Writer and Speaker
Rod Martinez writes books geared toward middle school-aged children and young adults. He grew up reading Marvel comics and watching the Twilight Zone TV show.
Challenged by his son to write a story about him and his friends, “like the Goonies, but in Tampa,” his first novel, The Juniors, was published in 2011.
Rod is the recipient of the 2017 Jerry Spinelli Scholarship and the 2018 Professional Development for Artists Grant in Tampa and several BIPOC literary scholarships. He speaks at schools, conferences, and libraries promoting the love of the written word.
While riding on a city bus with his African American grandmother, a young boy is intrigued by a building he sees outside the window. She shares an important story about her past he never expected to hear.
In that very building, during a civil rights protest long ago, many Black students organized a sit-in that changed how Black folk could eat in certain restaurants.
And his grandmother was one of those heroes.
What Reviewers are Saying...
“A new—and perfect—kind of bedtime story for all little kids.”
— Jerry Spinelli, winner of the Newbery Medal
“Rod Martinez has done a great job keeping this important conversation about civil rights alive and relevant to kids today. Imagine if you discovered your grandma was a real superhero. This tale covers a contemporary look back at how local action drove national impact in the civil rights movement.”
— George Brown - Executive Director, Highlights Foundation
“Grandma Luther King is a wonderfully crafted story that highlights history and the importance of activism for young readers. Martinez hits another one out of the park with relatable characters and a powerful message.”
— Maria DeVivo, award-winning fantasy author of The Coal Elf
“An inspiring and empowering tale of a crusade for racial equality pitched at the younger set.”
— Marcia Cebulska, award-winning author & internationally-produced playwright, including Now Let Me Fly, commissioned for the 50th anniversary celebration of Brown v Board
“The enchanting Grandma Luther King takes place on a city bus moving through downtown, a beautiful metaphor for the way each generation navigates a many-layered history. I have a 7-year-old grandson myself, and I could feel us riding with these characters, holding our breath to hear every word.”
— Karen Schubert, Director, Lit Youngstown Literary Arts, Youngstown, Ohio