Milwaukee Author Maya Smart Releases Book to Educate Parents on Early Literacy

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — She’s a mother, wife, literacy advocate and now an author who is releasing a new book on helping parents get their children literate at an early age. On Tuesday night, August 2, Maya Smart’s book, “Get Reading for Our Lives: A Literacy Action Plan from Birth to Six,” will launch in Milwaukee.

CBS 58 host Amanda Porterfield sat down with Maya Smart to talk about the book and how it will impact people here in our hometown.


“This book has been a long time coming,” Smart said.

Smart’s book is 10 years in the making. It started when her daughter, Zora, was a baby, and like most of her parents, Smart wanted to be the best mother she could be.

“When my daughter was born 10 years ago, I was so fascinated by the articles I read about reading disparities between different populations of children. Between black children and white children, children from lower socioeconomic status and children from more affluent , researching that, asking a lot of questions. Excited to be at the point where I’ve compiled all that research so I can compile it into a neat package for other people,” Smart said.

The book is just that. Provides concrete examples of simple things parents can do to help their children become active readers, writers, and self-expression.

“One specific thing I mention in the book is not just talk to the child, or the child. One piece of advice when my daughter was a baby was to narrate everything, talk about the groceries she’s buying or the food on the table, the grass on the is out there all those things are important I want people to know that raising a reader isn’t just about reading to your child every day it’s also about the conversations you have about those books and it’s also about the conversations you have when there are no books in space,” Smart said.

Smart is doing that with his family by his side. Her husband, Shaka Smart, is the head men’s basketball coach at Marquette University. Together, the family has been traveling from campus to campus making their dreams come true. They landed in Milwaukee and Maya Smart wrote the book while the family was on lockdown during the pandemic.

“My husband has been very supportive when I’ve created those boundaries, saying, ‘I need this time to do this and work on this project.’ He’s been able to adapt and choose some of the things that he was doing previously… I’m so lucky to have the most supportive husband in the world,” Smart said.

Smart considers herself an advocate for literacy and is on boards that support the concept, working on education policy at the Marquette College of Education, where she read the introduction to her book dedicated to her late father.

“My favorite part of this book is probably the introduction. The introduction, we talked a little bit about my dad, who passed away when I was pregnant with my daughter. So I had the opportunity to tell him that I was going to have a son, but he didn’t have a baby.” the chance to meet her,” Smart said.


After launch, the book will be on sale nationwide and available as an audiobook, educating new parents everywhere on one of the most important topics a person can learn: what is sure to make their parent proud.

“I think he would be extraordinarily proud of me. I always wanted to be a writer, I always wanted to write a book, but it took a little longer than I expected,” Smart said. “The theme was also something that 20 years ago I wouldn’t have thought I’d be writing a book on early literacy, I’d be writing a parenting book. I would have thought I’d be writing a book as a novelist. They named me Maya Angelou, I named my daughter Zora after Zora Neal Hurston. There may still be a novel in my future, but I think there’s something really important about raising public awareness.”

The “Get Reading For Our Lives” book launch is at the Milwaukee Public Library’s Centennial Hall at 733 North 8th Street from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. To register, CLICK HERE.

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