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Detroiter writes new children’s book aimed at closing the 30 million word gap experienced by many low-income children


There’s a study out that shows low-income children hear 30 million fewer words by age three than their middle- and high-income counterparts. Detroiter Renee Prewitt says that’s unacceptable and she’s doing something about it by writing an action book aimed at young boys.

It is well known young boys have an interest in stories that star action heroes. The problem is the same kind of characters dominate video games.  This causes many young boys to abandon reading in favor of the more visually stimulating medium. Some studies even suggest young boys think that it is girly to read.

CoverFileTo combat these ideas Prewitt’s book is about characters who not only go on adventures, but ones young boys can relate to and learn to exercise good judgment.

The book is called Taj Cleans the Garage. It’s about a boy, named Taj, who wants new cars for his train set. The catch is they cost money.  So his parents have him earn the necessary funds by cleaning the garage.  The everyday chore then becomes an adventure… and on this adventure only Taj can save the day.

“This is the first in a series of books I’m writing to help close the 30 million word gap by age 3,” Prewitt says.

She based the book off of the kind she always wanted to find for her son when he was that age.  While looking for books to read to her now grown son, she was looking for good stories but also wanted ones that nurtured his identity as a young African American boy.

“I am developing a series of picture books designed to encourage young boys from ages 2-7 to read more,” says Prewitt.

During her promotional book tour, she plans to talk to parent groups about the 30-million-word-gap study and new findings in closing the achievement gap. “Reading to our children is so important,” she says, “but we should also engage them in conversation.

“At the same time, I am reinforcing, even introducing, some old school values I grew up with like doing chores to earn an allowance, and living by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The book also helps kids beyond just delivering the joy of reading.  Taj has 10 questions in the back of the book to help parents discuss his adventures with their children.  There is even a fun facts section included with the book.

So what about the girls? How will Taj Cleans the Garage fair with young girls?  Prewitt is confident it will attract their natural curiosity and leave them just as happy as the boys as they learn about the value of a dollar and “doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

Taj Cleans the Garage is illustrated by another Detroiter, Michael Nienber.  Nienber is a student at the College for Creative Studies.

The book is currently available for sale at BookBeat, Rainy Day Hobbies,, and  But if you want a more personal experience, the author herself will be signing copies of the book at Collision Works First Container in Eastern Market, 2930 Russell Street, on September 14 from 11 am to 1 pm.

Wondering about Collision Works First Container? Here’s a little detail.

A look inside First Container

A look inside First Container

Collision Works is a boutique hotel, co-working space, mentoring program and event venue. First Container is the prototype for the Collision Works hotel and is made from two freshly designed shipping containers. One container hosts pop-up retail and is a temporary space for local entrepreneurs to test business ideas. The second container is a “mini lobby” offering free WiFi, comfortable areas for people to gather and work and a stage for special programming and public events. Both Collision Works and First Container are designed “to foster and build community through interactive storytelling activities and events,” the website says.

What a great place to introduce Taj Cleans the Garage.

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