Children’s author Derrick Jakolby Washington is encouraging young Black boys and Black girls to embrace themselves with his innovative and insightful books.
Driven by his extensive work in Human and Social Services, Washington considers himself to be a “people builder,” aiming to empower others with the skills needed to improve their quality of life and be successful.
His #1 Best Seller on Amazon, “Son, You Matter”, encourages male youth to unlock the greatness within them as they maneuver differences in people and challenges in some of their experiences. After being encouraged by his sister and friends, Washington began his writing journey.
“I wrote my first book ‘Son, You Matter’ in 2020 after the senseless killing of George Floyd. I sat down and tried to reconcile like why this keeps happening to Black men specifically. My sister gave birth to my new nephew in 2021, and he was named after me.
I really began to think about what life would look like for him in the next 20 years and my hope is that he wouldn’t live in a world that consistently judged him based on the color of his skin but would really look at him in the wholeness of who he is as a human being, he’s gifted, he has talents, he has abilities. Then I really began just to put pen to paper and use my thoughts as an ode or a wish for him,” he recalled.
Now introducing his second children’s book, “A Special Little Girl.” a dedication to his niece Zyion, sheds light on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and how it affects the Black community. Zyion was diagnosed with autism at the age of four.
Washington shared, “This project is very personal to me and was written directly to my niece. I also recognize that there are huge disparities in Black and Brown children being diagnosed on the autism spectrum and the lack of resources provided.” Zyion experienced many difficulties, but the support of her family was never far behind.
ASD is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. While researching the disorder, Washington quickly recognized a need for greater awareness in representation for the neurodivergent (people whose brain difference affect how their brain works).
While sharing some gaps in representation in children’s books, Washington said, “11% of all children’s books have Black or Brown characters as their main characters, and less than 3% of those books are written to reflect children with disabilities, and less than 1% of that figure are stories written around characters that are neurodivergent.
“It is imperative that our children are able to see themselves in these stories. A major highlight is knowing that I get to create stories that affirm, encourage, and uplift our Black and Brown children, or youth by introducing characters that reflect who they are and their experiences.”
Described as an affirmation of love, “A Special Little Girl” promises a heartfelt lesson for all while advocating for children with Autism. The intention to express empathy and inclusion have been the themes of Washington’s writings.
“It is equally important to share stories that come from real life experiences that teach children how to navigate differences in people and promote love and self-worth,” noted the writer.
Washington expresses feeling such a strong purpose in writing. “I am absolutely inspired to work with this new talented, intelligent, passionate, and bold generation of Black men. This Black boy joy is real.”
Sharing two personal stories has allowed the esteemed author to connect with readers and share important messages that sometimes go unnoticed.
“A Special Little Girl” is available for purchase on Amazon, Books A Million, and Barnes & Noble. A portion of the proceeds from will go towards autism research and providing resources for children diagnosed within communities of color.