One virtue that remains consistent over time is the value of quality family time. This includes the importance of reading with your children and providing an environment for them to feel loved and accepted. TV personality and author Monyetta Shaw brings those two values together with her new release The Chronicles of Nice Guy Maso, a children’s book based on her son Mason Shaw-Smith, whom she co-parents with singer/songwriter Ne-Yo. The work is already a #1 new release on Amazon.
The Chronicles of Nice Guy Maso was written to teach Shaw’s own children to practice kindness and pursue their dreams. “It’s an inspiring and powerful story of acceptance, character and courage,” she shares. It’s an illustrious tale of what happens when “one boy’s kindness becomes his unassuming super power.” Mason also recorded a motivational song to go along with the book, entitled “Nice Guy.”
“I was totally prepared to be the parent that forced music on my kids for their own good,” says Ne-Yo via email of his kids, including Mason and Madilyn, whom he shares with Shaw. “But I didn’t have to! They took to it like ducks to water and I couldn’t be more proud! Not only do they like it, they’re actually really good at it! The mental benefit of having an outlet like music is a blessing in itself. They surprise me every day. I’m proud every day!”
This is not Shaw’s first foray into writing. Her previous titles include Keep It Classy and Bigger Than Me, books on successful co-parenting, and her debut children’s book, The Adventures of Maddie, inspired by daughter Madilyn.
We recently spoke with Shaw about the joys of parenthood, the importance of family, and how she’s been spending her newfound quality time during the pandemic, including with her fiancé.
MadameNoire: Literature seems to be of value to you. What inspired you to write children’s stories?
Monyetta Shaw: Wow, this is my second children’s book. The first one I wrote about my daughter, The Adventures of Maddie: Meet Maddie (2013). And of course, I didn’t leave out Mason so I got around to it now, and it was perfect timing. Such a time of joy. Just the joyful spirit that both of them are. I wanted to let them see themselves out there in literature because it’s few and far between. Actually, there was a study in 2018 that found that 10 percent of literature was written about Black children, and of that 10 percent only five percent was written by a Black author. So, representation matters and is very important to me to show my kids a positive example with someone who looks like them. That was a no-brainer for me.
Family is also very important to you. What are some reading rituals and routines you share with your children?
Since they were just little googoo-gagas I’ve always read bedtime stories to them. So definitely after bath time when they were little, I would read and have them pick out a book or read what I think they would like, depending on age. We would always read at night from when they were younger up until now. Of course now they’ll pick out their own books or sometimes they’ll read to me. We just make sure they get their reading time in because it’s super important, always has been. I always tell my children, “You can go anywhere you want in the world, in a book. And the knowledge you gain, no one can take away from you.” It’s super important. So since they were born, I’ve always read to them and reading time was a big thing for us.
Reading has already seemed to have a positive impact on your family. How do you hope the book will impact other children and families?
I hope this book in particular will start a conversation. Especially the timing of the book, it’s right on time because of the state of the world. This book focuses on inclusion, being kind to one another, despite what someone looks like, their religion, what they may or may not have. It focuses on letting the reader see you should judge them for their character, how they treat you, rather than what they look like. And hello, what are we living in now? It’s a simple message that will go so far. And when the adults are reading it to the children, it might take them back to those lessons. So definitely, start the conversation. Take that message and share it: just treat others the way you want to be treated. Take it back to that.
The pandemic and quarantine have changed the way we interact with our loved ones. You recently got engaged. How has it been navigating a new relationship at this time?
Well, we’re actually not new. When I spoke to you back in 2018 about the other book, we were dating but I wasn’t really hiding him from the world. What did Drake say? [laughs] But, you know, I just had to make sure, too, because it’s not just me anymore, it’s the kids. It’s been really good, even with quarantine. It’s been slowing down. My fiancé has been in and out, so just having that family time and of course, with the kids’ dad, he’s been sitting down more so he’s been able to give that time he wouldn’t normally be able to give, which is a blessing. That also makes me more open for my boo time, which is a good thing for our relationship, to just have some alone time and get down to the basics.
I know a lot of people have been getting to know their kids more during this time, because you’re always on the go. Like I’ve always been connected to them but getting the little peeks of them has been such a blessing in disguise. I don’t think I could have gotten any closer to my kids, but hey, I did. We were already so close. And like I said, that alone time that I was able to have with my fiancé when they were with their father, it’s been really good. We also have more family time. We just recently went on a ski trip for New Year’s, the kids, [my fiancé’s] daughter and his mom. It was amazing. Just spending time with one another, it’s been super good.
You speak on legacy a lot. Building on your current legacy, are you looking to extend your family in the near future? Is that something you’ve considered?
We have a beautiful blended family on both sides, so we just put them first. When we make a move we consider all parties. And yeah, it’s such a joy, the family with both sets of kids that we do have right now. So we’ll see later on if, you know [laughs], if there are any more extensions. But right now we’re in a really good place.
You are an advocate for co-parenting. What advice do you have for other parents who may have a blended family and/or those co-parenting in high-profile circumstances?
Yes. They make fun of me because I’m big on routines, but I’ve had to be since the beginning, otherwise I would have went crazy. So that worked for me, even if everyone’s not on board. Just being organized and figuring out the dates because of course with my children’s dad being who he is and being on the road, of course I have to be more lenient and accepting. That’s the beauty of our blended family. And like I said before, with the pandemic, the blessing within the curse has been this extra time. So yeah, get on a schedule and communicate. That’s one thing — like one of the most important things because things come up. I talk about that in Keep It Classy about positive co-parenting. Just communicate, because things come up and of course, people get in their feelings. Honestly, just putting your ego to the side and doing what’s best for the kids, that’s been the number one thing. It’s not always peaches and cream or perfect, but for the kids, it can be. You can make it pleasant.
The pandemic has also changed the way we interact with books from schools to libraries. How can parents and children discover your book and interact with you?
I recently did a small, intimate launch here in Atlanta with a book, and it went great. My son did a theme song with the book, and he premiered that and it was amazing. I’ll be doing one in my hometown soon, but of course we’ll be following the COVID rules and everything. Recently, I partnered with Dekalb County, one of the biggest school counties here, and we’re going to do a virtual reading and questionnaire, which will be on March 4 on Zoom. We can have up to like 500 children, so I’m super excited about that part and the ways we can connect, talk and have discussions about the book. And I’ll be doing more of those as well. So if you go to my Instagram page and Facebook, I’m starting a YouTube for kids with Mason’s music being out there. I want a platform for that as well. And his music is available on all streaming platforms. My website will be updated as well and will have all the readings on there.
The Chronicles of Nice Guy Maso is available now in paperback and hardcover, everywhere books are sold. You can learn more about Monyetta Shaw on her website monyettashaw.com.