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Civil Interview: Author Davina Hamilton Provides Inspiration With Debut Children’s Book ‘Riley Can Be Anything’

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What inspired you to write your first children’s book “Riley Can Be Anything”?

Davina: “After years of wanting to write a book, I finally decided to just do it. My four-year-old daughter and three-year-old son enjoy when I read them their bedtime stories, so I thought it would be nice to write a book that could feature in their reading collection.”

What was the message you were trying to spread, or your goal with releasing the book?

Davina: “The book is targeted towards pre-school children and the aim is to encourage them to realise from an early age that they can be anything they want to be. I chose to make the main character, Riley, a young black boy primarily because my children are black, and also because I believe it’s important for young black children to be able to see characters that reflect their image in the books they read. That said, the book’s message, which is delivered through an inspiring rhyming story, has appeal for all young readers.”

What did your kids think of the book?

Davina: “They loved it! They were very excited when they saw the book for the first time, not least because Riley is my son’s name and the character was created as an older version of my son. So naturally, both my son and daughter feel a personal connection to the book and my daughter in particular loves that the book is dedicated to her and her brother! They know the book quite well now, so they read along with me and that makes me both happy and proud.”

How do you teach your kids about the many societal issues black men and women face?

Davina: “They’re still young so we haven’t had to have those conversations yet! The closest my husband and I have come to facing those deep issues was when our daughter said to us a few months back that she and her brother were “the only ones with brown faces” at their new pre-school. It was a reminder to me that despite the often perpetuated belief that children are ‘colour blind’, they’re actually well aware of colour and they do identify both the similarities and differences between them and their peers. What’s important is how we as adults shape our children’s ideas about race, so I explained to my daughter that people come in many colours and we can all be friends. Right now I’m grateful for their childhood innocence, but I’m sure as they get older, their questions and observations will become more challenging to address!”

There were many routes to go when it came to writing your first book. What made you go with a children’s book?

Davina: Initially, I just wanted to create a book that my children would enjoy. I decided to create a story that would encourage them to believe in themselves and as the story came together, I was driven by the idea that this book could inspire lots of children. I really hope that through the book’s simple message, young readers feel inspired and excited by the idea that, with hard work and self-belief, they really can be anything they want to be.

What can we expect from you next and in the future?

Davina: The next book is called Riley Knows He Can. Beyond that, I’ll have to wait and see what ideas my mind comes up with!

***Purchase Riley Can Be Anything here***


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