You Oughta Be in Picture Books: Celebrity Authors
Actor, TV personality, children's book author... some celebrities really can do it all!
Here is a list of some of the recent picture books in our collection that were written by the stars.
Becoming a parent has inspired some celebrities to write books for their own children. The stories they share are at the same time personal to them and universal to all families. They include themes of laughter, love and welcoming. And each of these authors became a parent through either adoption or surrogacy which makes their stories even more special.
This is Baby by Jimmy Fallon (ages 1-4)
Late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon has three books that can help children to "know words" which is one of our Ready for Reading skills. In this newest one, he teaches babies the different parts of their body. This book is the follow-up to Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada (it won't be, no matter how much dad wants it to be!) and Everything is Mama (even when that isn't quite the right word to use!).
You Are My Happy by Hoda Kotb (ages 2-6)
Like many families, journalist Hoda Kotb and her daughter Haley Joy have their own bedtime routine. It includes remembering and talking about the things that made them happy that day. And this is what her newest book is all about.
Hoda Kotb wrote her first book, I've Loved You Since Forever when she first adopted Haley Joy. This morning show host/author has recently adopted a second child, Hope Catherine. Now their family has even more reasons to be happy!
Welcome to the Party by Gabrielle Union (Ages 1-4)
Gabrielle Union and her basketball star husband, Dwyane Wade already had a blended family of four children when they welcomed daughter Kaavia James via surrogate in 2018. They waited a long time for their new "guest of honour" and the actress wrote this book to celebrate her arrival. She also dedicated it to "every family whose journey to baby might have taken a bit longer than expected."
Every child should be able to see themselves in the books that they read. Growing up, these Black celebrities couldn't find many books featuring children who had skin as dark as theirs. This prompted them to write stories about their own struggles and joys. Now more books celebrating diversity are available for young readers to discover.
Chocolate Me by Taye Diggs (ages 4-8)
Mixed Me by Taye Diggs (ages 4-8)
Both of these books encourage their readers to be who they are without apology or explanation. In Chocolate Me, a Black boy is bullied for looking different than his peers. With the help of his mom, he gains the confidence to stand up and be proud of who he is.
In Mixed Me, the main character is of mixed race, a self-proclaimed perfect blend of dark and light. The author/actor has said that he wrote both of these books so that kids won't have to explain to others that they just are who they are.
Taye Diggs's latest book, I Love You More Than... (ages 2-5) is a tale of reassurance for parents and children who can't always be together. Like his other two picture books, it was inspired by real life (he co-parents his son with his ex-wife actress Idina Menzel).
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o (ages 3-8)
Lupita Nyong'o is arguably one of the most beautiful women in the world and yet her dark skin has been the source of both outward and inward struggles for her. She was teased and bullied for it. She struggled to see her own beauty. The character of Sulwe has similar struggles. Her story can help children to find and celebrate their own unique beauty. As the actress/author has stated this book "holds up a mirror for dark-skinned children especially, to see themselves reflected immediately, and it is a window for all the others to cherish peering into."
(Special shout-out should go to Vashti Harrison for her breathtaking illustrations.)
Authors are often encouraged to "write what they know." If you are a celebrity who works in the home improvement field that might mean writing a picture book about designing, planting or building. It might also mean using your memories of working with your kids or being a kid yourself to tell a good story.
We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines (ages 5-8)
Joanna Gaines knows a little something about home and gardening. She and her husband Chip have a growing home improvement empire including the TV show "Fixer Upper" and their "Magnolia" lifestyle brand. They also have five children who they encourage to take on DIY projects of their own. In this book, the family come together to create and care for a garden while learning many lessons as it grows.
The Property Brothers
Builder Brothers: Big Plans by Jonathan and Drew Scott (ages 4-7)
Builder Brothers: Better Together by Drew and Jonathan Scott (ages 4-7)
Can you imagine what the Property Brothers might be like if they were kids instead of grown-up HGTV stars? Thanks to these books you don't have to! They would be a great read for any Mini Maker and fit nicely into the "Engineering" category of STEM. They also illustrate lessons that Drew and Jonathan Scott learned as children – always start with a plan and never give up.
Some celebrities make a living being funny. They work in comedy as actors, late-night talk show host and TV writers. By creating humorous picture books, they have found a way to make a whole new audience laugh.
The Serious Goose by Jimmy Kimmel (ages 3-6)
Perhaps this book doesn't belong under the heading "Silly Stories." After all, it is the story of a very serious goose. This interactive book will make readers laugh as they try to be silly and get the main character to smile. On a serious note, the late-talk show host's proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and children's hospitals around the USA.
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak (ages 3-8)
This book is an instant classic and has probably made B.J. Novak more famous for being a children's book author than an actor or comedy writer. This fun read-aloud is designed to make the reader say silly things like "blork" and "bluurf" because "that's the deal" and "that's the rule". (Wait, should it still be on this list of Picture Books if it's a book with no pictures in it?!)
Shining Stars... Like You!
Some of the best picture books are the ones that empower children and remind them that their just being themselves makes them their best selves. When a book like that uplifts a child, they can truly feel like a star!
I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown
The message of this book is clearly stated in its title. And the phrase, "I am perfectly designed," should be one that all children utter with pride. It was written by reality TV personality and activist Karamo Brown with his son Jason Brown. Jason wanted to share the lessons that his father taught him. As he says in the book, "We want readers to never forget that just being your natural self is perfect," and that is an important message for us all.
If you happen to be taking the TPL Reading Challenge 2020, all of these books can definitely be used for the category, "a book written by someone who is more famous for something else"!
Hopefully this list will encourage you to go star-gazing through our collection to find a new picture book to read. Perhaps you already have a favourite celebrity author. Or do you have a favourite author who you consider to be a star? Please share in the comments below.