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From the Playground to Publishing, 8-yr-old Author, Amal, Shares Her World as a Budding Scribe

Third grader Amal Aminu is gaining new fans of all ages, one chapter book at a time.
Amal at her favorite playground. Photo: Provided/ Anderson Zaca.

Eight-year-old Amal Aminu shares one thing in common with many of us: the fear of starting something new.

Even so, the ambitious writer is facing her fears head-on and pursuing her goal of becoming an even better writer and illustrator than she was last year. 

“I’ve never experienced making so many words on one page until now,” Aminu said.

The Crown Heights third-grader already has three hand-written chapter books under her repertoire and is laying the framework for her next literary piece.

Her works, “Lola And The Dragons,” “Horns And Wings And the Secrets of Fire" and "Horns And Wings And The Power of Ice," are each eight handwritten chapters long. Aminu captivates her readers, which span classmates and community members, with her vivid imagination and whimsical illustrations of magical beasts and fantasy worlds on each page.

“Writing is really fun and inspiring. It makes you feel creative, and you get to write whatever you want out of your mind,” Aminu said.

“Normally in life, you can’t just do whatever you want like go straight to the water park, but you can write that in a book and fantasize it.”

Amal Aminu working on her latest story. Photo: Provided/ Amal's sister, Lola Schiffer-Kehou, age 9.
Amal Aminu working on her latest story. Photo: Provided/ Amal's godsister, Lola Schiffer-Kehou, age 9.

Although Aminu showed early signs of great storytelling, she didn’t quite warm up to learning how to read, a skill she saw was critical to writing her stories.

“Reading was boring but creating was better,” she said.

“I told my mom 'I’m not 30 years old; I can’t do this.'”

Aminu's fantasy world eventually came to life through learning how to read non-fiction and thrilling fantasy books, as well as support from her family and community. The author was inspired by her older brother, Omar, who fills old blank notebooks with his own stories, and begged her mom for one of her own.

Her godsister Lola is the muse for her first chapter book,  “Lola And The Dragons.” Eventually, her mom’s artist friends nudged her to share her work publicly, noting how detailed the young artist was with her art and word choices. 

Amal takes inspiration from fairytales and the world around her. Provided/ Amal's sister, Lola Schiffer-Kehou, age 9.
Amal takes inspiration from fairytales and the world around her. Provided/ Amal's godsister, Lola Schiffer-Kehou, age 9.

Aminu's mom, Lyndsay McDonough, described Aminu's journey as 'effortless' since the young author’s zeal for creating books existed before she could read or write.

“All I did was buy blank books because she seemed interested. This isn’t me — it’s all Amal,” McDonough said. 

“The blank page does not intimidate Amal — it just inspires her. It’s all coming from her, and that’s what I’m most proud of,” McDonough said.

“She writes the chapters before she ever writes the first words of the story,” McDonough said.

"She’s got in her mind what happens in each chapter and then she just goes for it."

McDonough said she encourages other parents and their children to explore the world of reading and writing. 

The young author approaches her work-life balance by attending the Co-Op School with her peers by day and working on her chapter books before bedtime.

Aminu and her mother look forward to new ways to share her love of reading and writing with other young readers. Her work isn't publically available yet, but Aminu hopes to have her work featured in the local public library or as audiobooks on a digital platform soon.