Ashley Franklin

Doing the Best I Can

I had the weirdest thought as I’m valiantly fighting this manuscript:
“I wish I could go to the grocery store and think.”


Yeah, I know “I write. I teach. I mom.” is my thing, but the Mom part is like 90% of my time. This means, like many parents, I am always multitasking. I didn’t realize the extent of it until we started staying home in March. 😩MARCH!


I am tired—physically & mentally. I am also tired of being afraid. It’s exhausting. I’m afraid that this invisible nightmare could shatter my life, like it has done so many others, at any given second.
It’s the constant state of feeling like I’m doing all the things )yet none of the things) that gets to me. And it’s all under a wide-reaching umbrella of anxiety.


I wish I was able to release one of those infamous breaths in books that I didn’t know I was holding. (Come on, I know you’ve read a line something like that at some point in your life.) But I KNOW that I’m holding this. I don’t know if holding it is what’s keeping me together or if the release is what I need to feel lighter.


I don’t have a lesson or a tidy moral to this story. Maybe I just wanted to share a very real moment with you–just in case you’re feeling overwhelmed too. Maybe I’m tired of fighting the same manuscript I’ve been working on for months when I can usually write one in a couple of weeks and it is a fun distraction to write something completely different.
Maybe I regret not realizing that holding 90s & early 2000s nostalgia concerts behind a shopping cart in Walmart was one of my mental happy places.


But I know that this too shall pass. I have every right to a range of emotions, as we are experiencing a pandemic, after all.
I hope that after this, after life seems a little less scary and a little more predictable, that we all will savor moments of joy no matter how small. Inshallah, I know I will try my best to do so.

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Why I Write for Kids

I was an only child for the first nine years of my life. I spent much of my early years living with my grandparents.

Like any other kid, I had a lot of toys. And being an only child didn’t stop me from having friends and playing outside. Still, my favorite memories are always the ones where I was cuddled up with a book.

We didn’t have a lot, but I never wanted for a lot. I always had what I needed.

Looking back as an adult and talking things over w/ my grandmother, I was surprised at the reality of things.

Me: “Wow, I guess you could say our family has never had much.”

Mom Mom: “Much?! All we’ve had is our Blackness.”

But for me, that wasn’t the whole truth. I also had books. They sometimes came from thrifts stores, like some of my clothes, but they served their purpose just the same. They kept me covered. They covered me from bad days, disappointments, heartaches, and heartbreaks.

I learned perspective. I learned what it was like seeing myself written on the page. I learned the sadness and contempt of being excluded-more than windows and mirrors, shadows and silhouettes.

Books taught me to love words and the magic they can create. It’s simple when you think of it like that.

What kid doesn’t believe in magic? I guess I write because I want to help more kids see the magic within themselves.

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Get in, kid me, we’re going to Florida!

As promised, here’s the Scholastic post.

My childhood highlights consist mostly of book related things–reading books of all kinds, spending recess re-shelving books, the Book-It program, and the Scholastic Book Fair.

I often think about kid me when I am writing or coming up with ideas. I wonder if she would be proud of what I’ve written so far. And since she was a bit of a perfectionist, I often wonder if she thinks I’m playing it safe with my writing and need to take it a step further.

Here’s what I do know about kid me: She would have had her tiny backpack filled and ready seconds after getting the email asking if I was interested in doing a promo video for the Scholastic Book Fairs.

IF?! Months before, I thought it wouldn’t get any better than having NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE be a part of the book fairs starting in the Fall of 2020. Just a week after getting this mind-blowing email in early March, I was boarding a plan and headed to Florida.

Was I nervous? Goodness, yes! Did I show it? Goodness, no! Honestly, like Tameika in NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE, I had a moment of doubt. I wondered if I wasn’t quite right to be the one being flown out to places, having car service, shooting promo videos and the like. I wondered if they’d made a mistake and actually wanted someone more important who had been writing for longer and made a larger impact in the kidlit industry.

They got me in all of my goofy glory, and they were okay with that. Thanks to the Scholastic team for making me feel comfortable and special (At the same time!) and Quinn from Theater West End for granting us use of his gorgeous theater (more on everything I loved about the theater later).

Where will my writing journey take me to next? I have NO idea. What I do know is that I’m going to continue to write, and maybe I’ll soar past my wildest writing dreams.

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This Little Light of Mine

I’ve had some good things happen lately–REALLY good things. Still, I’ve had a strange feeling that I have no right to celebrate these good things. It’s a nagging, internal voice that asks a simple, yet powerful question: How could you?

How could I enjoy and celebrate personal gains when the world is in an extreme state of disarray? Fine. I’ll be realistic. The world right now is scary and chaotic. I had a great opportunity arise related to Not Quite Snow White (and I promise I’ll blog about that super soon). Instead of taking time to bask in how great the opportunity made me feel, I was filled with anxiety.

My mind was in a constant state of turmoil. I mean, it truly outdid itself this time: I’ll have to travel to do it. But, I wouldn’t have to travel too far. It would be a short trip. Then again, I need to have gallbladder surgery soon. Is it even safe to travel? Of course I need to do this. This is the dream come true. But what if chasing dreams turns into a nightmare and I bring this mysterious illness back to my family. My kids have asthma! What kind of a mother am I? But…isn’t this a great opportunity for us? Or…honestly, is this selfish to do right now?

Did I make the right decision? I made a decision. That was hard enough. So, I’ve decided not to dwell on whether or not it was right or wrong. I feel like there are too many variables at play, and I made the decision with the support of my family.

What does this vague story have to do with anything? Coronavirus is unsettling, unnerving, and it has made many of us feel unstable. We’re taught to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. In our current situation, that may be easier said than done.

For my own sanity’s sake, I’ve had to shift my thinking. At my grandma’s church, they used to sing this song: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Even the smallest of lights can beat back the darkness. Whatever brings you the smallest bit of joy, that you can still safely enjoy, do it! With each additional thing that you do, your light will shine a bit brighter. Protect your light. Find your energy source. And remember, we are practicing social distancing, but this doesn’t mean that you’re alone. Stay connected. Stay radiant.

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Have a Heart: Using Children’s Literature to Create More Dynamic and Inclusive Classroom Discussions (Part 1)

On April 28, 2019, I had the honor of doing my very first conference presentation. The occasion: AAIM (Arkansas Association of Instructional Media) 2019. My presentation was well-received (THANK YOU!), so I wanted to share it as a series of blog posts for anyone interested, who wanted a recap, or who might have missed it. I hope these posts encourage you to think about your role in helping to shape our youths’ minds as they learn the truly transformative power of books.

My First Conference: AAIM

What’s on your bookshelf?

A Deceptively Simple Question

“What’s in your wallet?” -Capital One

Commercials have to work extra hard today in order to be memorable. Let’s be honest. Most of us skip them whenever we’re able. However, let’s not overlook the beauty of this question. The basic answer is not truly the goal–money, cash, credit/ debit cards, and many a tiny picture of a loved one if you haven’t gone fully digital.

But that’s truly not the goal. The goal is to get you to question if what’s in your wallet is doing its job. Is it meeting your needs? Is it fulfilling its purpose? And if it’s not, what do you plan to do about it?

Today, my librarian friends, I want to ask a question of you that’s essential to your profession: “What’s on your bookshelf?”

By taking a closer look at the children’s literature on your shelves, you’ll be able to assess if your collections are:

  • Meeting your students’ needs
  • More reflective of your personal tastes than the tastes of your students
  • Providing students with the emotional tools to navigate their environments
  • Instrumental in starting and/or continuing difficult conversations

and of course, helping students to have a heart.

The Beginning

Thanks to constant rezoning and the uptick of fairly homogeneous neighborhoods, children’s literature could be a child’s first encounter with someone from another culture. For many children, those first literary experiences are rooted in fairytales.

**Coming in Part 2: Fairytales, the work of Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s, and restructuring your bookshelves**

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