IDEA Harvey E. Najim Academy teacher writes book to better reflect her students

Ms. Rhonda Brown, a first grade teacher, has written two books about diversity

At the IDEA Harvey E. Najim campus on the city’s East Side a group of first graders are excited about their teacher as she’s also a published author of two children’s books.

SAN ANTONIO – First grade teacher at IDEA Harvey E Najim Academy Ronda Brown loves to read.

“My aunt raised me, and she gave me the love for reading,” Brown said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown decided to use her extra time to connect with her students online and to help foster a love for reading.

Brown said she launched her Friday night read-aloud live on Facebook, however, something was missing.

“I had students saying that they didn’t see people that look like them in the books,” Brown said.

So, Brown took matters into her own hands and began to create a storyline with diverse characters. In a matter of weeks, Brown had written her first book titled “Creation, That’s Me!”. The book features dark-skinned characters and even a girl with a skin condition.

“There is a little girl that has vitiligo, (another) little girl that has autism, and also they are very dark-skinned, black individuals in the book,” Brown said. “I am a dark-skinned black lady, and I have a lot of students that come from that background who had never seen themselves in a book.”

The response from readers was so great that Brown wrote a second book titled, “Created To Be, Yes It’s Me!”.

“(In that book) you’ll see the little kids that are in the first book,” Brown said. “They’re in the second book, but now they’ve evolved. They went through it, went to college and graduated. And so, you’ll see them in the second book working in their own professions.”

Brown says IDEA Harvey E. Najim Academy has been very supportive of her work, as the school system has a big focus on culture and diversity. Administrators on the East Side campus said they have approved for Brown to include her books in her classroom curriculum.

Brown said she is excited for more students to read her books and is already working on her next project. Brown is on track to write two more books.

“My whole philosophy is that every child needs to know that they’re special, and they may never hear it at home,” Brown said. “I’m sure they’ll hear it in school because that’s a part of our philosophy.”

Brown’s books can be purchased online. The books range from $15 to $20 or $30 for a bundle.

To watch Brown live reading of one of her published books, click here.

To purchase a paperback, hardcover or e-book copy of Brown’s books, click here.

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy award-winning photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.