Tonya Duncan Ellis

Storyteller: Tonya Duncan Ellis

Tonya Duncan Ellis has had her nose in a book since she learned to read, so it’s no surprise that she’d one day become a writer. She is author of the bestselling Sophie Washington children’s book series, a former journalist, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Authors Guild, Black Creators in KidLit, and 12×12 Picture Book Challenge. She’s a 2022 winner of SCBWI’s Independently Published Book Launch Marketing Grant. In 2021, she won the Austin SCBWI Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award. Tonya loves learning about other cultures and has traveled to 49 states and 20 countries. Represented by Sara Megibow of KT Literary, she lives in Houston, TX and is married with three children.

On writing for children:

“I was inspired to write my children’s series after I noticed a lack of diversity when reading with my three kids. I’ve always been an avid reader and am proud to create relatable books for children that spark a love of literature. As a child of limited means, books opened the world to me, causing me to dream of a life beyond my hometown in Louisville, KY, sparking an interest in travel, history, languages and so much more. I strive to create the same experience for my readers.”

What was the most valuable or memorable experience of AMPLIFY for you?

I’m very grateful to have been selected for the inaugural storyteller cohort. All the sessions were highly informative, but what I valued most were the offline relationships I began with fellow authors. To deepen connections with cohort members, I started an Instagram Live interview show, where we interacted one-on-one. This expanded my author network to include peers I now feel comfortable collaborating with or going to for advice.

Other memorable experiences for me personally were the opportunity to get feedback from Charlesbridge editors and participate in a virtual Highlights Foundation retreat. Thanks so much, The Brown Bookshelf and the Highlights Foundation for all your support!

Tonya Ellis

Follow Tonya Duncan Ellis:

“Being selected for this wonderful experience is the gift that keeps on giving! I look forward to deepening professional relationships started with fellow cohort members in years to come”

Sophie Washington_ Treasure Beach
Sophie Washington_ Lemonade Day
Sophie Washington: Class Retreat
Sophie Washington: My BFF
Sophie Washington: Mismatch
Sophie Washington: Code One
Sophie Washington: Secret Santa
Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica
Sophie Washington: Queen of the Bee
Sophie Washington: Hurricane
Sophie Washington: Things You Didn't Know About Sophie
Sophie Washington: The Snitch
Sophie Washington: The Gamer

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The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.