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Letia Wyatt grew up in Hope, Arkansas and had an early enthusiasm for education, creativity and learning. With a tenacity for hard work and a desire for excellence, Wyatt set out chasing a career journey and long-term goals for mentoring college students and building a nonprofit to support high school students planning for college.
Never did she imagine writing a children’s book and consulting authors would be part of her story.
Since graduating from the University of Central Arkansas, Wyatt has pursued a career in higher education, academic program management and mentoring. Her time at the Atlanta University Center Consortium representing three different Historically Black Colleges & Universities: Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta University opened the door for one-on-one academic and student life counseling. With a focus on mentoring, student guidance, and problem-solving, Wyatt developed skills to increase her higher education experience. She gained exposure to supporting students of multiple ethnic backgrounds during their traditional college experience.
Letia drew on her love of creative writing; she started writing poetry when she was 14 or 15 and studied mass communications and journalism at the University of Central Arkansas. Her next step was a few short stories and in 2015, she wrote two children’s books. In 2018 she worked with an illustrator to finalize the books, but it just didn’t feel like the right time.
The year 2020 came, and so much changed about the world. While pursuing a doctorate in Higher Education and Student Affairs and mentoring college students, she challenged herself.
“I can’t encourage them to chase their dreams and let mine just sit on a shelf.”
By August she was ready to release her first book but didn’t know where to start. Finally, a friend stepped up and set up the formatting for Amazon, helped her make a flyer and recorded a simple video in her home. She listed the book and posted the video to Facebook.
Within 24 hours, there were 10,000 shares on the promotion.
Going into the holidays, Wyatt wanted to do something special to thank her hometown and bring her book back to the place where her dreams started. Her parents were the boots on the ground to coordinate reservations at the Hempstead County Library. Siblings and friends came from Little Rock and a college roommate came in from Dallas to capture the experience.
Readers have received the book with enthusiasm. The book explores the bright and inquisitive 6-year-old’s relationship with her mom, the sequence of a school day, what she likes, and who she meets with a “can do” attitude. It’s a perfect read for an elementary child getting ready for their first day of school.
It was essential to Wyatt that her main character was a little brown girl. She wanted to reflect on her journey, but more importantly, she wanted other little brown girls to see themselves in Carlie Rae and adopt her sweet spirit, positive attitude, and joy and zeal for learning.
At the beginning of 2021, she released the second book in the series of five. “Rainforest Day” explores the Costa Rica rainforest and a sweet friendship with a caterpillar. Readers learn about an adventurous day at school, dreaming, disappointment and realization. In the third book, on its way later this year, the main character will be a little boy as readers continue to meet Carlie Rae’s friends.
As Letia has shown us, books are a great way to tackle complex topics to make it easier for children to explore their feelings and learn steps for resolution. Her mission, “confidently growing your mind while going wherever life takes you,” seems like the perfect focus to start a new school year.
All photos courtesy of Letia Wyatt
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