It’s a daughter! It’s a student! It’s… the president! [Interview + Links]

By Chandler Rock, Summer Intern

Did you know that Book Harvest has an Author’s Circle, full of amazing local talent, which enriches our community through their work? Check out this great list! One of those authors is Mary Parry, creator of Sadie McGrady Runs for President. She was generous enough to come into Book Harvest and share her insight about life on the campaign trail and the importance of representation in children’s’ books.Mary Parry Headshot

Mary illustrated a scene in her life when, as a Women’s Vote Director, her daughter Emma joined her on the 2012 campaign. Emma eagerly asked if she, too, could make phone calls to potential voters that day. An apprehensive Mary was surprised when her supervisor enthusiastically set up the 10-year old with a phone and a script. She was so inspired and posed a question. “Mom, could I run for president?” That night led to more phone calls, running for student body president, and eventually interning with a group of all college students as a 14-year-old!!

“The main driver for [writing this book] was hearing from Emma that she did not understand that these opportunities were there for her. I want other kids to see that, to identify with Sadie and see that kids can have fun and practice their leadership skills at the same time!”

“Only twenty of our one hundred United States senators are women, while over 50% of voters are women! Equal representation is important. So we are trying to change those numbers. There are partisan groups trying to get more women to run, and those groups are reaching out to women who are professionals. My thought was, especially with my daughter’s experience– why aren’t we pulling them in earlier? So that they can see themselves in that capacity and set that goal.”

Children are much more likely to reach for goals once they read success stories of their peers doing so too. This book, like many others that demonstrate to kids what exactly they can be, are so vital in showing kids how to succeed, fail, and learn from those moments.

“The main point is for girls to build confidence and courage, and to see setbacks as lessons. Sadie gets nervous to debate this tall and intimidating guy, and that is a setback. Setbacks can result from not achieving a goal, but they can also result from not striving for the goal in the first place. Fortunately, Sadie finds more courage and steps up to the podium to raise her voice. Jeb Bush recently said the most he’s ever learned is when he failed. We need to teach kids to embrace lessons learned from failures and think of them as tools for success in their next endeavor. Girls often have very high expectations of themselves, so teaching them how to leverage their setbacks can be life changing. That’s what I’m doing in my house!”

“The message I’m trying to send is, ‘Just do your best and go for it.’ Failure is going to be part of your life—how you deal with it is how you grow.”

Sadie McGrady Book CoverHaving books in the home has the same effect that having university-educated parents does on a child’s academic success (Thought it was the other way around? Read more here.) Representation is vital—don’t miss the blog post on that– and adds to the immense value that books already carry. Mary touches on why she wrote a book about a woman running for president, instead of exploring the message through other avenues.

“Books can offer role models, and ideas kids might not have thought about. I wanted to reach as many kids as possible. BOOKS HELP KIDS EXPLORE! You can explore being a princess, and you can explore being the President! ‘We Need Diverse Books’ is a really important theme in children’s literature. Really important. There are so many books to write.”

“Every child should have the opportunity to read books, and every child should understand that they are part of the democracy, and they can– and should– participate in any different level and through any role they want to play.”

Keep your eye out for the book this fall! Mary hopes to feature characters that reflect the diversity of children in America and illustrate the possibilities that lie ahead. Inspired to read other books that encourage kids to fulfill any dream they have? Check out Book Harvest’s Amazon Wish List of our favorite diverse titles. Happy Reading!