incorrect or “proper” – proper as in “White.” As a result, children often face pressure to change how they speak to conform to the dominant dialect if taught and raised differently to avoid not fitting in or being teased. This was the experience of Dallas-born Author Sharde Redmon, who released her first book, “Why do you talk so proper?“ to help children celebrate their own unique way of speaking.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sharde; she shared how she was teased for speaking properly and eventually realized that speaking properly was a source of pride for her. Despite the pressure to conform, Sharde remained confident in her own voice and ultimately became a successful author because of it. Sharde’s story reminds children that they should be proud of who they are and how they speak. They should never feel like they have to change themselves to fit in.
Hi, Sharde. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Tell me a little about yourself and your background.
My name is Sharde Redmon, and I was born in Dallas, Texas. I graduated from the University of North Texas with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in Development and Family Studies. My ultimate goal is to unlock the potential and build up the confidence in tiny brown and black children who are facing adversities in life. Growing up, I also struggled with the constant question, “Why do you talk proper?” As a child, literacy about this particular topic did not exist. It still didn’t exist until I published my book in 2022! I am hoping to truly make an early impact on her young readers and embrace being different.
What inspired you to start writing?
Personal experience was my ultimate motivator for being inspired to write a children’s book. Growing up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, I often was teased for talking too proper and even being labeled as a white girl simply because I spoke differently than others. I was in Miami as an adult vacationing when the infamous question of “why do you talk so proper?” stumbled across my way from a complete stranger. The idea came to me like a lightbulb, and here we are six years later. I was especially more determined to publish my children’s book when I learned that this book doesn’t exist.
Who is your target audience for your book? Why did you decide to write to this demographic?
The target audience for my book is between the ages of 5 and 12 years old, depending on their reading level. However, I believe anybody can read this book as the overall message is the biggest takeaway. I decided to write my children’s book for this demographic because a book about talking too proper simply did not exist before I published my book. So many children need this book as they are experiencing these issues now. This is a book I desperately needed twenty years ago as a sixth grader. I truly believe that if I had read my current book as a child, my entire perspective would have been shaped and molded in a completely different direction. That is my WHY for my children’s book.
What is the significance of the title?
The title of my children’s book is very significant! Not only is it catchy, but it gets straight to the book’s topic. “Why do you talk so proper?“ is a conversation starter desperately needed in the African-American community, especially regarding our future leaders of tomorrow. The micro-aggression that many of our black children experience based on how they speak is truly disheartening. I also believe that my book is a vital resource for all children simply because it preaches the power of believing in yourself, no matter what comes your way. We also have an affirmation page within our book to help instill these in our children at a young age.
Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover.
The process for coming up with the cover of my book was fairly simple. I give all the props and credit to my publisher, “Journal Joy Publishing,” and my illustrator. I gave them my vision, and they ran with it! How that process looked for me was submitting inspirational photos with very intricate details of what my vision looked like in my eyes. Once I submitted my ideas, I allowed them to be as creative as possible; hence, why I invested in professionals to take my book to another level. I am very pleased with the cover as well as all illustrations. I am still amazed at this masterpiece to this day!
What was your experience writing children’s books, and did you have any challenges? If so, what were they?
The journey has been a roller coaster for sure! The idea of publishing a children’s book would reappear on my yearly vision board for about six years before getting serious about making it happen. From being ghosted by one publisher to making deliveries with Uber Eats to fund my book, I was determined at any cost to make it happen. I’ve had many days and late nights of feeling discouraged, uninspired, and even unsure of myself. When the lingering question of “what if?” pops up in my head, I always refer to this quote from Toni Morrison; “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I would encourage anybody wanting to make their dreams comes true just to do it! Sit down, set intentional goals, create a game plan, and get to work! I had to live by these words daily to make my dreams a reality. The work starts within you!
Can you share something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
One thing I can share about the book that is not in the blurb would be the topic of science discussed within the book. I think it’s important to spark interest in science, math, and other topics at an early age in our children, especially children of color. I hope the few facts about the solar system shared in my book will interest readers to dig deeper into exploring space. Another topic that is not within the blurb directly but is addressed in the book at the surface level is bullying. The topic of bullying is so important and extremely relevant in 2022. I think the book does a good job of highlighting the emotions that Ginger Honeysuckle experiences from the question, “Why do you talk so proper?” The question may not seem harmful to some, but when constantly taunted and belittled for being different, it most defiantly can turn into bullying. Sometimes words are more harmful and stick with you for a lifetime. This could help teach a valuable lesson to readers on both ends of the stick.
What is next for you in the next year or so?
Within the next year, for Redmon Books, we plan on publishing our second children’s book, a series of coloring books, and so much more! We would love to partner with local non-profits that pour into the African American community that targets the youth. We also are pushing for our books to be in stores for purchase, specifically at independently black-owned bookstores. Within the next few years, we would love to be on the shelves at Target and the National African American Museum in Washington, D.C. We also would LOVE for our book to grace the hands of Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama! We have big dreams and aspirations here at Redmon Books!
Where can people pick up your books, and where can people connect with you?
You can find my book primarily online for now. You can purchase “Why do you talk so proper?” on Amazon, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, and our official website. You can connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok. You can find our official and beautifully designed website at http://www.redmonbooks.net/. Feel free to shoot us an email at [email protected]!