Sisters Franki and Elle Bryant each have a clear perspective on what they like in colors, images and words in the books and videos they see. The thoughts of these siblings are key in the creation of new material for “Learning with GoGo,” an inclusive approach to education for young learners.
“We have a goal of promoting diversity inside and outside the classroom, innovative learning, heightened engagement and increased focus for students of all ages, all socioeconomic backgrounds and all colors,” said Allene Bryant, mother to Franki, 6, and Elle, 4.
Allene and Frank Bryant are a husband-wife team from District’s Ward 7 who created “Learning with GoGo” through their company Fabmania. Launched in 2015, Fabmania strives to create inclusive educational content through videos, music, children’s books, merchandise and after-school programs.
The materials, with go-go music serving as the soundtrack for learning, breaks away from traditional teaching methods to make learning fun, entertaining, relatable and colorful.
Frank, who started out as a substitute teacher, noticed his students were not relating to the content in the curriculum. He began creating characters for students that looked like them, talked like them, dressed like them and listened to the same music.
“Kids should be able to see themselves when they are consuming content,” said Frank, who has written three books.
Frank, an alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, also was inspired by an article he read in 2010 Forbes magazine article titled, “A $5 Children’s Book vs. a $47,000 Jail Cell — Choose One.” The article predicted who would enter the prison system based on third-grade reading scores and how many jail cells will be needed in the future.
“Ironically, I was working with third graders at that time and I saw kids could do the ‘Dougie’ but they couldn’t read,” Frank said. “So, I came up with the title, ‘Dougie Learns to Read’ with characters that looked and dressed like the kids. That was my first book.”
Little did he know that creating a book based on the popular dance would take the Bryant family on a journey to create a portfolio of education materials.
In addition to “Dougie Learns to Read,” Frank has authored an autobiography as a children’s book, “From Menace to Morehouse,” which tells how, in his teen years, he was on a path to the prison system — a destiny that ran counter to his upbringing as his mother was a schoolteacher and his father was a captain at Oak Hill Youth Correctional Facility in the D.C. area.
Since then, Frank has published his third book and bestseller, “GoGo Meets a Bully,” as well as others he self-published and marketed along with Allene, an award-winning digital content producer.
GoGo, the lead character in the series, was the creation of one of FabMania’s illustrators. To further honor the music genre, the materials created by Frank and Allene incorporated an illustration of the Ben’s Chili Bowl mural featuring Chuck Brown, the “Godfather of go-go.” The Ali family, owners of Ben’s, have supported the depiction of the mural in “Learning with GoGo.”
“Learning with GoGo” is now a part of Saturday morning programing on DKN, one of the three channels managed by DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music & Entertainment. The books have also has caught the attention of national children’s programming channels and producers.
The couple is moving cautiously to ensure that creative concepts and ownership are not compromised.
“Go-go music means so much to so many people that we do not want to sell out,” Frank said. “We want it to flourish and always mean something to the DMV.”
For more information, go to www.learningwithgogo.com and https://entertainment.dc.gov/page/learning-with-gogo.