A Conversation With Aimee Reid: Author, Teacher, and Storyteller

Aimee Reid is an accomplished author whose journey from teaching to motherhood sparked her passion for writing children’s books. Natalie Frisk caught up with her to explore why she thinks books are so important to kids’ spiritual journeys, her hopes for their adventures, and how her stories can light up ministries everywhere.

Natalie Frisk with Aimee Reid
5 minute read

While your books aren't overtly shouting 'Hey - this is about God's love for us!' that's really what I see in them as I read. Is that intentional? If so, what else would you say about that intention?

Yes! I want children to know that they are lovable and to notice all that is good about our world.

I have placed a magnet on my fridge that displays the verse I’ve chosen to guide me as I write: 'If anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise' Philippians 4:8 (CEV).

I have admired Fred Rogers since I watched his program with my first child when she was a toddler. Fred respected children. He told them the truth, and his storylines offered grace. As I researched my biography of Fred, You Are My Friend: The Story of Mister Rogers and His Neighborhood, my respect for him grew. I appreciated the deep faith that undergirded his work.

Fred invested a great deal of energy in producing exceptional children’s programming. He researched and consulted and refined his scripts. He did his best. Then, before each show, he would pray, 'May some word that I say be yours.'

I love the deep sense of partnership with God that this prayer reveals. We prepare, and we release the gift of our work to God, trusting that the right word will go to the right ears at the right time.

The closing words of my author’s note in You Are My Friend capture what I wish for children—and, really, readers of all ages—to deeply know: 'You are important. You are valuable. You are enough—just as you are.'

What are the varied lenses that you need to look through as you write children's books?

Children’s books—especially picture books—have dual audiences: the children, who are the primary audience, and the adults who buy the books or otherwise make them accessible.

Foremost in my mind are the children who will encounter the books. I want my writing to be accessible to them. My word choices and themes and story structures all serve the purpose of conveying meaning to the children.

I also think about how the book can serve the needs of the adults who use the books. For example, my two most recent books, Animal Snuggles and A World of Love include back matter that helps teachers, librarians, and caregivers support curious children to explore more facts about the featured animals.

How would you best describe what is going on inside you as you pen each story?

What a great question!

At first, I feel a spark of inspiration. An idea or a memory or something I experience strikes me in a new way. Sometimes a bit of poetry presents itself to me. I experience a sense of recognition that a new story is beginning. That’s exciting! I grab a pen and a piece of paper to capture my thoughts right away.

Then comes research and reflection. I gather information if the writing incorporates facts. I set aside time for my imagination to work if I’m writing fiction or a concept book. I devote myself to discovering the shape of the story and how to best serve the reader. This stage requires openness and time. It usually looks quite boring. When I am finding the focus of the story, I need stillness; I’m often sitting quietly with my eyes closed or staring out a window while my brain is busy.

I enjoy revision, which gives me the opportunity to see my work in new ways and to polish my words. I have to consider the artist who will illustrate the text of a picture book. Have I left space for that person to bring the story to life? I invite the thoughts of my critique partners. My literary agent and my editor will also have suggestions, and I need to be willing to listen well.

When my publishing team and I have done all we can to craft a beautiful book, we are ready to release it into the world, and I pray that it will be a blessing.

What do you hope children will experience as they read your books?

I hope children will know that they are valued and grow a sense of wonder for our magnificent world. Children’s books offer a special opportunity for caregivers and educators to show, through our closeness and care, that the children who are listening are important. We, ourselves, by slowing down and sharing a book, embody that message.

Why do you think books are an important part of children's spiritual formation?

Research is continuing to emerge that shows how powerfully narratives impact our brains. As we read or listen to a story, our brains often light up in ways that they would if the events were actually happening to us. Stories can build empathy as we read about others’ experiences. They broaden our understanding of the world and our place in it.

Jesus told memorable and moving stories! All who share good stories with children are doing invaluable and sacred work.

What do you believe is one need you are trying to meet that is common to the needs that children's ministry leaders are trying to meet? In what way would you encourage them at this time?

I hope that children who read my books will know their inherent worth. They don’t have to prove anything or look or act a certain way in order to be worthy of love.

To children’s ministry leaders, I would say this: you matter. More than you can imagine, your caring, consistent presence in the lives of children changes them. That changes our world.

During the spring of 2020, I took a friend up on an offer to receive a teensy bit of sourdough starter. Uncertain but curious, I followed her instructions to see if it would grow. I soon learned not to underestimate the incredible power of yeast to multiply! In short order I found myself with enough dough to bake bread, biscuits, buns, fruit cobbler and more . . . in one day!

Leaven works silently, but make no mistake—it grows. I think the Spirit’s work is sometimes like that. On days when a lesson plan is challenging or our energy is flagging or we feel underwhelmed by the apparent reaction to our efforts, it’s important to remember that God is moving in ways that may not be readily apparent. We can turn our palms up and offer ourselves to God and trust that good work.

Aimee Reid is an author with a background in teaching. Becoming a mom inspired her to write for children. She has published six picture books and has more in development. Aimee has also written and edited faith-based curriculum and inspirational pieces. She is grateful for her church family and enjoys leading worship, managing the church library, and delivering children's time lessons on a regular basis.

Discover her delightful collection at aimeereidbooks.com

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