Grande Prairie children’s book sparks conversations

·3 min read

A new children’s book by a Grande Prairie author is helping children and parents have talks about their feelings through a mindful way of thinking.

Jen Edwards, 39, author of You are a Gift, wrote the book as a way for families to come together and share their thoughts and feelings.

“I feel like the world is lacking self-awareness conversations with young kids, but adults are working on self-awareness and their mindset,” said Edwards.

“I really wanted to bring families together to have these open conversations because I think it's important for kids to be able to see adults being able to express their feelings.”

The book asks questions such as “how do you show kindness?” and “how do you feel?”

“The writing is kind of short, but the engagement is where the time will take with the book,” explained Edwards.

“This lady messaged me just the other day, ‘we read it countless times already and my kids love it; your book is beautiful, and I love the simplicity and the beauty in it all.’”

Edwards said she is happy people see the book as simple because life “can be complicated”.

“I wanted it to be very simple but impactful,” she said.

Edwards partnered with Grande Prairie teacher Cortney Warr who illustrated the book.

The two have worked on other projects together, such as affirmation cards and a journal pad that help children explore their feelings.

The affirmation cards let children colour and explore questions like what brings joy in their life.

“I often hear stories of families being like I didn't even know my kid felt this way,” said Edwards.

“I feel the world is now filled with so much anxiety and depression; I work with kids privately and there's so many that struggle with anxiety and I think it's because of the lack of emotional understanding and support.”

The reaction to the book from parents has been positive, says Edwards.

“I feel like parents are blown away by what their kids have to say.”

She said one reader said their seven-year-old son felt embarrassed to share his feelings when they got to a page in the book that spoke to feelings.

Edwards said it was an eye opener for the parent.

“I think we can learn so much when we have these conversations with our little children and that they can teach us things.

“That's my goal in life is connectivity and if we can just show up for each other with more empathy and understanding.”

Edwards had no shortage of challenges as she wrote and produced the book as a single mother of four. She also faced a cancer diagnosis in November 2021.

“I've had a lot of trauma in my life, and I feel the only way like to get through things is to know that there's so many other good things.

“That is what kept me going for the book, for everything I do, because I feel like life is very hard, and I do want to teach kids almost that life is hard, but it's okay that life is hard, it will always be hard, so we just need to help ourselves make it easier.”

During Edwards' last week of chemotherapy, her book arrived ready to go.

“It was just meant to be,” she said.

Edwards' son, Reed, 11, opened the final proof of his mother's book and began engaging with the book with his mom.

“He and I were having the exact conversation I had hoped would happen.

“I'm so happy that it's out there, and I'm so excited that people get to engage with it and with each other, and I just hope that anyone who reads this book feels fulfilled and supported.”

People can pick up You are a Gift online at itsthesmallthings.ca and the Glow Collective in Grande Prairie.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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