By Elaine Sanchez, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, has written a children’s book to raise awareness among Americans, particularly children, of military families’ challenges during deployment.
The illustrated children’s book – titled “Don’t Forget, Nana, God Bless Our Troops” – will be released in June.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Biden, nicknamed “Nana” by her grandkids, told American Forces Press Service that she decided to write the book after speaking with hundreds of military families across the nation. Many Americans aren’t aware of what military families go through when their loved one is deployed, she noted.
“What better way than a children’s book to help parents reading to their children … understand, and the children understand, just what it’s like to go through a deployment?” she asked.
The story, she explained, was inspired by her own family’s experiences with deployment. The Bidens’ son, Beau, a major in the Delaware Army National Guard, deployed to Iraq for a year in 2008. “I really thought if I wrote the book from the heart, then that would be the best kind of book, and the message would get across and it would be a strong message,” she said.
Biden tells the story from the perspective of their granddaughter, Natalie. She traces Natalie’s journey from coping with her father’s absence to finding support from community members, including teachers and neighbors.
Biden said she gained insight from Natalie during conversations on her porch last summer. “I told her I wanted to write a book to help other boys and girls understand what’s it’s like — what she went through,” she said. “I also wanted her to know it was important that other children in other classrooms across the country got to know what she went through.”
Natalie is excited about the book, Biden added. “It’s still fresh in her mind, and it’s still emotional for her when we read it together, but I she really has a sense of pride about it.”
Natalie inspired not only the story, she noted, but also the book’s title.
Biden recalled an evening spent at her granddaughter’s house. She read Natalie a few bedtime stories, and then they said their prayers. “God bless Mommy and Daddy,” they said together. “And then, I was turning out the light and Natalie said, ‘Don’t forget, Nana, God bless our troops.’
“That, I felt, was really the essence of it,” she said, “that all Americans should be thankful for the sacrifice and strength of our military families, and I hope that comes across in the book.”
The book will include resources about what readers can do to support troops and their families worldwide, a topic Biden often touches on during her travels across the nation in support of the “Joining Forces” initiative. First Lady Michelle Obama and Biden launched the nationwide campaign last year to raise awareness of troops, veterans and their families and to call on all sectors of society to support them.
Service members and their families deserve recognition and support for their service and sacrifices over this past decade of war, Biden said.
“I happen to … think about these men and women every single night,” she said. “I just hope [this book] creates awareness of what these families are going through.”
Biden said she’ll donate all net author proceeds to charities that support military families and children, and will forgo an advance for the book. The book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, also will make a donation to charities that support military families, according to a news release.
The book, which will be illustrated by award-winning artist Raúl Colón, will go on sale June 5.