Press and Media
JaNay Brown-Wood is an award-winning author and educator. Her book Imani’s Moon won the NAESP Children’s Book of the Year Award, is a Northern CA ACL 2014 Distinguished Book, as well as a “NYC Reads 365” pick for 2016 and 2017 and a RIF Multicultural Book pick for 2015. Her second book Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, is a Bank Street Books Best book of 2018, and won the CELI Read Aloud Book Award through the University of Mississippi. She has published poems in Highlights for Kids and Highlights High Five and has a poem included poetry anthology titled Thanku: Poems of Gratitude (Lerner/Millbrook, forthcoming Fall 2019). JaNay completed her PhD from the School of Education at UC Davis and is a professor at California State University, Sacramento. She is represented by the fabulous Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary.
Learn more about her at www.janaybrownwood.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter!
Imani is a young Maasai girl with a loving mother and a desire to do something great. When she decides she wants to touch the moon, she works hard to reach her goal, even in the face of teasing from the naysayers around her.
Grandma's Tiny House: A Counting Story
There is always room for family! This sweet, rhyming counting book introduces young readers to numbers one through ﬁfteen as Grandma’s family and friends ﬁll her tiny house on Brown Street. Neighbors, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandkids crowd into the house and pile it high with treats for a family feast. But when the walls begin to bulge and no-body has space enough to eat, one clever grandchild knows exactly what to do.
Where there’s a will there’s a way when families grow and come together.
Images of JaNay
In the Media
JaNay talks discusses her newest book "Grandma's Tiny House: A Counting Story" as well as her connection to her hometown, Fresno, CA.
JaNay discusses her new book "Grandma's Tiny House: A Counting " starting at 12:20
JaNay talks about the importance of reading to young children with her daughter Vivian, on Good Day Sacramento as a representative for the 2017 Sacramento Black Book Fair.
JaNay reads IMANI'S MOON and talks about the wonderful American River College, where she teaches in the Early Childhood Education Department!
A short video about JaNay and her alma mater, Sunnyside High School.
Past Press Release
GRANDMA'S TINY HOUSE: A COUNTING STORY
Questions and Answers with JBW
Tell us about your name. Are there any significant meanings?
My name is JaNay Brown-Wood. JaNay is spelled with a capital “N”, a “y”, and no space. Not Janay. Not Janae. Definitely not Ja Nay or Ja-Nay. Just, JaNay. And it’s pronounced Ja (JUH) Nay (NEIGH, like the sound a horse makes). All together now: JuhNeigh. JaNay.
My dad picked the name and the spelling. Something about it stood out to him and that’s how I got my name. As far as the meaning, I’m not 100% sure of the meaning, and whether it has one. But I have to say, I’m pretty anal about my name. Although many people spell it or say it wrong, it is one of my favorite parts about myself. I love, love, love my name, especially with the newest addition of Wood (thanks to my wonderful hubby!)
When did you know you wanted to write?
I’ve known from as far back as I could remember. I think I knew I loved writing and coming up with stories before I even knew it—if that makes sense. What I mean is, it’s always been a part of me. Even before I could write full sentences, I remember making up stories. That’s how my mind works. Thinking of stories about characters doing different things, or concepts I’d like to explore with words. I’m just lucky that I get to capture them on paper (or computer screen) and share them with the world.
What were your favorite books or authors as a child?
One of my all-time favorite books is Where the Wild Things Are. It’s simple yet satisfying. As far as authors, I loved Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstien. I’d say both of these writers influenced my own author voice, since many of the stories I write come out in rhyme. As an older kid (like teenager) I’d say J.K. Rowling because ummm…HARRY POTTER. No need to say more.
I know you are a new mother, do you read to your baby girl?
YES! I read to Vivian when she was still in my tummy. And I read to her now, even though she can’t talk. And I’ll read to her into perpetuity—or at least until she can start reading to herself. Then we’ll read together. But, my family and I try to read her at least one book per day. And I read her all types of books too. So far I’ve read her several novels (we’re working on Charlotte’s Web right now) in addition to tons of picture books and board books. I love to read and I want her to have that same love too!
What is your favorite letter of the alphabet and why?
What a fun question! But, I have to say that it is SO HARD to just pick one. I love the letter “J” because of course, it is the leading letter in my name. I also love how it looks when it is written in cursive both uppercase and lowercase, and I like that there are so many active and fun words that start with “J” like “jubilant,” “joyous,” and of course “jump!” As a poet, I also really like letters that work well in alliteration like “P”,“L”, and “T” which can make such enjoyable sentences like “pick a perfect lollipop and taste it with your tongue!” See, I told you I’d have a hard time just picking one.
Top 3 places you’d love to visit:
What was your inspiration for Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story?
I have a H-U-G-E family. My dad had 13 siblings, and all of them have kids, and many of their kids have kids, etc., etc.. Imagine cramming all those people into a tiny house...lots of fun, and the inspiration for GTH. Those gatherings always made me so happy and filled me up with so much joy. I wanted to capture that in a book, and thus, Grandma’s Tiny House was born.
Grandma’s Tiny House counts to fifteen. Is there a reason you picked fifteen instead of just ten?
So, I call myself, JaNay Brown-Wood, Author & Educator. Just like I love writing, I also love educating. Educating kids and adults, teachers and parents, authors and poets. You name it! And from my experience working with young kids, it seemed to me that counting to ten came a little easier than counting to fifteen, you know, since numbers like eleven and twelve don’t fit the same mold as other numbers. Can you imagine if it did? We’d count “…ten, one-teen, two-teen, three-teen…” instead of “eleven, twelve, thirteen.” And since those three numbers can be a little tricky, I wanted to include them in my book.
Which of your books or works is your favorite?
That’s like asking which of my children is my favorite (and since I only have one right now, I can confidently say Vivian is my favorite kid). But, as far as my works, I LOVE Imani’s Moon because it’s a story about believing in yourself and never giving up no matter how insurmountable a task might feel. I also love the setting of Africa, and the Maasai people. Imani’s Moon will always be my first book baby, and that means a lot to me. Grandma’s Tiny House is also near and dear to my heart because it reflects my happy childhood and wonderful family. And the poems I write are fun for me to read aloud. So, to answer your question, all of my works are my favorite.
What are you working on right now?
I’m always working on manuscripts. I have several that I have finished and that my agent is sending out. I’m also venturing into longer works too, not just picture books. I’m working on a middle grade novel and I’m feeling pretty good about it.
Any advice for the kids out there?
I’ll quote Imani’s Moon for this: “A challenge is only impossible until someone accomplishes it…it is you who must believe.” Never stop believing in yourself. You are magical, so set your goals as high as the moon and never stop striving for them, no matter how hard it seems. YOU CAN DO IT!