Saturday, May 21, 2011


Omar Tyree Writes a “Mr. Creative”
Book For Boys

Omar Tyree is a New York Times best-selling author whose 18 published books have sold nearly two million copies worldwide. A graduate of Howard University with a degree in Print Journalism, Tyree has been recognized as one of the most renowned contemporary writers in the African-American community. His contributions to literature have earned him a 2001 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature in Fiction, and a 2006 Phillis Wheatley Literary Award for Body of Work in Urban Fiction. Tyree is also an informed and passionate speaker on various topics.
A tireless creator, Tyree makes his children’s book debut with 12 Brown Boys, a collection of short stories that focus on the lives of Black pre-teen boys.

Just Us Books: What's your goal in writing 12 Brown Boys? What do you hope to achieve by publishing the book?
Omar Tyree: There is a gigantic hole in the published world for content featuring urban American boys. Therefore, urban American boys are really not being engaged as young readers. They don't have a wealth of material that represents who they are or what they think about. So I wrote 12 Brown Boys to begin to supply a steady stream of content for this lost and forgotten group of American readers who end up becoming non-reading men. And my goal here is to turn urban boys on to reading, and then plot to keep them reading by supplying them with more books—with great content in development—for the future.

JUB: Why did you decide to begin writing children's books?

Tyree: I have two sons myself, and they are both still young. And it’s embarrassing for me as an African-American male writer of more than a dozen adult novels to take my sons to the book stores and find less than a dozen books with brown boys’ faces on them. So my reason for writing children's books, particularly for urban boys, is the same reason I started writing books for African-American adults more than fifteen years ago. I want to add content to the book shelves that represent our world. And many children's book publishers have not been very interested in doing that.

JUB: What do you think constitutes a great recipe for a book that will captivate young black boys--particularly middle readers (ages 8-12)?

Tyree: Well, it has to be a fun read, number one. So it has to get the young reader engaged and excited. A lot of new readers also like to relate to the material, so [I] create content that is close to who they are and what they go through in life. And boys, of course, love sports, doing things their own way, and getting involved in adventure. So adding that strong ingredient to the mix is also a plus. And if you can add some kind of moral lesson to the content without sounding too preachy, then that brings the book all the way home for a win. And that's the formula I plan to use for an upcoming library of many more books for urban American boys.
About 12 Brown Boys
Best-selling author Omar Tyree makes his children's book debut with 12 Brown Boys, a collection of short stories for middle readers that focus on the lives of Black pre-teen boys.

Readers will connect with Tyree's engaging characters. There is Red Head Mike who hates his nickname, but hates his red hair even more, and Chestnut, who is sent to live with relatives down South to keep him out of trouble in his Brooklyn neighborhood. There is Santa Monica super kid William, whose status as a scholar and entrepreneur has even his best friends hating him, and Wayne who resents his role as the oldest child until a tragedy strikes the family. There’s Taylor, a star baller and aspiring video director who just might be getting his first big shot in the industry; and rough and tumble T.C., from St. Louis, who’s struggling to find his place as a young man in a house full of girls.

Tyree has assembled a wide range of characters that reflect the diversity of experiences of Black boys—characters that are funny, serious, edgy, street-wise, studious, and all unforgettable.

To purchase 12 Brown Boys, visit

COMING SOON From the Teacher/Librarian Center: GETTING BOYS TO READ
For more information on Omar Tyree’s work and titles, please view his web site

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