Ty Allan Jackson
Ty is an award-winning children’s book author, literacy advocate, and captivating motivational speaker. In 2011 he founded Big Head Books, LLC, a literacy organization that aims to introduce children to the joys of reading. Ty travels around the country inspiring children and educating adults about the impacts of illiteracy.
A three-time TedX presenter, Ty believes that literacy is the foundation for a successful life and promotes it with humor and enthusiasm. Ty’s work as an author and literacy advocate earned him the Massachusetts inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Content of Character Award, as well as citations from the Massachusetts Governor, Senator, and the House of Representatives.
Ty’s books have been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, The Steve Harvey Show, PBS and countless other media outlets. In 2012, Ty’s books were gifted to former First Lady Michelle Obama by his hometown mayor. He is the co-founder of the Read or Else movement and Danny Dollar Academy.
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Did you always enjoy reading?
I grew up surrounded by books. They were in every room of my house, and my mother was constantly reading despite being a single mom raising two boys and working two jobs. To this day, books remind me of home.
What has been the most influential book in your life?
It’s impossible to choose just one, but three come to mind. The first is Native Son by Richard Wright, because it was the first novel I ever read AND the first book I had read featuring a black man as the protagonist. The second is The Autobiography of Malcolm X because it taught me about redemption and the power of being able to change who you are. The last is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein because it captures the magic that is bestowed on our children through literature.
When did you write your first book?
In 2009 my seven year old son, Ajayi, asked if he could open a lemonade stand. After selling lemonade for a few hours, he made $50. Ajayi asked what he should do with all that money… and I didn’t know. I went to a book store to search for books that teach children about finance and entrepreneurship, and I couldn’t find a single book. So I wrote one. Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire: The Lemonade Escapade was born in the parking lot of that very book store.
You are known for your love of comic books.
Why are comic books so important to you?
I grew up reading them. Comic book heroes are known for characteristics like nobility, courage, honor, strength, goodwill, wit and selflessness. These are all characteristics that I carry with me every day and try to project on the young people that I meet.
“Ty Allan Jackson is an electrifying public speaker.
His passion for the subject matter is infectious.”
– Tatousha Narcisse Smith, Chair of Black Employee Inclusion Network, Guardian Life
“[Ty] will energize the students, inspire less accomplished readers, and present an image of an author as a “rock star” in a way that connects reading and writing to the kind of fan enthusiasm one sees in music or sports.”
– Joelle Brookner, Principal, Williamstown Elementary