Hello and welcome to the week of #BlackoutBestsellerList, an initiative created by Amistad Books to help close the racial inequality gap in publishing. This week, Amistad Books is asking everyone to buy two books by Black authors, hoping to flood the bestseller lists with Black voices — and we know exactly what your first buy should be. Blake Shelton, who we love even more after this story, tweeted out his support for Black author Frankie Williams’ kids book The Merdragon, and her book has shot up on bestseller lists ever since. But wait, there’s more — this wasn’t just a random act of kindness on Shelton’s behalf, and his connection to Williams will have you bawling.
Last year, Williams’ 36-year-old daughter Shauntae tragically passed away from undiagnosed heart disease. Grief-stricken, Williams told TMZ that she found solace in Shelton and Craig Morgan’s country song “The Father, My Son and The Holy Ghost,” about the death of Morgan’s own son. She reached out to Shelton on Twitter about her situation, and the country star responded with words of encouragement, telling her he was inspired by her strength.
Hi @blakeshelton not sure if you remember me or not☺ I would love too send you a copy of my new book☺a year ago you reached out to me about the passing of my daughter.I wrote #TheMerdragon for her.If you'd rather order it yourself here's the link❤ https://t.co/eAJmcLSU0G pic.twitter.com/6hJpdAtkQW
— Frankie williams (@Frankie85226057) June 8, 2020
Williams credits Shelton’s encouragement with her decision to write a kids’ book in honor of Shauntae, which turned into The Merdragon. Now that the finished product is out for sale, she tweeted at Shelton again to let him know how much his kind words had meant to her. “Hi @blakeshelton not sure if you remember me or not,” she wrote. “I would love [to] send you a copy of my new book. A year ago you reached out to me about the passing of my daughter. I wrote #TheMerdragon for her.”
I’ll order it… Actually let’s all order it!!! https://t.co/NwAQH99JUB
— Blake Shelton (@blakeshelton) June 9, 2020
Shelton’s response? “I’ll order it…Actually let’s all order it!!!”
Within hours of pressing send, Williams’ book sales were already rising. Williams told TMZ that her book went from being in the 400s on Amazon’s kids book charts to being in the top 5 in three different categories, and she can’t begin to express her gratitude.
“His act of kindness towards me will always have a special place in my heart,” Williams tweeted of Shelton — and we agree. If any other celebrities are wondering how to spend their time this week, tweeting out recommendations by Black authors seems like a great place to start.
Click here to see more beautiful children’s books by Black authors and artists.