The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 60

Julius Anthony is Founder and President of St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature Initiative, a subsidiary of The ECE Prep School, LLC. Julius has enjoyed more than 20 years as an early childhood education professional and has served on several Boards, curriculum committees, and state level work groups. However, Julius says that his most important work to date was the time he spent teaching first grade. He is also the Founding Principal of City Academy, a burgeoning independent day school located in one of St. Louis city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Throughout his career, Julius has enjoyed writing motivational poems and short stories for his students and has always been a fierce advocate of culturally competent literacy based early childhood education instruction. In October of 2014, Julius published his first children’s book, a collection of original poems entitled Me! Ten Poetic Affirmations. He is a proud graduate of Howard University (Washington, DC). Julius is also a 2001 graduate of Leadership St. Louis sponsored by FOCUS St. Louis and a 1995 fellow of Washington University’s (St. Louis, MO) National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Harlem Renaissance Project.

How did you know you were meant to be a writer?

I didn’t always know I was meant write. For me, becoming a writer was the result of fulfilling a need. As a teacher and school administrator, I desired to motivate and inspire my students. I understood how important it was to speak to children in ways that encouraged them to try their best, and to believe in themselves, and to take risks when learning. I had teachers who inspired me in those same ways and they did that using poetry, and affirming phrases that were commonly spoken as part of my culture and community. Phrases like, “Nothing beats a failure but a try,” “When in doubt, check things out,” and “Reach for the stars, grab one and fly high.” These are the words my elementary school teachers spoke to me and they resonated in my being. When I became an early childhood educator, I wanted to do the exact same thing. So I wrote the things I wanted to say in rhyming phrases that ultimately evolved into poetry. One day, it occurred to me that I should publish what I write so that lots of children can be inspired. It was as simple as that! I published my poems and someone said to me, “Julius, you are an author!” That felt good and once I decided to embrace the meaning of it all, I have thrived ever since.

Tell us about some of your favorite books and how they came about?

There are two books that had a profound impact on me as a child. I remember reading both of them often in Kindergarten and first grade. One is A Pickle for a Nickel by Lilian Moore. The story tells of



Author Interview