As a teacher for more than a decade, Oak Forest resident Sarah Allison has always sought to help kids write and share their own unique stories.
She is doing just that with an upcoming children’s picture book release that she says will share the uniqueness of both her own family and several other local families in an attempt to inspire the younger generation to embrace their individuality.
This past March, Allison released her first children’s book, called “Audrey-Saurus.” And next Tuesday, she will release a second one entitled “Each of Us” from her own publishing company called B + A Stories, which is named after her two children Brynnlee and Audrey.
“Oftentimes, young kids are trying to connect over the things they have in common and are the same about them,” she said. “And while those are good, it’s important to really understand where they come from… and what makes them unique. ”
“Each of Us,” Allison said, is a story about friendship, family, and culture. She said the book is a celebration of what makes each character unique and the ways they share their language, recipes, and traditions across their friendship.
It was inspired by five girls and their families – including her own daughter Brynlee – who live in the Garden Oaks / Oak Forest / Heights area, according to Allison, and have heritage, holiday celebrations, recipes, and more that span the globe.
The idea came about in the summer of 2020, when Allison said she was searching for ways to keep her daughter and their friends engaged with learning processes.
“I thought about creating this project where my daughter and her four best friends took turns teaching each other about their families and cultures,” she said. “… They’re living the reality each day in school; it was a neat thing to be able to share their families’uniqueness. ”
So Brynlee and her friends dove into the project with vigor, according to Allison, who said it came to fruition in a way she wasn’t even sure it could.
“They were almost unaware of their origin story,” Allison said. “So we started to have these conversations, and they were interested to learn about their family and find out about their origin stories in addition to learning about each other’s stories.”
One family, she said, has Cuban heritage and speaks both French and Spanish, while another family from India speaks Hindi and celebrates Diwali – one of the major religious festivals in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism which is a symbolic celebration of “victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. ”Still another, she said, has origins from Africa by way of France and England.
It’s an eclectic mix of stories and cultures, she said, that symbolizes the diversity of not just the local area but the world at large.
“It was a neat way for me to be able to share and celebrate each family and the diversity that is this area,” she said.
The message of “Each of Us,” Allison said, is to inspire children and families everywhere to not just find common threads – but to celebrate and take ownership of who they are by finding what makes them unique, whether that be a recipe, holiday , language and customs, or something else.
And she could not be more thrilled with how the project has turned out.
“Instead of just focusing on one child, these girls were living out what I hoped to see – a celebration of their uniqueness across their friendship and sharing that,” she said. “… I think the most rewarding part has been each girl taking a source of pride and ownership in the things that make them unique and different. ”
That message, according to Allison, is one that can make waves and impacts for generations to come.
“It’s a really exciting day that kids everywhere will have an opportunity to see things about themselves reflected in this book that they’ll get to share,” she said. “Kids’ books have a chance to share important messages with kids or open up a door for discussion about a topic in an age-appropriate way. ”
To connect with Allison and keep up with the new book release, follow her on Instagram @ author.sarah.allison, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at authorsarahallison.us.
Her new book is available for preorder now, and will go live for sale worldwide on July 12.
“My goal is for it to have a wide impact, strengthen communities, and share our stories,” she said.