Former Memphis teachers use book of inventions to inspire children

Former Memphis teachers use book of inventions to inspire children
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Two Memphis sisters, who are both former teachers, decided to use their knowledge in the classroom to inspire children. Yvonne and Sonya Johnson wrote the book, "The Ride of Pride," to showcase the contributions African-Americans made when it comes to everyday items used by people around the world.

Things such as The Super Soaker, Caller I.D., the potato chip, and more were invented by African-Americans.

"We wanted to tell a story about the different inventions you would encounter by black inventors during your everyday life," Yvonne Johnson, Ph.D, said.

The book follows a young boy named Jailyn as his parents encourage him to focus on his school work and learn more about the influence of black inventors.

The idea first came about when Yvonne and Sonya were teachers in the district formerly known as Memphis City Schools.

"Every Black History Month I would ask my students to research a black inventor," Yvonne Johnson said.

Sonya took a different approach and asked her students to not just research, but invent something themselves.

"I asked my students during Black History month where they do projects, they actually had to make inventions," Sonya said.

The sisters chose to use those lessons and write a book. Their father, Lee Johnson, created all of the illustrations.

"He always encouraged us to think outside the box. He said, 'You'll never be rich working for someone else,'" Yvonne said.

"The Ride of Pride" was first released in 2007 when the sisters were still busy with school. Now, they both have their Ph.Ds and re-released the book with a new cover, and even more inventions. They're hoping to inform and inspire Mid-South children one page at a time.

"You'd be surprised how limited some students are just through their neighborhood, so they need to be exposed to more things to know that you, too, can accomplish your goals...don't limit yourself."

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