Flint parents celebrate son’s birthday with his own children’s book

FLINT, Michigan — Flint natives Sharonda Jones and Eric Woodyard didn’t want to just have a typical celebration for their son Ethan’s 5th birthday. They wanted to do something for him that truly honored his quest to find passions and the people in his life that he loves.

Their solution: they wrote a children’s book with Ethan and many of his friends and family as central characters.

“All of his friends and family have different talents, and he’s finding out what his is,” Woodyard said. “Me and his mom wanted to show that and do something special for him.”

"Ethan’s Talent Search" is co-written by Woodyard and Jones, and another Flint native, Shelby Baxter, did the illustrations. The book follows Ethan, who has become discouraged on his journey to discover his true talents while watching friends and classmates find their passions. He ultimately tries many things until he’s able to find the skills that make him unique and special.

“Legacy-wise, we wanted to do this book for him to show him how to walk the walk and talk the talk,” Woodyard said. “We want him and other kids to know they can be whatever they want to be.”

Ethan’s birthday party in March included him doing his first book signing. Woodyard also read the book to Ethan’s class at Doyle Ryder School. In addition to celebrating their son, Woodyard and Jones also hope the book inspires other kids in Flint.

This is the second novel penned by Woodyard. He released “Wasted” in 2015 while still working as a sports reporter for The Flint Journal. Woodyard now is the Utah Jazz reporter for the Deseret News. 

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“It is so important to show black kids in inner cities that they can be in books, that characters can look like them,” Woodyard said. “I hope kids just stay focused in the classroom and learn as many skills they can.”

Read more articles by Patrick Hayes.

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