“Be OPEN to the possibilities!”

She stood holding the mic, stepping back and forth across the front of the auditorium in her red canvas high tops and a jean jacket, the perfect outfit to connect with her middle school audience. She started by sharing where she gets her ideas.

When writing this first novel, it was a photograph of a boy, sitting on a wall by the sea in Senegal.

It was walking outside her front door in DC, a place, and always seeing people protesting that inspired her to research 25 marches to become this nonfiction picture book.

For Daddy Speaks Love, it was her friend’s words telling her what George Floyd’s daughter said. She hadn’t even her the daughter speak the words but her friend told her about it.

For The Magici n Changing Your Stars novel, it was her dog,(my favorite inspiration story!) He “paid his respects” to a statue in Richmond, Virginia while they took a walk together. She believes her dog asked her, “How will you pay your respects to Bojangles Robinson?” She did it by naming a character in this novel after this example of Black Excellence (as she did of ALL the characters in this novel).

For her Memorial Day picture book, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (his last book to illustrate before he died), it was also a photograph but not one she took. It was taken in the 1800s of black children gathered at a memorial service. With Floyd’s character, Eli, she told this story she researched of the first Memorial Day in Charleston, SC.

She shared with this audience, made up of 250 sixth and seventh graders, that ALL creative inspiration comes from words, pictures, names, places, people, moments. Then she said the one thing to remember from her talk today is this:


This is erfect advice to hear as we all get ready to begin our summer vacation!
Thank you, Leah Henderson! #AuthorAreRockStars

NOTE: READ and enjoy ALL books by Leah Henderson. Schedule her to visit YOUR school.
She has such a lovely command of a school audience, amazing writing advice to share
and a powerful message for teachers and students!

3 thoughts on ““Be OPEN to the possibilities!”

  1. kimhaynesjohnson says:

    What an inspiration for your students to hear the ways that an author is inspired to write. To seek out the stories and to bring them to life and preserve them on the pages of books. I’m so glad you introduced her to us today!


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