Writing Impactful Picture Books
My parents divorced when I was only two. As I got older I missed my father so very much. I lived in California and he lived in New York, so we rarely saw each other. I remember he’d call sometimes and I was so emotional I couldn’t even speak to him. All I could do was cry. Then, I’d cry even more knowing it would be weeks before he’d call again. I was already a very sensitive and emotional child, but that particular sadness and longing was overwhelming. I felt like I was being swallowed up by sadness. It felt very un-empowering to say the least.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I got my hands on a book that helped me understand my emotions and their power. It was called Edgar Cayce’s Story of Attitudes and Emotions. It literally turned my life around. I felt I could eventually learn to get a handle on my emotions to the point where, at least, they didn’t feel like an avalanche. That’s when I realized the power of books.
Then one day, I read a children’s picture book called Little Raccoon and the Thing in The Pool by Lilian Moore (1963). It might have been the first real picture book I ever read. I was blown away by its sweet, simple, yet psychologically and spiritually profound message: Replace fear with love and all is well! I knew then that I would hopefully one day write something that would encourage kids in some meaningful way.
A few years ago, I was going through a highly emotional and difficult challenge. A close friend said to me, “You’re so strong. How do you keep it all together?” I answered, “What good would it do if I fell apart?” Later, I started thinking. What are the things that keep me strong?
Right about that time I saw the movie, Room, a heart wrenching, emotional yet beautiful film. Five year old Jack, (played by Jacob Tremblay) who is held captive in a room with his mom, says his long hair is his strong. To him, his long hair made him feel brave. That got me thinking. What gives me courage? What is my strong?
I became more aware of what I was doing and thinking to keep me focused and strong. I was super vigilant of my thoughts – no negative thinking! If I had a thought of fear or doubt, I would replace it with a positive affirmation. I would only listen to upbeat songs. I would go inside and connect with all that was well inside me. When you’re quiet and still, you can find that place where only love resides. I started a gratitude journal. I would cheer myself on when I felt blue and discouraged. In essence, self-love and self-compassion were my strong.
For children, many external things can help them feel strong, or safe, or courageous: a blanket, a stuffed animal, a loving and strong role model, even, long hair. Ideally, children need people in their lives that can model positive and healthy behavior when dealing with their big emotions. My mother was strong, but she was also quite stoic and never shared her feelings; nevertheless, she modeled inner strength for me.
I think picture books can have a profound impact on little minds. I was not read to as a child and I still fell in love with picture books! Like, Little Raccoon and the Thing in the Pool, there are so many good books that can encourage kids to be: Strong, compassionate, kind, self-confident and resilient.
I hope that through my books, I can encourage kids and help them feel empowered. I think it’s so important for people to feel strong; like they can handle anything that comes their way. We are so much more capable and powerful than we think. I believe that what’s inside us is truly untapped gold! (That’s why my gold book cover is especially special!) Mastering our emotions is a skill we can and must learn. Hopefully, You Are Your Strong will help kids “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
About the author:
Danielle Dufayet graduated with a B.A. in English because she loves to read and write; and, an M.S. in Psychology because nothing fascinates her more than the human mind and human behavior. She teaches English, K-12 and Public Speaking to middle graders with an emphasis on self-empowerment and life skills. Her first book, You Are Your Strong, (Magination Press, March 19, 2019) is a picture book to help kids manage their big emotions by tapping into their own inner resources. Her second book, Fantastic You! (Magination Press, Fall, 2019) teaches kids self-love and self-compassion and encourages them to treat themselves as if they were their own best friend. For more, visit: www.danielledufayetbooks.com