Today we’d like to introduce you to lehman Riley.
Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
It was after the Rodney King beating that night. I was trying to sleep; that’s when it hit me! My calling is to write historical stories, to inspire our youth to learn about multicultural history by using my grandfather “Papa Lemon” as the main character. He inspired me as a child! My grandfather was born in 1896 in the small town of West, Mississippi. He owned over 240 acres of his own his land and worked on the railroad for forty-seven years. He was admired by both Black & White. I remember my childhood visits during the summer from Minneapolis, Minnesota to West, Mississippi. Everyone walked up to Papa Lemon to talk, laugh, and tell jokes. I thought he was a celebrity! I am making history fun by using my grandfather & his magical train to take a group of racially diverse 5th graders back in time to learn about our nation’s history.
I published my 1st Papa Lemon Book in 2004. It’s been a wild ride filled with many ups and downs! There have been 9 Papa Lemon Books published and I have spoken to more than 20,000 youth. During my school visits it’s been a tremendous joy to see the positive look in children’s eyes when they hear me talk about history and are given the chance to tell their stories. There has also been pain. My 7th book is about depression and 8th book is about bullying. Many children are dealing with these issues. Hopefully, these 2 books will help the children with their struggles. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has written a positive review about the depression book.
The most painful experience I’ve had in my author journey is writing my 9th book. My 23 year-old daughter was murdered in June 2020. Somehow, with only the strength from God, I mustered up the courage to write a book about Grief. The title of the book is “Losing Lizzy, A Story of Grief”. My prayer is this book will help a reader navigate this extremely painful journey.
Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Not a smooth road at all!! If I had known all the obstacles, I might have rethought being a children’s author. However, I truly believe this is God’s assignment. If it weren’t hard, everyone would do it. The smiles on the children’s faces and hearing their stories make it all worth it.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I think I have a gift for storytelling, getting kids excited to write their stories & giving them the confidence to speak in front of a group setting. I always meet every child where they are at and engage with the children without judgement. When people speak about me, they always mention how I tell a story in a calm way that draws my audience to my every word.
What characteristic of yours would you give the most credit if you had to?
Being myself! I can’t do what I do by copying someone else style. Kids can sniff out someone who is not authentic.
- The Adventures of Papa Lemon’s Little Wanderers: Abraham Lincoln’s Battle With Depression $7.00
- The Adventures of Papa Lemon’s Little Wanderers: Bullying a Choice With Consequences $7.00
- The Adventures of Papa Lemon’s Little Wanderers: Losing Lizzy A Story of Grief $12.00 (Available Late August)