Storyteller: Valerie Bolling
Inspired by her nieces, Valerie Bolling started writing children’s books in 2017. Her debut picture book, LET’S DANCE!, was published in 2020 and was a 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite award winner and CT Book Award finalist. Valerie has since had two more books published in 2022 (TOGETHER WE RIDE and RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN!) and has five slated for 2023, including her Scholastic Acorn early reader series, RAINBOW DAYS.
Valerie has been an educator for 30 years and is deeply immersed in the kidlit writing community, teaching picture book writing classes and serving as WNDB mentor. She’s also a member of SCBWI, the 12X12 Picture Book Challenge, Black Creators HeadQuarters, Amplify Black Stories, and Diverse Verse.
Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing.
On writing for children:
“One of my most memorable experiences as a fifth-grade teacher was reading Lulu Delacre’s Salsa Stories with my students. The book features Latinx characters, with some dialogue in Spanish. Though all of my students enjoyed the book, the comment I still remember is a Latinx student declaring, “This is the first time I’ve read a story that reminds me of my family.”
Diverse children’s literature has become even more personal to me recently. I have two nieces, ages 7 and 9; two godsons, ages 10 and 13; and a cousin (my cousin’s grandson), age 7 – I write with these special children in mind. In fact, they have provided inspiration for many of my stories. As I write, I think about the stories I read to them and those that I wish were available to them. I feel I have a responsibility to write stories that I want them – and all children – to read.”
What was the most valuable or memorable experience of AMPLIFY for you?
I enjoyed meeting monthly and seeing all the beautiful Black faces. What a wonderful community! The sessions that were most memorable for me were the amazing storytellers and the information that was shared about marketing and publicity.
“I write because I want all children to feel at home in a book. I want them to smile, laugh, think, and question. Most of all, I want them to celebrate the diverse world in which we live.”