I first met the King family earlier this year at a pop-up market near Johnson C. Smith University. I was drawn to a display of colorful books, behind which sat Myneesha King and her son, 12-year-old Josiah, who introduced me to their family and the family business: The Kings’ Press Publishing LLC.
Myneesha and her husband Ron King launched The Kings’ Press in 2018. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they moved their family to Charlotte in 2013 where Ron became a social studies teacher at West Charlotte High School and Myneesha taught theatre at multiple schools around Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties. Their love of learning, spreading knowledge, and writing stories inspired them to create a publishing company to help others share their own.
“Being able to encourage people to speak for themselves and express themselves in a way that will help them improve their lives – that is the mission,” Ron said.
This mission expands to people of all ages, including children. Three children in particular have been very active in fulfilling it: Judah, Josiah, and Jeremiah King, the three school-aged sons of the Kings, work as “associates” to their parents. Each son is also a published author. I myself am a proud owner of Josiah’s book, Outer Space & Me, which I bought upon meeting the family at their market booth at Johnson C. Smith.
Josiah, who is now a sixth grader at Piedmont IB Middle School, was inspired to write his book in the fourth grade when he felt his science education was lacking.
“I loved science, that was my favorite subject,” Josiah told me. “I came home and told my mom and dad that we weren’t being taught science.”
Myneesha promptly spoke with Josiah’s teacher and administrators, trying to advocate for a sharper focus on science in Josiah’s class. While the school claimed to have integrated the subject in with their other lessons, Josiah and his parents did not feel that was sufficient.
“Being educators ourselves, we knew what the curriculum was supposed to look like, and we weren’t seeing that,” Myneesha said.
Myneesha eventually worked her way up to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education to address the same issue, but was never met with much of a response. Nevertheless, Josiah’s scientific curiosity persisted. Building on an end-of-grade school presentation he made to his class that year, Josiah eventually wrote his own science book.
“When I brought [my presentation] in and I showed it to everyone and taught it, everybody loved it,” Josiah recalled. “My dad reviewed it the night before because he wanted it to be really good, and then he was like, ‘This could be a great book.'”
Along with publication, the Kings offer a number of services, including pre-publishing consultations for artistic support, editing, and post-publication marketing and promotions. As he would with a client, Josiah’s dad aided him in the creation of his concept and the revision of his work. Eventually, the Kings’ Press published it.
Not just a start to Josiah’s writing career, Ron and Myneesha see Outer Space & Me as a potential pilot for a new program focusing on child authors they’re calling Build-a-Book.
“Build-a-Book is about honoring the creativity, the intelligence, the maturity, and the voice of the kid, and then pointing them in the right direction to where they can see the value of their voice,” Ron said. “It’s about embodying all of these concepts of entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation, and education.”
Their goal is to offer the program to young authors while hosting workshops for schools and other organizations. For now, however, the program remains in the development phases.
Both Judah, grade 7 at Piedmont; and Jeremiah, grade 3 at Parkside Elementary School, have published their own books, too. Judah, an aspiring professional basketball player, wrote King on the Court: A Handbook for Young Ballers as a way to “use the knowledge I have to give other kids tips to get better and how to have more fun playing.”
Jeremiah’s book, King for a Day! is about him being the king of his imaginary town, J-Town. “It teaches little kids that the more you grow up, the more responsibilities and privileges you get,” Jeremiah said.
Both Myneesha and Ron are also authors – Myneesha has a children’s book called Angels Don’t Wear Wings – They Wear Jackets! and Ron has recently developed an interactive textbook that encourages reflection and writing skills through a story about the pandemic titled The Day the World Stopped Working.
With five working authors under one roof, the King household serves as a think tank for new ideas.
“We have something that we like to call writing rooms,” Myneesha said, “where we get together as a family and someone will pitch their ideas, and we’ll give feedback and give each other ideas.”
“Those writing rooms get loud, it gets personal!” Ron laughed. “But it’s fun.”
The only rule for the writing rooms: “You always have to give your true opinion,” Judah said.
The products of the writing rooms and all of the Kings’ books can be purchased through their website, as well as on Amazon. You can also find the Kings’ bookshop in-person, as they often set up at the Chicken Box Café on West Sugar Creek Road or at local events like the weekly Black Food Truck Fridays on Westpark Drive in southwest Charlotte.
The Kings’ Press will also make an appearance at an upcoming Juneteenth celebration hosted by SAE Productions, taking place on Freedom Drive.
“We’ll be anywhere we can set up that’s not illegal,” Judah said.
The King family feels lucky to pursue their creative and entrepreneurial goals together, and fortunate that they all find working together to be fun.
“For me, there’s no greater joy than knowing that what we have to offer as a family is inspirational to other people and motivating them to get closer and develop skills together,” Myneesha said. “We’re about family bonding, and we get to show that by working together.”
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