An Austin couple has published a children’s book that they say was inspired by their two daughters and their belief that there isn’t enough children’s literature that adequately represents people of color. 

Denise Johnson said that she and her husband, Malcolm Johnson, embarked on their debut literary project as an attempt to teach their daughters, 4-year-old Chloe and 6-year-old Mallory, how to read.

“We wanted to get them reading before they go to school,” Denise said in a recent interview. “But we didn’t see a lot of books with black kids in them. We wanted to show them a strong family with both parents in the picture.” 

Denise said that all of the characters in the self-published book, which is entitled Lotus and Lily Go to the Park, have different skin complexions — a reflection of the diversity that exists in the real world. 

The book was released in paperback late last year. There’s also an eBook version that’s avialable to order. 

The couple said that the work of publishing the book was also an illustrative life lesson — in cooperation and persistence, among other things — for the family. 

“I did the illustrations and she did a lot of the coloring,” Malcolm said during a Blog Talk Radio interview in December. “We took it upon ourselves to do everything in-house and go about it independently. It was a long process, but it was worthwhile.” 

Denise said that she and her husband, both retail professionals, hope to be creating and selling their books full-time in the future. 

As for their daughters’ reading efforts? 

“Our youngest daughter is still working on it,” Denise said. “She can identify colors and some sight words. We’re also working on getting her to know her numbers now. We want her going into pre-kindergarten knowing how to read.” 

To order the book, go to Amazon: For more info on the book, visit: 


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