Monday, February 20, 2023

Black Author Fighting Poverty Donates 1,000’s of Books to Kids in Jamaica and Ghana

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Renaee Smith, an award-winning educator and children’s book author who lives in Union County, New Jersey. Via her own non-profit, Independent Authors Book Experience, she has donated thousands of books to children locally, nationally, and internationally including in countries like Jamaica and Ghana. Her newest book, Freddie Learns the Value of Money, takes young readers on a financial literacy journey with the main character, Freddie, as he learns how to budget and save money to purchase a new bicycle.

Freddie Learns the Value of Money is a short story written for children ages 6 to 12 is part of a five-book series, helping children develop an understanding of hard work, family values, giving back to the community, and helping the environment.

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I model Freddie after my three sons, who while all grown up, will always be little boys in my heart,” states Renaee. “I wanted to make sure that I feature a Black boy as the main character so that they can see themselves in my books. I also made sure to include multicultural characters as well. Representation is so important, and I hope that in incorporating a variety of backgrounds in my stories, I am doing my part to leave a positive legacy for my children and grandchildren.”

Financial literacy has declined across the nation according to a study released by the Ohio State University. The federal government has worked to increase awareness of this life skill including establishing the Financial Literacy and Education Commission under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. Freddie Learns the Value of Money works to show children how to handle funds, as well as exposes how easy it can be to be tempted to spend while trying to reach your goals.

“I am incredibly proud of the series, and I feel that everyone – young and old – can take something away from each story,” states Renaee. “When I write, I am often inspired by my environment. This includes playing an active role in making the world a better place. Previously, I acted as a sitting member for my town’s Board of Education, and am the proud founder of a nonprofit for authors, Independent Authors Book Experience. I also work at a nonprofit working to end homelessness in Union County, New Jersey – The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. So Freddie tends to be very engaged with his community and helping others.”

Each book in the series contains vivid full-color illustrations combined with educational messages so that parents can address a variety of topics.

• Freddie Learns the Value of Money, her latest book, features financial literacy lessons in an easy-to-understand way for children.

• Freddie Goes to the Beach talks about the value of family.

• In The Great Compost Heap, readers join Freddie as he learns about recycling using kitchen and garden waste, and how he can make a difference in his community.

• Freddie’s First Race teaches a valuable lesson on perseverance, hard work, staying focused, and never giving up.

• Freddie’s Good Deed explains that doing good things for others should be done because it is the right thing to do.

Along with her Freddie series, Renaee has also published a book with her mother Nella Perrier, Dorianne the Baker, as Dorianne bakes cookies to sell at a class bake sale. Coupled with easy-to-make recipes, this book is sure to delight both adults and children. Her story Who Turned the Lights Out? broaches the difficult conversation of homelessness and poverty in an approachable fashion. Proceeds from this book benefit the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. Finally, Smith has published two award-winning cookbooks featuring her Jamaican roots, taking readers for a delectable journey of flavors from the Island.

For more information about Renaee and her books, visit


Award-winning author Renaee Smith has loved books for as long as she can remember. As a child growing up in Montego Bay, Jamaica, she recalls always being engrossed in her reading to the exclusion of all.

As an adult, she continues her passion for the arts, promoting literacy for all while continually dreaming up new stories to share, sometimes quite literally, as the first book in her Freddie series, The Great Compost Heap, struck her one night while asleep. Renaee continues to be busy when not writing, working for a nonprofit to fight homelessness and poverty in Union County, New Jersey, selling both homemade crochet wear and baked goods, and playing mother to three sons and wife to a doting husband.

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Posted by community events coordinator, Nzinga Lonstein Austin, is a prolific blogger who writes on the entertainment industry and issues for people with developmental and physical challenges.

She is presently in high school looking to have a career in video, film, and media. You can see more of her entertainment writing on Lonstein Movies.

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