Jeffrey Lee Cheatham II is the proud dad of an 11-year-old daughter and the author of three children’s books: The Family Jones and The Eggs of Rex, Why is Jane so Mad? and Hi Blue Sky. Since 2016, he’s organized and run The Seattle Urban Book Expo, an annual event, which showcases the literary work of black and brown authors.
“I want it to become a vehicle of advocacy to drive the importance of diversity in literature,” says Cheatham.
We caught up with Cheatham on parenting, writing and The Seattle Urban Book Expo.
Where might people run into your family around town?
Beacon Hill or the Central District. When we visit Beacon Hill, we visit our friends at The Station Coffee shop, El Centro de la Raza, and at Estelita’s Library. The one place we go to in the Central District is Wa Na Wari.
What do you find to be the most enjoyable part of parenting? The most challenging part?
What’s enjoyable about parenting is learning about the world through the eyes of my child. The challenging part of parenting is trusting my daughter to trust her own instincts.
How do you approach writing children's books?
My approach to writing books is to make sure I write a book that has a light tone but includes a message that invokes discussion within the families who read my books. Once I get an idea for a book, I have to visualize it from beginning to end before I can write it on paper. My writing space is a coffee shop and I try to write at least three times a week.
What's coming up for the Seattle Urban Book Expo in 2020?
Is there anything you're working on that the Seattle's Child community can help with?
I have partnered with a colleague of mine, to create a unique fundraiser and a book drive. Planning will begin shortly, but we want to have it in June. I will have announcements on my website and social media platforms.