This week for Picture Book Therapy Thursday the lovely Christina Furnival joins us to discuss her children's books "The Not so Friendly Friend" and "Fear Not", two books in her series Capable Kiddos. Christina was generous enough to gift a copy of both of her books for a GIVEAWAY to one lucky reader! Keep reading to enter.
Christina Furnival is a licensed psychotherapist, children's book author, and mom. Through therapy and her social-emotional children’s book series Capable Kiddos, she is passionate about helping children and their parents understand themselves better, navigate challenges confidently, and live the life they want! Christina and her Scottish husband are raising their kids in Christina's hometown of San Diego where they love to hike trails, play at the beach, and have wild, disco-lit dance parties in the living room. Visit her at ChristinaFurnival.com and on Instagram at @CapableKiddosBooksand @ThisIsRealLifeMama.
Christina, what inspired you to write "The Not So Friendly Friend" and "Fear Not"?
The Capable Kiddos series began with the book "The Not-So-Friendly Friend", which I wrote for my daughter who was dealing with a prickly friendship at school. I wanted to help my daughter, and having provided therapy to kids and families for over a decade, I knew a book would be the perfect tool. But I could not find a book that spoke about setting boundaries! So I wrote an uplifting rhyming story that synthesized quite a complex topic along with information based on current research on friendships, bullying, boundary-setting, and self-worth. It wasn't until about a year later that I pitched it to publishers and signed a deal with PESI Publishing. With PESI Publishing, I could see that "The Not-So-Friendly Friend" needed to be part of a social-emotional series, and so I began working on my second book, "Fear Not". The rates of youth experiencing anxiety problems and disorders are staggering, and with the pandemic the issue has become even more dire. "Fear Not" was written to support kids to learn that the best way to handle their fears and anxieties isn't by running from them but rather turning towards them and learning ways to cope. We best fight anxiety by actually not fighting it at all, but instead by recognizing that it is meant to be helpful, that we can tolerate the discomfort, and that we don't have to take anxiety's message at face value as fact.
Boundary setting is such an important topic with our kiddos, and I love that your own experiences as a parent gave you that inspiration. What was the process like from inspiration to publication for your books?
The process of my first book from inspiration to publication involved a huge leap of faith and a lot of good fortune. I wrote The Not-So-Friendly Friend for my daughter and was satisfied with how it had helped her grow and find her voice. It wasn't until almost a year later that I rediscovered the story in my phone's note-taking app and saw its value for supporting other children far and wide. I researched publishers who would accept unagented and unsolicited manuscripts who were publishing picture books for children with mental health and wellbeing focuses. I submitted one day, heard from PESI Publishing the next, and signed a book deal within a month! We are working on the Capable Kiddos series now, so the process is more assured with them going forward.
Do you have a scene in either or both books that was your favorite?
In both The Not-So-Friendly Friend and Fear Not, I love when the main character is demonstrating bravery by standing up to the unkind friend or facing their fears head-on. Katie Dwyer's artwork so brilliantly captured the emotions of the characters and painted the pictures for children readers to feel that they are capable of finding their bravery as well.
What made you want to write books about tough topics?
I write books on uncommon, tough topics, because I feel I am perfectly equipped to. With my professional background and personal experience, I can take my expertise and translate it into relatable and helpful texts that are still entertaining and beautiful. Helping people has always been a high priority for me, and doing so through the vehicle of storytelling has been such a gift. I support children and families in my therapy practice, and now through the Capable Kiddos books, I can reach a broader audience at once!
As a fellow therapist turned author, I love seeing how many of us are using our therapy knowledge to help bring these issues to life in the literary realm. How can parents, teachers, or counselors use your books to engage in deeper conversations with kids?
At the back of each book I provide conversation starters and discussion questions that are super helpful. They provide verbiage for explaining the topics and learnings easily to children and they encourage deeper conversations with your kids. They are written in a way to provide value to parents, teachers, counselors, and any professional working with kids. On my website I also have some free age-specific worksheets that reference learnings from the books!
Do you have any advice for authors who want to write about tough topics?
Do it. You are the only person who can write what you want to say in the way you want to say it. Go for it knowing that you are setting out to do good, and good will find its way back to you!
Where can we find you to keep up with your work or order your books?
Please connect with me! You can find me on my website ChristinaFurnival.com, on social media on Instagram at @ThisIsRealLifeMama and @CapableKiddosBooks, and on Facebook at Christina Furnival Real Life Mama. The Capable Kiddos books can be purchased on my website (you can request an author-signed copy!) or on Amazon.com, Target.com, and BarnesandNoble.com
Christina, thank you so much for sharing with us about your wonderful books. For our readers, if you would like to enter to win a set of Christina's books, click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! The giveaway ends Thursday, August 4th at 8am.
P.S. If you don't follow me, check my Instagram or Facebook @bethanywalkerlcsw on Tuesday for my review of Christina's books!