Nia Mya Reese
Publishing a book was easy for Lake Cyrus resident and Deer Valley second-grader Nia Mya Reese. The hard part? Signing all the copies.
“I had to get her a stamp. So we shortened it, because she was over it after the first week or so,” said her mother, Cherinita Reese.
Nia Mya’s illustrated book, “How to Deal with and Care for Your Annoying Little Brother,” was published in December. But it started as a writing assignment in first grade teacher Beth Hankins’ class last year.
Hankins asked her students to write about their area of expertise, and “I said I’m an expert on taking care of my annoying little brother,” Nia Mya said. Cherinita Reese said she was “so tickled” to read her daughter’s take on her relationship with her younger brother, Ronald Michael Reese.
Over the summer, Cherinita Reese asked Nia Mya to read and edit her story to keep her busy and help her develop her writing talents. Then the idea struck to turn the story into a published book, and a publisher, Yorkshire Publishing, loved their first manuscript.
As the Reeses worked with their publisher to make Nia Mya’s first book, Cherinita Reese said it was important to keep her daughter’s personality infused in the book.
“It needs to be vibrant; it needs to be colorful because she’s a colorful child,” Cherinita Reese said.
The end result, Hankins said, achieves that goal.
“It sounds just like you. And that’s how you know a really good author,” Hankins told Nia Mya. “When you brought the book to me, my thought was, ‘Oh, my goodness, so many children will get to read what you wrote.’”
Nia Mya also got help from her cousin Faith Martin, an 11th grade student at Minor High School. While babysitting Nia Mya and her brother over the summer, Martin was able to put her artistic talents to work in illustrating the book. Martin said it took about a week to make the sketches, which were adapted by the publishing company for the final book, and they include little real-life details from the Reeses’ home.
“Being with them every day made it easy,” Martin said.
The book includes Nia Mya’s thoughts on how to be a big sister, including having fun with her brother, teaching him, being kind and – sometimes – being firm when he won’t listen to her. Cherinita Reese said she has heard from parents already about how her daughter’s book has been helpful to them even if they aren’t dealing with an annoying little brother.
“When you write a book about helping people, even though you’re writing about one thing, you actually help a lot of people with just some of the principles you talk about,” Cherinita Reese said to her daughter. “I’ve got a lot of people telling me you are helping them.”
Cherinita Reese said her daughter is still getting used to the attention she gets as an author, including signing books and talking about her experience as a writer. On Jan. 13, Nia Mya spoke to a group of her Deer Valley classmates about the book.
“If you feel a little nervous, you just say, ‘I’m still brave,’” Cherinita Reese told her daughter before her presentation at the school.
In addition to writing, Nia Mya said she loves reading, gymnastics and pizza. Cherinita Reese said it’s “really surreal” to have her second-grade daughter be a published author, but she’ll have to get used to the feeling. Nia Mya already has plans to write a second book about bullies.
“I like being an author,” she said.
“How to Deal with and Care for Your Annoying Brother” can be bought on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s online store.
“When I was in school you were told what to write about. Had I given the assignment and told her what to write about, this may have never come about,” Hankins said. “I was just lucky enough to be in the room and pull some of it out.”