What inspired you to write this story about Anna and Hope?
I wanted to shape perspective for children and adults on the reality that homelessness impacts families and children. Stories can bring us up close and personal with populations we may not be proximate to. I also wanted to show the beauty of diverse church community and being a good neighbor to whomever God puts in our path.
Why is it so important that young children understand how to show God’s grace and love to others whose home life or homeland might look very different than their own?
The truth is, many hard working people here in the US and around the world are impacted by systems and circumstances beyond their control and find themselves in need. Grace is a generous gift of God to us all, and when we understand that, we can’t help but share it with others. Hopefully this book will help children see the shared humanity in all people regardless of background or circumstance.
How can parents use this story to open a dialogue on the tough subjects of poverty and homelessness with their kids?
The Parent Connection at the end of the book gives applicable Scripture and helpful questions. This book will also challenge adults because often our perspectives on poverty and need are based more on the American dream of meritocracy rather than biblical themes of empowerment and grace. This story helps us see people’s plenty and people’s need from a kingdom perspective.
How did you choose the illustrator?
We looked for an illustrator of color whose work matched what we envisioned for this book. Multicultural illustration is important to me in bringing my diverse stories to life and I’m pleased with how Geneva B interpreted the story!
What do you hope parents and their kids take from this story?
I hope children and adults will again be inspired by diverse friendship that springs from fellowship in a diverse church. In “GraceFull,” the church connection continues and deepens after spending time in each other’s homes. Table fellowship allows us to learn each other’s stories, and we grow a more caring heart as God’s grace is shared together. And of course, volunteering and community support helps lift those who are in need, instead of basing our work on one’s merit or personal judgement
You’ve also released ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us and ThoughtFull: Discovering the Unique Gifts in Each of Us in the past year. How do you hope families use all of these books?
I would be honored to know that parents use these books as go-to resources to shape a kingdom perspective on diversity and loving our neighbor. I hope the books motivate families to be intentional about who they are proximate to and how they can raise up a generation that sees the shared humanity in all people, and empower them to share God’s love and grace that is freely given to us all.
How have you seen these books and topics resonate with both kids and adults?
It does my heart good to see toddlers pointing and interacting with the illustrations even before they can read the words. Knowing that kids of all ages — and especially kids of color — see people who look like them really blesses me. I had a mother, whose preschool son uses a wheelchair, thank me for including a child in a wheelchair in “ThoughtFull.” Parents with mixed race kids and white parents with kids of color have thanked me for giving them resources to open dialogue and reinforce values they hold and want to pass on in their families!