Bryan’s First Book


Ashley Bryan at work on Sail Away, 2014.
Photo: Rose Russo, Newburyport, Massachusetts.


Sandy Campbell: Ashley made books throughout his life. In this clip, you’ll hear him talking about the first book he ever made, and how his first readers–his teacher and his parents -- reacted to it.

Ashley Bryan: I grew up in New York City, born in Harlem, raised in the Bronx, and in elementary school, kindergarten, we made our first books. As we learned the alphabet, we did pictures for each letter. And, we reached letter Z, the teacher gave us construction paper. We sewed the pages together, she said you've just published an alphabet book–you are the author, the illustrator, the binder. Take it home, you are the distributor as well. Now when I brought that book home I got so much praise for it I could hardly wait to go back to kindergarten and publish more books. When we learned the numbers we did pictures for each number, sewed it together, a numbers book, and learned to spell words, boy, cat, hat, box, block, sewed it together with a word book. And so I continued making books from kindergarten on, I've never stopped. All through the years I've made books as gifts, as presents for family and friends, and I continued that into college, taking a course in book illustration as well. But it had always been a part of my life as an artist, drawing and painting and making little books as gifts.