About MJ Hayes

Kenzie with the author

Meet MJ Hayes


“Life is one big canvas,” grins the always effervescent children’s author M.J. Hayes. “I learned to tell stories with my crayons before I learned to read. My love of the arts, writing, music, storytelling, drawing, and painting has lead me on an amazing life adventure.”

M.J. explains how Emma is such an important role model for children. “My books are to help children understand to some of life’s tough issues such as deafness, bullying, disabilities, and learning to eat healthy. When a child understands why someone is different they can learn how to appreciate the other person’s uniqueness.” 

M.J. (Mary Jane) Viaggio Hayes is the author of seven children’s books and one play: Emma’s House of Sound, Emma’s Freaky Sneakers, Thumbs Up! Veggies for Kids, and A Deaf Child’s Silent Concert.

The play, adapted from the book and also titled Emma’s House of Sound, received a grant from the St. Johns Cultural Council. The play’s short version was staged at The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida, in November 2012. A Deaf Child’s Silent Concert features new and original illustrations.

M. J. is a graduate of Dowling College. She began her graduate work at The College of William & Mary and completed her master’s degree at Adelphi University. In 1986 she graduated from New York University with a Professional Diploma in Organizational Studies. She worked in higher education at Molloy College in Rockville Center and at Dowling College in Oakdale, New York. M. J. has been in the educational arena as a teacher, social worker, program developer, counselor, and writer.

She has been a guest speaker in schools in New York, the Duval School District and St. Johns County in Florida, and in public libraries. M. J. is a member of the Florida Writers Association, the Professional Writers Group, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has been on the board of the Long Island Writers Guild. In 2011 she was a guest speaker at Flagler College. The author lives in St. Augustine, Florida.

Awards and Honors

  • Long Island Writers Guild – Above and Beyond Commitment Award 2009, 2010
  • Florida Heritage Book Festival – Featured Author 2012
  • Long Island Writers Guild – Dedication of Distinction 2008
  • The play, Emma’s House of Sound – awarded a grant from the St. Johns Cultural Council
  • Visual Arts Award, Honorable Mention
  • Mom’s Choice Award- Silver Second Place in the series category for Emma’s House of Sound and Emma’s Freaky Sneakers
  • Mom’s Choice Award- Silver Second Place for Dakota Help Me See the Light


MJ Hayes is an award winning author who has a passion for inclusion. She writes books from the perspective of children who are blind and deaf, and also encourages children to eat well through her book 'Thumbs Up'.  

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(631)626-4378 cell

PO BOX 85 Penney Farms, Florida 32079