WASHINGTON – Inspired by her own granddaughter, Second Lady Jill Biden has written a new children’s book to educate Americans about the struggles that military families experience when one parent is deployed.
“Many Americans don’t know someone in the military or know the military family experience,” she says. “What better way than through a children’s book?”
The book depicts one military family’s experience when the father is deployed. The main character, Natalie, is named after Biden’s granddaughter.
In the book, Natalie’s father has to leave for a year, and while she is proud of her father, she misses him terribly. With her “Nana,” Natalie sends her father and other service members cookies and treats, which helps her feel better about his absence.
Biden offers suggestions in the back of the book on how community members can get involved in supporting military families. Things like mowing their lawn or bringing over a pizza are things Biden says can be helpful for a military family.
While her own son, Beau Biden, was deployed two years ago, Biden says Natalie’s teachers supported her granddaughter. Beau Biden, a major in the National Guard, was deployed to Iraq two years ago.
“Natalie’s teacher put a picture of … Beau’s unit on the wall of the classroom. Everyday, when the children walked in they would see Natalie’s dad who was away at war,” Biden says.
In April 2011, Biden joined with First Lady Michelle Obama to start the national initiative, “Joining Forces,” which encourages Americans to reach out to military families in their community.
“Our family went through one deployment,” she says. “So many military families are going through this three, four, five, six times. It’s hard for military families.”
The book, released June 5 by Simon and Schuster, was illustrated by Raul Colon.