Q+A Profile: Kentrell Martin, Published Author
Kentrell Martin is the author of Shelly’s Adventures series. He has published two amazing books: Shelly’s Outdoor Adventure and Shelly Goes to the Zoo.
The Shelly’s Adventures series is the first educational children’s book series to tell a story while incorporating American Sign Language. His books are a wonderful resource to introduce young children to American Sign Language. A Bonus feature, for many parents is the fact that his characters are of different nationalities, it represents the world we live in today. Kentrell Martin is not only a successful published author, but he is also a philanthropist. He returned to his hometown and donated over 350 books to students at underprivileged schools. This touched my heart, hence I had to reach out to him for an interview.
As we began to chat, I wondered what motivated him to write a children’s book on American Sign Language. The reason is really close to home for him. He grew up with a Deaf brother, and he became aware of the huge gap between the Deaf and Hearing communities, and this lead him to start his company, Shelly’s Adventures, LLC. Kentrell Martin is on a mission to bring awareness into the deaf communities, while introducing both children and parents to ASL. His ultimate goal is to turn his book series into animation and live action. An edited version of our conversation follows.
Q: Did you always want to be a writer?
A: No, never in a million years would I have thought that I would be a writer, especially not a Children’s book author.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in Gainesville, Fl, went to college at the University of New Orleans, and I’ve been living in the Tampa area ever since.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Being able to see smiles on kids faces when they learn some sign language. Being able to play a part in helping bridge the gap between the Deaf and Hearing world, and knowing that I can touch kids life as a role model.
Q: What is the one thing most people don’t know about you?
A: They don’t know that I come from low income living. Most people see this well put together professional and think that I had an easier life than my peers. They don’t know I’m one of those kids, that were told my chances of being successful beyond sports would be unlikely.
Q: In what way, does being a father influence you life?
A: Being a father influences my life in so many ways. It influences me to make smart decisions. I just can’t jump up and do something without considering the impact it may have. So my work ethic, appearance, actions, and even the way that I talk is influenced by me having kids. I must set an example for them and if I don’t display the qualities that I’m trying to teach them to have, I won’t be much of a role model.
Q: What is coming up next for you?
A: This year I plan to release 2 to 3 books. My oldest son (8) will be co-authoring one of the books. I’m still on a mission to visit 200 schools in a year and I’m on pace to doing that. Just getting out and speaking to kids and even educators about Deaf culture and ASL is always the mission so I plan to do that every chance that I get.
Q: What is the most important message you want to leave kids with through your books?
A: The most important message that I want to leave kids with is: Deaf people are no different than Hearing people. They can do everything that a hearing person can do besides hear. My goal is to teach kids, being deaf is just a communication barrier. It is no different than if we went to another country, which didn’t speak our language. I also want kids to see, even though Shelly has a Deaf father, she does everything else other kids do. The more kids that are aware, the better chance that we have in bridging the gap between the Deaf and hearing. Reason being those same kids will not view being Deaf as different, but rather will view them as a group of people who use a different language to communicate.
For more information on the Kentrell Martin and Shelly’s Adventure Series, visit www.shellysadventuresllc.com/