ALEXANDRIA, VA – Alexandria resident, local educator and math education leader Valerie D. Johnson is the author of 1 2 3 Account with me on grandpa’s farm. His first book, he was released in August 2022 and is currently ranked #1 in two of Amazon Kindle’s children’s categories: Baby & Toddler Counting Books and Children’s Nonfiction Animal Books. In addition, the book won The Literary Titan Guest Book Award. Not bad for your first outing!
As a child, Johnson disliked math, she felt her teachers were more focused on memorization and less on understanding the concepts behind solving the problem. “My love of mathematics only came when I became a teacher. Over the past 10 to 15 years, as new research has been published, we have a better understanding of how children learn. They are visual learners and having a positive math mindset is important,” Johnson said.
She comes from a family of educators, her aunt is Catherine Johnson, a mathematician who during her years at NASA made many vital technical contributions, including calculating the trajectory of astronaut Alan Shepard’s historic flight in 1961 when he became the first American to reach the space. Of her aunt, Johnson said, “Her love of counting helped write history.”
His inspiration for the frame of the book also came from his family. “My grandfather owned a 100-acre farm in Chatham, Virginia, and every summer I visited him,” she said. To give children a foothold, she added, “it’s important to connect math in the classroom to the real world, like counting animals on a farm or looking for patterns in nature.”
The characters in the book feature Johnson as a young child and his grandfather, spending time together doing different tasks – and counting as they go. By mixing her family story with history, her first book pays homage to her and is the legacy of her teaching career which already spans more than 30 years.
From the moment of the light bulb to the published product, the project took more than two years. “I decided to write history, I joined many critic groups such as SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and went to book fairs and workshops where they helped me polish my story. She started her own imprint, West Oak Lane Kids and self-published, launching his second career as an author and entrepreneur.
Johnson already has a screenplay for her second children’s book (promoting a positive math mindset) and a third devoted to fractions. “I love math and want to ignite a love of math in all children with math-themed books. Children can enjoy and learn math at high levels if it’s connected to the real world, visually, practical, encourage discussion and are, above all, FUN!”
1 2 3 Account with me on grandpa’s farm is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target and Walmart.
READ ALSO: Ariel Ventura-Lazo, finalist for the $100,000 Global Student Prize